The Constant Waste Stream and Plastic Packaging Chain of the Beauty Supply Industry - Waste Management Begins with You by Deborah Tosline

River_litter_plastic_fragments_1.jpg, Provincie Limburg/ Alf Mertens [CC0]

River_litter_plastic_fragments_1.jpg, Provincie Limburg/ Alf Mertens [CC0]

Deborah Tosline wrote and published “Skin Remodeling DIY: An Introduction to the Underground World of Do-It-Yourself Skincare” in 2015. Her approach to skin care is based on a scientific background, love of research and over 30 years of DIY skincare experience.

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There are many reasons why I “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) skin care products: I strive to reduce my exposure to synthetic chemicals and the uncertainty of skincare products, have a preference for high quality ingredients, like to reduce costs and not the least of which I try to reduce the waste that I personally generate on a daily basis.

I love the Earth and through my life have been and continue to be deeply concerned about the state of the environment.

I strive towards sustainability AND TRY TO improve and further reduce personal garbage and recycling.

One way that I reduce waste is by making my own products, purchasing hand crafted locally made products or at a minimum using sustainably sourced products.

The personal care industry has grown into a “$90 billion industry that rivals the pet, sports, and private loan markets in economic value.

Containers and packaging make up a major portion of municipal solid waste, amounting to 77.9 million tons in 2015 (29.7 percent of total solid waste). Packaging is used to wrap or protect goods, including food, beverages, medications and cosmetic products.

512px-Anti-aging_cream.jpg, Svetlana Miljkovic [Public domain]

512px-Anti-aging_cream.jpg, Svetlana Miljkovic [Public domain]

To put this in perspective, we can return to a more natural way of life to reduce waste, save money, improve our health and do our part to protect and possibly save the Earth as we know it today. 

In the larger scheme of time, we only recently began to purchase beauty products and dispose of their containers on a consistent basis. Let’s say that every month one house hold uses: face wash, astringent, serum, eye cream, face cream, sun screen, neck cream, special cream, deodorant, cosmetics. One household, ten products, 120 containers disposed of in one year, 1,200 in one decade. 1,000 households would throw away or recycle 1,200,000 perfectly good containers/decade. Phoenix, AZ had a population of more than 4.5 million in 2016. In this inference, in one year 4.5 million households would generate skin care waste of 540,000,000 perfectly good containers/year or 5,400,000,000 perfectly good containers/decade.

Folks are finally recycling more. Historically America has shipped recycling to China but in 2018 China stopped accepting recycling materials which drove processing fees up by more than 60 percent causing “… end of recycling comes at a time when the United States is creating more waste than ever. In 2015, the most recent year for which national data are available, America generated 262.4 million tons of waste, up 4.5 percent from 2010 and 60 percent from 1985. That amounts to nearly five pounds per person a day.”

Waste management begins with you. Every contribution helps. 

How do we begin to reduce our beauty product waste? We can transition to skin care practices that span what anthropologists identify as 10,000 years of skin moisturizing. Ancient Egyptian parchments document the use of lotions and creams in burials.

The Roman physician Galen created the first cold cream moisturizer using rose oil, melted beeswax, and water around 200 BC.”  Throughout history soaps, shampoos, and other personal care products were home-made. Manufactured creams became popular in the 1800’s and introduced new synthetic chemical ingredients including petroleum jelly, lanolin and mineral oils.” 

 A review of the history of the development and use of cosmetics illustrates a long relationship with natural skin care, previous dangerous practices, current lack of regulation and the battle to regulate hazardous cosmetic ingredients.

18891109_Arsenic_complexion_wafers_-_Helena_Independent, The Helena Independent (newspaper) [Public domain],

18891109_Arsenic_complexion_wafers_-_Helena_Independent, The Helena Independent (newspaper) [Public domain],

In recent times we’ve become reliant on costly, waste generating, synthetic-chemical based skin care routines but we can easily DIY some products to offset waste.

