Beauty items not packaged in plastic?
August 5, 2009 2:18 PM   Subscribe

Plastic-free beauty filter: I'm researching how to diminish the amount of plastic I am using from day to day, and I'm about to attack my personal-care items. Does anyone have suggestions for shampoos, deodorants, face washes, lotions, toothpastes, etc., that don't come packed in plastic containers? I'm interested in commercially available stuff and also recipes I can make at home if the components aren't too plastic-y.
posted by toomuchkatherine to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
The first things I'd think of would be Dr. Bronner's soaps and Lush, particularly the solid shampoos.

I've used the shampoo pucks before, and although near the end they can crumble into tinier pieces and get slightly less convenient to use, I did like what it did for my hair and it was all contained in a reusable tin, so no plastic at all.
posted by rewil at 2:25 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Many Lush products are sold wrapped in paper or in metal tins. Hand soaps, bath bombs, solid shampoos, face wash bars etc. I like their products, but I usually have to buy them in the store to determine whether the smell will be too strong. And in the store, you can also get lots of samples :)
posted by Mouse Army at 2:26 PM on August 5, 2009

It may be easiest to buy some glass jars and refill from bulk containers at a local co-op. This is pretty easy for not just hair and skin care stuff but also a lot of oils and stuff like peanut butter. Otherwise you wind up paying extra for the glass container and have to buy really shi-shi stuff when you could be buying nicer stuff if you weren't paying extra for the glass bottle.

You can still get toothpaste in metal tubes [I think I use Nature's Gate, though it doesn't have flouride if that's a concern]. You can get one of those deodorant rocks and buy it as a rock (some come in plastic holders, some don't) with a minimum of packaging.
posted by jessamyn at 2:26 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

You could use plain baking soda (from a cardboard box) as a substitute for toothpaste. I found it a bit irritating to my gums, though YMMV.

Oatmeal bath is regular oatmeal. Just give it a whirl in a blender first to make it into more of a powder.

On your way to this ideal, you can start reducing the number of products you use, by using them for more than one purpose. For example, I use regular hair conditioner as a shaving lotion on my legs.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 2:33 PM on August 5, 2009

Do you exfoliate? I like to make homemade sugar scrubs by just mixing some white or brown sugar with a bit of olive oil and storing it in a small glass jar I got at a craft store.
posted by anderjen at 2:47 PM on August 5, 2009

Seconding the love for Dr. Bronner's soaps! I'd also put a big prop towards Tom's of Maine because even what plastic they use is designed to minimize the waste and be recyclable. Their toothpaste also comes in metal tubes. They also have the best non-fluoride mouth wash on the market that I've EVER used. The only thing I don't like of theirs in terms of plastic use is the dental floss, but even there - again, designed to be recyclable and biodegradable as much as possible.
posted by strixus at 2:49 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Lush. They also reuse some of their plastic containers - AND you get free stuff after you bring a certain number of containers back to the shop (at least in the UK).

This may be obvious, just using less of everything helps. Most people use way too much toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc. I know I do - it's a bad habit I need to break.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 2:57 PM on August 5, 2009

I have some friends starting an online store that sells skin, body, and dental care products that are completely pure and packaged in glass. It's called Living Earth Beauty.
posted by Merlin144 at 2:58 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Check out some of the home recipes on Makeup Alley (browse for Best Values and then search for "Unlisted Brand") - there are various hair/face treatments that use pantry ingredients like salt, honey, olive oil, etc. Most of them can be made without using any plastic, and you get more for your dollar than commercial products.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:28 PM on August 5, 2009

I've got to put a good word in for Sappo Hill Soap. No packaging there, you just grab a "puck" from their cardboard display.

I find it lasts much longer than Dr. Bronner's bar soap, and I really like their "flavors" (list here).

(I wanted to like Dr. Bronner's but it evaporated too quickly.)

I don't know where you are, geographically, but you can find it at Whole Foods, Longs (before they switched to CVS), and some drugstores. Also can order through their website.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 3:43 PM on August 5, 2009

Going along with the using less of stuff comment, when I get about halfway through whatever product I generally fill the bottle back up with water and shake. This works really well for shampoos, hand soaps, etc. Most of the stuff that is sold really does not need to be used at full strength to get the desired results. With soapy products, they also lather much more easily after being watered down.
posted by sickinthehead at 3:45 PM on August 5, 2009

A lot of good tips have already been suggested. Another good one personal care item for waste-reduction is the Diva Cup (or Keeper). Advice on usage was recently discussed here.
posted by aniola at 4:19 PM on August 5, 2009

Pardon my grammar!
posted by aniola at 4:21 PM on August 5, 2009

Aesop has lovely products that are in glass (but plastic caps). And expensive - but very nice.
posted by AnnaRat at 4:48 PM on August 5, 2009

Many co-ops and health food stores sell shampoo and soap in bulk; you bring your refillable bottles and pay by the ounce. (I don't do this because my hair is weird and only likes a few kinds of shampoo, but I wish I could.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:04 PM on August 5, 2009

Organic Essence has some nice products with biodegradable packaging and it's organic!
posted by 6:1 at 7:33 PM on August 5, 2009

If you buy large containers, the plastic:shampoo ratio is not as bad.
posted by theora55 at 9:34 PM on August 5, 2009

I'm going to second Metroid Baby's recommendation. Look at Unlisted Brand items in Makeup Alley's product reviews. Things like olive oil, honey, aloe vera gel, coconut oil, sea salt, etc. are often multipurpose and can be bought in bulk to reduce packaging.
posted by larkin123 at 10:50 PM on August 5, 2009

You can buy gallon (or two gallon) containers of soap, shampoo, and lotion at beauty supply stores. They last forever. And you can keep glass containers in your shower to refill. I do this for conditioner which I use a lot of.
posted by bluefly at 2:45 AM on August 6, 2009

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