Can I bury my face in your high tox shampooed hair?

Do you stink pretty? The further I go with diy and low maintenance beauty, the less perfumes I use. I now water wash my hair, moisturise with olive oil and wear a drop or two of essential oils on my wrists. Past Zoe would have a strong perfume associated with every beauty product. Today, I just smell clean.

I’ve noticed that I now have a visceral reaction to strong perfumes. If someone is wearing a lot of cologne, I get a bit squeamish and want to be as far away from them as possible. I never used to be this way but colognes can now make me cough, and if I’m surrounded by enough of it, a cloud of perfume can give me a migraine.

On the other hand, if someone has freshly washed sweet-smelling hair, it smells so damn good to me that I may hover in the air nose-first towards their delicious mane. Can I bury my face in your high tox shampooed hair? It reminds me of those old ‘Herbal Essence’ shampoos from the 90s. They might have been stripping my hair of its natural oils but it Smells. So. Good.

Rather than creeping out strangers on public transport, maybe I should invest in something to make me stink pretty? My first step is to add essential oils to my basic diy products. Let’s get smelly.

Curling hair with rags

Raggedy hair! I experimented with offcuts of fabric to curl my hair. It worked! I’ll keep this in mind for special occasions but I‘m waaaay too lazy to do this regularly. Ferk dat. The result wasn’t too far from my natural curls, just a little more structured. Kinda reminded me of my NooNoo’s frizzy curly hair in the 1930s.

Rags and fabric scraps have many uses. I have repurposed cotton rags for cleaning, hair curlers, filters and gift wrap. If big enough, I sometime sew a seam to make my own handkerchief. My mum likes to make patchwork quilts and cushions from offcuts of fabric. Got any other uses for fabric scraps? I’d love to hear more.

Pull packaging apart

Pull packaging apart. Explore it. Understand it’s construction. Reimagine it. Clean it. Rebuild it. Repurpose it.

This old bottle of @trilogyproducts rosehip oil has been the home of my homemade acv conditioning rinse for many moons now. No need to throw away. It’s still got years in it.

After the next bottle is used up, I’m planning to experiment with a locally sourced oil that can be bought package free. Olive oil for the face? I’m willing to give it a try. If it’s good enough for old mate Cleopatra, it’s good enough for me.

Zero waste sun protection

Are there any mates that can give me advice on zero waste sun protection? Particularly anyone with light brown to dark skin or tattoos. I am at a loss. I want a very high spf sunscreen that doesn’t come in plastic and isn’t chalky. Must be a reliable shield against Australia’s high UV rays.

Here’s a quick comparison:
Before I boycotted plastic, @invisiblezincau was my go to. It offers high protection and is non-greasy and ideal for face. It used to have ethical credentials on #shopethical but has since been marked down. Regardless of its credibility, the chalky residue looks a bit silly over tattoos and light brown skin. Even the tinted versions are very light. My winter skin is fair enough to wear this, but too dark to require it.

I’ve tried but found it offers very little protection and the colour is a strange brown-grey. It made me look dead inside. This is fine colour to match my corpse but while I’m still alive, I need something in the yellow-brown spectrum. Or ya know… just not tinted because one size does not fit all.

Many natural sunscreens don’t display spf. I like that tin packaging is on the rise but no spf makes me reluctant to buy… how can I be sure it’s going to get the job done? I gotta protect my tattoos.

Got a low impact sunscreen that works on dark/tattooed skin? Recommendations welcome. Know stuff about sun protection and nanoparticles? Teach me all the things!

Low waste hair care

My hair is the most manageable it’s ever been thanks to a bit of brushing, water washing, apple cider vinegar rinse, accepting my natural features and a monthly teaspoon of coconut oil combed throughout. Past Zoe would have been sceptical about these simple steps. It’s easier said than done, but my dry scalp and wild waves have appreciated the transition.

Not so dirty packaging from Dirty Hippie Cosmetics

Zero waste make up delivery!! I believe that make up should be optional for men and women. We are all entitled to wear and not wear make up. As a person who can’t stick to absolutes, I am inconsistent with the amount of make up I wear each day. Sometimes my face is clean. Other days, I have fiery red lips, tinted brows and shimmery blush. One contributing factor is that I get monthly acne even in my 30s. That monthly pimple is clutching onto my teenage youth. Wanna look young? Try being 5 ft tall with pimples. Takes years off! 😜

Thank you to @dirtyhippiecosmetics for gifting me this concealer and shampoo bar. This Australian small business has zero waste principles at its core. I’m in love with their ethos, products, packaging and all-round friendliness.

