An Eco-Friendly Makeup selection with sustainable packaging spread across a beige colored surface layered with leaves and sustainable makeup brushes.
December 13, 2023
 in 
Beauty

What is Eco-Friendly Makeup? 11 Great Brands That Will Keep You Naturally Glowing

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f you enjoy keeping a well-stocked makeup collection, you’ll know that sweeping a buttery lipstick over your lips or a bright blusher over your cheeks is a foolproof way to lift the spirits. While some people prefer to keep their faces bare, others enjoy the ritual of applying all sorts of bright and wonderful products to suit their style and personality.  

However, before we get carried away with gushing about our favorite foundations and mascaras, we want to explore a question many of us forget to ask ourselves about our go-to beauty brands. What are the effects of makeup on the environment? And what can we do to ensure our beauty habits don’t damage the world around us?  

Unfortunately, the cosmetics industry is responsible for a range of environmental ills. From excessive plastic packaging to unsustainable resource consumption, many beauty brands are implicated in ecological destruction.

Did you know, for example, that 14,000 tons of sunscreen enters our oceans every year, harming coral reefs and fragile ocean ecosystems? Or that around 120 billion units of beauty packaging are manufactured every year? What’s more, up to 70% of the industry’s carbon emissions could be eliminated if cosmetics manufacturers switched to refillable packaging! If these shocking statistics weren’t enough, almost 90% of popular beauty brands continue to fund animal testing – a practice widely accepted as cruel and unnecessary.

So, how can ethically minded consumers ensure their makeup habits don’t contribute to ecological destruction and other harmful practices? The good news is there are plenty of fantastic sustainable brands on the market, meaning you can get your much-needed beauty fix without costing the Earth. To help you navigate the world of sustainable and plastic-free makeup, we’ve put together a handy guide to eco-friendly beauty – including a few go-to brands to get you started!

Table of  Contents

How does non-eco-friendly makeup harm our environment?

Still wondering why certain types of makeup are so problematic? Here are the issues you need to know about:

  • High water consumption: Producing some types of makeup requires substantial water use, contributing to water scarcity in certain regions.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions: The production and transportation energy consumption of non-eco-friendly makeup creates substantial greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the industry is responsible for around 0.5% of total global emissions – a substantial figure in the grand scheme of things.
  • Wasteful packaging: Much of the beauty industry uses non-recyclable or excessive packaging, contributing to landfills and environmental pollution.
  • Chemical pollution oh waterways: Many makeup brands use harmful chemicals such as sulfates, phthalates, and parabens – substances that affect the integrity of aquatic life and ecosystems. Some makeup also contains microplastics that can enter the food chain and pose a danger to human health.
  • Resource depletion: Makeup brands often use natural resources such as palm oil, contributing to deforestation and habitat destruction.

What is eco-friendly makeup?

As you can see, the effects of conventional makeup on the environment are substantial and worrying. Eco-friendly makeup aims to minimize this impact through every stage of the product life cycle. Here’s how:

  • Sourcing natural and organic ingredients: Using plant-based and organic ingredients is a great way to ensure products are free from chemicals that harm the environment, as well as human and animal health. Popular examples include aloe vera, beeswax, clay, cocoa butter, shea butter, and mineral pigments such as titanium dioxide.
  • Engaging in cruelty-free production practices: Many eco-friendly brands are avoid testing their products on animals. Some are also vegan, meaning they contain no ingredients derived from animals.
  • Using biodegradable or recyclable packages: Eco-friendly brands reduce their resource use and environmental impact by minimizing the size of their packaging and using biodegradable or recyclable materials. An increasing number of brands are also introducing refillable makeup bottles to decrease how much waste their products generate.
  • Streamlining production processes: Some brands pay close attention to their supply chains, ensuring that their products don’t require excessive transport or environmentally harmful production practices.
  • Obtaining certifications: Finally, many sustainable brands seek certifications from environmental and cruelty-free organizations. If you’re wondering where to find ethical makeup, looking out for certifications such as COSMOS Organic or USDA Organic is a great place to start.

11 sustainable beauty brands to try today

Now, let’s move on to the fun part of our guide – a list of your new go-to beauty brands! We’ve scoured the market to find some of the best brands offering an irresistible combination of gorgeous products, ethical practices, and cute sustainable practices. Time to fill your makeup bag with some next-level products…

1. Antonym Cosmetics

One of the Antonym brand's popular eco friendly makeup products known as the backed highlighting blush.

Established in Miami by renowned makeup artist Valerie Giraud, Anonym Cosmetics is perfect for those who enjoy standing out. The brand offers a pleasing array of clean (i.e., non-toxic and natural) beauty products for every skin tone and type. Many of the brand’s products – such as its cute blush palettes – are richly pigmented, meaning they offer a pretty pop of color for those days when you need a pick-me-up. Even better, their products are refillable, and come in chic bamboo packaging that will look great in your purse without costing the Earth!

