To help you become a more responsible traveler in 2018 I’ve launched a monthly series of Responsible Travel ChallengesEach month will focus on an ethical change you can make to your travel style that will benefit the communities you visit and ultimately our precious planet. Each detailed guide will contain specific tips on how to be a more responsible traveler. Adhere to these suggestions to make an impact as you travel.


Perhaps you’re dedicated to living a sustainable lifestyle and use ethical beauty products at home, but it’s important to carry over this practice to your travels. Using natural beauty products is of utmost importance when traveling overseas to areas that have sensitive plumbing systems and recycle wastewater to nurture plants. Organic, cruelty-free, vegan, natural beauty products are easier than ever to source both overseas, and at home. The April Responsible Travel Challenge is to use ethical beauty products. Below are a few of my go-to ethical travel beauty products.

When you’re traveling overseas do try some of the local natural wellness remedies. Shopping local puts your spending directly back into the community and you may find skin care tricks that can soothe your trouble areas. This is how I discovered that activated charcoal soap keeps my skin more matte and neem helps keep my acne-prone skin pimple free. Locally made products are also better for the environment as they have zero shipping miles. Many vendors are likely selling homemade products that won’t be unnecessarily wrapped in plastic. Opt to buy soaps wrapped in cloth or paper. My favorites are the soaps that come in the hemp bags that help exfoliate your skin!

Don’t buy international beauty products in China where it’s legally required for imported cosmetics to be tested on animals, but local products should be cruelty-free. International brands that sell in China are not globally cruelty-free. Opt to make purchases from brands that show a commitment to ethical standards. Keep an eye out for this leaping bunny on cosmetic products, the organization vets companies and awards them with the logo once they’ve passed a rigorous background check to ensure they don’t test products on animals.

Although feminine care isn’t exactly part of a beauty routine one of the best decisions I’ve made for my health, and the health of the planet is to switch to the menstrual cup. I wrote about my swap from tampons to the cup in my post about simple hacks to make you a better traveler. Single-use pads and tampons are disastrous for the environment–even organic ones. Studies state that menstruating people use upwards of 30 tampons per cycle and 14,000 in a lifetime! They take hundreds of years to disintegrate in landfills where 20 billion pads, tampons, and applicators biodegrade in North America alone. Menstrual cups are also fighting social stigma through groups like Femme International that provide menstrual health management and feminine hygiene kits including menstrual cups to women who don’t have access to menstrual care. I’ve been using the Diva Cup for over a year which is available at a discount on Amazon for $25! Another alternative is organic cotton reusable pads.


The plastic containers for traditional shampoos and conditioners are harmful but beyond that these products also use unnecessary water to create the liquid soaps were used to using to cleanse our hair. Liquid cleansers also take up precious space in your weight-limited luggage. The worst culprit are those hotel toiletries that are only good for a few uses but result in so much plastic waste.

An eco-friendly alternative is to buy cleansing powder packaged in recyclable materials and mix with water in the shower as you bathe. I’ve fallen in love with the vegan and biodegradable powders from Get Dirty With Me. The clay-based powders can be used to cleanse just about anything–hair, skin, dishes, laundry. Founder Leah McHugh says technically it could be used to brush your teeth but the consistency and taste wouldn’t be great so she doesn’t suggest it.

Get Dirty With Me nourishing cleansers detox and repair hair with all-natural ingredients sans harmful sulfates, parabens, or polymers. The powder has many uses–it can be used as a dry shampoo or as a mud mask for your hair! My hair is naturally straight, fine, and oily and using Get Dirty With Me hair powders has been an easy transition. After a few months of using the powders, I can vouch that my hair is healthier, shinier, and even fuller as no chemicals are weighing down my fine locks. This is the perfect travel shampoo as the bags are extremely flat and take up hardly any space. There are two sizes (100g and 5g) which are both carry-on friendly as the powders obviously aren’t a liquid shampoo!


If you absolutely must use products on your hair make sure they’re organic. I like to leave in a product to condition my hair’s dry ends and usually opt for Argan oil in a glass container, I had bought mine from a women’s cooperative in Morocco but recently ran out of it. Luckily Antonin. B saved my hair when they sent me their eco-conscious Ceramides Desert Enriched Serum. The serum is made of 100% natural and ethically-sourced ingredients from Burkina Faso–Antonin. B is committed to helping keep the local people on their lands in the Sahel region. The certified organic hair strengthening serum has vastly improved my dry ends that have been damaged from color treatments. The tiny bottle is small enough for carry-on bags and will last for months as only 3 drops are needed to restore hair to a lustrous state. Just warm up the serum in your hands and distributed evenly across your dry ends for daily use or use around 8 drops in damp hair for an overnight deep treatment.


