Zero Waste Beauty and Grooming

Zero Waste, Plastic Free Beauty and Grooming in Paris. For sustainable, green, plastic-free living. Homemade mouthwash, DIY tooth powder, glass cup for rinsing, sustainably harvested wooden toothbrush, siwak (miswak) sticks to replace floss, unpackaged Alep soap for cleaning and shaving, Merkur 25c safety razor, Buly 1803 grapeseed oil, RMS beauty cosmetics, bamboo toothbrush
This post has been updated. Click here to read the updated post.

I adopted a zero-waste (almost) beauty routine without knowing it- puberty struck, zits erupted, and I didn't have the cash to pay for products Jessica Biel endorsed on television. I started conditioning my hair with homemade apple cider vinegar and scrubbing my face with baking soda; I wasn't allowed to wear makeup, so I rubbed beets (from the garden) on my cheeks and lips. We don't have a medicine cabinet in Paris, which is one motivation for avoiding unsightly plastic. With everything out in the open, I'm more conscious of the products we choose.


RMS Beauty products, available at Oh My Cream, are plastic-free in metal and glass, except the aluminum mascara tube with plastic wand. I won't buy them again- they break me out. For now, I'm sticking to plain cornstarch as foundation / facial powder, DIY beet blush and lip color, and bulk kohl (buy it at Marché Raspail to avoid lead). Kjar Weis offers organic, refillable makeup in metal, Ellis Faas sells refills, and Fat and the Moon uses glass and metal packaging for their vegan products. Click here for my diy activated charcoal and mascara recipe. I make my own perfume, but if you'd rather not DIY, Le Labo refills their products.

Dental hygiene

Here's our homemade mouthwash recipe: Boil 500 mL water and cool to room temperature. Add 30 drops peppermint essential oil and 15 drops clove essential oil. Shake well. Store in pharmaceutical grade amber glass (mine's an old Aesop bottle). Swish using small glass beakers.

Straight baking soda replaces acetaldehyde-based flavored toothpastes- some say it's overly abrasive, but my dentist recommends it. My grandma brushed with baking soda daily for decades, and she has strong enamel and gums. I use a bamboo toothbrush and siwak (miswak) instead of floss.

Shaving and haircare

My hairbrush is beeswax-finished wood with a natural rubber base. For hands, hair, body, and face, I buy unpackaged soap at the market or Comptoir de Savonniers- usually Aleppo or savon de Marseille. Perfect for safety razor shaving, handmade soaps lather on their own, no need for a badger brush. Plastic razors last years if you dry the blade between uses, but with a safety razor I shave half as much and experience less irritation and nicks. 

I use lemon or lime juice to tame flyaways, cornstarch as dry shampoo, and bulk olive oil for makeup remover, moisturizer, and lip balm. Plain baking soda isn't irritating when patted- not rubbed- onto a clean, dry underarm. Baking soda is a mild abrasive that removes impurities from hair, and vinegar is a chelating agent. For best results, mix one part baking soda with three parts water and leave in a few minutes before rinsing, no more than once a week. Condition with white vinegar (it smells less than apple cider vinegar) to treat mineral residue and damage from hard Paris water. For cities with softer water, my mom swears by a shampoo bar to keep her long, thick hair shiny and clean.

Zero Waste Feminine Hygiene

I bought the Mooncup, packaged in cloth and cardboard, at Naturalia. It shortens my periods and reduces cramps. The very first cycle I biked 35 km, swam 50 laps, and slept leak-free- I was afraid to make the switch, but I've used it two years now without a problem. Just empty the cup before and after work and during lunch. It's cleaner than a tampon or pad, with no unpleasant odors. Click here for detailed menstrual cup options, including material, dimensions, and capacity. Click here for folding techniques (don't be intimidated, I fold mine in half and it's comfortable / leak-proof). Not everybody is a fan of silicone. There are rubber menstrual cups; others prefer vegetable sponges, sea sponges, or reusable cloth options.


  1. Paper bag from baking soda: recycling or compost (depending on how much carbon is in the compost), once every three months.
  2. Paper box from Mooncup: Kept for storage
  3. White vinegar bottle: Recycling- one plastic bottle every two months
  4. RMS Beauty packaging: Fully recyclable
  5. Box from razor and razor blades (paper wrapper): Kept the box for storage, composted the paper. When my first razor blade is finished, I'll take it to CVAE Invalides, which accepts them for re-use
  6. Toothbrush packaging: Compostable cardboard and cellophane
  7. Soap and water replace toilet paper, unless I'm in a bathroom outside the home. Toilet paper comes in plastic packaging only here (not currently recycled). I buy it for my husband and guests. One six pack lasts approximately 2-3 months. 
  8. Lemon or lime peels: Composted, grated for scrubs or candied if removed before use.

