Waste free guide – bathroom and beauty products

Waste free guide – bathroom and beauty products

I’ve given myself a monthly challenge of going room by room to look at ways I can reduce waste. First up, in January, I looked at the bathroom. This needed more than one hit with so many items so this month I’m looking at the second half – beauty products. Yes it’s now March – I’m a few days late. I blame Covid.

This is a relatively easy one for me as I’m not a big consumer. I don’t wear much make-up, I don’t use body lotions very often and I don’t have a routine using cleaners and toners. I’m a big believer in the skin as an organ – it gets fed from the inside (food) rather than needing to prop it up from the outside. This propping up is normally done in the form of a product containing some awful ingredients. My thoughts on this could take up a whole blog and this is meant to be about reducing waste so I’ve left my rant for now and just put some links below. I’ve also got some links to New Zealand bloggers who cover the options for beauty products available in more detail.

My lack of consumerism in this area means there’s not much for me to change but of course there’s always room for improvement.

This month I’m changing – liquid hand soap – shampoo and shower bar soaps

Body, hair and lip balms

I make my own with the same base ingredients with different essential oils depending on what I have available. I add in more wax for the lip balm and a bit less to make a man hair wax. I don’t use body lotion regularly – I tend to only put it on after shaving. My dry frizzy hair does need more taming so I use this more often.

Options I use – home-made. The easiest way to reduce waste and customise your product. I’ve got an easy recipe here.

Commercial options – there are more and more New Zealand companies producing body balms/lotions with ingredients and waste in mind. That includes making bars rather than liquids so there’s no plastic bottle. Here’s just a small selection worth looking into –


Even though I’m a gardener I don’t routinely use an underarm product. When I do I want it to be a deodorant not an anti-persiperant and toxin free – definitely no aluminium! I’ve bought various ones which have lasted me years (!) so I still don’t need to worry about getting rid of a container. To be honest I probably should throw the couple of commercial ones I have away but they still smell fine.

Options I use –

  • Crystal body deodorant
  • Biologika organic deodorant
  • Home-made – I’ve gone down the home-made with baking soda route but it hasn’t worked for me. I’ve made one in a liquid base of alcohol which I now like. Initially I had extra smelly pits when using this and some family who tried it found the same. It seems that the body can react to something new in a negative way but it does settle down after a few days of using it. Primrose and Co have a great blog about aluminium in anti-perspirants and the smelly pit syndrome when changing products here.

Commercial natural options – the companies I linked to above all have aluminium free products and most also contain magnesium which is good for reducing odours and something we usually lack. They’re bars which again means no plastic bottle. I’ve tried some bars which I don’t like as far as application goes and the resulting smear under the arms but many people use them so they’re obviously worth trying.

Liquid hand soap

We use Eco-store and get bottles refilled which saves a bottle. Why liquid soap and not a bar soap? When it comes to guests using soap I would rather it not be communal and it’s more convenient than bar soaps and a drip tray by sinks.

Better options –

  • Liquid castile soap and water. I have a big bottle of this but the liquid castile soap and water just doesn’t make a nice hand soap. I’ve tried. If it works for you then that’s awesome.
  • Castile soap in a foaming bottle. I keep meaning to buy a foaming dispenser which would make it easier to use but then I read about the Ethique bars (below) so am hanging out for that.
  • Ethique concentrates. They have just released a range of concentrates which includes a liquid hand soap. These come as a hard bar which you add boiling water to in order to make a liquid. I think these concentrated bars are a game changer when it comes to cleaning and beauty products and reducing plastic waste. I’m waiting for them to release their dishwashing bars and a non-lavender option for the liquid hand soap then I’ll be ordering some to try. I was hoping it would be this month instead that’s something else to update on later.


I don’t wear much make-up, I hardly ever use lipstick and it’s mostly because I know what’s in it and don’t want to put it on my body just to…. um, why? Of course I do use make-up, just not routinely and when I do I want it to be organic. Waste free options are more difficult when it comes to make-up especially something like a tube of lipstick or liquid eyeliner which can’t easily be recycled. When I need to replace something I’ll do more research on what’s available. Reduce reduce reduce is a good option!

Options I use –


I’m not a big consumer of this either and often spray a little lemongrass essential oil onto my hair or clothes if I want to smell of something. Again, the main reason I don’t use much is that I know how toxic fragrance is!

Abel is a NZ based company which makes organic perfume that smells great. Yes!! Check out their website here.

Shampoo and conditioner

We use a shampoo bar. I haven’t found a bar conditioner I like. If you can find a conditioner bar that works for you then great. If not, getting your liquid in a refillable container is also a good solution – I use ecostore. I shampoo and condition my hair every ten days or so. Yep. It’s not no-poo or anything, I don’t give it a name. I just don’t wash the good oils out of my hair every day.  I have tried using just castile bar soap on my hair but found it a bit harsh. I’ve also tried rinsing with apple cider vinegar but this also didn’t work well for my hair. Like deodorant and body lotions I know that changing hair products can take a while to settle in but I also didn’t like the vinegary smell my hair had!

 Options I use –

  •  Ethique shampoo bar
  •  ecostore conditioner – I can get this refilled when it runs out. It’s lasted for ages! They take the bottles back for recycling which is great if you’re in the city.

This month I’m changing to bar shampoo from a local lady – Nan’s patch. I love to support local small businesses. She makes these with simple natural ingredients and I bet they will smell amazing. I wanted to try these first before posting this blog but time and Covid have got away from me. I’ll let you know how they are.                         

Shower soap

I’ve been using plain castile soap which tends to get very gluggy, even sitting on a drip tray in the shower. I also buy random ones from the markets which doesn’t always work for me with timing and continuity.

As with the shampoo bar above, I’m trying new bar soap from Nan’s Patch.

rethink – refuse – replace – reduce – re-use – recycle

When it comes to bathroom and beauty products – rethinking and reducing is my recommendation, especially when it comes to those containing less than desirable ingredients.  Instead of using a product out of habit rethink – do I need to put this on my skin or hair? Reduce – can I skip a day? If you’re at home during Level 3 (ggrrrr) think of it as an opportunity to mix up the beauty regime.

Further reading

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a great resource to look up beauty products to see how the safety of the ingredients rate. It’s a US company so it doesn’t have all our smaller NZ brands but all the big names are there. You might be surprised to see how your regular purchases rate. They also look at cleaning products and loads more. Their website is here.

Ethically Kate has a great blog on 17 natural skin care products here. Most of them are made here.

Eco Warrior Princess is a website dedicated to going green. One of the articles is this great read about the state of the beauty care industry including a moving documentary. It has more links at the end of the article.

Related Posts

Getting into Waste

Getting into Waste

Refurbished ECE centre a Zero Waste hero

Refurbished ECE centre a Zero Waste hero

The best liquid laundry detergent recipe

The best liquid laundry detergent recipe

Growing bunching onions – Allium fistulosum

Growing bunching onions – Allium fistulosum

No Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.