Antonym’s products are surprisingly easy to apply and help create a gorgeous look in minutes, as this Youtuber shows. The brand is good for both a natural look or a full face of party makeup.

  • Packaging: Antonym uses FSC-certified paper for its outer packaging and marketing materials. This means the packaging is sourced from responsibly managed forests.
  • Products offered: Foundations, eye makeup, makeup brushes, and blush.
  • Brand’s impact on the environment: Antonym is minimally impactful thanks to its sustainable packaging and non-toxic ingredients.
  • Sustainability details: The makeup is clean, non-toxic, and vegan. Brushes are also certified vegan, and most products are Leaping Bunny certified, meaning they’re not tested on animals. The only non-vegan product used is beeswax. The packaging is refillable and made using sustainable bamboo.
  • Is the brand EWG Certified?: No. However, all makeup products are ECOCERT certified, meaning ingredients are natural and organic, and packaging is manufactured to a high sustainability standard.
  • Price range: From around $20 for an eye pencil to $50 for a high-quality foundation.
  • Where can you buy the brand’s products: Purchase on the brand’s website or in associated retail stores.

2. Zerra & Co.

An example of Zerra & Co's eco-friendly makeup products: Their lip balm.

Are you a sucker for a bright pressed blush or a sleek, velvety lip balm? Zerra & Co. is here to enrich your makeup bag (and, yes, maybe even your life!). From super soft balms to moisturizing lip gloss, Zerra & Co. is a sustainable brand that cares about offering gorgeous packaging and luxurious products. Even better, its products are amazingly affordable and come in a wide variety of colors. 

In terms of reviews, Zerra & Co. seems to be an up-and-coming favorite for many bloggers. As this reviewer notes, the brand is admirably committed to sustainable practices, and its high-quality products make it an exciting new addition to the eco-friendly makeup space. So, how does it achieve its eco-friendly status? Here are the need-to-know details:

  • Products offered: Tinted lip balm, eyeliner, mascara, setting powder, blush, eyeshadow, highlighter, lip gloss, and heaps of skincare products (if you’re so inclined!).
  • Brand’s impact on the environment: Zerra & Co. is committed to reaching its goal of going 100% plastic-free. While it isn’t there just yet, it pays close attention to every step of the product lifecycle. For example, it even uses compostable tape to ship products!
  • Sustainability details: The brand keeps plastic to an absolute minimum and primarily offers products in glass, paperboard, bamboo, and aluminum packaging. What’s more, all products are vegan and cruelty-free, and the brand uses carbon-neutral and plastic-free shipping methods. Zerra & Co. also offers a Container Return Program, allowing customers to return any glass or metal containers in return for a paid shipping return label.
  • Is the brand EWG Certified?: No. However, all makeup products are Leaping Bunny Certified.
  • Price range: From around $10 for a tinted lip balm to around $40 for a collection of essential products.  
  • Where can you buy the brand’s products: Purchase on the brand’s website or in selected stores across the US.  

3. Pyra Beauty

Pyra Beauty's eco-friendly cosmetics displayed against pink background.

Calling all lovers of dewy skin and a flawless finish! If you’re interested in purchasing sustainable products that make your skin look amazing, this brand is here to help. Every Pyra product is free from nasty chemicals and contains nourishing natural ingredients, such as Vitamin E, coconut oil, aloe vera, and green tea. If you’re a skincare fanatic looking for your next beauty obsession, give them a try! Here are a few extra details:

  • Products offered: Setting powder, illuminator, foundation.
  • Brand’s impact on the environment: Pyra Beauty’s brand philosophy is all about celebrating nature and ensuring we live in harmony with the world around us. As such, it works hard to minimize its impact on the environment.
  • Sustainability details: All products are vegan, cruelty-free, and packed full of effective natural ingredients. They also come in biodegradable packaging or recyclable glass containers.
  • Is the brand EWG Certified?: No.
  • Price range: From $20 for a lip gloss to $90 for a comprehensive makeup kit.  
  • Where can you buy the brand’s products: Purchase on the brand’s website. Limited products also available on Zero Waste Store.

4. ATTITUDE

One of the ATTITUDE sustainable beauty brand's make-up kits.