It used to be that the only travel-sized hair brushes around were those with plastic handles and bristles. Fortunately, there are now plenty of eco-friendly brushes on the market. I use the Cala Naturale bamboo handle hair brush to comb and smooth my hair. I purchased mine a while ago from a discount department store and am not certain what the bristles are made of. However, it appears that now Cala Naturale hair brushes are now 100% natural with wood bristles. I recently discovered the amazing website,, that sells affordable wooden hairbrushes.


Since I’ve started traveling my beauty routine has changed drastically and I’m finally only using all-natural products on my skin and it’s never looked better! I’ve already shared my love of Polyn in detail when I introduced my travel skin care hero. The female-owned holistic skin care is made in the US with 100% natural, plant-based, vegan ingredients. They’re even certified by PETA. I use the Invigorating Face Wash, Invigorating Face Toner, and Regenerative Face Serum daily. My skin has literally never been better, I’ll be a Polyn customer for life! I no longer have excessively oily skin, my acne scars have faded, and I have much less acne. The face toner and serum are carry-on travel sized.


Unfortunately, I still tend to break out when I’m menstruating. I’ve been treating breakouts with tea tree oil since high school. Tea tree oil is a natural alternative to benzoyl peroxide and is proven to be just as effective. It is anti-inflammatory and purifying ing making it lethal to pimples. It can be quite drying on the skin so only use it for spot treatments. I used to use the all natural The Body Shop tea tree oil but recently switched to the Trader Joe’s tea tree oil. Both are sold in glass containers and travel-friendly sizes.


Sunscreen is a must-have for any destination with strong UV rays but your old drugstore sunblock may actually be causing more harm than good. Most traditional SPF brands contain a toxic chemical filter called oxybenzone which is bad for your skin and kills coral reefs and aquatic animals–even in small amounts. We each have a duty to preserve the dwindling coral reef and even one person switching to natural SPF can make a difference. Mineral SPF is a healthier choice for your body and the underwater ecosystem. The damage from chemical-laced sunscreen is so immense that some places have advisories against regular SPF such as French Polynesia, Puerto Princesa in The Philippines, and Riviera Maya in Mexico. Hawai’i wants to ban sunscreen that destroys reef and often organize trade-ins for people to swap chemical sunscreen for broad spectrum mineral sunblock.

For snorkeling trips and I always use the Climb on! Mineral sunscreen. It’s made from 100% plant-based ingredients that are biodegradable in water. The SPF 30 is cruelty-free and never tested on animals (it’s actually safe to use on dogs to protect their skin too) and the packaging is recyclable. The natural ingredients let your skin breath, don’t clog your pores, and soothe and hydrate the skin as it protects from overexposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays. Another reef-friendly product I use to cover scars and my tattoos is the Ocean Potion SPF 50 Zinc Oxide. Zinc oxide is a mineral that naturally absorbs UVA and UVB rays and is the most effective sunscreen. Ocean potion is cruelty-free and oxybenzone free. Both reef-friendly SPF products are carry-on sized.


I used to be guilty of hoarding the toothbrush freebies from hotel rooms. You know the ones that are such poor quality you can only use them for a few washes before you have to toss them? This was likely one of my most harmful habits. I’m now committed to only using toothbrushes that are made of recycled materials. I’ve tried the Preserve toothbrush which has a handle made from recycled yogurt cups and nylon bristles. The curved brush makes it easy to reach the back and sides of your mouth. Once the toothbrush gets old you can mail it back to Preserve and they’ll recycle the materials. Currently, I’m using Tom’s Naturally Clean toothbrush. It’s made of plant-based materials (99% handle, 60% bristles), is BPA free and the handle is colored with mineral pigments. The Tom’s toothbrush can be recycled through TerraCycle, is cruelty-free and vegan, and is packaged in recycled materials. For a plastic-free option order a bamboo toothbrush from


When I started traveling I used to carry around heavy luxury perfume bottles which was a heavy burden. Eventually, I started buying locally produced essential oils wherever I went such as lavender from Croatia or sandalwood from India. I’d carry two or three at a time and mix together my own scent that was uniquely mine. Essential oils are a lovely alternative to perfumes and will keep you smelling and feeling fresh both mentally and physically. Make sure you never wear oils meant for burning on your skin which can be hazardous!

