Capsule Beauty: What It Is & Why It’s The Sustainable Beauty Solution We Need

Capsule Beauty: What It Is & Why It’s The Sustainable Beauty Solution We Need

Capsule beauty draws on minimalist, essentialist ideals to pare down one’s beauty routine to its most essential steps and products. It seeks to clear out our over-cluttered cosmetics bags and bathroom vanities and stop saturating our skin with more than it needs—and in doing so, reduce the beauty industry’s environmental impact.

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Minimalism is trending and it’s a beautiful thing—literally!

You’ve likely heard of the capsule wardrobe, but what about capsule beauty?

Capsule beauty draws on minimalist, essentialist ideals to pare down one’s beauty routine to its most essential steps and products.

It seeks to clear out our over-cluttered cosmetics bags and bathroom vanities and stop saturating our skin with more than it needs—and in doing so, reduce the beauty industry’s environmental impact.


WHAT IS CAPSULE BEAUTY?

Just like a minimalist wardrobe, a minimalist makeup routine asks us to take our low-quality, high-quantity consumption mindset and turn it completely on its head. 

Instead of having a LOT of cosmetics we use only occasionally, it would mean paring down to a curated selection of fewer, higher-quality beauty products—and bear in mind “beauty products” refers to both cosmetics and skin care.

It also means only applying what you really need and prioritizing dual-use products where possible. 

Now that we know what capsule beauty is, let’s move on to why you should consider switching to a capsule beauty mindset.


CAPSULE BEAUTY IS BETTER FOR THE PLANET.

Each year, the beauty industry is responsible for the production of 120 billion units of plastic packaging.

Expected to reach $560.50 billion in market size by 2030, a 60% increase from its current value, it's clear that our cosmetics consumption has to change.

And capsule beauty gives the average, everyday consumer the power to do just that.

By minimizing what we buy, capsule beauty inherently helps you cut down on this excessive expenditure. Think slow fashion…but for your face!

When paired with a zero waste beauty philosophy, capsule beauty has the ability to make even more of an impact, asking glam gurus to not only downsize how much they consume but to consume what little they do more intentionally.

Those with a minimalist makeup routine—along with the brands that encourage it—will often opt for low-waste, reusable, or refillable packaging, which further cuts down on the carbon footprint of your cosmetics.


CAPSULE BEAUTY IS BETTER FOR YOUR SKIN.

Even if you’re not currently on the low waste living track, capsule beauty makes sense from a healthy skin perspective, too.

In particular, minimalist skincare (or “skinimalism”) is the skin-vacation you never knew you needed. Nature knows best, after all, and if we allow our skin room to regulate itself, it often will.

Especially when the alternative is slathering it with dehydrating cocktails that include alcohol and sulfates —to name just a few.

Even when we carefully select ingredients, excessive layering can end up having the opposite effect of compromising the upper dermis barrier, stripping natural oils, leading to irritation, redness, acne, and more—which then creates a self-perpetuating cycle of us mistakenly thinking we need more product to solve these problems.

In fact, we need less. Sustainable skincare is minimalist skincare.


HOW TO DEVELOP A MINIMALIST BEAUTY ROUTINE.

If you’re staring into the chaotic void (AKA your cosmetics bag) filled with half-empty products that you haven’t used in ages, minimizing might seem like a big challenge.

Just like that feeling you get when you’re wondering what to do with old clothes, the trick is to not get overwhelmed—it doesn’t have to happen overnight.

It’s a step-by-step process of simplifying your beauty rituals over time. Ask yourself these questions:


  1. What does your skin need?

Start by feeding and nourishing your skin. Beauty is skin deep is true in more ways than one, besides a glowing look starts with the foundation of it all: skin.

There is no one-perfect-lip-shade-suits-all makeup routine. 

Taking note of your skin type and your skin concerns is the first step to picking essential products that will lay the foundation of your capsule beauty kit.


  1. What products do you simply not use?

Get rid of these altogether. 

If you haven’t worn that electric blue eyeshadow since you dressed up as Cyndi Lauper last Halloween, it’s taking up valuable real estate that it shouldn’t.


  1. What products can serve more than one use?

Do you really need a day cream and a night cream? Take a look at the ingredients: are they really that different?

We’re led to believe we need all this unique stuff for our skin, but in reality, many of the products we use for different aspects of our skincare routine are remarkably similar.

This means many products can actually have two or three different uses.

For example, many zero waste mascaras can double as eyeliner, zero waste face wash might act as a suitable makeup remover, and the same tinted crayon can be used to color the lips, eyes, and cheeks. 


  1. What about the stuff you don’t need?

Try to dispose of it responsibly. 

Have any make-up artist friends that would use them or why not donate them to a women’s shelter? Local theaters and universities with arts programs can also make use of your unwanted makeup.

If all else fails, see if the packages can be recycled. If they’re not a straightforward type of plastic, you can send them to specialty recycling services like Terracycle or the Pact Collective.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN MINIMALIST BEAUTY PRODUCTS.

When curating a capsule beauty routine, you should always start with what you have, but when that no longer ticks the box (or you run out of product), the key is to buy new with utmost intentionality.

There are two main considerations when buying anything new: quality and sustainability.

Quality refers first and foremost to the ingredients. Natural skin care ingredients (like ethically sourced minerals and plant-based oils) are the best choice, both for you and mother nature.

However, going all-natural all the time isn’t always realistic, but when it’s not, you should still be mindful of what sorts of cheap chemicals and wasteful fillers that glamorous smokey eye look comes with.

If one of the reasons you’re minimizing your beauty routine is to give your skin a break, it hardly makes sense to continue using products chock full of the many ingredients to avoid in skincare.

It’s worth noting that, contrary to popular belief, quality does not necessarily mean expensive (though it does probably rule out any dollar store buys). There are plenty of affordable organic makeup brands offering top-tier all-natural products at budget-friendly prices.

Sustainability means choosing ethical beauty criteria that aligns with your values, whether that means you prefer to shop vegan, palm oil-free, fair trade, and the like.

Packaging is also a big consideration here. If possible, opt for eco friendly makeup packaged in compostable, reusable, and recyclable housing.

In particular, choosing refillable makeup containers, like the Elate Capsule Palette, gives you the room to play with changing out colors while sticking to the minimalist notion of having only one color palette at a time.

And when you want to spice up your look, refills are fully compostable.

If you can’t choose eco-friendly packaging for all items in your capsule beauty kit, then try to ensure you have end-of-life disposal options outside the landfill. 

Elate, among an increasing number of cosmetics brands, also offers mail-in or drop-off recycling services for all packaging, period.


FINAL THOUGHTS ON CAPSULE BEAUTY

Once you’ve cultivated a minimalist beauty routine, all that’s left to do is maintain it. This means avoiding those tempting impulse buys at Sephora…

But in the end, curating a capsule beauty routine is about saving: saving your skin, saving you money, and saving the planet from the packaging that plagues it at every lip-tinted turn.

All combined, we think that’s a truly beautiful thing.

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