A few months ago I reached my limit: I didn’t want any more wasteful plastic bottles parading in and out of my bathroom. Every ledge and shelf in my shower was full of a smorgasbord of products I barely touched—three-quarters-full bottles of shampoo, abandoned body washes in multiple fragrances, conditioners for literally every hair tragedy known to humankind.
So I tucked them into a cabinet and vowed not to buy anything new while I tried a low- to no-waste shower routine.
Bottles, excess packaging, and microplastics have become a standard part of our morning and evening routines. While many people have made the big switch to plastic-free in our cleaning cabinets and pantries, things are moving more slowly in the bathroom. We’re simply too attached to our beauty products—shampoos, lotions, washes—to give them up for something less effective. So I went on the hunt for products that not only reduce waste but that really (really!) work. Here are the best I’ve found.
Grove Collaborative’s house beauty line, Peach, offers a wide range of shampoos and conditioners—and other body products—in bar and refillable formats. I tried a few different shampoo bars during my test run, but Peach’s Moisturizing Shampoo bar is by far the best. Just a few swipes produces a rich lather and the paraben-, silicone-, and sulfate-free shampoo rinses out clean. The accompanying Conditioner Bar performs much better than I had anticipated, coating and taming my frizzy, thick hair without weighing it down. Plus, GC estimates each bar eliminates the equivalent of two bottles of product. I’ve been using them daily for two months and the bars have barely shrunk.
Growing up, I used only Ivory bar soap to wash my face. It’s what my mother did (and still does) and I consider her flawless. Now I need something slightly more strategic before I apply my skincare routine. Peach has a range of facial cleanser bars, but having combination skin, I naturally like the Combo Bar best—made with soothing blue tansy oil and willow bar extracts. It follows me from the shower to the sink and leaves my skin feeling moisturized and primed for serums.
I’ve been leaning on Bathing Culture’s refillable, biodegradable body wash for the past year. It smells like fresh air, lathers rich and lush, and cleans like a beast without leaving my skin feeling stripped dry.
Bonus shoutout to Plus’s single-use body wash sheets that come in a dissolvable wood pulp pouch (that can be left behind in the shower). At $16.60 for 16 pouches, I didn’t find them cost-effective for everyday use, but they’re excellent for travel.
My bathroom cabinet used to be full of giant pump bottles and jars of body lotions that I would switch out on a whim, which I know is a me problem rather than a beauty industry problem. But finding one waste-free moisturizer that feels just as luxurious as the tubs of body butter cluttering my shelves was tough. Kate McLeod’s Body Stones are the closest I’ve found: Each hockey puck-size lotion bar slicks across dry skin, warming with your body heat, and immediately melting in. They apply quickly and efficiently and leave behind a full day of moisture with cocoa butter and a blend of rich nut and fruit oils.
I’m not sure I’ll be able to part with the revolving door of new skincare products that is part of my job, but I was pleased to be introduced to Common Heir’s Vitamin C Serum. Each perfectly measured, concentrated dose of skin-brightening serum is packaged in a tiny biodegradable, plant-based capsule that can be dissolved in hot water.
I’ve been shamefully faithful to colorful, disposable plastic razors for decades, so swapping up to a no-nonsense, heavy-duty safety razor was . . . uh, terrifying. Oui the People created a cult following around its chic $75 razors. They sell out so frequently that the product pages come with a “First Come First Served” disclaimer. The switch is definitely an investment, but each razor comes with 10 blades, and refills are a mere $11 for 10 blades thereafter. It’s intimidating at first, but the weight works in your favor, allowing for a closer, more agile shave, with the lightest touch. (Seriously, do not apply pressure! There may be a learning curve.) The first few strokes might be nerve-racking, but the results are worth it. I promise!
I am also eyeing the brand’s Shave Gel-to-Milk, but have never been able to catch it in stock. I typically use Johnson’s baby oil (I know, boo-hiss, plastic!) to shave my legs because it’s simply the best trick I’ve ever picked up off of Reddit. Dear refillable glass bottle of amazing shave oil—where are you?
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