Did you know that your skin isn’t just your body’s largest organ but also its most heroic defender? This incredible shield, stretching over approximately 20 square feet of your body, is your first line of defense against a barrage of environmental and man-made toxins and harsh chemicals.
The good news? You can look and feel your best without any guilt about the knock-on effects of your beauty product’s impact on the earth. As part of our sustainable beauty series, this week we’re looking at eco-friendly makeup brands and how they take the extra effort to align themselves with planet health.
A Quick Look At The Best Eco-Friendly Makeup Brands
- Best highlighter: River Organics Rose Quartz Highlighter Stick | Skip to review
- Best mascara: Elate Essential Mascara | Skip to review
- Best eye shadow: Elate Pressed Eye Color | Skip to review
- Best all-around sustainable makeup line: Thrive Causemetics | Skip to review
- Best lip balm: Axiology Vegan Lip Balm | Skip to review
- Best multi-use: Axiology Full Face Set | Skip to review
- Best concealer: River Organics Zero Waste Concealer | Skip to review
- Best blush: All Earth Mineral Blush | Skip to review
- Best mineral-based makeup: All Earth Mineral Concealer | Skip to review
- Best primer: Juice Beauty Phyto Pigments Illuminating Primer | Skip to review
How We Choose These Sustainable Makeup Brands
Sustainability is a combined effort! That’s why we took a holistic approach to highlighting these nine excellent eco-friendly beauty brands. Here are the criteria we looked for in selecting our favorite products and companies.
Brands with a Purpose
Real change is more than a catchy marketing slogan and an earthy color palette. We sought out companies that were driven by purposeful missions that demonstrated commitment not only to reducing their environmental footprint but also to fostering ethical sourcing, fair trade, and cruelty-free practices.
These companies stand behind a few core initiatives, whether they’ve incorporated recyclable or biodegradable packaging or planted a tree to offset shipping emissions and weave them through everything they do.
These are some of the initiatives they support:
- One Tree Planted
If you’re a regular reader of Zestain’s top healthy and sustainable brand picks, you know we’re all about the cold, hard facts. Believe it or not, eco-friendly claims are not yet fully regulated in the United States – although the FTC’s Green Guide is an excellent start.
Because of this, not all seemingly benign terms like “clean,” “green,” and “sustainable” have to be backed by action. That’s where certifications and labels come in. We’re a sucker for third-party validation that involves rigorous testing and evidence!
These are some of the excellent labels and certifications to look for:
- Carbon Neutral Certification
- Plastic Neutral Certification
- USDA Organic
- Fair Trade
- B Corp
Full List of Eco-Friendly Makeup Products & Brands
- Price point: $$$
- Certifications: Leaping Bunny, B Corp Certification
We love bouquets of planet-friendly products! Encased in an ingenious seed paper envelope, this eye color doesn’t just vanish after use; it transforms into a bloom of wildflowers when planted, turning waste into beauty! Elate ensures that their Pressed Eye Color is 100% vegan and cruelty-free, meaning no animals were involved in its creation.
Beauty is what’s inside, but in this case, the outside is also pretty darn good looking. Thoughtfully designed packaging uses glass and bamboo, and it’s also refillable! Like Elate’s other products, the mascara is 100% vegan cruelty-free, and ingredients like jojoba seed oil, organic white tea, and carnauba wax are ethically sourced.
Elate, a trailblazing cosmetics brand, was born out of Melodie Reynolds’ vision in 2014, with an unwavering commitment to sustainability and ethical practices at its heart from the get go. Recognizing the urgent need to address waste issues rampant in the beauty industry, Elate committed to a 15% reduction in waste and emissions in 2021 alone.
The company’s packaging, crafted from sustainable bamboo, is just one facet of their green initiatives. In a groundbreaking move, Elate has enthusiastically joined the refillable beauty movement, a pioneering initiative aimed at eradicating waste. In a surprising twist for a retail brand, they even encourage customers to buy less.
