Make-up can be a tough one in terms of waste. Most of it comes in plastic packaging or simply non-recyclable packaging. No no no! Looking (a bit more) gorgeous should not cost the planet. The solution that produces the least waste is to create your own from scratch, but not everyone has enough time to spend 1 hour creating/cooking/baking one at home. I perfectly get that.
Packaging and containers make up for 29.7% of trash in our landfills. — EPA
What I’ve found works for me is to make my own powder foundation, as well as my own blush. But that is my personal makeup DIY goddess limit.
So I’ll share with you boys and girls all my discoveries in terms of eco-friendly (like, really eco-friendly, not just having a green packaging) brands, even for stuff I never seemed to master — eyeshadow, you’ll remain a mystery to me, forever.
Quick note: buying something that is plastic-free but is coming from the other side of the globe especially for you makes NO FREAKING SENSE. I know I know, it’s easy to end up focussing on one single aspect of the problem (in this case, waste) and forget about the global consequences of our actions #beenThere,DoneThat but let’s not forget that not producing waste has a greater goal than just proudly not have any trash to throw away at the end of the week. That is why I’ve added the location of each boutique or store, so you can pick the brand that’s more local to you.
Second quick note: synthetic make-up is good nor for your skin, nor for the environment, so I won’t even bother spending time talking about them. All the brands listed below are mostly natural, if not entirely (and not tested on animals, of course).
Last quick note: brands are listed in alphabetical order because I am a very indecisive person and I couldn’t pick my favourite ones. (And I haven’t tried all of them anyway so that wouldn’t be fair!)
Alima Pure is one of those grreeeeat companies, with super cool ethics. One of their mottos is “Minimal ingredients for maximum impact”. They’re a member of 1% for the Planet, which means that they donate 1% of their annual gross revenue to organizations dedicated to protecting the planet. They are also celebrating this year their 7th year of being carbon neutral, which they manage to be by offsetting their corporate carbon emissions. All of their products are free from parabens, sulphates, synthetic dyes, phthalates, dimethicone, petroleum, talc, bismuth oxychloride, and nanoparticles.
Zero waste/ their compact powders are refillable, which means that when you run out, you can simply swap the magnetic pan for another one without having to replace the whole thing. I do suspect though that their refills all come wrapped in plastic. I’ve emailed them regarding that matter, I’ll update the info when they get back to me. If you do order some, please let me know!
Everything at Clean-Faced Cosmetics entirely vegan and mostly organic. Want a custom shade? Just send a message to Laura, the owner of the store, and she’ll be happy to come up with something made just for you!
Zero waste/ Clean-Faced Cosmetics is entirely plastic-free! You can send your old containers back and get a coupon code for free shipping in return.
Where?/ shipped from the United States.
French brand Couleur Caramel is all about natural and organic ingredients. When I first got my dark circle concealer, I was astonished by the simplicity of their packaging. It is basically cardboard. This concealer is the only one I’ve had for years, and I recommend it to anyone having dark circles issues. ? Not all of their products are vegan, but many are.
Zero waste/ They use recycled, recyclable and biodegradable materials for their packaging and displays.
Where?/ French brand, that ships from France and the U.K.
Founded on the basis of the nature to nurture concept, Dab Herb Makeup isn’t an entirely plastic-free Etsy boutique but still has lots of interesting low waste, natural and plant-based makeup options. Crissy, the owner of the boutique, put a lot of care (and love!) into choosing her products’ ingredients, meaning that all the products are highly concentrated with essential oils, butters and herbs. No sketchy additives or preservatives either!
Dab Herb Makeup and Skin Care doesn’t settle for anything less than certified food-grade, vegan, organic, and fair trade or wild-harvested ingredients for their products. This guarantees that all that goodness could only be 97-100% certified organic herbal makeup and skin care at the least.
Zero waste/ many products come in metal tins, glass jars and cardboard tubes.
Where?/ shipped from the United States
Dirty Hippie Cosmetics is all about guilt-free, eco-conscious self-love. All of their products are vegan, organic, Fair Trade where required and toxin free.
Zero waste/ their labels are printed in-house using vegetable-based ink and recycled paper, and they’re happy for their local customers (located in Australia) to return empty full-sized tins and bottles.
Where?/ shipped from Australia
Emily, the owner of the boutique, had been dealing with acne and skin issues for years, until she started making her own plant-based, healing makeup formulas. And that’s also when EK | Bare Beauty was born, because, why keep all that goodness for yourself?! All her ingredients are sourced from fair-trade companies in bulk.
Pssst! Get 20% off with discount code ZWNEST.
Zero waste/ most products come in aluminium tins or cardboard tubes. Emily collects recycled boxes from the town she lives in to reduce overall waste. All her products are wrapped in recycled paper, and she currently uses tape but is planning to get a label printer very soon.
Where?/ shipped from the United States
Folks at Elate Cosmetics value spirit, kindness, wellness, communities, and authenticity. Their products are all vegan, approximately 90% organic and made in Canada. All of their pressed powder products can be bought along with a bamboo compact or palette, meaning you only need to buy individual refills and not the whole palette when you run out. L-O-V-E it!
Zero waste/ their pressed powder products are refillable, orders are packed with water-soluble peanuts made from corn, and any plastic used for added protection is always re-used by the company and never purchased. You can also ask in the notes section to get a plastic-free delivery.
Where?/ based in the United States, but they have worldwide retailers.
