13 Beauty Brands That Boast Zero Waste

The detrimental impact of waste on the earth has been documented worldwide. Plastic waste and debris litter the bustling streets of major cities such as New York and Paris. In places far more remote and arguably hallowed mountain ranges such as Mt. Everest battle the same plastic mess, as waste is discarded along the trekking route. In the depths of the earth's deepest reach below sea, waste is found along the ocean floor, where it will slowly decompose long after we've gone. 

In a busy, hustling world of to-go containers and product consumption, many major brands across all industries have committed to serving a purpose that'll stop the wasteful impact that humans have made on our collective home. The beauty industry alone is responsible for millions of packaging units of waste per year, but in recent years have turned to a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly way of production and consumption. 

Below, we'll be taking a look at some of the top beauty brands that are committed to their duty of sustainability and zero waste.

Well People

Founded in 2008, Well People is a beauty brand that is committed to clean products and sustainability. Carefully selected product ingredients such as broccoli seed oil, rosehip, and green tea ensure that once products are absorbed into the skin, no synthetic micro-waste is being washed away in the drains. 

While developing her products, founder Shirley Pinkson knew the importance of research. "When we started, I had to explain to the consumer what parabens and mineral oil were and why we shouldn't be using them," she told The Cut. "Today, I'm excited about how knowledgeable the consumer is, but I worry we'll end up confusing them with too much info. We need more legislation here. It's very clear in Europe, where we're currently registering the brand. It's no fun, but I love it. They are very clear in their stance on ingredients. You don't see that here in the U.S."

Kjaer Weis

Danish makeup artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis was an in-demand powerhouse before founding her sustainability-based makeup brand, working on well-known circuits such as Vogue, Elle, and Marie Clarie. Throughout the years, she would see her clients tolerate irritated skin from synthetic products, all in the name of beauty. This led her to create a leading brand in clean makeup products, tending to the environment while still perfecting the luxury of beauty. "I was working on photoshoots every day, doing makeup on models for magazines, I had my kit of my favorite brands I would bring with me. I would lay it out and every week, hands down, someone would say that they were allergic to some product or couldn't use another because it made their eyes itch or their face break out," she shares on her brand's official page.

All products are packaged in refillable metal compacts and compostable packaging. "The dream was to have true luxury packaging that was also sustainable. It seemed like the two were always separate, green and luxury, and I wanted to prove that you could leave out all compromises and have it all in one," Weis shared with Alyaka. "It proved challenging to have it also be sustainable, and that's how it turned into a refill system. I feel truly blessed to have worked with a great design hero of mine, Marc Atlan. He completely exceeded all of my expectations with the design and I am so grateful."

Ilia Beauty

Ilia Beauty takes on a different approach than the standard "clean makeup" brands. Instead of ruling out all synthetics, they are committed to using eco-conscious ingredients in their products that promise safety and effectiveness for your skin. Ilia Beauty has teamed up with TerraCycle's Zero Waste Box platform to maintain sustainability. This program allows U.S.-based customers to mail in up to 10 empty beauty products per month so that TerraCycle can break the products down in an eco-friendly way. 

The great part of this program is that consumers can mail products even if they're not solely from Ilia Beauty. "We use a large percentage of certified organic and bio-active botanicals from ethical and sustainable sources wherever feasible. And we also use a small amount of safe synthetics that make the product perform," founder Sasha Plavsic shared with Forbes, adding, "I used to be afraid to own the fact that we used synthetics, and now I embrace it and we are slowing getting rid of products that don't perform to my standards." 

With Ilia Beauty continuing to evolve and inspire, Sasha shared her excitement, stating, "The time for clean beauty is now. And you can have the best of both worlds. ... We are so excited to be on the forefront and we cannot wait to see where this goes".

Croon

Croon is a leading brand in sustainable makeup wipes. Notoriously known for its wasteful contributions, makeup wipes — which are typically a one-time use product — were overdue for a makeover. Croon has created multi-use microfiber pads to remove makeup, exfoliate, and also cleanse the skin while only using water. Enviromental-friendly consumers can rejoice, as these makeup pads are reusable for up to 200 washes, which is roughly the equivalent of 400 one-time-use makeup wipes.

