UpCircle Beauty Co-founder Anna Brightman shares her best insights on cleaning up your beauty regime and her top tips she's learned on her own journey.
When it comes to the environment we are constantly bombarded with intimidating doom and gloom headlines. The scale of the problem can feel so daunting that it’s all too easy to give up before you’ve even begun. So, at UpCircle, we try to focus on positive change and keep an “every little helps” mentality. If you’re just starting out in trying to create a more sustainable beauty routine then just keep in mind that it will be a gradual process. Resist the urge to empty your cupboards and start all over again at once. There is no point in creating waste in an attempt to try to minimise waste! Use up what you have, and then next time, think about what improvements you can make in each of your purchasing decisions. Or even better, think about whether you actually need to buy each thing you’ve previously owned at all!
I get asked about my skin and makeup routine all the time – people are often shocked by how limited and simple it is. Quality over quantity is what sustainability is all about! So, let’s break it down:
It sounds really obvious, but less in, means less out. When you do buy new things, first ask yourself whether you really need it. Can you repair or upcycle an item instead of putting it in the bin? Can you make do with something else? By becoming more conscious about what you are consuming and why, you can start to make small choices that ultimately lead to a less wasteful lifestyle.
WASTE NOT WANT NOT
Hold up. Take a breath before you go rooting through your bathroom cabinets chucking things into bin bags and heading out to spend a fortune on greener alternatives. While investing in more sustainable alternatives is always a good shout, it's counter-productive to throw away stuff you’ve already bought just to buy more stuff to replace it all. Sustainable or otherwise, it’s still more stuff. Use up what you have, then when you truly need to replenish, seek out greener alternatives. Creating waste to reduce waste makes no sense at all!
WHAT’S THE STORY?
Look for high quality, organic ingredients and products made as locally as possible.
The world has a serious problem with plastic. The beauty industry – glamorous as it may be – is a major contributor. Billions of units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry, bulked out by the use of complex lids, multi-layered boxes and cellophane, much of which is superfluous, non-recyclable and ends up in our landfills and oceans. The packaging across our range is 99% plastic-free and we offer plastic-free refill options for the 1%. Aside from our actual products, our marketing materials are made from paper that’s made from recycled coffee cups and we only use paper tape which has been made from recycled fibres. There’s no point in putting so much effort towards creating sustainable formulations if the packaging they come in is unsustainable!
You’ve reduced how much waste you produce. Level 1 complete. “Zero” waste is still a fair way off, but don’t sweat it, even the infamous zero-wasters aren’t completely zero waste. That’s why we try to avoid the term zero waste completely!! Life is about progress not perfection, and you’re on the right path. It is simply undeniable that in life, you need to buy things, but there are several waste-minimising options. Whether it’s finding a second-hand version or buying from sustainably-focused brands, there’s a lot you can do to keep your waste output low.
For example, consider solid rather than liquid skincare products. Soap bars are longer lasting, more versatile (can usually be used on face or body), are usually made from more natural ingredients and require less packaging than their liquid counterparts.
For bathroom accessories opt for simple swaps such as trading tissues for handkerchiefs, washable cotton makeup pads instead of disposable ones, muslin cloths instead of face wipes, bamboo cotton buds not plastic stemmed ones. You get the gist!
If you’re someone who chooses to shave, another game changing swap is switching out from disposable plastic razors. In 2018 approximately 5.5 million people in the UK were using disposable razors. Throwing these away on a weekly basis, it’s not hard to imagine how much is ending up in landfill. Disposable razors are not easily recycled because they are made from mixed materials and the sharp nature is hazardous and clogs up landfill sites. We designed our own Safety Razor because we wanted to create a product that would help people wave goodbye to disposable plastic razors! Our razor is 100% chrome, 0% plastic. It’s a much more sustainable shaving option, it’s unisex, it provides a better shave and it’s more aesthetic to look at too. Win, win!
BECOMING A DIY GURU
Since the start of human history, we’ve made our own commodities. It’s only recently that we’ve got used to buying everything sourced for us and readymade. Once upon a time, you would have handmade your own clothes, furniture, shoes, food, even your own home. Today, we are so used to buying pre-made items that we often don’t realise how easy it is to make things ourselves. Whether cooking from scratch or creating DIY skincare, concocting cleaning products or mending clothing, you’ll be amazed at how much you can make yourself and how stupidly simply it is. Once you go DIY, you won’t go back.