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The Environmental Impact Of Conventional Facial Cleansers And Sustainable Alternatives

6 mins read. Published on 06 May 23, Updated on 06 Jun 23.
The Environmental Impact Of Conventional Facial Cleansers And Sustainable Alternatives

If you're looking to reduce your environmental impact through your daily routine, skincare is a great place to start. Conventional facial cleansers often contain harmful ingredients and come packaged in non-recyclable containers, leading to negative effects on the environment. Fortunately, there are sustainable alternatives that offer the same benefits, without the negative environmental impact.

In this blog post, we'll discuss the environmental impact of conventional facial cleansers and explore sustainable alternatives that prioritise our planet while keeping our skin healthy and clean. We believe that small changes can make a big difference, and swapping out your conventional skincare products for more eco-friendly options is one step towards a more sustainable lifestyle. So let's dive in and learn more about the impact of our daily skincare routine!

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The Environmental Impact Of Conventional Facial Cleansers

Many conventional facial cleansers contain harmful ingredients that can have negative impacts on both our health and the environment. Some common ingredients found in conventional facial cleansers include microbeads, synthetic fragrances, and parabens.


Microbeads are small plastic particles that are often found in exfoliating facial cleansers. When these microbeads are washed down the drain, they can end up in waterways and oceans, harming marine wildlife and contaminating our water supply.

Synthetic Fragrances

Synthetic fragrances are often added to facial cleansers to make them smell better. However, these fragrances can contain a cocktail of harmful chemicals that can cause skin irritation and other health problems. When these synthetic fragrances are washed down the drain, they can also harm aquatic life.


Parabens are a preservative commonly added to facial cleansers to extend their shelf life. However, studies have shown that parabens can mimic the hormone estrogen in the body, leading to hormonal imbalances and other health problems. Parabens can also end up in our water supply, causing harm to aquatic life.

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The Harmful Ingredients In Conventional Facial Cleansers

Most conventional facial cleansers contain a variety of harmful ingredients that are not only detrimental to our skin but also to the environment. Some common harmful ingredients found in facial cleansers include:

1. Parabens

Parabens are synthetic preservatives that are widely used in many personal care products, including facial cleansers. They have been linked to disrupting the endocrine system, hormone imbalances, and even cancer.

2. Synthetic Fragrances

Synthetic fragrances are often used in facial cleansers to give them a pleasant scent. However, they are known to contain numerous toxic chemicals that can cause irritation, allergies, and even respiratory problems.

3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

SLS is a harsh detergent that is commonly used in facial cleansers and other personal care products. It can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness, irritation, and even acne. SLS is also harmful to aquatic life and can pollute waterways.

4. Microbeads

Microbeads are tiny plastic particles that are often added to facial cleansers as exfoliants. They are non-biodegradable and can end up in oceans and other waterways, where they can be ingested by marine life and cause serious harm.

Fortunately, there are many sustainable alternatives to conventional facial cleansers that are free of harmful ingredients. Some options include natural cleansers made with ingredients like honey, oatmeal, and coconut oil, as well as eco-friendly brands that prioritize sustainability and transparency in their ingredient sourcing and production processes.

Plastic Microbeads And Their Impact On The Environment

Plastic microbeads are tiny plastic particles that are commonly used in many conventional facial cleansers and other personal care products. These microbeads are too small to be filtered out by most wastewater treatment systems and end up in our oceans, lakes, and rivers. Once in the water, microbeads can absorb toxins and pollutants and are often ingested by marine life, which can harm both the animals and the entire food chain.

The Environmental Impact Of Plastic Microbeads

The environmental impact of plastic microbeads is staggering. In the United States alone, it is estimated that up to 8 trillion microbeads enter our waterways every single day. These microbeads are known to cause harm to aquatic life, including fish, crabs, and other creatures. Additionally, microbeads do not degrade and can persist in the environment for hundreds of years, further contributing to pollution and damage to ecosystems.

Sustainable Alternatives to Conventional Facial Cleansers with Plastic Microbeads

The good news is that there are many sustainable alternatives to conventional facial cleansers that contain plastic microbeads. These alternatives use natural ingredients that are biodegradable and do not pose a threat to the environment. Look for facial cleansers that use ingredients like jojoba beads, ground almonds, or oatmeal to gently exfoliate and cleanse your skin without causing harm to the environment. By choosing sustainable alternatives, you can help to reduce the amount of plastic pollution in our waterways and protect the planet for future generations.

The Importance Of Choosing Sustainable Alternatives

Choosing sustainable alternatives is crucial for reducing our impact on the environment. The production of conventional facial cleansers often involves harmful chemicals and excessive packaging that contributes to pollution and waste. Sustainable alternatives, on the other hand, prioritize natural and eco-friendly ingredients, as well as minimal packaging.

Benefits of Sustainable Alternatives

Using sustainable alternatives has numerous benefits for both individuals and the environment. For example, natural ingredients are less likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions, making them a safer choice for those with sensitive skin. Sustainable products also tend to have a lower carbon footprint, as they are often made with renewable resources and produced using more environmentally-friendly practices.

