A picture with her face partially covered behind a paper fan

I’ve always been a big believer in the importance of beauty in difficult times. During the past five months, my beauty and self-care rituals have become even more sacred as I try to find some calm amidst the pandemic. I’ve often found myself taking comfort in a new lipstick, a sense of normalcy in clicking to purchase my favorite face lotion. 

Like all consumption, however, these purchases come at a cost. Most of our products come packaged in plastic, and, chances are, the cuter the packaging is, the less likely it can be recycled.

I set out to find the best COVID-19 beauty purchases that both work while wearing a face mask and aren’t going to clutter our planet. These brands use minimal virgin plastic and many have incredible recycling programs and are even refillable. 


Start with skincare that caters to your new mask reality. I’ve been using Mad Hippie’s Vitamin C Serum to bring brightness to my face, and, I have to say, it’s made more of a difference than pricier serums I’ve tried.


For a base, I like to keep things simple and bounce some concealer under my eyes and around my nose and mouth with a beauty sponge. My favorite lately has been Juice Beauty’s PHYTO-PIGMENTS Perfecting ConcealerFor my deeper-skinned friends, Ilia’s got your back with the beautiful, pigmented True Skin Serum Concealer, a product that melts into the skin and covers even the toughest blemishes.

If you’re after more coverage, Kjaer Weis’ award-winning Cream Foundation, which now comes in a budget-friendly refillable cardboard compact, is a great cream-to-powder formula that smooths imperfections, even on dry skin. To lock it in place, I love Leilani Cosmetics’ pressed powders, which can be used to highlight, bronze or set the skin.


Next I play up my eyes. These days they’re the only part of our faces people can see. If I want to make a statement, then Aether Beauty’s all-matte Joshua Tree Palette is what I reach for. The “only zero-waste, all-matte palette” has all the everyday neutrals, bright pops of color and smoky deep shades I could want, and it’s also the most pigmented clean beauty palette I’ve ever come across. 

If you’re looking for something a little simpler, Vapour Beauty’s eyeshadow in Archetype is an easy quad of brown-toned neutrals. You can also swipe and go with the rosy, brightening cream eyeshadow in Pearl by SBsarahlovesmakeup on Etsy.

To finish my eye look, I love the multi-tasking Bésame cake mascaras. The little tins inspired by a 1920s product are refillable. The product inside lasts for up to two years, and with just a little water, I can use the brown for brows, liner and lashes! They do take some getting used to. If you prefer a wand mascara, however, my favorite is the fluttery Vapour Mesmerize Mascara, the most non-smudge formula I’ve found from a natural brand.


Next, up is lipstick. Wearing a power red on my lips always makes me feel strong and connected to courageous women of the past (like suffragettes and World War II soldiers) who also favored the fiery shade. 

To create a mask-proof lip look, first, choose a matte formula. My current favorites are Axiology’s Cherry Balmie (a 90s brick red) and Cheekbone Beauty’s Sustain Lipstick in Aki (a bright, blue-based red). Apply your lipstick as you usually would, then blot with a reusable cotton pad.

Next, apply your lipstick again. Then, flip your cotton pad over and dust with face powder. Blot your lips a second time with the powder side of the cotton pad. Although there may be a bit of transfer onto your mask, this will prevent your lipstick from bleeding and smearing. 


Before the pandemic, I never thought about how wearing a mask would make me keenly aware of my oral hygiene. There are lots of zero-waste options out there, but trust me when I say that they aren’t all equal. I’ve tried quite a few natural and low-waste toothpaste options, and my absolute favorite is Davids. The metal tube and the plastic cap can be rinsed and placed in your local recycling bin. 

Similar to my toothpaste testing, I’ve tried quite a few zero or low-waste toothbrushes and, again, arrived at my favorite: The Humble Brush. The bristles hold up better than any other zero-waste brush I’ve found. At the end of my toothbrush’s life, I simply snap off the bristle head and discard. Then, I put the wooden handle in the composting bin.

At the end of the day, I can’t get enough of Ethique’s SuperStar! Cleansing Balm makeup remover. I double cleanse, and it gets every bit of my makeup off, just as well as my previous holy grail milky cleanser I’ve used for almost a decade. 

For post-mask acne (or “maskne,” as it’s being called), Meow Meow Tweet’s Spot Serum visibly calmed my blemish in one night. It also smells amazing! Their Geranium Palmarosa Toner is a great mist for oily skin. For sensitive or dry skin, try Luminance Skincare’s Rosewater Toner.  

Before bed, I treat my lips to Soop’s zero-waste Vanilla lip balm, a light-weight, beautiful balm with a light scent. Next, I use face oil to hydrate and heal my stressed skin. Right now, it’s Mad Hippie’s Antioxidant Facial Oil. Then, I mist on Saje’s Goddess Euphoric Mist, layer up all my dry spots with Lush’s Sleepy Body Lotion and drift off to dream of happier times and a cleaner planet.

How have you adjusted your makeup routine throughout the pandemic? What are some of your favorite sustainable and green-friendly makeup products?

Image via John Michael Fulton, Daring Issue No. 12

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