Plastic-free Me: I don’t want to break-up with make-up

Today’s topic is make-up. The reality is that if I cannot find make-up free of plastic packaging then I will have to consider having a naked face for a whole month in July. Would I be willing to do this? How would I feel about going make-up free? This, dear readers could be a blogging mini-series in itself!

At first when considering cosmetics, I thought, fine, I’ll do some investigations. So I went to Boots for a browse in the make-up section. Admittedly my research was somewhat limited by my small companion, whose main goal was to find the Trunkies and create some four-wheeled havoc, but all I could find was make-up that comes in plastic packaging.

Oh dear.

Let me explain. Although I prefer to look in the mirror and be delighted by the reflection staring back at me, I am prepared to compromise. I have young children so any time spent on my appearance is usually simulataneously spent doing something else. I always put on make-up to go out in the morning though. I have pale skin and dark hair. This is a combination that can attract comments of the ‘you look tired’ variety. I prefer not to look tired and I like a bit of eye definition. It makes me feel better. I do care how I look, but not above all else.

Would it be a real problem if I had to go naked in July?

On Saturday I carried out an experiment. I decided to get through the day without make-up. We had plans to visit someone I know well. This person wouldn’t care what I looked like, the only issue would be whether I did!

I compensated for my lack of make-up by making sure I chose clothes I felt good in. I spent a little longer on my hair than I usual and put on plenty of moisturiser and lip salve . I wore my brightest jacket in the hope of coaxing out any colour I have in my face…

I thought very little of my appearance during the visit but when I looked in the bathroom mirror I was reminded I was make-up free and thought I really did look quite tired! We went for a walk, chatted with a few people and popped into a local shop. I didn’t mind being without make-up, but had I met anyone I know I am fairly sure I’d have felt more self-conscious.

All in all, that experiment was pretty darned easy! It was good to give my skin a break from chemicals and it was a time-saver to miss out the routine of having to remove it at night (with wipes that come in plastic packaging…).

Could I do the same for a night out on the town? Well, maybe, but I wouldn’t want to. It would simply be much easier for me I could find some plastic-free make-up.

Here are the contents of my make-up bag at present:

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foundation, lipstick, eyeshadow, mascara, bronzer, liquid eyeliner

Since my quick trip to Boots, I have visited a Clinique counter. My foundation’s about to run out and I remembered they do some in a glass bottle.

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While not the cheapest option, it did allow me to reduce my plastic waste but there is plastic in the lid.

Yesterday, I spotted these in Marks & Spencer:

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photo (253)


photo (250)



None of these items is entirely plastic free. But you may be able to see that much more of the packaging is made from cardboard than your typical item of make-up. You may have noticed from the first picture that I really need to replace my bronzer – a task I’ve been putting off in the vain hope that I’d find something plastic free – so I bought one.

When I got home I read the ingredients and realised it contained aluminium, a metal I’m not keen on using on my body since early studies linked it with Alzheimer’s disease. Although from the little I’ve read, I can’t guarantee that link has ever been proven, I tend to steer clear of it, so the bronzer may have to go back to the shop.

This emphasises the juggling act that reducing single use plastics has been so far. For example, I am constantly choosing between plastic-free versus organics: organic veg in my local supermarket comes in plastic but ‘normal’ veg doesn’t ,and I can get ‘normal’ milk delivered in glass bottles but not organic (post to follow).

It seems that make-up may also be a compromise, although, saying that, I couldn’t even find the ingredients on my current bronzer…

I think I can get through July on a reduced bag of cosmetics. I need to source those staple items though! What I’d really like to know is:

• Have you seen any make-up packaged in cardboard?
• Do you know of a tinted lip salve that is both plastic-free and paraben-free?
• Where can I get an eye pencil that doesn’t have that unnecessary plastic cap over it?

I really hope I can update this post before July!

28 thoughts on “Plastic-free Me: I don’t want to break-up with make-up

    • Thank you! This was a site I hadn’t considered. Interestingly Rae Strauss of @myzerowaste also took a look there and has found some that are plastic free and look free from ‘nasties’ so hopefully I’ll be able to investigate and update this post in the next few months.
      Delighted to have you drop by – I have your book on order 🙂

  1. I can’t help you with make-up from my own experience, as I never use it! But my sister also doesn’t have any plastic-free make-up. It doesn’t really seem to be findable in normal stores.
    I found this blog about plastic-free mascara:
    And from that website:
    And about the same store.
    And also: (with link to
    I found these websites through a discussion on plastic-free make-up, maybe they’re useful for you (though I still see some plastic in product images, I don’t know if it’s in everything):
    I think the TWINK site is easiest to find plastic-free make-up.

    • Thank you so much. I really appreciate this! A few people have suggested Etsy which I hadn’t thought of – maybe it’ll help me in more ways before July!

      I did wonder if readers going plastic free might not wear make up which does seem to be the case but it’s lovely that everyone’s helping me find stuff anyway 🙂

      • I also didn’t think of Etsy until I came across it when searching for plastic-free make-up 😉

        It’s not the case that I’m not wearing make-up because I don’t want to use plastic. I’ve never worn make-up because I didn’t like to put things on my skin (before I knew I was allergic to quite a few ingredients), but now I know the ingredients I’m allergic to I do wonder why there is so much make-up without ingredients listed! And I still don’t use it, as I still don’t like to put anything on my skin 😛

    • Hope it’s all showing now! I seem to be able to approve on my phone but not reply. I tend to do both at the same time so that I don’t seem rude by reading and not responding but I hadn’t appreciated that you might not see your own comment so I’ll approve at first opportunity and then reply when I manage to get on my laptop.

  2. My sister bought me a mascara and a lip gloss from Lush in the UK that come in glass bottles. I have to say since going plastic-free I haven’t actually bought any make-up and I pretty much never wear it any more…

    • I am due a trip to Lush so I’ll check it out. Seems from the other comments that I should be able to source make-up after all. Lush would be handy though as I like their soaps and am meaning to try shampoos and conditioners.

      I would love to be free of the ‘crutch’ of make-up!

  3. One more thing… regarding Lush… be sure and check ingredients labels. While they do have a lot of plastic-free products, and I use the Toothy Tabs to brush my teeth, some of the ingredients in their products include synthetic preservatives and other things you might not want. If I ever do a second edition of my book, I will make an even stronger disclaimer about Lush.

    • Yes, thanks for that. Be simpler really if they just gave us the lovely packaging free, handmade, preservative free products that we actually want! Reducing plastics is such a balancing act…not bloomin’ easy!

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  8. Hello.
    I am a former MAC artist, current MAC pro artist and costume design graduate of Cornish College. I realized how much plastic waste I was producing and I can help you locate makeup, grooming and hygiene products without plastic. This is a little collage of a few items. I can link you to whatever you want to know more about.


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