The cosmetics industry is awash with controversy. There’s animal testing, the use of toxic chemicals, and excessive plastic packaging, to name a few. It’s enough for an eco-warrior to completely swear off that mascara or that totally rocking lipstick in your favorite shade.
But what’s a girl to do to look good?
Good thing there are makeup brands that are committed to keeping things clean and green for the planet. Here’s our list of eco-friendly makeup brands that are not only good for your skin, they’re great for the environment too.
What to Look for in an Eco-friendly Makeup Brand
When scouring the cosmetic aisles for eco-friendly makeup brands, make sure to have a checklist of non-negotiables. These include:
Imagine slathering synthetic, toxic gunk on your face. Nasty, right? Beware of products that contain potential health hazards. Here are a few ingredients to avoid:
- Butylated compounds
- Carbon black
- Heavy metals (lead, aluminum, chromium)
This one’s a little easy to spot. Just look for that rabbit face at the back of your makeup label. While cosmetic brands aren’t duty bound to label that their products are cruelty-free, some go the extra mile to get certified so they can assure consumers that they don’t test on animals or use animal by-products.
Vegan or Organic
The two aren’t interchangeable, and take note: organic or vegan doesn’t automatically guarantee a product is safe for use. But when it comes to responsibly sourcing materials, it’s definitely a start.
The cosmetics industry is notorious for producing excessive packaging waste, most of which cannot be recycled. Look for zero-waste makeup brands that actually care enough to oversee their products until the end of life. Also go for responsible packaging material like compostable paper/cardboard and aluminum or tin.
We understand not everyone has the time to actually pore through the fine print in every makeup label. So without further ado, here’s our list of eco-friendly makeup brands that your skin—and Mother Earth—will thank you for.
Why we love it: Natural ingredients, carbon-neutral, cruelty-free, certified B Corporation
Must-try: Cream Concealer
“Minimal ingredients for maximum impact.” Staying true to its name, Alima Pure’s mineral makeup products are made up of the purest, highest quality ingredients. The brand is 100% transparent about what goes into each product, and even publishes the complete list on its Web site.
Alima Pure is setting the bar high for makeup brands everywhere with its total commitment to social and environmental responsibility. The company is 100% carbon-neutral, runs its operations on renewable energy (that is, solar, wind, biomass, hydro, and geothermal power), and donates 1% of all sales to environmental organizations.
Why we love it: 100% vegan, cruelty-free, uses organic/natural and ethically sourced ingredients, palm-oil free, zero waste
Must-try: SuperStar! Face Cleanser & Makeup Remover
New Zealand-based beauty brand Ethique was born in the kitchen of founder Brianne West. West was appalled at the amount of waste the cosmetics industry was creating, and started making solid shampoo bars that came in water-soluble packaging.
The brand’s popularity exploded when Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher professed their love for West’s products on social media.
Despite the fact that it’s gone international, we’re fans of how this brand stays true to its zero-waste roots. Since its founding in 2015, Ethique’s line has grown to include face creams, makeup removers, face cleansers and scrubs. The best part? All of them come in solid bars and in compostable packaging.
Why we love it: Cruelty-free, non-toxic formulations, naturally sourced ingredients
Must-try: Fruit Pigmented Ultra Lengthening Mascara
With a name like 100% Pure, you’d better make sure that your brand lives up to its name. Thankfully, this UK-based skin care, makeup, and hair care brand delivers.
All of 100% Pure products are sourced from plants, minerals, and marine vegetation. It’s non-toxic—no heavy metals, synthetic dyes, and artificial fragrances here, folks!
Their bestseller, the Ultra Lengthening Mascara from the Fruit Pigmented makeup line, is made from cocoa, black tea, and berries. Not only is it naturally pigmented, you get the full antioxidant benefits from its all-natural ingredients too!
Why we love it: Vegan & cruelty-free, non-toxic, palm-oil free, ethically sourced and made, gives to charity
Must-try: Loose Mineral Foundation
PHB Ethical Beauty is a family-run UK makeup, skin and hair care brand that makes all-natural and organic cruelty-free products by hand. No alcohol, talc, parabens, palm oil, mineral oil, silicone, or animal products. Just the goodness of 100% naturally derived ingredients and ultra-potent superfood.
We love PHB’s Loose Mineral Foundation, which comes in 10 shades and contains natural SPF 30 to boot.
Why we love it: Cruelty-free, fairtrade, natural & organic, palm oil-free, gives to charity
Must-try: Conditioning Volumising Mascara
If you’ve got sensitive or allergy-prone skin, give this makeup brand a try! Founder Margaret Weeds, a natural medicine and organic gardening devotee, created Odylique’s formulations with those in eczema and allergy-prone skin in mind.
Odylique Makeup has vegan and essential oil-free formulations, is certified organic by the Soil Association, and each product is guaranteed to have no less than seven botanical ingredients.
The brand also uses Fairtrade raw materials like sugar and shea butter. Additionally, the brand also supports a handful of causes and charities, including Friends of the Earth, Breast Cancer UK, and Woodland Trust.
Why we love it: Vegan & cruelty-free, uses natural ingredients, zero waste, transparent
Must-try: Mousse foundation and Sweet Rose Balm
Vyana makes makeup and skin care products that are “gentle for your skin, gentle for the Earth.” Aside from being, vegan and cruelty-free, the brand also uses responsible packaging like aluminum jars and tins and 100% recycled plastics.
If you’re looking for foundation that’s creamy and has a powdery finish, check out Vyana’s mousse foundations. It’s made of natural, antioxidant-rich ingredients like sea buckthorn and grape seed oil.
Why we love it: 100% vegetarian and cruelty-free, package-free options, cruelty-free, handmade products, partners only with ethical suppliers, offers fair wages
Must-try: Emotional Brilliance Translucent Face Powder
UK cosmetics brand Lush has been making package-free shampoo bars and soaps since 1995, waaay before they became in vogue.
While their naked bath products remain the brand’s bestsellers, we’re huge fans of their line of vegan, cruelty-free and naked makeup. Their solid concealers, foundation, highlighters, and lipstick refills, for instance, are partially dipped in peelable beeswax and come in paper packaging. The lipstick cases are refillable. They even have vegan makeup brushes.
Why we love it: 100% natural and organic, cruelty-free, gluten-free and vegan, sustainable packaging, employs people with disabilities
Must-try: Mineral Silk Loose Powder
In a sea of plastics, Italy and France–based eco-luxury makeup brand Zao stands out for its bamboo packaging. Boasting 100% natural, certified organic, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and vegan (phew!) ingredients, Zao guarantees the purest, most potent formulations in every tub, pot, and case.
Another thing we love about Zao is that their factories and offices are PWD (persons with disability) friendly.
The Final Word
Of course, it wouldn’t make sense to buy eco-friendly makeup that you won’t actually use. Being eco-friendly is a two-way street: that means you need to be an environmentally responsible consumer too. That means using up your makeup up to the last drop, reusing packaging (or dropping these off for recycling), and buying only what you need.