Updated: Feb 16, 2021

When thinking about zero waste beauty, we often think about how we can reduce the number of beauty products that make our routine, which is, in our opinion, the best place to begin with. If you’re just getting started, why not stop buying the products that are doing the least for you? ⠀

In her brilliant book Pretty Honest, Sali Hughes lists the beauty products we could really do without. And because what you buy influences what’s sold, it could be that in a few years, we live in a world where products that aren’t actually doing anything for us stop taking so much space on retailers’ shelves — and then sadly, in landfills. It doesn’t hurt that it will save you some £££ as well.


In Sali’s words, they’re ‘basically lovely smelling water and wholly useless (if you love using it, go ahead. Just don’t kid yourself it’s actually doing anything that water isn’t doing better).’⠀

When you ask yourself if a toner in a glass bottle is better for the environment than a toner in a bottle made of bioplastics, remember it doesn’t really matter if what’s in it shouldn’t exist in the first place.


Do we need anti cellulite and the single-use packaging that comes with it? Sali thinks not. Actually, this is what she has to say about any cream, gel, or serum that claims it will make your cellulite disappear:⠀

‘I personally believe these to be the snake oils of the beauty industry and feel they are always best left alone. They are expensive, boring to apply and, most significantly, I cannot see how they can possibly work, however many research studies I'm shown. Invest in a good body scrub and a wash-off tan. Both will minimise the look of cellulite better than anything else I've seen. No product can rid you of cellulite.’

Our favourites? Suneeta’s grapefruit scrub. And our lovely Savon Noir.


Do you have varicose veins or thread veins? It's ok. Unless it's not and you're considering using products that claim they can get you rid of them.


’I've only recently discovered that some creams and oils suggest they might actually fix these. What nonsense. You must see a doctor if you want thread or varicose veins to disappear.’

You heard Sali. If you’re tempted to try one of these, think about all the terrible packaging it's in, about how likely it is they'll be effective, and learn to love them or take an appointment with your GP. Your call!


There are things that we need. Let’s say… a good moisturiser, for example. And that's definitely the kind of products we need to find a good alternative for — be it a bar, a moisturiser packaged in bioplastics or seaweed, or a refill — but there are products we can simply live without.

In her book, Sali writes about eye creams, and how they shouldn't be an automatism.

‘You need a form of moisturiser around your eye area and eye cream is marvellous at doing this without irritation. However, it is still, when all is said and done, an anti-ageing moisturiser sold in a tiny pot and not the magic product the beauty industry implies it to be. So if you suffer no adverse reactions from using your regular anti-ageing day cream around your eyes, and no puffiness occurs, then you are perfectly fine to use it all over and not bother with an eye cream. However, if you do find your day cream too rich for your eyes, then by all means buy a separate cream for the area.’

Many people think adopting a more conscious lifestyle is expensive, but actually, often, it’s cheaper. Pretty cool, right?


Everything you buy, or eat, or put on your skin, is a vote. If more of us invest in sustainable solutions, they'll become the norm. If we consume less, they'll have to produce less. We often feel powerless when actually, as consumers, we are the ones who can force change.

This is why, as a planet-first business, we will never encourage people to buy things they don't really need. Will we make less money? Maybe. Tragic? We’ll cope.

We will always encourage you to buy just what you need. Things that will suit you. Things that you'll want to refill because they work for you. ⠀

So when we read Pretty Honest, this one hit a chord with us. Like you, we’ve bought countless BS products like these in the past. But the days of detox products is counted. Here’s what Sali says about ‘anything claiming to act as detox’:⠀

‘What balls. I would cheerfully ban this silly word if I could. Beauty products can reduce bacteria, affect pH balance, soothe, calm, cleanse - lots of good things - but they cannot 'detoxify' beyond the superficial. The structure of your skin will not be altered by products, and nor will the tissue beneath it. This is cod science invented to shift product and can safely be ignored.’⠀

Now imagine how many bottles and jars of detox skincare have hit the landfill in the past years? Eek.


Time to talk about what some call bust gels. You know, these things that pretend they’ll tone, firm, round or even enlarge your breast. Oh well…

‘Bust-growth gels make me crosser than almost anything. They are, I believe, a nonsense. No topical product can penetrate the skin to create fat cells (breast are made of fatty tissue). The very ideas makes no sense whatsoever. Buy some removable silicone chicken fillets, try a push-up bra or learn to love your tits. I strongly believe that no cream will ever make the slightest difference.’⠀

I mean, will you just love your tits please?


And the final product Sali thinks you’d do great without?

‘I don't believe anyone really needs a neck cream. A firming moisturiser will do just as well, although, frankly, no cream will dramatically tighten a sagging neck. The best way to prevent this happening in the first place is to include your neck in your daily routine (not getting dressed until you've put on your skincare helps avoid omission), to wear good broad-spectrum sun protection when your neck and chest is uncovered and to not smoke. If damage has already occurred (or even if it hasn't) you can try exercising the underlying muscles to create better scaffolding for the skin above them. If the situation is drastic, you have three choices: plastic surgery, self-acceptance or lovely cashmere polo-neck jumpers. The third seems more appealing.’

Again, think about it, everything you buy is a vote. What will you support? (Refills for president!)

R x

Credits: The Guardian, Eva Pentel, Jil Sander, Stephanie Dinkel.

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