P.S. Using cocoa powder as blush/bronzer didn't work for me, and gave me a caffeine rush.

Paris to Go


  1. I am so glad to see this type of routine from a fashionable person! usually i only see these topics on hippie-farmer kind of blogs. it's great to show people that you can be sustainable AND "normal". thanks for showing the world that sustainability isn't just for us hippies!

    1. That is so sweet of you! Actually my routine is even more "hippie"-ish now but it still works in a professional setting :) Anybody can work sustainability into their lifestyle! Also, I don't think of myself as fashionable at all so you just made me happy, thank you for the nice compliment.

  2. Hello! I know you've mentioned it in a few posts, but I'd love to see an entry detailing the different ways you use savon de Marseille for both body and home. I recently purchased a 600g block online and am interested in how other people use it (by the way, somehow I've been unable it anywhere in manhattan or brooklyn... leads, anyone?).

    On a side note, have you ever considered shaking a splash of vodka with the oil before adding water in your mouthwash recipe? This is how I am able to more thoroughly disperse lavender oil when I make linen water and I imagine that it would be equally helpful with mouthwash.

    1. Hey, that's a great idea for a post! Thank you. I'll start working on it! And I'll have to try that with the vodka- that would be really helpful.We have great pure grape vodka in bulk here that would be wonderful for that.

      Honestly, I wouldn't have ever used Savon de Marseille if I hadn't moved here! I used to use whatever soap Whole Foods had unpackaged, or castile soap (I even made castile soap). When I was in Indonesia I used black soap or soap nuts to clean everything, and in Thailand I used coconut oil soap for laundry, body, teeth, dishes, etc.

      Somebody else just asked about savon de marseille in Brooklyn and one reader said there's one place, Mad Soap Company, that makes basically the same recipe. It's called savon de Brooklyn or something though. I'll ask the Zero Waste Bloggers Network and see if anybody has more information.

      At the moment the only places I've heard people buy unpackaged soap is at the farmer's market, Integral Yoga, 4th Street Food Co-Op (they have Ithaca soaps, and they make a sunflower oil soap that would be a good savon de Marseille alternative, but I don't know about the packaging), and Natural Frontier Market. I haven't been to NYC in forever though, so what do I know. My mom is in Brooklyn right now, I'll ask her to keep an eye out.

  3. Ooh what kind of shampoo bar does your mom use? I have tried no shampoo methods and my hair just never looks nice. :(

    1. She uses the Seanik bar from Lush. It's blue and smells really good. She loves it, but she tried both conditioner bars and didn't like them. I've heard similar reviews from other people.

  4. Replies
    1. Chew on it until it starts to separate, forming bristles, then you brush up and down and side to side between the teeth. My teeth are really close together but the miswak does a great job cleaning between. My dentist said my gums and teeth are very healthy!

  5. I've used the Seanik bar from Lush, yeh, it's blue and it does smell so good, you are so right :) I love it too and everyone that uses it loves it also.

  6. These are all great tips, I myself have simplyfied my beauty routine a lot as well. I really like solid face serum from Lush! Packeging free and works like a charm! Currently, I'm bracing to switch to baking soda brushing only (using in homemade coconut oil+baking soad toothpate right now). But I find one obstacle in natural, zero waste beauty: hand cream. I have terribly sensitive hands and with two kids under 4, I am constantly washing, wiping, changing etc. I only use savon de Marseille for washing and cleaning, but my hands get into horrible sand paper state within half a day. I have tried copious hand treatment recipes, oils, butters etc. Nothing works! The only thing that does work is Neutrogena Norwegian formula hand cream, which comes in a plastic tube :-(.

    Has anybody got any ideas I could still try?

    1. Oh that is so hard! The only thing I can think of is glycerin, which I think is the main ingredient? But it sounds like you tried everything. I'm sorry to hear that! Hopefully someone else will have a better idea.

  7. Hi there! I've read through pretty much all of your blog posts in one week 😂 Truly, I am enjoying following your journey. I would love to know which soap you prefer though, Aleppo or Marseille, and in particular, why? I've just ordered a block of Tàde Olive & Laurel Soap to wash my hair (haven't washed it in so many months because I'm lazy but I don't do much else with my hair either) as I wanted to wash it - it looks... lifeless! I've read it has many other uses as well which I can't wait to test also. Anyway, let me know! And happy zero-wasting 🙂

    1. Hi! Thank you for reading! I prefer Aleppo. It has more beneficial properties and doesn't contain palm oil. I also think it's gentler and more moisturizing. It's the only soap my grandma can use now on her skin. Not many soaps are true Marseille soaps anyway so it's difficult to find a pure one.