All Earth Mineral Cosmetics
- Price point: $$$
- Certifications: Ecologi Program, Vegan & Cruelty Free
This lightweight blusher is made from 100% natural ingredients; it is vegan and cruelty-free and comes in the company’s ‘Pot for Life,’ a refillable container designed to last indefinitely (not today, landfills!)
When you run out, you can simply order a refill rather than buy a whole new product. The refills come in biodegradable pouches, meaning you’re not only adding a healthy glow to your cheeks but also supporting sustainable beauty practices.
Sometimes, those bags under your eyes need a little sustainable love. Packaged in either a Pot for Life or refill option, this magic concealer boasts a 100% natural formulation that is gentle on your skin and the environment. It contains Zinc Oxide, a natural pigment that provides color and sun protection, and Allantoin, a plant extract that helps with sensitive skin conditions.
About All Earth
All Earth is all in on sustainability with 100% natural, vegan, and cruelty-free products. The company’s packaging is designed with recyclable materials and refill options – a game changer in the beauty industry’s historically monster-sized plastic waste footprint.
- Price point: $$$
- Certifications: USDA Organic, Vegan & Cruelty Free
Axiology’s big set of Balmies – good for eyes, lips, and cheeks – is a game-changer in the world of sustainable cosmetics.
We’re thrilled to see a product that seamlessly combines beauty and eco-consciousness, ensuring the protection of our planet’s biodiversity by championing zero-waste packaging—each Balmie is completely package-free, eliminating unnecessary waste that typically ends up in landfills.
The ingredients list is equally impressive, featuring shea butter and sunflower seed oil, both of which are natural, plant-derived, and gentle on our ecosystems.
Less is more when thinking about sustainability – so we love a beauty product that can multitask. The Full Face Set is plant-based, featuring nourishing elements like Organic Coconut Oil and Avocado Butter, meaning you can indulge in a luxe beauty routine without worrying about harmful chemicals seeping into our waterways.
Axiology Beauty is where luxury meets sustainability. The brand takes it a step further by using only ten clean, ethically sourced ingredients in its products, minimizing its environmental footprint and offering transparency to its consumers.
Their packaging is also a testament to their sustainability efforts. They use recycled trash from Bali to create their lipstick boxes, turning waste into something beautiful and purposeful. The company also supports the Orangutan Foundation, contributing to protecting this endangered species and their natural habitat.
- Price point: $$$$
- Certifications: FSC Certified, Leaping Bunny
The layer before the foundation – primer – is a must to hold the hard work put into creating the perfect face all day long. Juice Beauty’s Phyto Pigments Illuminating Primer is formulated with organic plant-derived pigments.
The packaging is thoughtfully designed using recyclable materials and sustainable manufacturing practices, such as utilizing solar power in their primary facility, further amplifying the eco-friendly credentials of this must-have addition to your beauty routine.
A combo for the planet! Juice Beauty’s Nude Lip Crush and Blush is a dual-purpose product created with certified organic ingredients derived from plants, providing a natural alternative to synthetic colorants that are often found in cosmetics. The packaging also deserves special mention as it is made from recyclable materials.
About Juice Beauty
Juice Beauty is a farm-to-be beauty exemplified. They boast an impressive commitment to sustainable packaging, with ongoing efforts to eliminate virgin plastic from their production line by 2025.
The company also champions using recyclable materials and encourages customers to choose products with minimal, eco-friendly packaging, including upcycling plastic waste from the ocean.
- Price point: $$
- Certifications: Leaping Bunny, USDA Organic
No waste, lots of concealing power, a buttery lightweight feel, and tons of shade options. River Organics’ Zero Waste Concealer is the epitome of the brand’s eco-conscious ethos, packaged in post-consumer recycled paper pots.
Inside, you’ll find a blend of all-natural, vegan ingredients that are as kind to your skin as they are to the planet. It’s free from synthetic chemicals and harmful toxins, offering a clean and green alternative for those seeking flawless coverage.
