Easy Ways to Make Your Hair Care Routine Sustainable

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Written by Annie Walton-Doyle

Updated: March 21, 2024

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Many of us want to be kinder to the planet and make greener choices in our everyday lives. But what we may not consider is the impact of our haircare routines on the environment.

Beauty routines can be a dangerous source of waste and chemicals that can greatly increase our environmental impact without you even noticing. And if your haircare routine isn’t eco-friendly, then that’s a major blind spot in your quest to be green.

Luckily, there are many different methods you can employ to help to make your haircare routine more sustainable.

Different eco-friendly practices and products can greatly reduce the potential environmental impact of looking after your locks. To learn the best environmentally sound haircare options, read on.

#1. Minimize Plastic

Single-use plastics are one of the biggest problems for the planet, creating excess waste and often ending up in landfills. Trying to use less plastic is one of the most foolproof methods to make your haircare routine more sustainable, instantly.

Look for products that don’t come in plastic packaging, like bar shampoos, refillable options, or glass-bottled serums.

#2. Recycle!

If you do use a hair care product with plastic packaging, it’s super important that you dispose of it correctly once it’s done. Most plastic packaging can be recycled, but make sure you properly read the instructions to avoid contaminating your recycling bin with something that can’t be.

Glass, paper, and even soft plastic and cellophane packaging can often also be recycled if you can find the correct place.

#3. Repurpose Haircare Packaging

Some haircare packaging can enjoy a second life after the product is finished. Spray bottles can be super handy for making DIY facial sprays, while old plastic hair mask tubs can be used as garden planters. Try to look at your haircare waste as something with potential for reuse, rather than rubbish that just needs to be thrown in the trash.

#4. Buy Less and Buy Better

Haircare lovers know that it can be tempting to go wild in the aisles, purchasing all the most exciting and recently hyped beauty products. And while it is fun to experiment, it can also be a source of waste.

When shopping for your haircare, try to be conscientious, opting for products you like and will use, rather than tossing a random product into your basket on a whim. Not only is this great for the environment, but your wallet will thank you, too!

#5. Multipurpose Products

If you can streamline your haircare routine to include fewer products, that can also reduce both product and packaging waste.

Look for products that can do more than one thing, like a conditioner that doubles as a hair mask, or a leave-in product that also offers heat protection. This will also mean fewer products on rotation and a cleaner and more minimal-looking dresser.

#6. Product Swaps With Pals

Even if you’re the savviest beauty shopper in the world, from time to time, you’ll buy a product that just doesn’t quite cut the mustard. If this is the case, rather than throwing the product out, you could try to pass it on to a friend whose hair you think it may be better suited to. If you have a group of friends who are haircare lovers, consider product swap meet-ups, where you can pass on products that didn’t work for you, and enjoy the thrill of shopping but in a far more sustainable way!

#7. Invest In High-Quality Tools

Spending a little extra on your haircare tools isn’t just beneficial to your hair—it can also be helpful to the planet. If you’re purchasing high-quality and well-made tools, you won’t need to throw away so many broken hairbrushes, combs, or styling tools.

You can also opt for more sustainably made tools with eco-friendly materials, like choosing bamboo brushes and combs instead of plastic.

#8. Try To Repair

It can be tempting to toss out broken tools and just buy a new one—but this waste can end up in landfills. If there’s just a small fault with your hair tool, it’s worth looking into repairing it, rather than replacing it.

You may be able to make a minor fix yourself, or, you can take it to an electrical shop to ask for professional help.

#9. Go Cruelty-Free

Not only is testing on animals a horrible, heartbreaking thought, but it’s actually also extremely bad for the planet. Keeping animals in labs to try out haircare products is an extremely wasteful and environmentally damaging practice.

One super easy way to make your hair care routine more sustainable is to only buy products that are cruelty-free. Look out for the Leaping Bunny certification on products if you’re not sure. 

#10. Reduce Water Consumption

Using less water is a great way to reduce the environmental impact of your haircare routine. Try to keep showers shorter (and reduce the temperature) for a greener hair-washing routine. If you’re in the habit of washing your hair every day, consider cutting it down to every other day.

Not only will this minimize how much water you’re using in your haircare routine, but it may actually be healthier for your hair and scalp, too.

#11. Leave In Rather Than Rinse Out

On a similar note, opting for a leave-in conditioner, rather than the typical one you rinse out, can help cut down hair-washing time and reduce water usage.

Using something like the K18 Leave-in Molecular Repair Hair Mask, which you apply, then brush through and leave, means no more minutes spent rinsing hair and wasting water.

#12. Embrace The Air Dry

Many of us are slaves to our styling tools, but embracing the natural texture of our hair will cut down on energy usage and ensure your routine is more sustainable. There are many great leave-in products to help enhance different natural hair textures and make air-dried hair look more ‘done’.

You don’t have to go totally heat-free, but every little helps. For example, if you blow try and heat style your hair, consider cutting one of them out.

#13. Go Natural—Less Chemicals in Water Supply

Choosing greener, more natural-led brands can also help to make your haircare routine more generally eco-friendly. Opting for naturally formulated hair products, organic cotton towels and scrunchies, or plastic-free hair tools can reduce the amount of synthetic material in circulation.

DIY Haircare Options

Some of the most sustainable haircare products are living in your kitchen right now. You can create a fabulous hair treatment using totally natural products, and it’s both super affordable and kind to the planet.

  • Oils like coconut and avocado make great nourishing hair treatments. You can apply them through your hair’s lengths, leave them overnight, and then rinse them out in the morning to strong, soft, and shiny locks.
  • Avocado hair masks often work just as well as commercially available options. You can mash it up, then simply apply it as you would a mask. Leave for a few minutes to sink in and allow the fats and amino acids to nourish each strand, then rinse out and style as normal.
  • Apple cider vinegar is another kitchen workhorse that has a place in your haircare routine. It’s a great option for balancing hair that gets greasy and the roots but frizzy at the ends. It helps to gently remove product buildup while adding a glossy shine to your hair’s strands. Simply dilute your ACV with some water, then use it as a rinse at the end of your hair wash routine.

Vote With Your Wallet—Sustainable Haircare Brands With Environmental Initiatives

If you choose to support sustainable haircare brands with environmental initiatives, that sends a message to the haircare industry at large. Voting with your wallet proves to the beauty world that you (and therefore, other consumers) actually care about the planet when it comes to your haircare routine.

There are tons of fabulous green-led haircare brands for you to explore, many of which pledge some of their profits to environmental causes – so each time you make a purchase, you’re also making a donation! And, as this list proves, opting for a green haircare brand does not mean you have to sacrifice on quality.

There are even some more affordable brand options on our list for those on a tighter budget, but who still want to make sure their dollars are going to the right place…

  • Davines
  • Hairstory
  • Re-Comb 
  • Ethique
  • Rahua 
  • Plaine
  • Acure
  • EcoRoots
  • Paradox
  • Andrea’s Organic Market
  • Yarok
  • Aveda 
  • The Afro Hair & Skin Co
  • Garnier Zero Plastic Waste Shampoo Bar
  • Tints Of Nature
  • Faith In Nature

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