Back when we were little girls, we thought the prettiest colors were pink or baby blue. Now we know the true color of beauty is green, as in making eco-friendly products and practices a daily part of our looking-great regimen. Here’s a green tip for every day of the week.
Recycle your beauty packaging. You faithfully toss newspapers, milk cartons, cans and bottles into the recycling bin, but the habit probably stops at the bathroom door. “We know that the vast majority of people don’t recycle what’s in their bathrooms,” says Jenny Rushmore, global sustainability leader for Procter & Gamble’s beauty and grooming division. “But there’s a lot that could be recycled, including any plastic containers that have the number 1 or 2 on the bottom, such as shampoo and conditioner bottles.” Most municipalities don’t recycle plastic lids, caps or tops, so toss these separately into the regular trash.
Shave time off your showers. You’re using an average of five gallons of water for every minute you spend in the shower, says Sara Snow, host of Discovery Channel’s “Living Fresh” and “Get Fresh With Sara Snow” and author of the eco-guide Sara Snow’s Fresh Living. Cut your shower time by a minute or two and you can save 200 or 300 gallons of water every month. Even better, install a low-flow showerhead and you’ll cut your water consumption by another half.
Conserve water while you wash your face. Every minute you leave the tap running while you apply cleanser and massage it into your skin, two or more gallons of water escape down the drain. Instead, wet your hands, turn off the faucet, apply cleanser to your face, scrub away and don’t turn the tap back on until you’re ready to rinse.
Cut down on packaging by using multitasking products. Try two-in-one shampoo-conditioners, body washes that also moisturize, razors that have shave gel built right in and hardworking cosmetics like a stain that you can use on your cheeks, eyes and lips. Added benefits: less clutter on your vanity and less strain on your beauty budget!
Practice energy efficiency when you dry your hair. Instead of blow-drying your locks straight out of the shower, let your hair air-dry until it’s at least 50 percent dry. “It’s a win-win situation because you’re using less energy and you’re preserving the health of your hair by minimizing heat exposure,” says Rushmore. “And since it’s only in the last few minutes of drying your hair that the real styling takes place, you’re not compromising your look at all.”
Opt for reusable rather than disposable cosmetic tools. Instead of sponges, use brushes (you can find earth-friendly ones made with bamboo handles and animal-free taklon bristles). Or, gain mastery with the favorite application tool of The Style Glossy beauty blogger Tasha Reiko Brown — your fingers. “The heat of your fingers will blend cream products like foundation or concealer into your skin seamlessly,” she says. Added plus: You’ll likely pick up less product with your fingers than you would with a brush, so your cosmetics will last longer and your makeup will look more natural.
Relax with a sudsy foot soak instead of a bubble bath. A bath can use 50 to 75 gallons of water. Instead, for a de-stressing time-out, fill a pretty basin or bowl with warm water, add your favorite bubbles or a few drops of essential oils like rose, lavender or jasmine, and add a few marbles or pebbles to roll under your toes and soles for a do-it-yourself reflexology massage. Have a garden? Throw some fresh herbs or the petals from your favorite flower into the bowl.
Shelley Levitt, managing editor of The Style Glossy, is a former West Coast editor of Self magazine and senior writer at People.