Zero Waste and Cruelty-Free Toiletries Options

Once you make the commitment to living a zero waste or plastic free lifestyle you then have to find new alternative products. This can be overwhelming, especially when almost every single product you use is encased in plastic. I've spent many hours scouring the internet in search of the ideal zero waste and cruelty-free replacements and have compiled a basic list of suggestions.

Body lotion > DIY, Lush massage bars, Plaine Products, bulk, oils

  • I personally found that DIY Lotion, while extremely moisturizing, was intolerably greasy. Though the recipe was straightforward and relatively easy (it only requires three ingredients), making it was still more work than buying pre-made products. However, making your own lotion is probably cheaper than buying from other stores, depending on how much you spend on the ingredients.

  • The Lush massage bars (I bought Therapy ($13) and kept it in an oval tin ($4)) are also a little greasy but great for traveling.

  • The lotion from Plaine Products ($30) is wonderfully fast absorbing. It's closely comparable to regular store bought lotion. Plaine products are a great option because they combine ease with sustainability. You simply send back the metal bottle your product comes in to be refilled and reused and keep the plastic pump for further use.

  • Many groceries sell bulk lotion. This is the zero waste lotion solution I use.

  • Certain oils work great for moisturizing your skin, you just have to be careful to get a type that won’t clog your pores. I like sweet almond oil because it absorbs quickly. Avoid coconut and olive oil.

Deodorant > DIY, Meow Meow Tweet stick, Lush bar, Schmidt's paste, crystal, Aesop

Deodorant is tricky because its success depends largely on your personal body chemistry. There are also numerous plastic free options on the market to choose from. Really, you just have to find out what works for you through trial and error. So far I haven’t found one that’s right for me.

  • The DIY method is definitely the least expensive because it is mainly baking soda and coconut oil. However, it makes a paste that you have to rub on with your fingers. It didn’t work at all for me and stained my white shirts yellow.

  • I was excited when I found Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant ($20) which is packaged in paper tubes. However, I didn't like any of their scents enough to buy and try them.

  • I tried the Lush Aromaco Deodorant ($6.45/3.5 oz) and had no success. It comes in a hard, solid bar which made it uncomfortable to rub on. It also rubbed off on my fingers which I didn't love. Further still, it crumbled apart quite easily. I didn't notice any positive effect on my body odor.

  • Schmidt’s deodorant ($9) is a paste that comes in a glass jar with a plastic lid. I haven't tried it.

  • Acrystal ($7) works by applying a thin coating of salt onto your skin which (supposedly) kills the bacteria that produce the smell. Some people rave about their success, but it didn't positively affect my body odor. It's also not completely plastic free.

  • Aesop sells two types of deodorants, a spray and a roll on. I tried the roll on but it didn’t work at all.

Lip balm > DIY, Lush balm

  • I had phenomenal results when making lip balm. It was easy and inexpensive. I just melted together equal parts of three simple ingredients and was done!

  • Lush is selling lip balm for $11 in a small metal tin. It's expensive, but if you can't be bothered to make your own it's a good zero waste solution.

Toothpaste > David's, DIY, toothpaste tabs, tooth powder

  • David's toothpaste ($10) is packaged in an aluminum tube with a small plastic top. It's very similar to drugstore toothpaste but natural and cruelty-free. It works great and doesn’t taste strange!

  • DIY. I haven’t tried to make my own toothpaste, but I hear it tastes very salty because of the baking soda.

  • Bite sells toothpaste tabs which come in a glass bottle or biodegradable refill packet. I haven’t tried them, but I imagine they’re great for traveling.

  • Package Free Shop sells tooth powder for $10. I have not tried this.

Mouthwash > mouthwash tablets

  • Package Free Shop also sells mouthwash tablets for $14 which are similar to toothpaste tabs. I haven’t tried them.

Shampoo & conditioner > Lush bar, Plaine Products, bulk

  • Shampoo and conditioner bars have become increasingly popular. They are small and therefore perfect for traveling as well as daily use. I bought mine at Lush because I could smell them before purchasing, but they are available at various other shops. For the shampoo ($11-$16) I liked ‘soak and float’. I chose ‘big’ for my conditioner ($12-$13). I also bought the round tin to store the shampoo in and the square tin for the conditioner. I love the shampoo and now use it in my hair care routine in leu of bulk shampoo. The conditioner, however, is hard to use and doesn’t last very long. It’s still great for traveling, but not ideal.

  • Plaine Products also sells shampoo and conditioner. I haven't tried them.

  • Groceries that sell bulk may also sell shampoo and conditioner. Currently, I’m buying my conditioner in bulk at Berkeley Bowl.

Hand soap > bar

  • Use a bar of soap instead of a plastic pump. Most supermarkets and drugstores sell soap that either has no packaging or are wrapped in paper.

Razor > safety razor

  • Package Free Shop sells a safety razor for $25 and replacement blades for $3. It gives a closer shave than disposable plastic razors and leaves my skin feeling smooth. I highly recommend the switch!

Face cleanser > Meow Meow Tweet tea tree charcoal bar, Dr. Bronner’s bar soap

  • Package Free Shop also sells a Meow Meow Tweet tea tree charcoal facial bar for $12. It will last forever and gently cleans without drying my skin.

  • Dr. Bronner’s sells a similar soap in a variety of scents for around $5. It can be found in most groceries or drugstores.

Sunscreen > raw elements

  • Raw Elements sells a sunscreen which comes in an aluminum tin for $19. It’s thick and a little difficult to use but gets the job done.

Tampons and pads > Menstrual cup, period undies (THINX), reusable fabric pads

  • I love my Lunette menstrual cup ($40). Although pricy, it pays off because it lasts for years. It works like a tampon but better because you can pee with it in and only have to empty and rinse it every 12 hours (depending on your flow). I would recommend getting a darker color in case your blood discolors the silicone.

  • Thinx sells period undies that capture your blood and can be washed and reworn for about $40. I personally have not tried them.

  • Package Free Shop sells washable and reusable fabric pads for $19. I haven’t tried them.

Floss > Bamboo dental floss

  • Package Free Shop also sells bamboo charcoal floss that comes in a small glass jar for $7.

Cotton makeup remover pads> reusable cotton fabric pads

  • Etsy sells many different reusable cotton pads which can be used to remove makeup. They are reasonably inexpensive and work well.