The ATH Editors Take On an Earth Day Sustainability Challenge

See how four beauty gals successfully (?) integrated sustainability into their own routines.

Happy Earth Day, everyone! To celebrate, we’re dedicating ourselves to incorporating a more sustainable approach to hair care in our personal lives. From making do with fewer products, to closing the loop via upcycling old bottles, to having a more mindful approach to product consumption, we asked each of the All Things Hair editors to take on a sustainability challenge that would either test their styling mettle or shift the paradigm on their current perceptions on “going green.”

Read on for our hot takes on how this month-long challenge has impacted our individual approaches to beauty, and maybe get some inspo for your own sustainability journeys:

Caitlin Earth Day

Caitlin Reddington, Digital Editor
Challenge: Upcycling Empties

When I decided to reuse my shampoo and conditioner bottles, I thought this would be a great way to reduce the amount of waste I was contributing to the environment. I have to admit, though, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to reuse the bottles at first, but after a little thinking, I realized that there were so many ways to transform your shampoo or conditioner bottle into an item you use every day.

Caitlin Earth Day
Upcycling pretty empties into pen holders can provide a cute touch to your workspace.

Two ways I reused my product bottles: as a makeup brush holder and pencil holder. To create these, I started by using a utility knife to poke a hole in the plastic just above the label. Then, I used scissors to cut just above the label to create a wider opening. Next, I used colored tissue paper to fill the bottom of the bottle: I did this to make sure my makeup brushes and pencils weren’t sinking beyond reach. You could also use cute colored marbles or beads to fill the bottom, which would also allow the items to stand up better.

Caitlin Earth Day makeup brushes
Organize your makeup brushes with a cute container.

This is such an easy and efficient way to reuse shampoo and conditioner bottles. Plus, it helps that the packaging is aesthetically-pleasing, so there’s no need for additional decorating if you don’t want to!

Marisa Earth Day

Marisa Haber, Junior Beauty Writer
Challenge: 2-in-1 Multi-Taskers

This month, I’ve challenged myself to take shorter showers to limit my water usage and make use of multi-taskers to streamline my regimen. I recently learned that in just an 8-minute shower, 17.2 gallons of water are used. That fact had me feeling pretty guilty—I know sometimes my showers can get up to 15 minutes long, as I let conditioner sit in my hair, shave my legs and have my daily “shower thoughts.”

2-in-1 shampoo
2-in-1 shampoo bars cut down on packaging waste… and are perfect for travel, too. Photo credit: Love Beauty and Planet

I decided something needed to change and seeing as Earth Day was coming up, what better month to start? I now cut down on my water usage by turning off the shower while I’m shaving and by using a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner to speed up my hair cleansing process. I’ve currently been using Love Beauty and Planet 2-in-1 Coconut Water & Mimosa Flower Shampoo and Conditioner Bar. All I have to do is lather up the bar and then spread the product throughout my hair for hydrated and moisturized strands. What’s even better is that I also avoid excess plastic waste since the product is packaged in paper. If I decide I want a little more nourishment and moisturization, I’ll use a leave-in conditioner after showering to avoid wasting more water (this also doubles as a serum for my dry strands). My current favorite is Nexxus Scalp Inergy Paraben Free Leave-In Conditioner. This leave-in product serves as a great way to further nourish my hair as a conditioner, plus it also helps me maintain a healthy and moisturized scalp. How’s that for a multi-tasker? ~8-minute showers, here we come!

Miriam Earth Day Sustainability Challenge

Miriam Herst, Beauty Editor
Challenge: Water Usage

This month, I made a concerted effort to wash my hair less frequently in order to limit my water usage. While I usually wash my hair 2-3 times per week, I stretched the time between washes so that I was only washing my hair once a week. I made Sunday my wash day in order to start the week off fresh and made sure to really clean my scalp and strands. I used Love Beauty and Planet Delightful Detox Charcoal Shampoo Scrub to get rid of excess product and oil that built up week to week. I followed up with a conditioner and was extra careful to avoid my roots so that I didn’t start with excess moisture in my hair.

For in-between washes, a dry shampoo, like Love Beauty and Planet Juicy Grapefruit Day 2 Volume and Bounty Dry Shampoo, was my saving grace. I used it almost daily to absorb oil and add some lift back into my roots. I also wore a lot of headbands and messy ponytails to hide the grease—especially later in the week! Towards the end of the challenge, I noticed my hair had slowly started to adjust to my new wash routine and was producing less oil. I hope to maintain this new routine and continue limiting my water usage!

Eunice Earth Day sustainability challenge

Eunice Lucero, Editor in Chief
Challenge: All-Vegan Products

Variety is the spice of my life, especially with beauty, and during these stay-at-home days, my only vice. So sticking to a “natural” routine meant, one, I had to look beyond instant package/scent/mood gratification (a.k.a. my main triggers for switching it up in the shower), and two, finally lean in on how a natural routine would visibly affect my hair, for better or worse (hey, even poison ivy is natural after all—you never know!).

Full disclosure: I am truly a girl who likes to mix things up for mood and vanity, and sticking to a set parameter for stuff I use on myself seemed like a tedious task. I am also by no means whatsoever a chemical snob: I enjoy a wide variety of products and appreciate that certain non-natural ingredients can deliver great results, and was never a stickler for going full-on natural and/or vegan for “health.” In fact, apart from an obsessive stint a few years ago that had me deciding only to use K-Beauty products (side-eyeing you, #glassskin), I’ve never put any limits on my beauty consumption. So what better time to finally put my habits to the sustainability test than on Earth Day?

Eunice Earth Day sustainability challenge LBP
93% naturally derived ingredients, plus a commitment to no-nasties in its formulation, make this line a great sustainability choice. Photo credit: Love Beauty and Planet

For one month, I used nothing but vegan, organic, ethically sourced, 93% naturally derived products—the duo I used in particular, Love Beauty and Planet Hemp Seed Oil & Nana Leaf Soothe & Nourish Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Hemp Seed Oil & Nana Leaf Soothe & Nourish Conditioner, was, as the shampoo name suggested, free of sulfates (and phthalates, silicones, parabens and dyes, btw).

Apart from the initial product FOMO I felt going straight for the same stuff for four weeks, and one or two days of product withdrawal, I can honestly say my appreciation for “green” products has grown exponentially. You could also chalk it up to fewer days of heat-styling now that we’re in lockdown, yes, but I’ve actually never seen my hair this shiny, bouncy and healthy-looking in years. I akin it to my routine finally having breathing room to calm down and do its job and offer consistent results, something perhaps years of rotating products has not afforded me. Also, my scalp feels much more nourished (this was a scalp care product as well) and my husband has actually asked me which products in the shower were giving my hair “that super fresh smell” so he could try them for himself (yes I am also an ~influencer~ now!). So not only have I walked out of this with a streamlined, much more simplified and efficient, no-nasty regimen that legitimately does no harm to either myself or the environment, I also have made my Netflix-and-chill snuggles that much more delightfully-scented. Win-win!

What’s your take on sustainable beauty? Let us know your thoughts on @allthingshairus.

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