Launched in 2018 and based in New York City, Croon's mission is to create a thriving environment with their products, without one-time use and wasteful throwaways. "Croon is built on the belief that life feels fullest and most beautiful when we have our health, family, friends, and a thriving environment. We should only spend time or money on things that support those elements — anything else is a waste," reads the founder's story on the company's official website.

NOTO Botanics

NOTO is an environmental-friendly beauty brand that is committed to its work in reducing its ecological footprint. Committed to sustainability, Noto has evolved the way in which products are made to fit in with a more environment-conscious consumer market. When products are ordered, they are packaged in renewable-made, biodegradable paper tape, made using locally sourced, vegan, cruelty-free, and fair-trade certified ingredients. 

Additionally, Noto is committed to inclusion with gender-neutral products. "Six, seven years ago people were just starting to talk about clean beauty and, as a queer individual, I just felt so unrepresented. If I felt that way as a white woman, though, I could only imagine how BIPOC and other people felt," stated founder Gloria Noto to Vogue. "I didn't think the world need [sic] another makeup brand or cosmetic line, but I did think the world needed a platform that could help expand on what diversity and inclusion could look like in the clean beauty space."

Juice Beauty

Juice Beauty is a sustainable brand with farm-to-beauty formulations made with homegrown and locally-sourced organic ingredients. Additionally, Juice Beauty promotes sustainability in its packaging. This environmentally-conscious beauty brand uses 100% FSC paper, 100% bioresin sample and travel tubes, and glass for 32% of its packaging, an ideal transaction for consumers looking to do their part in reducing their eco-footprint. Consumers enjoy how simple yet impactful this is.

In addition to its packaging promoting eco-friendly ways, this Northern California brand's headquarters and farm are further transparent in their commitment to sustainability, with nearly all of the farm's operations being solar-powered. Juice Beauty is committed to providing its consumers with clean skincare, boasting results that brighten and firm the skin, with blemish and oil control along with providing a microbiome glow to the skin, all the while providing a commitment to reducing carbon footprint and eliminate wasteful impacts on the environment. 

Founder Karen Behnke shares with The Helm her inspiration behind her brand: "Conventional brands start with all this butylene and propylene and petroleum glycols, and then they put some powerful chemicals in there, so it works. Then the natural brands start with water and are diluted. So my concept was, well, what if we start with organic botanical juices, organic jojobas, grapeseed, etc., which are already jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients and rich in antioxidants."

LOLI Beauty

LOLI Beauty is a well-loved eco-friendly line of beauty products for consumers to enjoy, knowing they're leaving very little, if any, waste in doing so. LOLI Beauty promotes environmental love by committing to eliminating their carbon footprint. LOLI – which stands for Living Organic Loving Ingredients – was created after its founder Tina Hedges noted how most beauty products up until then were created – with very few organic substances, mostly water, chemicals, and synthetics. "Most beauty products are made of 80 to 95 percent water and diluted with chemicals, synthetics, and toxins, and then over packaging and plastics. None of that made sense to me. I decided I wanted to unbottle beauty and create a zero-waste, organic skincare brand that allows you to reduce the amount of products you're using because everything is multitasking," founder Tina Hedges shared with Super Great

With a passion-driven team to change this market, LOLI Beauty set out to commit to producing products that are organic and mostly made from what sustains us as humans – food! "I believe beauty is a ritual that begins with you. Take matters into your own hands and let your intuition guide you. When you blend food to make beauty, you make more of yourself. It's powerful alchemy," states founder Tina Hedges on their main website.

Ethique Cosmetics

Beauty entrepreneur Brianne West started experimenting with eco-friendly ingredients in 2012. At this time, the reduction of plastic waste wasn't too much at the forefront of the minds of both consumer and retailer, and she knew she had a responsibility to change that. "I started Ethique out of frustration for the abhorrent amount of waste created by the cosmetics industry, and in particular, the amount of plastic and waste created by our bathroom essentials. I figured out that up to 95% of your bottle of conditioner is made up of water – which is just ridiculous considering you have water in your bathroom!" she stated on the main Ethique Beauty webpage. 

It wasn't long after that her commitment to reducing harmful waste picked up momentum, with media moguls such as Forbes and The Huffington Post taking notice. In 2016, the brand went global and is now thriving in over 2,000 retail stores in 25 countries.

