What is the #NoBuy beauty challenge and how can it help the environment?

29th May 19 | Beauty

It might be time to put the Boots Advantage card on ice.

If you’re someone who loves watching YouTube beauty tutorials, gets a thrill out of unboxing a new mascara and always has the latest Urban Decay eyeshadow palette, there’s a good chance you might be sitting on a lot of unused make-up.

Let’s face it, most of us are guilty of hoarding more cosmetics than we need, or more than is even physically possible to use up before they turn bad and need to be thrown away (blushers, foundations and lipsticks have expiration dates too, FYI).

That’s why something called #NoBuy beauty is having a moment in the vlogging world. It sounds counterintuitive, but the latest beauty trend is all about not buying make-up.

Here’s everything you need to know…

What is #NoBuy beauty and where did it come from?

The concept of no-buy beauty has been a topic of conversation in beauty communities for years, but with the industry’s environmental impact under scrutiny, many major bloggers who previously based their content around multi-product make-up tutorials and ‘hauls’ have publicly committed to spending and receiving less.

The idea is pretty simple: Instead of splurging on new beauty products, you make a commitment to use the products you already own.

In recent months, the movement has become an online challenge in itself. Many vloggers have pledged to a “no-buy year” – and are documenting their progress on YouTube in lieu of uploading videos of their recent purchases.

“My main goal through this journey is to develop a healthier relationship with shopping and noticing when it’s an emotional impulse,” says blogger Serein Wu, who pledged to a no-buy 2019 in a video uploaded earlier this year. “I struggle with depression and anxiety, shopping has become a coping mechanism and quick bandaid for when I’m starting to feel bad about myself.”

“In November, a sporadic clear-out reminded me of how many fantastic lipsticks I own, but rarely wear,” says no-buy blogger MookyChick.

“The whole thing made me realise that my collection needs a serious downsize.”

She continues: “Part of the push for this was that I need to save for my wedding, so I’m going to be tracking how much I’m not spending on random cosmetics every month. A lot of it was also the realisation that I have so much stuff already, and I don’t use half of it, even though I like it all!”

When beauty blogger Samantha Ravndahl shared a video called ‘No More PR…’ with her subscribers, it was met with a flurry of supportive comments.

In the video, she explains why she no longer accepts free items from beauty companies – citing excess packaging and waste as her two major reasons for shutting down her postbox. “On a not slow week I might receive 20 to 30 packages,” she says. “Even putting aside the fact that I can’t possibly use all of that product, the packaging that it’s sent in is exorbitant.”

Ravndahl has now committed to only buying products that she knows she will use and enjoy.

How can no-buy help the environment?

Annual awareness campaign Zero Waste Week reported last year that more than 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry. Worryingly, most of these tubes, pots and bottles aren’t being recycled once they’ve been used.

Part of the movement gaining traction is down to consumers looking for long-term, sustainable beauty solutions that won’t impact the environment.

Ever since David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II series highlighted the devastating effects of plastic pollution on marine wildlife, with scenes showing birds feeding microplastics to their chicks, many of us have been rethinking our environmental footprint – and it should probably come as no surprise that the half-used mascara wands, barely touched lipsticks and the reams of cellophane and plastic they come packaged in, aren’t good for the environment.

Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been produced since the 1950s. Of this, they estimate that 60% has either ended up in landfill or the natural environment.

It’s not just the packaging that’s the problem though. Ingredients in sunscreen, as well as surfactants, synthetic fragrances and silicones are difficult to treat and can all end up back in the oceans, continuing to pollute the water too.

As well as helping the environment, the bonus of committing to the #NoBuy challenge is that your beauty obsession probably isn’t doing your bank balance a lot of good either. A recent survey by Fragrance Direct discovered that we shell out, on average, a whopping £482.51 a year on beauty products. Yikes.

Our advice? Stop browsing the ‘new in’ section on your favourite beauty website and treat yourself to a city break with the saved cash instead.

© Press Association 2019

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