This brand promises plastic-free, vegan makeup made using 99% natural origin ingredients. Its products also come in adorable packaging perfect for gifting to friends and loved ones (and yourself!). As this beauty blogger attests, the makeup holds up well and helps give users a natural glow (and their skincare line attracts rave reviews too!). If you’re looking for dependability and products that will enhance your naturally gorgeous features, ATTITUDE is a great place to start. Here are some key points to note:

  • Products offered: Foundation, concealer, blush, tinted oils, bronzer, highlighter, lip gloss, and plenty of skincare and haircare products to match.  
  • Brand’s impact on the environment: ATTITUDE is all about following the latest science and innovation to reduce its impact on the environment. From eco-refills to non-toxic ingredients, this brand cares about making every step of the production process as eco-friendly as possible.
  • Sustainability details: All products are vegan, cruelty-free and packaged using FSC-certified cardboard and refillable and recyclable bottles. The brand even owns a plastic-free boutique in Montreal designed to nurture a strong relationship between people and the environment.
  • Is the brand EWG Certified?: Yes.
  • Price range: From $18 for a powder illuminator to $36 for a bottle of foundation.  
  • Where can you buy the brand’s products: Products are available in stores across the US, Canada, Japan, and Malaysia. You can also purchase products on the brand’s website.

5. Well People

One of Well People's vegan beauty sets including lipstick, mascara, and blush.

As the name suggests, Well People is the perfect brand for those interested in wellness and clean makeup. With products designed to improve long-term skin health while respecting the planet, Well People is sure to put a guilt-free spring in your step. Plus, the reviews are in, and bloggers are raving about the brand’s luxuriously buttery formulas and strong pigments. The lip glosses and mascaras are notable favorites! Before you rush off to purchase your first batch of products, here are a few details to note:

  • Products offered: Almost every product you’d ever need for the face, eyes, and lips, as well as gift sets and brushes.
  • Brand’s impact on the environment: Well People is heavily focused on natural ingredients, including renewable botanicals. However, it’s also committed to making better production choices that minimize environmental impact. Well People is currently exploring how to make containers using corn, sugar, and post-recycled materials.
  • Sustainability details: All products are cruelty-free and made using non-toxic, natural ingredients. Many products are vegan, and boxes are printed on FSC-certified paper.
  • Is the brand EWG Certified?: Yes.
  • Price range: From $18 for a powder illuminator to $36 for a bottle of foundation.  
  • Where can you buy the brand’s products: Products are available in stores across the US, Canada, Japan, and Malaysia. You can also purchase products on the brand’s website.

6. Trestique

One of the sustainable beauty brand Trestique's essential makeup kits.

Trestique is at the forefront of the refillable makeup trend, offering durable packaging made from 87% recycled materials. As well as producing a wide range of tints and shades to suit every skin tone, Trestique runs a flexible auto-refill program, allowing loyal customers to save up to 25% on refills. We’re sold! And so are the beauty bloggers who love Trestique for its functionality and user-friendly products. Key sustainability facts to note include:

  • Products offered: Foundation, lip crayons, eye shadows, mascara, blush, highlighter, and plenty of all-in-one packages.  
  • Brand’s impact on the environment: Trestique is unique in its commitment to refillable products. Plus, all products are recyclable and certified as carbon neutral by the CarbonFund.  
  • Sustainability details: Shipping boxes are fully recyclable, FSC-certified, and printed using soy-based ink. Plus, the brand uses less than 9% virgin plastic, and its products are fully vegan, clean, and cruelty-free.
  • Is the brand EWG certified?: No.
  • Price range: From $19 for an eyeliner to $220 for a makeup set.
  • Where can you buy the brand’s products: Products are available on the brand’s website.

7. True Botanicals

One of True Botanical's lip balms made with vegan and natural ingredients.

Okay, so this brand is more of a skincare brand than a makeup brand – but it’s so impressive we couldn’t leave it off the list! With a website declaring sustainability to be “sexy”, you can depend on True Botanicals to deliver ethical treats that will make you feel great both inside and out.

The brand is actively fighting deforestation by sourcing as many ingredients as possible from regenerative farms. So, investing in True Botanicals products could actually help carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere! Throw in the fact the brand sells amazing glossy lip balms and tinted SPF, and you know you’re on to a winner. Here are a few extra facts to pique your interest:

  • Products offered: Tinted skincare, lip balms and oils, serums and other skincare.  
  • Brand’s impact on the environment: True Botanicals is a frontrunner in the sustainable cosmetics space, going the extra mile to fight climate change through regeneration schemes.  
  • Sustainability details: True Botanicals uses vegan, natural, non-irritating ingredients to formulate its products. All the brand’s products carry the MADE SAFE seal – one of the most comprehensive safety and sustainability certifications in the world.
  • Is the brand EWG certified?: Yes.
  • Price range: From $24 for a glossy lip balm to around $50 for a tinted SPF.  
  • Where can you buy the brand’s products: Products are available at popular beauty retailers and on the brand’s website.

