Easy tips to help create a more sustainable beauty routine

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·7 min read

Watch: Sophie Porley’s simple beauty and bathroom swaps to help you live a more sustainable life

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You may recognise Sophie Porley as Ellie Nightingale in Hollyoaks, however, away from the camera, the actress is passionate about living a sustainable life. Her motto is that it's not about one person doing it perfectly, it's about everyone doing it imperfectly.

One place we could all do with changing up things is the bathroom. Our daily beauty routine is full of single-use and plastic products that are all damaging to our planet.

The Cotton Bud Project, who campaign to keep cotton buds out of marine litter, estimate that we use 1.8 billion – mostly single-use – plastic cotton buds every year. Improper disposal of the buds – flushing rather than throwing them away – has resulted in waterways and the seas becoming polluted. waterways and the marine environment.

Read more: 10 eco-friendly beauty products doing their bit for the planet

They’re not the only thing clogging up our waterways – face wipes or wet wipes are behind 93% of sewer blockages in the UK, once again polluting our beaches and harming marine life.

Porley believes there are lots of easy swaps to make and a huge array of different sustainable products out there. If you’re unsure of whether a product ticks the green box, she suggests you check with B Corporation.

“B Corporation is an organization who link themselves to companies that are sustainable,” she explains.

“If you’re ever concerned about how sustainable a brand is, you can have a look if it's B Corp registered. It doesn't mean to say that it's a company isn't B Corp registered, but they're not sustainable, but you know that you can trust it.”

Here are some of the top self-care products you can swap today to help live a more sustainable life:

Rethink your cotton bud

It’s actually the way people dispose of cotton buds that causes a lot of the issues, so make sure you always throw them away in the bin, but Porley also recommends trying alternatives. Her favourite is one made with a bamboo stem but there are other options.

“You can also find ones with paper stems, but I find them a bit bendy,” she says.

“There is also a super sustainable way to use these, which is the reusable cotton bud. I personally haven't found that I liked them that much. I would still rather for what I need it for use this one, but that's just personal preference.”

Buy it: 400 Bamboo Cotton Buds | £4.49 from Amazon

400 Bamboo Cotton Buds
400 Bamboo Cotton Buds

Ditch the deodorant

Don’t worry, Porley isn’t suggesting you go deodorant-free all together, but instead of choosing a spray or roll on, opt for one that is in a bar of balm format.

“One of the great things about lots of these sustainable companies is that alongside being sustainable, lots of them try and be non-toxic as well,” she explains.

Read more: These sustainable beauty brands should be on your radar

“Lots of these products you'll find are perhaps better for your body and better for the environment – win, win!”

Buy it: Salt of the Earth Plastic Free Deodorant Crystal | £3.74 (Was £4.99) from Holland & Barrett

Salt of the Earth Plastic Free Deodorant Crystal
Salt of the Earth Plastic Free Deodorant Crystal

Switch up you shampoo and conditioner

Don’t take two bottles into the shower… instead choose a bar or cube to wash your hair with.

Shampoo and conditioner bars look like soap and beauty cubes look more like an Oxo cube!

“It's not making gravy, it's making your hair clean,” laughs Porley.

“You just break it up, add some water and it creates like a paste for your hair and they work really well.”

For some people a bar of shampoo may be a step to far so Porley suggests checking out other companies – such as Oway – who are trying to be more sustainable throughout the whole process from how it’s sourced to how it’s produced.

Buy it: Shampoo Bar | £8.99 from Lush

Shampoo Bar
Shampoo Bar

Green up your dental routine

An estimated 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes are used worldwide each year with about 80% of those ending up in the sea. Add to that it takes up to a thousand years to decompose and it’s easy to see why we should all be ditching our plastic toothbrushes.

Bamboo toothbrushes are more commonly available now, which reduces the plastics, while Porley suggests finding companies that recycle toothbrush heads to help reduce landfill.

She says: “If you have an electric toothbrush, like I do - you already own it, you already have it - and so you just need to get the replacement heads. There are companies now that when they sell you the replacement heads, they have a scheme where you can send back your old ones and they will recycle it for you.”

Read more: Six ways to make your beauty routine more sustainable

Don’t forget that most flosses are made of nylon and come in plastic packs – both of which are difficult to recycle – so opt for a cotton floss in glass packaging.

“I actually really love this product,” says the actress. “I like it more than like normal plastic floses that I've used in the past.”

And don’t forget the toothpaste. Many contain toxic ingredients, which when spat out down the sink and into the drains they can ultimately poison wildlife. Porley suggests toothpaste tablets as a greener alternative.

“You crunch them up in your mouth and add a bit of water and they start to foam,” she says.

“It can taste a little bit funny at first if you're not used to it, but I promise you do get used to it. Alternatively, they also have a paste as well. That might be more palatable for you.”

Buy it: Natural Eco Floss | £4.99 from Live Coco

Natural Eco Floss
Natural Eco Floss

Step away from the face wipes

While they are super convenient, wipes have recently got a bad rap – not only from the issue with disposable issue but also as, thanks to the high alcohol ingredient, they’re not that kind to the skin.

The solution? Swap for muslin wipes or as Porley does, reusable cotton pads.

She explains: “I just use a reusable cotton pad and then some sort of makeup remover or face wash and I use hot water and then take it off with a reusable cotton pad. And you just pop them in the washing machine - easy!”

Buy it: Reusable Skincare Pads | £15 from The White Company

Reusable Skincare Pads. (The White Company)
Reusable Skincare Pads. (The White Company)

Make your period a greener one

According to EarthWatch, every day 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet. Not great for products that contain a lot of plastics and toxins.

Thankfully there are some great alternative period products. Porley suggests a moon cup or a reusable applicator, like the ones Dame sells, or just 100% cotton organic tampons.

Read more: Flushable sanitary pads are here to help periods become more sustainable

If your prefer pads, Porley suggests reusable ones.

“You can now get reusable pads, which you wash in the washing machine, and reusable knickers,” she says.

“They are all wonderful alternatives. I suggest you have a good old Google because there's so many companies now and see what you think would work for you!”

Buy it: Intimina Ziggy Cup | £34.95 from FeelUnique

Intimina Ziggy Cup
Intimina Ziggy Cup

Watch: Sophie Porley shares some top tips to help you live a more sustainable life