How to Choose Sustainable Alternatives

When shopping for sustainability, it's important to look for products that are certified by reputable third-party organizations, such as the USDA organic seal or the Forest Stewardship Council certification. Additionally, be mindful of the packaging opt for recyclable materials or minimal packaging whenever possible. By choosing sustainable facial cleansers and other products, we can make a positive impact on the planet while also promoting healthier and safer choices for ourselves.

Natural Ingredients To Look For In Facial Cleansers

When it comes to facial cleansers, many conventional products can negatively impact the environment and our health. The good news is that there are sustainable alternatives that utilize natural ingredients. Here are some natural ingredients to look for in facial cleansers:

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the tea tree and is known for its antimicrobial properties. It can help control acne and blemishes, making it a great ingredient to look for in facial cleansers if you have oily or acne-prone skin.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that is often used in skincare products due to its soothing properties. It can help calm irritated skin and reduce inflammation, making it a great ingredient to look for in facial cleansers if you have sensitive or dry skin.

Green Tea

Green tea is filled with antioxidants that help fight free radicals, which can cause premature aging of the skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation and redness. Look for facial cleansers that contain green tea if you want to protect your skin from environmental damage.


Lavender is a fragrant herb that is known for its calming properties. It can also help soothe irritated and inflamed skin. Look for facial cleansers that contain lavender if you want to relax while cleansing your skin. By choosing facial cleansers that contain natural ingredients, you can be kind to both your skin and the environment. Be sure to check the labels and do your research to find sustainable, eco-friendly options that work for you and your skin type.

Eco-Friendly Packaging Options For Facial Cleansers

Glass Packaging

Glass is a great option for eco-friendly packaging. It is infinitely recyclable so it can be used again and again without losing quality. Glass packaging is also a popular choice for sustainable facial cleansers because it does not contain harmful chemicals that can be found in plastic packaging.

Paper Packaging

Paper packaging is another eco-friendly packaging option for facial cleansers. It is biodegradable and recyclable, making it a great alternative to plastic packaging. Paper packaging can also be decorated with designs or printed with information, making it a versatile choice for sustainable packaging options.

Refillable Packaging

Refillable packaging is a sustainable and eco-friendly option for facial cleansers. It not only reduces waste but also saves money for customers in the long run. With refillable packaging, customers can simply refill the bottles of their facial cleansers instead of buying new packaging each time they run out of product.

In conclusion, eco-friendly packaging options for facial cleansers can help reduce waste and minimize the environmental impact of conventional facial cleansers. Glass, paper, and refillable packaging are all great sustainable packaging options that can be used to reduce waste and promote eco-conscious shopping.

Tips For Properly Disposing Of Conventional Facial Cleansers

Conventional facial cleansers often come in plastic bottles and contain harmful chemicals that are damaging to the environment. Here are some tips for properly disposing of them:

1. Check the Recycling Guidelines

Before disposing of your facial cleanser bottle, check the recycling guidelines in your area. Many areas only accept certain types of plastics, so it's important to know which plastics are recyclable.

2. Empty the Bottle

Make sure the bottle is empty before recycling it. If there is still some cleanser left in the bottle, use it up or donate it to someone who can use it.

3. Remove the Pump/ Lid

Remove the pump or lid from the bottle and put it in the recycling bin separately. This makes it easier for the recycling facility to process the materials.

4. Dispose of the Bottle Properly

After removing the pump or lid, recycle the bottle according to your area's guidelines. If the bottle is not recyclable, dispose of it in the trash.

Properly disposing of conventional facial cleansers is important for minimizing their impact on the environment. By following these tips, you can make a positive contribution towards protecting the planet.

Sustainable Brands That Offer Facial Cleansers And Other Skincare Products

1. TerraCycle

2. Ethique

Ethique's solid facial cleansers are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional liquid cleansers. Its products are package-free and come in compostable packaging. Ethique also offers a range of other skincare products from shampoo bars to moisturizers.

3. Lush

Lush is well-known for its commitment to sustainability, and its skincare products are no exception. Its facial cleansers, toners, and moisturizers come in recycled or recyclable packaging, and some products come in solid form, reducing the need for packaging entirely.

4. Cocokind

Cocokind's skincare products are made with organic and sustainable ingredients, and its packaging is fully recyclable or biodegradable. Its facial cleansers are gentle and effective, using natural ingredients such as turmeric and sea moss.

5. Plaine Products

Plaine Products' facial cleanser is vegan, cruelty-free, and comes in a refillable, aluminum bottle. The brand emphasizes using low-waste packaging for all its products and is committed to reducing plastic waste in the beauty industry.


OSEA's facial cleansers and other skincare products are made with sustainably sourced, organic, and vegan ingredients. The brand's packaging is recyclable or compostable, and it offers a refill program for its products.

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