Who says shimmer has to come at the cost of the planet? The shimmer so popular in beauty products often comes disguised in microplastics. T
This highlighter stick takes the natural mineral route, meaning no micro pollution under your watch. It’s made with Vitamin A-rich organic Shea butter and protective Grapeseed Rosehip oils, ensuring your skin looks radiant and feels hydrated. An eco-friendly paper stick also means the packaging is biodegradable.
About River Organics
River Organics works sustainability into every facet of its operations. From sourcing ingredients locally to minimizing carbon emissions and using renewable energy in their manufacturing processes, they are an excellent example that fully integrated sustainability is possible.
Their packaging is made from recyclable and compostable materials, and they are also committed to avoiding harmful chemicals and synthetic ingredients that would otherwise end up in our waterways and landfills.
- Price point: $$-$$$
- Certifications: Leaping Bunny, Certified B Corp, EWG Verified
This little pencil brightener will have you Googling ‘meadowfoam oil’ and liking what you see! It’s a versatile beauty product designed to highlight, brighten, and open your eyes (better than coffee!), providing an instant eye lift.
Infused with macadamia and meadowfoam oil, it hydrates and nourishes the skin while also offering anti-aging benefits. Its convenient stick will make even the most makeup shy person feel confident with easy breezy application.
This one goes beyond your face and the planet – every purchase of the Brilliant Eye Brightener supports Thrive Causemetics’ mission of helping women in need.
This eco-conscious must-have combines the color intensity of traditional lipstick with a non-sticky, hydrating formula. As part of Thrive’s commitment to being 100% vegan and cruelty-free, they’ve eschewed the industry standard of animal testing.
The serum is not only kind to animals but also to our environment, with its ingredients offering a more sustainable choice compared to conventional lipsticks.
About Thrive Causemetics
Thrive Causemetics is a great all-arounder with a group of multi-pronged sustainability and environmental initiatives. It starts with glass and post-consumer recycled packaging materials and carbon-neutral shipping.
Beyond the product, the company has partnered with One Tree Planted, demonstrating its commitment to restoration efforts by donating $1 for every purchase of their limited-edition Multeye-Tasking Eye Care Set.
They have also partnered with 4Ocean as a Certified Cleanup Partner, working towards Plastic Neutral Certification and the removal of plastic waste from waterways.
Comparing Eco-Friendly Makeup Brands
|Leaping Bunny, B Corp Certification
All Earth Mineral Cosmetics
|Ecologi Program, Vegan & Cruelty Free
|USDA Organic, Vegan & Cruelty Free
|FSC Certified, Leaping Bunny
|Leaping Bunny, USDA Organic
Leaping Bunny, Certified B Corp, EWG Verified
|Leaping Bunny, Certified B Corp, EWG Verified
Why Switch to Environmentally Friendly Makeup
Switching to environmentally friendly makeup is not just a choice; it’s our responsibility to our planet and ourselves. Conventional makeup often contains harmful chemicals that can have adverse effects on our health and the environment.
These products, packaged in non-recyclable materials, contribute significantly to plastic waste, further exacerbating pollution problems. On the other hand, environmentally friendly makeup is typically made from natural, non-toxic ingredients that are kinder to our skin and the earth.
The impact of harsh chemicals in makeup is a topic that has been gaining significant attention. According to a University of Notre Dame study, upwards of 50% of beauty products in the U.S. and Canada contain high levels of fluorine – a polyfluorinated substance (PFAS) linked to serious health conditions, including cancer and reduced birth weight.
These chemicals, not to mention fellow naughty chemicals like parabens and phthalates, lack safety data and are present in makeup and shampoo, skin lotion, nail polish, and other personal care products.
A secondary and equally significant problem with these chemicals? They end up in our landfills and waterways – a look Mother Earth does not want to wear. The beauty industry has also historically contributed to the global plastic waste problem with its heavy reliance on plastic, a significant contributor to the 120 million units of packaging produced each year.
Final Thoughts on Eco-Friendly & Organic Makeup
Start small with one product at a time! Read reviews. A product can get an A+ for the environment but might not work for you, and we don’t want waste! Keep an eye on Zestain’s beauty picks for recommendations of better for the earth hair, makeup, and skincare products!