With news of climate change getting worse each day, people are becoming more conscious about their environmental footprint. For example, the concept of eliminating single-use plastic is gaining a lot of traction, and embracing a zero-waste beauty routine is one of the most accessible ways to wean yourself into the waste-free lifestyle.
A zero-waste beauty routine usually involves a lot of DIY, natural ingredients, and reusable or compostable packaging. But it can be challenging to make the switch, especially considering how easy it is to just buy your tried-and-tested products. That’s why we spoke with Daniela Calumba, a Pinay entrepreneur who believes in the power of plants in a green beauty routine. She shares how she got into zero-waste beauty and has a few tips for those looking to start their own routines.
Why did you decide to start a zero-waste beauty routine?
Daniela: My love for nature is what initially drew me to all-natural personal care. I wanted to be gentle to both my skin and the Earth. I was moved by the power of plants and the environmental impact my everyday choices had on the planet. The more I studied about the plethora of chemicals that are in commercial products and the massive plastic waste corporations produce, the more I veered away from them.
What are some of the benefits an all-natural, zero-waste routine has over buying ready-to-use cosmetics and skincare products?
Daniela: I think the most evident is it's highly beneficial to the environment: It reduces our climate impact, conserves resources, and minimizes pollution. I also believe that using all-natural products, especially those made with local ingredients and materials, can improve your skin's health condition. Plus, I get to support local farms and communities by sourcing ingredients from them.
How are you able to address your skincare needs with your zero-waste routine?
Daniela: By studying plants and formulating my own recipes. I develop skincare products that use real, farmed ingredients to harness the efficacy of medicinal plants. These are created with the highest intentions for the planet.
What are some things people need to know before starting a zero-waste routine?
Daniela: It can be a bit overwhelming, especially when current consumerist trends which dictate our purchasing decisions beat the purpose of living with less waste. It’s important to remember that it’s all about simplicity. It starts by learning to say “no” and asking yourself if you really need it.
Here are some tips I learned throughout my zero-waste journey:
Do your research.
There are lots of online communities where you can join and learn a lot from. You can also Google which plants and ingredients can target your skin concerns—from dry to acne-prone skin and everything in between.
Slowly integrate zero-waste products into your routine.
I think it’s best to gradually try new products. Give your skin time to adjust if you're going to experiment with different ingredients.
Use local ingredients.
We’re lucky that the Philippines has an abundance of amazing plants with tons of medicinal properties. Research and source ingredients from farms and suppliers that share the same advocacies as you do.
Can you share with us a few recipes for a zero-waste skincare routine?
There are countless recipes out there, but it’s best to keep it simple if you’re just starting out. The recipes below are very basic and make use of accessible ingredients. I recommend doing a patch test, particularly if you have sensitive skin.
Makeup Remover & Cleanser
I love oil-cleansing. I rarely wear makeup, but when I do, I have a one-ingredient makeup remover: It's just golden jojoba oil. I pour a small amount onto my palms, gently massage it on my face, and wipe it off with reusable cloth pads (I got mine for free at the Really Really Free Market at Pineapple Lab). I wash it off with mild soap and water. If you don’t have acne-prone skin, you can also try using my brand’s virgin coconut oil.
This really depends on skin type so it’s better to test and see which toner formula works best for you. I believe in simple but premium ingredients. A blend of apple cider vinegar and water works great for a lot of people. If you don't like the smell, you can substitute ACV for an alcohol-free witch hazel toner.
Face Oils and Serums
I formulated a facial serum using hemp seed oil, aloe vera gel, vitamin E oil, and a blend of essential oils. I’m a big fan of using oils for everything—hair oil instead of conditioner, body oil instead of lotion, and serums instead of creams. Again, simple and few ingredients are best, especially if you’re starting out. Complicating the routine with way too many products beats the purpose of living with less waste.
I make a detoxifying face mask using a mix of bentonite clay, activated bamboo charcoal, essential oils, and apple cider vinegar. I also love concocting masks out of fresh ingredients such as avocados, milk, and honey. That recipe is super refreshing and hydrating!
Your toner can double as a face mist, too. I like using a simple blend of witch hazel and water with a few drops of vitamin E oil. Store it in the fridge so it’s nice and refreshing when you use it.
Where can one buy zero-waste products if they aren't ready to create their own?
Daniela: I developed my own self-care line that is available online and in a few stores. There are also a lot of brands and stores where you can buy zero-waste products from. There is Kahilom in Manila, Ritual in Makati, and Humble Market in Mandaluyong, as well as several online shops for Pinoys outside the metro. You can also find zero-waste ingredients, tools, and products at pop-ups and fairs, such as The Good Trade.
*Answers have been edited for clarity.
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