6 Zero Waste Face Washes That Clean Your Face & Are Clean for the Planet

a swirl of face wash

These zero waste face washes will effectively clean your skin using gentle ingredients that come in recyclable or upcycle-able containers that are earth-friendly.

Estimated Read Time: 7 minutes

Do you ride or die by your nightly facial routine or will the tiniest thing convince you to not do it? 

We all fluctuate between the two but no matter where you fall, I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times that you need to wash your face before going to bed. But that’s usually where the advice stops.

Why it’s so important and what kind of face wash you should be using?!

The answer is both simple and not simple. Not every skin type is created equal — some may need something more moisturizing, others may need something more exfoliating, and sometimes it really just depends on the day (or the phase of the moon).

Lucky for you, we’re here to provide some guidance! We’ve put together a list of our favorite zero waste face washes! Good for your face, good for the planet. 

Man standing at sink washing face

Why Zero Waste Face Wash? 

So, why is it so important to wash your face? Of course everything varies per skin type, but this answer is simple — during the day lots of things are happening to your skin while you go about your daily life. Sweat, dirt, bacteria, oil, dead skill cells, environmental pollutants (check the air quality of your city) and makeup if you wear it, all accumulate on your face. 

When you don’t wash your face at night you’re letting all of that build up and remain on your face. This leads to clogged pores and breakouts among other things. These include inflamed and itchy eyes and skin, dry skin, premature aging, plus sleeping in makeup can prevent the natural exfoliation of your skin from happening.

If you think you’re safe at night, think again. While you're sleeping, bacteria and sweat can accumulate on your skin — and when was the last time you washed your pillow case? 

If you have a morning skincare routine, you’ll need to start with a clean face otherwise you’ll be rubbing that sweat and bacteria from overnight into your skin even more. 

Women taking a nap in bed

What To Look For in A Zero Waste Face Wash

Clearly it’s important to clean your face, but a lot of the products you find at the drugstore promise a squeaky clean, shine-free cleanse and what that’s really doing is stripping your skin's barrier and natural oils leaving it dehydrated and unprotected. Not to mention harsh fragrances are usually added which can cause irritation to sensitive skin.

In addition to these harsh ingredients, these products are often packaged in un-recyclable or non-refillable plastics; designed to be tossed into the landfill.

Ingredients to look out for in natural face washes: 

  • Natural Oils — think sunflower, jojoba, coconut, olive, avocado, etc. 
  • Witch Hazel — A planet derived astringent, it’s benefits include tightening pores, cleansing skin, reducing inflammation
  • Fruit & Flower Extracts/ Essences — Look for essential oils and extracts from plants and sometimes fruits that are rich in vitamins and soothing to the skin
Composition with essential oils and flowers on table

Our Zero Waste Face Wash Recommendations

1. Dewy-er Skincare — Spirulina Face Wash

Dewyer Skincare was designed with just the right amount of oil to cleanse and hydrate your skin. This oil based face wash is great for oily, combination, hormonal, and acne-prone skin types. The two main powerhouse ingredients are Spirulina and Chlorophyll. Spirulina is packed with vitamins and nutrients to help strengthen your skin while Chlorophyll helps with blemishes and reduce redness. Made with vegan and cruelty-free ingredients, packaged in a glass container for easy upcycling and recycling. 

Shop Dewy-er Skincare 

2. Yellow Beauty Inc — Golden Hour Face Wash

Glass jar with brown plain label and white pump next to cardboard box. Face wash inside bottle is a light golden/yellow color

This water-based cleanser uses Turmeric and Pineapple to hydrate, soothe, and refresh your skin. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient (great for acne, eczema, and psoriasis) while Pineapple is rich in Vitamin C & other antioxidants, making this cleanser gentle enough to use everyday. Packaged in a glass jar with a plastic pump, the glass jar can be recycled but at this point the pump cannot.

Shop Yellow Beauty Inc

3. Urban Oreganics — Refresh Facial Cleansing Grains

glass jar sitting on wood plate in a bathroom. Contents inside jar are a pea green, jar has a white illegible label.

Photo by Urban Oreganics

If you want to exfoliate and wash away dirt but prefer to skip the soap — look no further. This soap ‘powder’ is made with grains (gluten-free oats, quinoa) and clay (french green clay), and matcha powder. Take 1 tsp powder + ½ tsp water and apply paste to skin, massing to exfoliate. Adjust the amount of water to create a texture based on your preference. Packaged in a glass jar with a metal lid that can be upcycled, recycled, or returned to Urban Oreganics

Shop Urban oreganics 

4. UpCircle Beauty — Cleansing Face Balm

Person holding a jar of the yellow cleansing face balm in one hand, scooping out a quarter sized amount onto fingers with the other hand.

Photo by UpCircle Beauty

Made with Shea Butter and the finely ground powder of discarded apricot stones, this cleansing balm from UpCircle Beauty doubles as a face cleanser and makeup remover. The nourishing blend of ingredients calm and soothe skin while restoring the natural oil balance. This cleanser is ideal for all skin types and can be used morning and/or night. It’s cruelty free, palm oil free, 100% vegan and packaged in completely recycled glass and aluminium jar.

To use, massage the cleanser between your fingers then slowly work into circles in an upward motion on your face. Wipe clean with a damp warm cloth

Shop Upcircle Beauty 

5. No Tox Life — Detoxifying Facial Bar

Black square of soap sitting on a terra cotta plate. Black label reads: No Tox Life Onyx Detoxifying, Cleansing, Vegan Facial Bar

Break away from all packaging with this detoxifying facial bar. Great for all skin types, this bar is made from mango, shea, and coconut specially formulated for moisturization. It gently draws buildup and dirt away from skin and helps to remove all the nasties that accumulate during the day, all without clogging your pores. Apply with your hands or a facial cloth or washcloth for extra exfoliation. Each bar is vegan, palm oil free, and comes in a cardboard sleeve for protection that can be recycled. Be sure to safely store away from water or on a slotted soap dish to increase longevity. 

Shop No Tox Life

6. Fat & The Moon — Moon Milk Cleanser

Brown glass jar with black plastic pump. Jar read: Fat and the Moon Moon Milk in white text

This moon to milk cleanser is a multifunctional cleanser and a moisturizer! Massage it into your skin then let sit for a couple of minutes while you have an existential crisis get ready for your day/bed. The cleanser will remove dirt and impurities leaving your skin feeling clean and moisturized. After drying, if you feel like you need a bit more moisture, apply 1-2 pumps of the cleanser with a touch of water and use as a moisturizer. It comes in a glass bottle that can be upcycled or recycled. Save your pump from your first purchase and get a refill with a screw top. 

Shop Fat and the Moon

Every skin type is as different as every person; what works for you may, or may not, work for someone else, and that’s okay! If you can’t replace your face wash for a zero waste face wash, try something else in your routine, like this completely package free jelly serum. If you must have plastic in your skincare, try implementing more zero waste practices in other areas. Life, and living an eco-friendly lifestyle, is all about balance. Do what you can. 

Now go wash your face! 

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