This concealer matches my summer skin tone perfectly so I can appear to have glowing skin on spotty days. I’ve been wearing their beetroot blush on my eyes and cheeks as well as tinted lip balm. I can return the tins for reuse and compost the paper. It’s all plastic free and vegan.

Also included in this pack is a little lemon shampoo bar which smells incredible and lathers really well. Wrapping it in newspaper is a nice touch.

Discovering DIY recipes has rekindled my interest in make up. My expectations of beauty brands has been enhanced by Dirty Hippie. Thank you Danni for all that you do. You’re a legend in my eyes.

Not so dirty packaging from Dirty Hippie Cosmetics
Not so dirty packaging from Dirty Hippie Cosmetics


Relax, embrace change and seek balance.

“Relax, embrace change and seek balance.” That’s what these tattoos mean to me. I drew them when I was 19 based on the lunar cycle and Buddhist wheel. The pretentious designer in me is conscious that they look very 2006 tattoo art – a small inky amulet 🙂 Design nerd aside, I really love being reminded of this mantra as I work, play and plan ahead. When both exposed, they trigger a desire to sit in lotus pose (cross legged meditation pose with palms up). Thankfully, teenage Zoe got a few things right.

I tend to get so excited about the future that I struggle to be present. This year, we’re planning some big lifestyle changes. As we work through decision-making, I will try to chill the fuck out, embrace the change to come and seek balance as much as possible. This mantra has helped throughout my zero waste transition too.

Transitioning my hair & beauty regime

I learned to audit my toiletries, minimise my hair & grooming regimes and go natural with my nails. I embraced DIY for most products. For store-bought items, I favoured glass packaging and ethical brands. I took it slow, and stayed pampered.

Audit my toiletries

To audit, pull all the items out of the bathroom cupboard and split into separate piles: Keep, Give Away or Throw Out (try to reuse the container if you can). In the ‘Keep’ pile, take note of which items could be substituted by a zero waste alternative. Then, make two lists: To Make & Phase Out. Take it slow, substituting one item at a time.

Phase out for zero waste
These were items I chose to phase out to reduce my household waste

We went through our bathroom cupboards and took out items that were rarely used or a double-up. There was an alarming amount of stuff. An embarrassing amount. Some items were out of date, others were nearly untouched. We salvaged what was reusable and gave it away on gumtree (yes, people actually took it and they were so happy!). For the remaining stuff, I made two lists: “To Make” & “Phase Out”. The first item I made myself was lemon sea salt spray and I still use it today. I eventually learned to make shampoo, conditioner, soap, face scrub and makeup.

‘Phase out’ was a challenging list to get through. It contained cotton tips, tampons, multi-vitamins, spray deodorant, bleach, after sun gel, plastic flossers and band-aids. I realised that these were either totally pointless items (bleach, really Zoe!?) or there was a very different solution to the problem they solved. A big part of the challenge was using up what we already had – No matter how far I go with zero waste, I still have a never-ending bag of plastic flossers. The habit is made more challenging when these products are still front of mind.

Minimise hair regime

Simplify with a moisturising hair mask, a multi-purpose shampoo, hair conditioning rinse and homemade hair spray.

Zero waste lemon hairspray
RECIPE: Lemon Hairspray

My entire hair care routine comes from just a few core ingredients. Apart from the money I’m saving, my hair is healthier than before! I have naturally dry, fluffy, thick hair and I used to use a LOT of conditioner and rose hip oil to defrizz. This process made it greasy and probably wasn’t great for my skin. Now, my hair is glossy and tame without being oily. I’m overwhelmed by how minimal this is:

  1. Coconut oil treatment – once a fortnight
  2. Liquid Castile soap or Shampoo bar – every 3-5 days
  3. Apple cider vinegar & thyme conditioning rinse – a few drops in the shower after shampooing
  4. Lemon hairspray – for daily shine and hold

Grooming is optional

Zero waste helped me cull the last of the grooming products and accept my natural self. My zero waste approach to grooming is now: Pluck, Shave, Trim & the occasional Wax. And you know what? They’re all optional.

