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Last Updated on 08/05/2021
Maintaining a beauty regime can be tricky while travelling. Often, the easiest solution is to load up on last-minute beauty products at the airport rather than pack the entire contents of your makeup drawer. But when it comes to being eco-friendly, a lot of these cosmetics are not as green as you might think.
From travel-sized minis to chemical sunscreens and a whole lot of non-recyclable plastic, what we pack in our suitcases can have a huge environmental impact. With studies predicting that plastic will outnumber fish by 2050, looking great shouldn’t be at the cost of the planet.
Luckily, there are some amazing green brands out there that are determined to change the beauty industry. What’s more, their products make perfect hassle-free travel companions – and one or two might even save you money in the long run too!
So, if you fancy clearing out your makeup bag and updating a few staples, here are my favourite green cosmetics for travel:
1. LUSH Slap Stick Foundation
Photo credit: LUSH
LUSH Slap Stick Foundation is a solid foundation shaped a bit like an egg. Save for the recyclable cardboard box it comes in, it’s packaging-free which makes it ideal if you want to be zero waste when you travel. Pop it in a reusable tin? Even better.
The base of the foundation is dipped in an eco-friendly peelable wax so you can grab onto it easily without getting messy. It also means you can apply it without the need for makeup brushes or beauty blenders – freeing up much-needed space in your bags.
There are 40 shades to choose from, promising light to medium coverage with a nourishing blend of coconut oil, jojoba oil as well as 29 other enriching ingredients.
One thing to note about this eco-friendly foundation is that it is prone to melting in hotter climates so make sure you pack it in a sealed tin to prevent leaks!
2. Botanics All Bright Biodegradable Cleansing Face Wipes
Photo credit: Botanics
Makeup wipes are an easy solution when travelling, particularly if you’re keeping liquids to a minimum. You can just wipe off your makeup with a flick of a cloth and you’re done.
Unfortunately, we pay a high price for convenience as makeup wipes are a scourge on the environment. They’re often made from non-biodegradable plastic fibres and they have a disgusting habit of blocking sewers.
This is where Botanics All Bright Biodegradable Cleansing Face Wipes step in. These wipes are free from any nasties, leaving your skin refreshed, soothed and radiant. Better still, they’re made from 100% wood-based cellulose fibres without any plastic binding.
This sustainable beauty product biodegrades in water, soil and home compost, making them perfect for day-to-day use and travel.
3. Brush On Block
Photo credit: Brush On Block
Brush On Block is not your typical sunscreen – it’s a mineral-based powder sunscreen. One of the challenges of wearing makeup when you’re somewhere hot is keeping your face well protected from the sun. One sunscreen application won’t cut it and it’s a tricky ordeal putting it on over foundation.
Brush On Block solves all of these problems. While I don’t recommend using it as your sole sunscreen, it makes for a neat little touch up if you want to keep yourself protected throughout the day.
The sunscreen is made from zinc oxide and titanium dioxide so it’s both non-toxic and reef-safe. It should last about 3-4 months and when you run out you can buy a refill cartridge instead of a whole new applicator.
4. BYBI Babe Balm
Photo credit: BYBI
Babe Balm by ByBI is one of those ingenious sustainable skincare products that’s just made for travel. It’s a 100% natural, vegan and cruelty-free balm that can be used for any type of dry skin remedy from head to toe.
Dry lips? It’s a lip balm. Cracked hands and feet? It’s a moisturiser. Take it on the plane and nourish your skin after all that dry plane air. You can even use it (sparingly) as a facial treatment, for your cheeks, eyebrows and fading tans.
Babe Balm’s packaging is made from sugarcane, a carbon-neutral material that’s 100% recyclable so you can add it with confidence to your packing list.
5. RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek
Photo credit: RMS Beauty
RMS Beauty are experts at simple and effortless beauty. Although a little high-end as makeup brands go, they champion natural multi-use products which make them a top green cosmetic brand for travel.
A favourite of mine is the Lip2Cheek, which, as it says on the tin, can be used to enhance lips and cheeks for a fresh and dewy look. There are 9 shades to choose from and the pot is small enough to slip it into your bag and touch up your face on the go.
RMS Beauty prides itself on enhancing natural beauty rather than covering up your face in a layer of chemicals. All ingredients are organic, food-grade and as raw as possible. All packaging is minimal, recyclable or reusable.
6. Ethique The Guardian Conditioner
Photo credit: Ethique
I don’t know about you but my hair often gets overlooked when I travel. Like skin, hair can take quite a hit. From the dry air in planes to different climates (humidity alert), salt and different waters, your hair can go through a lot which is why it’s nice to give it a little TLC from time to time.
Ethique are a plastic-free, carbon-neutral, palm oil free, vegan and cruelty-free brand that offer a range of gorgeous beauty products in solid form.
If your hair gets dry and damaged when you’re travelling, opt for Ethique’s The Guardian Conditioner which contains cocoa butter, coconut oil, vitamin B5 and lime oil. This handy little bar tackles frizz and leaves your hair feeling smooth and soft.