By Humankind

By Humankind is another eco-friendly line of beauty products that consumers can count on. With a commitment to reducing waste, By Humankind products are made with clean ingredients that won't harm the environment. These products are sold in no-waste packaging and refillable containers in an effort to reduce single-use plastic consumption greatly. By using these products, one person can save the planet from up to five pounds of single-use plastic waste from just one year of using refillable containers. 

In addition to this, By Humankind promises products of high quality as well as free shipping with every single purchase made on their website. Monthly subscribers can enjoy ordering refills on their own schedule, mailed in eco-friendly packaging. By Humankind consumers can enjoy a wide variety of wellness products such as deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Partnered with social enterprise Plastic Bank, this brand is one consumers can count on while trying to reduce their carbon footprint.

Apo.Ge

Committed to improving the environment and eliminating plastic use, Apo.Ge is a sure favorite for beauty consumers. Certified organic products are carefully sourced to deliver high-quality, clean products for consumers looking to be health and wellness conscious. The three pillars of Apo.Ge are honey, hemp, and humans: Consumers can soothe their skin in honey-infused creams with antioxidants, enzymes, and vitamins, while hemp works to lock in moisture, all the while balancing the skin's natural oils. 

With a focus on the wellness of humans, Apo.Ge is committed to providing a line of products that inspire humans to live a more purposeful lifestyle, committed to wellness and simplicity. Packaged in neutral warm greens, oranges, and yellows, Apo.Ge is additionally branded as unisex, with their products promoted for all genders with the same equality in each skin product. Consumers can enjoy a user-friendly and convenient experience of purchasing products online through their main website.

Antonym Cosmetics

Antonym Cosmetics believes in delivering natural, clean ingredients in their products without losing the high-quality performance that oftentimes can get lost without synthetics. Because synthetic materials are typically harmful to not only the skin but the environment as well, Antonym Cosmetics is committed to the production of clean products that promote wellness for not only the consumer but to the environment as well. "Your skin deserves natural ingredients; it just shouldn't be at the expense of achieving the look you love. Until now, choosing natural makeup meant tolerating poor performance. Clean makeup ingredients equaled weak pigmentation and color payoff. There was a gap between the function and the formulation," reads their official website. 

Antonym Cosmetics is widely enjoyed by well-known faces such as Robin Wright, Kate Mara, Ruth Wilson, and Keira Knightley, all donning the natural look of Antonym Cosmetics to high-profile red-carpet events such as the Golden Globes, Sundance, and AMAs. Founder Valerie Giraud shared her inspiration behind starting the brand, stating to Coco Eco, "Years ago, when I started doing makeup, there were a lot of mineral and natural lines, but they were portraying the natural line as a 'natural look,' which is very different. It was very hard to find the right natural products that would also perform well."

ATHR Beauty

ATHR Beauty is another favorite for those who seek clean beauty products that are eco-friendly. Founder Tilia Abbitt created the brand to "bridge the gap between ethical beauty, sustainability, and truly high-performing, innovative, and luxurious vegan formulas." Her commitment to protecting the earth has been a career-life road, as the former Head of Sustainability at beauty powerhouse brand Sephora and former product developer. In her sustainability efforts, she created the first zero-waste eyeshadow pallet in 2018. 

Propelled and passionate to further her efforts, she ensures all packaging is made from recyclable materials that are free from over 3,000 harmful ingredients that are detrimental to not only humans but plants and animals as well. Their organic, biodegradable products are made in factories that are U.S., Canada, and Europe-based to ensure fair treatment of the workers. Once sold, a 1% donation is made to environmental charities with each purchase made through their official webpage.

Elate Beauty

Elate Beauty was developed in 2014 with "kindness" in mind. While the beauty industry can sometimes thrive on people feeling bad about their own looks to propel consumers to purchase more products, Elate Beauty understands that everyone is beautiful in their own way, with or without makeup. 

With diversity in mind, Elate Beauty promises to promote a world of enhanced confidence, as its products are made with natural beauty in mind and encourage consumers to purchase less. Moreover, their mission to promote kindness is found in the integrity of their products as well. Products are packaged in reusable and recyclable materials. All products are 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and designed with a waste-free mindset. Additionally, all packaging can be returned so they can ensure the products are recycled correctly. For those looking to purchase products, donations are made to environmental initiatives with each purchase made on their main website.