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July 19, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Beauty on a Budget

From an environmental point of view, the amount of cosmetics we consume can be pretty alarming—products seem to come in endless layers of unnecessary packaging which immediately gets binned, and the necessary packaging for many moisturisers, mascaras, lipsticks and such are not recyclable and end up as waste.

As someone who is, admittedly, a bit of a sucker for beauty products—and also for enviro-guilt—I wanted to create at least some small balance in my cosmetic consumption. I found a recipe for cold cream in a craft magazine—it seems simple to make, needing only three essential ingredients, and is touted as an effective substitute for makeup remover, moisturiser, lip balm and body lotion. Better yet, it’s cost-effective and the packaging is reusable and recyclable—just clean an old jam jar and lid (or any similar kind of glass jar) and keep the cream in there.

To make, you will need:
84ml of olive oil
28g of beeswax (available from the Honey Shop, corner Mercer and Victoria Streets)
2tbsp of rosewater (as far as I can tell, only available online, just google “buying rosewater in New Zealand”. I found a product at $19.00 incl postage for 200ml)
You can also choose to add a few drops of essential oil if you like, to add scent.

1. Put beeswax and olive oil in a jar and stand in a pan of hot water. Warm them until the wax has just melted.
2. Warm the rosewater and pour slowly into the oil/ wax mix while stirring.
3. Remove from the heat, continue to stir until cool and thick.
4. This is the point where you can add some essential oil if you wish—just add a few drops and stir in gently.
5. Transfer to the jar and you’re done.

To use as a makeup remover, wipe the cream on, let it sit for a few moments, then wipe it off with a flannel. As any kind of moisturiser, just use as you normally would. Apparently you can also combine cold cream with oatmeal and use it as a scrub—handy for dry elbows and feet in winter.

The benefits of using a product like this is that, despite the initial cost of first purchasing the products, the process for making it is quick and easy and you can remake batches again and again, at a much cheaper cost overall than purchasing beauty products from a shop. You also get the added benefit of knowing exactly what is going on your skin (and knowing it’s all natural), plus the initial feel-good factor of sustainable packaging.

If you can’t be faffed making your own beauty products (craft zines from the public library are a great source for do-it-yourself beauty recipes, just as a side note for those who can be faffed and are interested in finding more), then you can at least try to monitor the kinds of products you buy to see how sustainability-minded the companies that produced them are. A search on the internet yielded mainly international companies, which are available off the internet (argh, the air miles!), but one company which does offer sustainable packaging and is available in Wellington is Lush—most of its soaps and shampoos come in bar form and have little to no packaging (depending on whether or not you choose to take your own container with you when buying). Their deodorants also come in bar form and liquid products come in black tubs, which can be returned to the store you bought them from to be recycled. The same goes for bottle tops and any other plastic containers Lush uses—most of them are designed to be able to be recycled in the same way you would recycle a drink bottle.

If anyone knows of any other available products in Wellington (and even better, if they know any locally owned companies with these kinds of sustainable ethics), then I urge you to write in to the Salient letters page to let the rest of us know, and assist me (and all others interested) in our quest for a sustainable beauty regime.


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