How To Recycle Beauty Products - Your Handy Guide

Recycle beauty packaging

Happy Earth Day! First introduced in 1970, every year millions of people around the world show their support for the environment, highlighting the urgent actions that we must take to save the future of our planet. It is reported that the beauty industry creates 120 billion units of packaging per year, and, as it stands, 11 million tonnes of plastic is predicted to be entering our oceans every year, meaning that if continued, we will have more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050...

This Earth Day, we want to help you reduce the amount of plastic waste that you're producing, by encouraging you to recycle your beauty products. We know that this can often be a confusing and tricky task. So, we have created a simple but effective guide on how to recycle your beauty products and be a little kinder to the planet.

Although many people have started to reduce the amount of plastic within their lifestyle routines, opting for re-useable water bottles, coffee cups and straws, it seems that we're not taking beauty recycling as seriously as, according to research, 56% of Brits don't recycle their bathroom products and an estimated 95% of our beauty empties are still ending up in landfill. 

However, beauty products are very complex to recycle, as they often contain different compartments that are made up of different materials such as mirrored glass, paper, cardboard and plastic foam. So, how do we recycle beauty products correctly?

Can you recycle beauty packaging with household waste?

If you've already mastered recycling common household and kitchen items, it can be a little confusing to know where to begin with your beauty products as the packaging is usually very different (and has a lot more components). According to research taken by national recycling programme, Recycle Now, most plastic bottles including shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, moisturisers, body exfoliators and so on can in fact be recycled in your usual recycling bin. 

However, it is important that you make sure to check for the green recycling symbol, clean products when empty and replace the lids as they may not be recycled and could end up in landfill (which you definitely don't want). When it comes to aerosols, these can also be popped into your normal recycling bin when empty. If you've finished up a product that was in a glass jar, why not hold onto these and upcycle them for further use? They're great for storing small items such a jewellery, or you can even use them for things like overnight oats for breakfast! But, if you don't want to keep them, you can be rest-assured that glass jars can also be recycled. Hooray!

Confused about what the symbols on your skincare actually mean? Check out our video below with some handy recycling tips and tricks!



What beauty products can't you recycle?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of beauty products that can't yet be recycled including:

  • Makeup wipes: Unless labelled as biodegradable, makeup wipes are not recyclable. Instead, opt for re-usable makeup pads.
  • Nail varnish: Due to the hazardous toxins found in nail varnish, the glass bottles are not recyclable even when they have been rinsed. 
  • Makeup brushes: Currently, animal hair or vegan brushes are not recyclable. 
  • Bottle Pumps: Although many bottles can be recycled, the pumps cannot so be sure to discard these in your general waste bin. 

There are also items that are partly recyclable such as:

  • Mascara: Mascara tubes are usually made from materials that are recyclable, the wands are not. However, they can be donated to animal sanctuaries to help clean and comb baby animals' fur and feathers! How cute is that?
  • Makeup palettes: Most eyeshadow, blusher and bronzer palettes ect contain magnets and mirrors which aren't recyclable, so these parts need to be thrown away separately.
  • Foundation bottles: The pumps are not recyclable, but if the bottle is glass then you can recycle it, just be sure to rinse and dry it first. 

What else can you do?

Thankfully, there are some other options available to help you become a true beauty eco-warrior. Taking the confusion out of recycling, you can pay for a TerraCycle Zero Waste Box and they will send out an empty box to your house so that you can fill it with all of your beauty empties including shampoo, conditioner, lip balms, lotions, hair spray and lots more. Once full, simply send it back to them and they will do all of the hard work and recycle it for you! 

If you want to learn more about how to create a more sustainable beauty routine, The British Beauty Council have launched their Planet Positive Beauty Guide that features easy-to-digest and straightforward information that decodes the often confusing jargon in the beauty industry, helping you to understand some of the key issues to lookout for to help you make more informed and sustainable choices. Whether you want to know more about the ingredients within a product or how it is packaged and sourced, this will be your new go-to dictionary for all things beauty. 

Our favourite earth-friendly beauty brands

1. Eminence

Founded in 1958, Eminence Organic Skincare create luxurious and highly effective products that have been made using sustainable farming and green practices to create natural, organic and Biodynamic® products that enhance your wellbeing. Try their bestselling Organic Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant for a gentle, deep cleansing treat.

Eminence organic strawberry rhubarb dermafoliant

2. Weleda

Founded in Switzerland in 1921, Weleda believe that people are part of nature and the brand is entirely committed to creating formulations that work in harmony with your body, made from naturally-derived ingredients that help to balance your mind, body and soul. Their iconic Skin Food is a cult classic among beauty editors for its incredibly hydrating and skin-saving abilities. 

Weleda skin food

3. The Organic Pharmacy

Dedicated to all things organic, The Organic Pharmacy product's fuse herbal, cosmetic and homeopathic knowledge to create premium, organic skincare products with eco-friendly packaging, that have been researched and manufactured in the brand's London laboratory. If you're looking for a reusable muslin cloth to gently wipe away your cleansers and face masks, their Organic Muslin Cloth will do the job perfectly without any waste. 

The organic pharmacy organic muslin cloth

4. Ultrasun

With a history of research spanning over 20 years, Ultrasun are the only suncare brand worldwide with BASF EcoSun Pass accreditation and create a range of face and body formulas for the entire family that are reef-safe, and suited to even the most sensitive skin types. Keep your hair and scalp protected from the sun's harmful rays with their innovative, hypoallergenic UV Face & Scalp Mist SPF 50.

utrasun UV hair & scalp mist spf 50

We all know how important sunscreen is, but did you know that a lot of SPFs can be harmful to marine life? Read here to learn more about the ingredients to avoid and the best marine-friendly sunscreens to purchase ASAP.