3 Waste-Free Ways I Overhauled My Beauty Regime

How I maintained my obsessive beauty routine — without the guilt (and also managed to save money).
By Joel Louzado, FLARE
3 Waste-Free Ways I Overhauled My Beauty Regime

My skincare routine has become something of a ritual for me. I wear a full makeup look most days, so I like to take proper care by removing every last swatch of it at the end of the day. I start by using a wipe to break down the makeup before washing my face with a water-based cleanser to really deep-clean my skin. But that means I watch my garbage bin fill up with makeup wipes week after week, and I can’t help but feel guilty. Not only am I quite literally throwing money away on disposable supplies, I’m creating an unnecessary amount of waste. I have been looking for small ways to cut down my carbon footprint, and my beauty regimen felt like an obvious place to start.

Considering that I use about one to two makeup wipes every day, I probably go through about four 150-packs of wipes a year. At $16 each, that’s more than $60 a year — while not a fortune, it’s not an insignificant amount to throw away. Then there are the cotton pads — which I use post-wipe with toner — that I also keep tossing and repurchasing. Though those aren’t as expensive, they do pile up in the bin just as quickly.

If I could find reusable replacements, I’d still be able to keep my excessive routine without the guilt, I realized. So, while I was slightly worried that my skin would break out, I was ready to embark on a skincare experiment.

Step 1: Reusable makeup wipes

reusable makeup removers- reusable soft cloths from Sephora Photo, Sephora.

I came across these magic makeup-erasing cloths on Instagram, and while I wanted to believe their claim of requiring nothing more than warm water, as someone who typically *needs* coconut oil and makeup wipes and cleanser to remove my layers I was majorly skeptical. So I decided to ease into trying them first on my simple everyday look — a lighter tinted moisturizer with my usual concealer/bronzer/mascara combo.

I ran the cloth under warm water until it was saturated and wrung out the excess. Then, I rubbed my face in small circular motions. The cloth took the makeup off surprisingly well, and with less force than I normally apply with a disposable makeup wipe. Massaging its soft texture against my face was actually quite relaxing, too. I followed with cleanser, like usual, and didn’t notice any more makeup than normal washing down the sink.

However, after using it on a *full-glam* day, the results were less satisfactory. The towel looked really stained, and there was still a considerable amount of makeup left on my face. The instructions advise to just “finish by rinsing out the towel with warm water” but, sweetie, warm water has got nothing on this longwear formula! This is something to keep in mind if you have a darker skin tone (ergo, a darker foundation that may stain the towel more noticeably).


I tried again, this time using some of my trusty coconut oil with the cloth. It seemed to work better, but I’m not so sure about the hygienic aspect — oil is harder to get out of fabric, so I would probably need to wash the cloth with soap directly after use.

Without oil, I was able to use each towel four times, so the pack of two towels lasted me a week before I had to wash them — not bad at all. At $15 for two towels, I may just stock up so I don’t have to do laundry that often.

Step 2: Package-free cleanser

reusable makeup removers-solid cleansers without packaging Photo, LUSH.

Next I got to thinking about how I can reduce waste when it comes to my cleanser. I immediately thought of LUSH — their facial cleansers either come package-free, or in a reusable tub that can be returned to the store and cashed in for a free face mask (who doesn’t love a face mask?).

My current fave is “Angels On Bare Skin.” It does an *amazing* job of balancing out your skin’s oil production. Also, because it’s gentle, this soap can work for a variety of skin types. If you’re more on the dry side, you *have* to try “Let the Good Times Roll,” which feels and smells like you’re rubbing cookie dough on your face (in the best way).


I love these soaps for a second step in washing off excess makeup and oil, though I wouldn’t recommend going straight in with this cleanser to your fully-glammed face. It’s gentler and probably won’t get everything off, but works well when paired with a (reusable) wipe.

My only gripe with these products is how quickly they run out. And because LUSH products mainly contain natural ingredients with minimal preservatives, their shelf life is too short to stockpile. So that means frequently going back to the store to pick up a container every time I run out. Ranging from $12-17 for 100g, I don’t consider them high-end at all, but there are definitely cheaper options — those, unfortunately don’t come in reusable packaging, though.

Step 3: Reusable Cotton Pads

reusable makeup removers-cotton pads from Oko Greations sit in palm of hand next to smaller, throw-away cotton pad. The disposable cotton round vs. the new and improved reusable one. (Photo, Joel Louzado)

My final skincare step is spritzing my face with toner and swiping a cotton pad gently over the surface to remove excess dirt. (You would be surprised how much comes off, even after double-cleansing.) I found reusable options from Öko Creations in a pack of eight, for just under $15. I was NOT expecting to like these as much as I did. Online, they looked much smaller, and I was anticipating being annoyed with how often I would need to wash them. But I was surprised to see that they were palm-sized, and I could get away with using each pad twice on each side.

The material felt nice on my skin, and the pad was actually easier to hold than the small disposable rounds that I had been using previously. It didn’t leave any fibruous residue on my skin, and did a good job of removing excess dirt, oil and makeup. I would recommend these 100 percent. I’m so glad that I’ll basically never have to buy cotton pads again. Even though a bag is usually only around $2.50 for a hundred rounds, I feel better knowing how significantly I’m reducing my waste production. Sorry, Walmart.

Results: The garbage pile in my bathroom is significantly smaller


Overall, these replacements are incredibly easy to use, and I’m quite happy now that I’m making fewer trips to empty my bathroom garbage bin. It took a bit of trial and error, but I’ve found a routine that actually works — and that I don’t have to lose any beauty sleep over.


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