By Heather Cichowski
Updated Apr 22, 2016 @ 2:15 pm
Credit: Getty Images

April isn’t just the time you dig out your jeans shorts and floral crown to celebrate the start of festival season — it's also Earth Month. And did you know that you can cut down on your ecological footprint by just making a few tiny changes in your beauty routine?

Don’t worry, reducing your beauty footprint doesn’t simply translate to “stop buying new makeup products.” Thankfully, there are a number of easy ways you can reduce your impact on the environment without giving up your beauty obsession

By now, you might be wondering how your beauty routine even contributes to your carbon footprint. Some things aren’t as obvious as your gas-guzzling car. Dermatologist Dr. Debbie Palmer explains that both our beauty habits and the beauty products we use contribute to our impact on the earth. Beauty habits cover everything from taking a shower to styling your hair to using your post-workout makeup wipes. When you look at beauty products, that includes packaging, processing, ingredients, and our shopping habits. Here's a few things to keep in mind!

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Credit: Elysia Berman

Watch How Much Water You’re Using

One of the easiest things beauty girls can do to minimize their carbon footprint is to look at their beauty routines and see where they can be cut down. If you have that tap running when you are brushing your teeth, washing your face, or shaving, turn it off!  Lauren Ruth, founder of rootfoot, stresses, “I know we've probably all heard this thousands of times, but it's real. This does make a big impact.”

Not to mention, you will be saving on water bills.

Similarly, try to reduce the amount of hot water you use. Simon Locke, International Environmental Sustainability Manager for The Body Shop, points out 25 percent of the energy the average family uses each year is for just heating water. Simon also states showers are preferable to baths, but try to get in and out as fast as you can. You can also multitask — that means wash your body while you are letting your conditioner sink in.

Skip the Daily Shampoo

Another easy thing to do is to wash your hair less, according to Brandy Monique, founder of FIG+YARROW. When you skip a wash day, you don’t have the added footprint of running water, the hair products in the shower, the electricity from using your blow dryer and styling tools, plus more hair products. Washing your hair too frequently can strip it of its natural oils too, so skipping a few times could actually improve your locks.

Consolidate Your Products

In terms of products, you should also ask yourself how many you really need. Are you using something that basically does the same thing as another product? Think “consolidate and simplify.” If you actually use everything in your cupboard, it’s better for the environment and better on your wallet. Win, win.

Try Organic and Natural Products

When it comes to buying products — which, let's face it, we'll never stop doing — be sure to check out the ingredients list. Sally Malanga, Founder of Ecco Bella, suggests looking for products with natural, non-toxic, and organic ingredients from renewable sources and ethical practices. Try products that are vegan and not tested on animals. Most of us barely give a quick glance at the ingredient list on a bottle before deciding whether to buy it, but when you stop and think about it, ingredients can have a massive impact on the environment from the way they are sourced to how they are manufactured.

Laura Huth points out that it can be difficult to know which products truly are organic and which aren’t because there currently isn't any government regulation on natural and organic labeling in the beauty industry. However, look for products that meet certain eco-certification guidelines. Tata Harper, founder of her self-named eponymous natural and non-toxic skin-care line, says to keep an eye out for ingredients that follow Ecocert Natural Cosmetic standards, are verified to be synthetic and GMO free, or are certified organic.

You can also pay attention to how many ingredients are used to create it. Tammie Umbel states, “Products should contain as little ingredients as possible. These ingredients should be whole and as unrefined and raw as possible.”

Another easy swap is to look for multitasking products, according to Dr. Palmer. For example, look for a cleanser that also exfoliates. It cuts down on materials and energy, and it streamlines your routine.

Look for Recyclable Packaging

Tata Harper says to search for packaging made from 100 percent post-consumer content — this ensures that the packaging is made from recycled content. However, the best packaging is glass because it is infinitely recyclable.

Buy in Bulk

When you’re out shopping for products, Tammie Umbel, the founder of Shea Terra Organics, says to buy in bulk whenever possible. Instead of getting tiny bottles or daily use products like pads, go for big and minimal packages. Larger containers mean you’re throwing away less packaging than a bunch of smaller ones. Tammie also points out, “Buying in bulk also means less deliveries to your home or trips to the store, which means that less fuel is consumed to get you your products.”

Use What You Buy!

Tossing a bottle that is three quarters full is a waste of all those ingredients and energy. When you have used up your products, keep your carbon footprint down by actually putting them in the recycling bin. Some brands even offer discounts or freebies for bringing back empties. For instance, LUSH gives you a free face mask when you bring back five black pots.

Do Your Brand Homework

You probably spend hours reading reviews about different products, so familiarize yourself with the practices of different brands. Simon Locke states, “Look for information on sourcing and traceability of ingredients, how they are supporting local communities, packaging that is developed with sustainable material and contain recycled content.” Some of your favorite beauty brands could be working to limit their carbon footprints without you realizing it. For example, Tata Harper grows ingredients on its farm and formulates and packages everything in a single facility. The Body Shop has recently launched its commitment to Enrich Not Exploit which has 14 specific targets to achieve by 2020. It includes doubling the number of community trade ingredients, powering all our retail stores around the world with renewable or carbon-balanced energy, and ensuring that 70 percent of product packaging does not contain fossil fuels.

The final thing to remember is that reducing your carbon footprint isn’t just important because it is Earth Month. It is something that you should be mindful of every day of the year. Once you get in the habit of doing it, it will become second nature. Pun fully intended.