I’m currently wearing sage essential oil from Aura Cacia. The high-quality 100% essential oils from Aura Cacia are cruelty-free and made from organic materials sourced around the globe. I also love lavender, ylang-ylang, and patchouli. If you prefer to wear natural perfumes check out ADORAtherapy which are composed of natural, organic, and vegan essential oils. I love the Vitality chakra booster infused with organic lavender, cedarwood, patchouli, and sandalwood and Joy, with gardenia, bergamot, ylang-ylang, neroli, rose, and jasmine.


I store all of my ethical beauty products in my beloved Wander Wet Bags. They’re made of eco-friendly materials and their original purpose is to store wet swimwear but I also use mine to prevent sweaty gym clothes from stinking up my bag, as a packing cube, a clutch for nights out, and to safely store my beauty products so that they won’t leak all over the rest of my items in my luggage.

Get 10% off any regular-priced Wander Wet Bag by using the exclusive discount code, MISSF10 through April 30, 2018!

Here are a few additional ethical travel-sized beauty products to purchase for your next trip:


I’m not perfect and am far from being zero-waste myself but do my best to practice what I preach. I still use Dove clinical strength deodorant and haven’t found a natural deodorant alternative that works as well for me. Sometimes I get lazy and buy beauty wipes without knowing whether or not they’re biodegradable as I can’t read the foreign language packaging. I learn about new ethical products that can replace my plastic contained chemical-laced products each and every day. I just learned about powdered toothpaste and vow to purchase it once I run out of my current tube of Tea Tree Therapy toothpaste. There’s so much pressure to make each and every decision ethical but I think this can be a bit impossible and applaud you for any changes you make in your life that make less of an impact on our planet, people, and animals, no matter how small they may be.

What are some of your favorite ethical beauty products? Share with us in the comments or tell us if you think something is missing in this responsible travel challenge.

Some of these products were gifted to me and I use them on a daily basis. All opinions and photos are my own. This post contains affiliate links, please read the Miss Filatelista disclosure policy for more information.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. I love that you are doing these posts, I think its great and very much needed! I am admitting to not being as responsible in my beauty products as I would like to be, but this makes me feel more empowered. Thank you!

  2. Such a great and informative post! I will Def be using this to look into more sustainable and friendly products!

  3. I love the idea of Responsible Travel Challenges. I use a bamboo brush and tea tree oil often, but I will have to try the rest! Thank you for the info!

  4. These are some great suggestions. I didn't know that China requires beauty products to be tested with animals. I like the idea of Get Dirty With Me because I also have fine, oily hair. I also like Dr. Bronner soaps because they are eco-friendly.

  5. Thank you for sharing all these amazing tips. I really need to start paying more attention into how the products I buy are created. I used to have really bad skin so I bought a lot of Korean brands but in the end just stopped using any makeup products to let me skin breathe and heal naturally. Now I'm used to just not wearing makeup. But I definitely want to try the sunscreens you suggested. I've tried using an all natural brand called Badger but it was super thick…I couldn't spread it.

  6. This is such great information! Thanks so much for your research and for sharing it with everyone. I'm vegan and minimalist with almost no cosmetics. These totally fit my values and lifestyle.

  7. All these alternative beauty products are amazing! As an ethical traveler myself i never use face wipes (i use a cotton handkerchief), i never use deodorants/perfumes (if it is extremely humid, i use talcum powder otherwise i don't use anything),i do not use make up except a lip balm, my shampoo and toothpaste are ayurvedic from india without any chemicals.

  8. I've never heard of hair powder before, what a great alternative to traditional shampoo! I'll had to add it to my list along with the shampoo blocks that Lush do…have you tried those? This is a great article and well done for keeping to conversation going – say no to plastics!

  9. I'm so glad you're enjoying the Responsible Travel Challenges, Taylor! There's no time like the present to make more ethical decisions, take it step by step and focus on one part of your life at a time to make lasting change. Beauty products are a really fun place to start with it!

  10. So glad you love them, Anna! Awesome that you're already using those products and are inspired to try a few others here.

  11. Isn't that shocking about international beauty brands and animal testing in China! I will have to check out those soaps, thanks for the recommendation.

  12. I'm so glad you've become more aware of what ingredients are in your beauty products, Eva! Climb On sunblock does come out thick and a bit grainy but it spreads well and doesn't show once it blends in.

  13. Isn't it so brilliant! I've actually heard lots of negative things about the Lush bars and that the company isn't quite as ethical as they claim but haven't looked into it myself.

  14. Great ethical products and I love the small, easy to travel with packaging. I'm always on the lookout for for good sunscreen. I've actually never thought about the effect of the chemicals on the ocean water. Thanks for bringing this point up. Thanks for this list of safe beauty products.

  15. So glad you were able to learn about the negative impact of drugstore sunscreen here!

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