Examples of how I strive to reduce personal care product waste:

I have not purchased facial wash for over a decade. I use a microfiber cloth daily and use the Oil Cleansing Method weekly.

I use one basic cream for everything - eyes, neck, face. I purchase high quality active skin-care ingredients in bulk and add them to portions of my basic cream to create specialized lotions or creams. I make my own skin cream, purchase a 4-ounce hand-crafted locally made product, or at a minimum I would purchase from companies with sustainable practices.

512px-Green_beauty_products_at_Be_Pure_Beauty.jpg, April Kensington [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

512px-Green_beauty_products_at_Be_Pure_Beauty.jpg, April Kensington [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

I believe that my most super skin care products are DIY serums including 1. niacinamide/glucosamine, 2. vitamin C, and 3. carnosine serums. I use these daily. The watery base promotes penetration of active ingredients. I usually prepare 2 to 4 ounces at a time, label them and store them in the refrigerator. When I prepare a new batch of serums I reuse saved 2 ounce or 4-6 ounce beauty product containers and sometimes replace those with colored glass containers.  I wash my containers carefully, disinfecting with boiling water or vodka. I’ve said it before, fresh Aloe Vera leaf is my almost daily active ingredient skin care product. I always grow Aloe Vera. I’ve seen it in some grocery stores as well. I strive to replace my 4 ounce jar of locally made, hand-crafted cream and sunscreen by trying to master the emulsification process required to make creamy skin care products.

7/8/19 I forgot to include an important point. Although single use products are convenient, they are one of the worst contemporary waste issues. It takes energy and resources to make the single use packaging and these products generate tons of waste. Make your own single serve’s using reusable containers. And when it comes to single use facial masks, they are everywhere and while I have used a couple in the past, I boycott these throw-away products. Instead, I use a reusable silk face mask and a reusable silicon gel mask. For example, I scrape the gel from a fresh aloe vera leaf, soak the silk mask in the aloe vera gel and apply to my face. I then place the silicon gel mask, with ear holders, over the silk mask. It is easy to wear this mask while doing chores turning chore day into spa-ish day.

When my current glass jar of natural deodorant is used up, I plan to make my first batch of homemade deodorant. I’ve been a lifelong “natural” deodorant user because the chemicals freaked me out since high school. I’ll use my current jar and eliminate one more bi-monthly recycle to reuse.

I eliminated small eye shadow purchases by purchasing mica eye shadow in bulk I have a variety of colors and I refill reused containers. I love the shadows and won’t have to buy more for years and years. 

 I am slowly converting from purchasing soaps from the health food store to hand-crafted soaps made locally with natural ingredients and also transitioning to making my own soaps in the future. Bar soaps save on unnecessary packaging and locally made soaps reduce transportation. Note that most commercial “soap” is made using detergents including synthetic chemicals/petroleum by-products.  

I’ve been brushing my teeth with baking soda and enjoy the freedom from purchasing new products and consistently throwing away a container. I dampen my toothbrush and dip it in a little container of baking soda

How do you begin to change your lifestyle to reduce cosmetic product waste?

Life can be over whelming. It is important to plan a doable transition into making your own personal care products. Find the best way to integrate a new practice into your current lifestyle. Some DIY processes are easier than others. Start with a new DIY practice that is within your budget and schedule. In my opinion, DIY facial serums are an easy way to replace store-bought products. For this you may search for recipes on the Essential Day Spa skin care forum and order active ingredients from internet store like Bulk Actives.

 If you need more information, go to the library, search the Internet, read my past Blog articles, or get my book “Skin Remodeling DIY: An Introduction to the Underground World of Do-It-Yourself Skincare” 

Take good care of yourself. xo


This article is intended to be used as general information only and is in no way intended to replace medical advice, be used as a medical treatment program, diagnosis, or cure of any disease or medical condition. There are no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding the effectiveness of the practices described in this article. Products or substances discussed herein are for educational purposes only and are not intended as recommendations of the author.