Earth day may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean practicing sustainability in your beauty regimen shouldn’t still be a top priority.
The environmental impact of the cosmetics industry is alarming, whether we’re discussing the excess plastic packaging of compacts and shampoos, or the hundreds of years it takes for some products to decompose. So, what’s a beauty lover to do?
While you might feel helpless, there are many ways to be more green in your routine, from switching to reusable makeup wipes, to finishing a foundation down to the last drop, or using an eyeshadow palette until you hit the pan. But one of the most crucial ways you can be part of the solution is with your purchasing power.
There are many environmentally-conscious brands that have been committed to creating less waste and implementing sustainable practices. And while it might sound hypocritical — creating more "stuff” in an space that’s already oversaturated with "stuff” — we think that these beauty brands are making a much-needed change in the industry, while also urging all of us to think more about the state of the world and beauty’s part in it.
Here are 10 zero-waste beauty brands to support now and always.
Expressionist Pro Mascara
To buy: $20, target.com
Ever since W3LL People was started in 2008, the brand has been committed to creating quality products using organic, plant-based ingredients (like algae, beeswax, and broccoli seed oil) in the most sustainable way. All of their products — from their best-selling mascara to their cult-favorite foundation stick are packaged using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper stocks. And in addition to being one of the founding members of the EWG Verified program, the brand donates 1.5% of its sales to support the work of the Environmental Working Group (EWG). So if you’re looking to support an OG clean beauty brand, start here.
To buy: $68, net-a-porter.com
Kjaer Weis is the definition of luxury clean beauty. The brand was created by Danish makeup artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis whose clients experienced sensitivities to the synthetic ingredients in the products she had been using. This prompted her to create her own line, which features organic, eco-conscious cosmetics, including the brand’s popular cream foundation and cream blush, all packaged in refillable metal compacts or recyclable and compostable alternatives.
Tinted Lip Conditioner
To buy: $28, sephora.com
Ilia’s modern approach to clean beauty is different from others — they don’t believe that all synthetics are bad and that all natural ingredients are good. Instead, they focus on using eco-conscious ingredients that are both innovative, effective, and safe for your skin. The same goes for packaging. The Laguna Beach-based brand knows that there’s more to sustainable lipstick bullets, compacts, and boxes than just using vegetable dyes and recycled aluminum. That’s why Ilia teamed up with TerraCycle's Zero Waste Box platform. U.S. customers are asked to mail in up to five empty beauty products per month (whether it’s from Ilia or not), so TerraCycle can break them down responsibly.
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Starter Kit 1+1
To buy: $29, justcroon.com
By now, most of us realize how wasteful using makeup remover wipes and cotton rounds are. Thankfully, brands like Croon are popping up on the scene, offering us an eco-friendly alternative to wiping off our mascara and lipstick without compromising a clean face. Croon creates reusable microfiber pads that can remove makeup, exfoliate, and cleanse only using water. What’s more, the pads are reusable for up to 200 washes — the equivalent of 400 makeup wipes.
Ono Ono Multi-Benne Stain Stick
To buy: $19, notobotanics.com
Noto knows that as a beauty brand, a lot needs to be done in order to reduce its ecological footprint. That’s why it has dedicated every day to evolving with the world of sustainability, starting from the renewable-made, biodegradable paper tape it uses to ship its products with to using ingredients that are locally sourced, vegan, cruelty-free, and fair-trade certified. Noto has also made its sustainable goals visible on its website so customers can know what to expect, as well as be able to hold the brand accountable. This is the kind of transparency we need and want from our clean beauty brands.
Phyto-pigments Juice Boost
To buy: $25, goop.com
Juice Beauty prides itself not just on its farm-to-beauty formulations made with homegrown or locally-sourced organic ingredients, but also its sustainability in both its packaging and its practices as a company. The clean beauty brand uses 100% FSC paper, 100% Bioresin sample and travel tubes, and glass for 32% of its packaging. Additionally, the Northern California brand’s headquarters and farm are both sustainable, with almost all of the farm’s operations being solar powered.
Date Nut Brulee
To buy: $48, lolibeauty.com
Haven’t heard of Loli Beauty? If you’re a clean beauty lover, you need to. Founded in 2014, Loli (which stands for Living Organic Loving Ingredients) is a Made Safe-certified, waterless beauty brand sourcing organic, wild-harvested ingredients that are non-GMO and fair trade as well as raw and upcycled food sources. While this previous sentence might sound like a lot of sustainable buzzwords squished together, founder Tina Hedges believes that when it comes to being a leader in the clean and green beauty movement, you must create a full-circle brand, from ingredients to the supply chain. As a result, Loli is considered the first completely zero-waste beauty brand on the market.
To buy: $15, target.com
There is a huge push to reduce packaging in beauty products, as the oceans continue to be filled with 80 billion plastic bottles every year. New Zealand brand Ethique does just that, only offering solid shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and skincare bars that are cruelty-free, waste-free, and are made and packaged with biodegradable materials. The brand was started by biologist Brianne West after realizing how much water was wasted in traditional shampoo and conditioner formulations. She set out to create solid products packed with natural ingredients (and no water) that could last up to five times longer than its liquid counterparts.
To buy: $12, byhumankind.com
Similar to Ethique, By Humankind set out to eliminate single-use plastic. But that does not mean the refillable deodorant canisters or soap bars are not chic or beautifully designed. The packaging is minimal, but feels luxurious and looks great on your vanity. The best part? You can keep using it once you’re done with the product inside. The idea behind By Humankind is that once you’ve finished, you can simply order a refill instead of an entirely new product.