Rachel launched Faraday Face in June 2018 and crafted a collection of amazing cosmetics made with non-toxic, cruelty-free, gluten-free, palm oil-free, non-GMO ingredients. In addition to making top-notch products, Faraday Face is also committed to donating 5% of their profits to The Ocean Cleanup project. How could we actually NOT love them?!
Zero waste/ Faraday Face cosmetics are compacted into very thin aluminium pans and then fitted into paperboard palettes. The palettes are fastened closed with ribbon made of untreated Japanese linen. Palettes and pans can be recycled, the ribbon can be composted. For packing and shipping, Faraday Face uses materials that are recyclable and plastic-free. The cosmetics are padded with recyclable, undyed crinkle-cut packing material, and the recyclable boxes are sealed with paper tape.
Where?/ shipped from the United States
Fat and The Moon
“Potions” that are good for you, your soul and the planet. That is the idea Rachel Budde, founder of Fat and The Moon, had in mind. She started this brand as an alternative to the toxic, mass production body care industry while spreading a heartwarming self-love message. Some of their products contain beeswax, so if you’re vegan, make sure to double-check their ingredients!
Zero waste/ Fat and The Moon uses reusable and recyclable containers and reduces packaging to its minimum.
Where?/ shipped from the United States. Also sold in the UK via The Future Kept.
Keeping It Natural
Keeping It Natural is all about handmade make-up, high-quality vegan and natural ingredients.
Zero waste/ all the packaging is reusable. You can also specify in your order that you want a plastic-free delivery (plain envelope without plastic bubbles, without the interior plastic bag). You can also ask to get some of the products in a tin instead of a plastic container (it’s written in the product description when there’s a possibility to do so).
Where?/ shipped from the United States
Kjaer Weiss comes with an impossible-to-pronounce name and a serious notion of sustainability. All of their products are made with sustainable, certified organic ingredients. The products are made in Italy, are free from parabens, silicones, petrochemical emulsifiers and synthetic fragrances. Kirsten Kjaer Weis, the Danish founder of this pure goodness business, believes in high-performance results using harm-free ingredients. That is why each product is extremely healing and soothing for the skin.
Some of their products contain beeswax — so vegans, make sure to check out the ingredients.
Zero waste/ each product comes in a stunning compact metal case that can be refilled endlessly. The refills come in a carton that can then be recycled.
Where?/ they have loads of retailers worldwide.
People, if you wear nail polish and you’ve never heard of this brand, you’re going to love me. ?This British brand sells nail polish that is water-based, meaning you don’t need any nail polish remover to take it off. Yes, you read that right!
Little Ondine‘s nail polishes are basically made of natural resin, organic colourants and water, are vegan, free from formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, parabens and acetone. Basically most of the nasties.
Zero waste/ the packaging is the regular glass jar and a plastic brush (I know ☹️) but then you don’t need any nail polish remover, which means no cotton pads are required either. Annnd the peels are biodegradable, which means Little Ondine is the closest we can get from zero waste nail polish nowadays.
Where?/ shipped from the United Kingdom. They also sell some exclusive sets on Not on The High Street.
Quick note: you do need the “Secret” nail polish, which is a top coat that will guarantee that your nail polish will actually stay on your nails and not end up in your bag or in the middle of the table during a meeting.
Not using any nail polish would, of course, respect the planet even more but, nails can be a way of visually expressing one’s creativity (and peeps, no one’s perfect).
I think that good vibes, healing power and botanicals summarise pretty well Urb Apothecary. All products are made with fair-trade and organic ingredients. They’re entirely cruelty-free, SLS-free, synthetic fragrance-free, and free of chemical additives and preservatives. I absolutely love the positive energy that emanates from this brand. Check them out, they’re so worth it! ✨
Zero Waste/ all products come in recycled, recyclable, and compostable containers.
Where?/ shipped from the United States, but Glow on the go! located in Paris sells some of their products too.
The name ZAO comes from the combination of Zen Buddhism and Taoism, which both have a philosophy of respecting nature. Zao is all about natural, active ingredients and sustainable packaging. All of ZAO’s products are 100% organic and free from any toxic chemicals including parabens.
Zero waste/ Bamboooo! Most of ZAO products come in refillable bamboo packaging; making them not only pretty looking but also very eco-friendly. My excitement went a bit down though when I saw that their refills are packaged with plastic. So this one’s a lower-waste one rather than a zero-waste one.
Where?/ they have multiple retailers worldwide
The secret to not waking up looking like a Drama Queen
…or a panda. Dear readers, if you’re at this stage of this blog post, I think I can safely assume that you do wear some make-up, meaning you’ll have to take it off at some point. I’ve discovered years ago Lamazuna and their wonderful cleansing wipes that take off your make-up just-by-magic, no product needed. I promise! You just need to moisture the wipe and then apply it to your beautiful face.
Please let me know if you know of other make-up brands that are zero waste(ish) too!
Oh and, the tools you see in the photo are from Eco Tools. I haven’t specifically mentioned them because I bought these years ago and, I can’t seem to find them anywhere without plastic. So they are made of bamboo which is great, but then they come wrapped in plastic. If you know of a brand that makes sustainable, plastic-free vegan make-up brushes, I’d be super grateful if you could let me know!
Image source: Annie Spratt — thank you.
Morgane is a London-based writer and the founder of Zero Waste Nest. She’s passionate about sustainable living, ethical fashion and social justice. She also founded the Ethical Fashion Guide, with the firm intention to make ethical fashion the norm. Her retirement plans are to adopt as many stray cats as she’s able to.