8. Izzy

The Sustainable beauty brand Izzy's refillable mascara.

Offering plastic-free luxury, Izzy is perfect for fans of high-tech beauty innovations, having won tons of awards for its effective products. For example, reviewers positively adore the brand’s zero-waste mascara, formulated to create thick, glossy lashes that last all night long. So, if you’re looking for sustainable products that really (we mean really) work, then go ahead and browse their beauty line today! Here’s what you need to know:

  • Products offered: Mascara, brow gel, lip butter, cheek tints, highlighter, and lip gloss.
  • Brand’s impact on the environment: Refillable, stainless-steel tubes represent Izzy’s unique selling point. By avoiding plastic, the brand protects the environment and ocean. What’s more, all manufacturing takes place within a 400-mile radius, meaning transport-related emissions are kept to a minimum.
  • Sustainability details: All products are vegan, cruelty-free, and clean. Packaging is recyclable or refillable, and members receive sterilized and refilled products after 90 days. Finally, the brand donates a portion of its proceeds to the National Forest Foundation – a leading conservation organization.  
  • Is the brand EWG certified?: No
  • Price range: Prices start at around $22 for lip butter.
  • Where can you buy the brand’s products: Products are available at popular beauty retailers and on the brand’s website.

9. rms

One of rms beauty's makeup kits.

If you like your makeup personalized, look no further than rms. Offering a range of beauty tailoring services, including routine quizzes and consultations with in-house experts, rms cares about making its customers feel good. Even better, the brand is committed to using gentle, sustainable ingredients and packaging.

  • Products offered: A wide range of makeup products for the face, lips, cheeks, and eyes.  
  • Brand’s impact on the environment: rms has been using recyclable glass jars since its launch in 2009 and continues to experiment with easily recycled materials. In 2021, the brand jumped aboard the refillable makeup trend, demonstrating its commitment to changing and adapting to the sustainability landscape.
  • Sustainability details: rms unit cartons are forestry-certified and made using 80% post-consumer recycled paper. The brand is a member of PACT and uses clean ingredients. All products are cruelty-free, although some are not vegan.
  • Is the brand EWG certified?: Yes.
  • Price range: From around $20 for an eye pencil to around $60 for a high-quality foundation.
  • Where can you buy the brand’s products: Products are available at popular beauty retailers around the world, and rms ships internationally.

10. Axiology

One of Axiology's vegan and cruelty-free lip balm collections.

If you enjoy makeup that wouldn’t look out of place in a kid’s pencil case, Axiology is the brand for you. Offering chubby lip crayons and cute balms, Axiology offers perfect gifts and sweet pick-me-ups that don’t harm the environment. Plus, vegan bloggers love them! Key facts include:

  • Products offered: Lipsticks, lip balms, tinted face products.  
  • Brand’s impact on the environment: Axiology minimizes its impact on the environment through innovative (and super cute!) cardboard packaging.
  • Sustainability details: Axiology products are vegan, cruelty-free, and plastic-free. All packaging is 100% recyclable, and the brand does not use palm oil.  
  • Is the brand EWG certified?: No.
  • Price range: From $24 for a single stick to $65 for a full-face multipack.
  • Where can you buy the brand’s products: Products are available at stores worldwide and via the website.

11. Besame

Beauty gift set by cruelty-free and clean beauty brand Besame.

Last but certainly not least is Besame – a brand offering sustainable cosmetics in 1930s-inspired tins. Yep, we’re already in love! If you’re a fan of sultry red lips and eye shadows straight out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, Besame has got you covered. Reviewers agree – praising the brand’s commitment to combining impeccable style with saving the planet. Key points to note include:

  • Products offered: A wide range of products for the lips, eyes, face, and nails.  
  • Brand’s impact on the environment: Besame has been offering sustainable packaging for over 17 years and continues to pride itself on setting an example for the wider industry.    
  • Sustainability details: Besame products are made with clean ingredients, and are cruelty-free, provides refills for their compacts, as well as recyclable packaging. Most products are vegan. However, some lipsticks contain beeswax.
  • Is the brand EWG certified?: Yes.
  • Price range: From $10 for a simple mascara to around $70 for a premium compact.  
  • Where can you buy the brand’s products: Products are available at popular beauty retailers and on the brand’s website.

Where can I find even more eco-friendly makeup?

Part of the fun of shopping for makeup is the prospect of finding new brands that are eco-friendly. If you’d like more from us, do stay tuned for our article about non-toxic mascara brands. We also recommend checking whether products are listed on the EWG website – a resource allowing users to evaluate the safety and certifications of individual items.

Last but probably not least, we recommend also learning about the benefits of switching to a biodegradable sunscreen to add an even more eco-friendly layer to your newly adopted sustainable makeup routine!