The Mister Brand safety razor
My grooming set: I purchased my safety razor from The Mister Brand.

I used to be extremely self conscious about body hair. I have dark features so I got teased for having dark baby hairs on my arms, face and belly. I was told that I looked like a man. These comments got to my head and I got a little OTT with hair removal. I would wax, shave, lazer, bleach and pluck until I looked like the unrealistic expectation that others had set for me. I hate looking back at pictures of me with pencil thin eyebrows. I dread to think what lazer did under the surface of my skin. I would hate for men to experience waxing down town – if I wouldn’t wish it upon them, why did I do it?

Today, I have the benefit of being older and not giving a fuck. Zero waste helped me cull the last of the grooming products and accept my natural self. I now know that all those comments were coming from people deflecting their own insecurities. They even teased me for my big brown eyes and petite figure, ha!

I have a totally different perception of beauty now. I think full eyebrows and possum pits are hot. I think soft dark arm hair is completely normal. I think baby hairs glistening over tanned skin is sparkly and gorgeous. I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if someone doesn’t have an eye for me, then that’s ok!

In the words of the great Ru Paul: “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen up in here!?” AMEN!

DIY beauty

These items form the basis of DIY beauty, hair and skin products: Castile liquid soap, Apple cider vinegar, Bicarb/Baking Soda, Cornstarch, Xylitol, Bentonite Clay and Coconut Oil. Anything extra is added for luxury.

Zero waste beauty essentials
These are now my beauty essentials… I must be mad!

If you’re starting out with zero waste, this is a great shopping list to set you off on the right foot. All of this is available package-free at most bulk stores for less than $30 all up.

  1. Castile liquid soap: Shampoo, makeup remover, face wash, body wash, plus many household uses.
  2. Apple Cider Vinegar: Dilute for hair conditioning rinse, skin toner, and healthy digestion for glowing skin.
  3. Bicarb/Baking Soda: A core ingredient for acne treatment, toothpowder, deodorant, body scrub and many cleaning solutions.
  4. Cornstarch: A core ingredient for powdered makeup and deodorant – I’ve had this container for years and finally getting some use out of it.
  5. Xylitol: Use in toothpowder and mouthwash.
  6. Bentonite Clay: Use in toothpowder, makeup and face masks – we bought waaay too much. You only need a couple of tablespoons.
  7. Coconut oil: Use as-is for a hair treatment, mix with other ingredients here to make deodorant, body scrub and toothpaste.
RECIPE: How to make your own deodorant

See all recipes

Reusable make up wipes for zero waste | Ain't no Planet B
I made my own reusable make up wipes from an old bath robe

Go natural with my nails

Truly zero waste nails is the all natural approach: Clean, trim, balm and eat a healthy diet.

Nail polish has never suited me. My zero waste approach is clean, trim, balm and eat fish now and then. This achieves a natural ‘French manicure’. The big step taken was to get rid of all the products I’d been holding onto for years. My new system only requires a couple of items, so I gave everything else away on Gumtree.

For those that like polish, simply favour glass packaging and non-toxic, ethical brands. There’s a gap in the market for non-toxic, glass bottles of nail polish remover…new business venture perhaps?

Glass packaging & ethical brands

For anything that doesn’t fit into a DIY or package-free solution, I favour glass, metal and paper packaging by ethical brands.

I love wearing fiery red lipstick. I tried to make a beetroot lip stain, but it just wasn’t bold enough for my liking. I now use Lush ‘Ambition’ Lipstick. The next best thing to zero waste is plastic-free or reusable. Favour glass, metal or paper packaging for extra brownie points.


How to build a zero waste beauty regime

Audit your toiletries and slowly minimise. Shop for glass packaging and ethical brands. Consider DIY. Take it slow and don’t compromise on the things that make you feel beautiful.

Next: Learn about Zero Waste Travel

My beauty goal is contentment.

Truly zero waste beauty requires zero products. This is me with no make up and no hair products. I haven’t straightened my fringe or shaved my pits. I think I look great, but why do I feel like this isn’t work-appropriate? It’s possible to fast track zero waste if you’re confident with your own natural beauty at all times. It’s the “at all times” part that I struggle with.