Just one bar is the equivalent of five liquid bottles (preventing 5 plastic bottles being disposed of) and saves 5.1 litres of water.
7. Zao Refillable Liquid Brush Liner
Photo credit: Zao
Don’t you just hate it when you run out of liquid eyeliner and you’re left with an empty plastic tube that just gets thrown away? Thanks to Zao’s Refillable Liquid Brush Liner, you never have to worry about that again. When it’s run dry, simply replace the cartridge and recycle the empty one.
Zao’s outer packaging is made from a varnished bamboo case and is presented in a pretty bamboo pouch to keep it safe on the go. The eyeliner is made from premium quality raw ingredients so it’s ideal for sensitive eyes. There’s also a fun range of colours to suit your style and mood.
8. Blushberry Botanicals lip balm
Photo credit: Blushberry Botanicals
Lip balm is a handy travel essential for those dry lip moments but a lot of them come in unsustainable plastic packaging. Instead, choose Blushberry Botanicals’ range of gorgeously soothing lip butters that come in fun little slide tins.
Each lip butter is handmade in small batches in Scotland using the highest quality natural ingredients. They’re 84% organic and contain no artificial colours or flavours which means they’re kind to you and the planet.
Blushberry Botanicals are vegan and cruelty-free and their entire packaging is free of plastic.
9. Coconut oil
Photo credit: Kiki Health
Coconut oil is one of your best travel beauty friends because that stuff can be used for pretty much anything. Seriously.
If you notice split ends, coconut oil. If you need a moisturiser, coconut oil. Makeup remover? Coconut oil. Puffy eyes? Yep, you’ve guessed it, coconut oil and the list of its many uses goes on.
It’s worth bearing in mind that when it comes to the environment, not all coconut oils are created equal. Go for glass packaging instead of plastic, make sure the brand is ethical and Fairtrade and that the coconut oil is organic. Brands to look out for include, Lucy Bee, Kiki Health and The Body Source.
10. Essential oils
Photo credit: Ecodrop
Travelling is an amazing experience but there are times when you need a little SOS treatment to get back to feeling yourself. Essential oils could be just the thing you need.
If you’re suffering from jet lag or lack of a decent night’s sleep, dab a few drops of lavender oil on the soles of your feet, your wrists and your pillow to help your body relax.
Rose oil is another travel hero. It can do just about anything from easing mental health issues to reducing scars and burns on your skin.
Another favourite is tea tree oil. Think of it as your antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal remedy because you never know what you might come across on your adventures.
Travelling can also take a pretty heavy toll on your skin. You’re exposed to differences in weather, diet, humidity and pollution not to mention sleep deprivation and dehydration. If you suffer from acne or wake up to a pimple party on your face, treat them with a few dabs of tea tree oil and they will disappear in no time.
11. Solid toiletries
Photo credit: Ethique
If you’re planning to fly with a carry-on only, you can’t always offload your excess toiletries on an unsuspecting partner or pals when going through security.
You have to somehow make do and carry enough 100ml bottles to fit snugly in a clear ziplock bag without it ripping. You don’t realise how many essential toiletries you own until you’re forced to play an impromptu game of travel Tetris.
Save yourself the bother and stress by packing solid toiletries instead. From hair products to cleansers and moisturisers, you can get a good quality solid form of just about everything in your beauty kit. They’re more sustainable and last longer too! Why? Read all about it in this post.
12. Reef-Safe Sunscreen
Photo credit: Green People
I’ve already mentioned Brush On Block, but since I’ve only recommended it for touch-ups, I thought I should share some of my favourite sustainable and reef-safe sunscreen brands too.
First, a note on what it means to be reef-safe: most chemical-based sunscreens that you see on the high street contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. These chemicals have been found to damage the DNA of coral reefs, making them more susceptible to bleaching. Many travel destinations, including Hawaii, have started to ban these chemical-based sunscreens.
So what’s the alternative? Mineral-based sunscreens that contain non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are non-toxic for you and the environment – and they work just as well to protect you from the sun’s UV rays.
Some of my favourite brands include Pai (hypoallergenic and non-greasy which is great for faces) and Green People (in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society). This Green People sunscreen is also scent-free which makes it perfect for those with sensitive skin.
Bonus travel beauty tip: Protect your powders
Photo credit: Joanna Kosinska
Your precious bronzers, blushers, eyeshadows and all other powdery products take one hell of a beating in transit. I’m sure you’ve seen how luggage is tossed from the plane to the conveyor belt on arrival and let’s just say the staff don’t really have precious cargo in mind.
It’s the worst when one of your makeup powders shatter. It goes everywhere and you end up packing way too much makeup on your face.
The simple solution to all your travel versus powder woes is putting a few cotton pads inside the lid of the product to cushion it. Then your bag can fall down several flights of stairs for all you care because your makeup powders are going nowhere.
Final Thoughts on the top green cosmetics
Photo credit: EcoPanda
I hope you found my list of sustainable cosmetics useful for your travels. Making a few key decisions about the items you pack is the first step towards being a sustainable traveller – and who says you can’t be green and look good on the road too? For more inspiration, you can check out my complete sustainable packing list here.