Sustainable Beauty

Another Earth Day (April 22) has come and gone but the effects of climate change is still around us.

We all try to do our part: recycle based on the photo guides, not waste water, maybe you even drive an electrical car. One of the greatest contributors to waste on our planet, however, is the beauty industry. In 2018, it was reported that 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry. Many of these are not recyclable! That means that when you’re done with it, the tube/bottle/jar sits in a landfill pretty much forever.

“Excuse me,” you say, “I am super diligent about recycling all of my used beauty products.” It’s not necessarily your fault. While some bottles might be recyclable, their labels might not be. Perhaps your glass foundation bottle can be recycled but the plastic pump in it can’t! So much of the packaging for beauty and self-care products are hybridized with materials that can be recycled or composted and those that can’t. This means that they get picked over and end up in a landfill regardless of your great intentions.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re guilty of it too. “It” meaning not being educated about what truly can help mitigate waste in our cabinets. No blame and no shame. If you are down to learn about how you can contribute to a more sustainable Earth (we are!) then check out this dope article in Self Magazine by our girl Jessica Cruel.

If you have a product that is gently used or brand new, check out some of your local women’s shelters that might accept donations!

If you want the quick and dirty (no pun intended), check out our guide below for the brands that are kicking ass at helping us save the planet.


The Hair Heroes

There are a few things to love about Love Beauty and Planet: their hair and body products are sustainably sourced and come in fully recyclable bottles. The company is also focused on reducing their carbon footprint in production and created products that rinse out super quickly so you use less water. The best part? THEY REALLY WORK. Trust us, this is an accessible brand with an affordable price tag that feels like luxury. The best part is that they have three types of dry shampoos ($9 each) for all of us lazy girls. Another favorite from the line are the volumizing shampoo ($9) and conditioner ($9). The line is available at Ulta as well as your local drugstores. #getit

Other brands we love: Seed Phytonutrients (compostable packaging), Rahua (sustainable farming and 100% recyclable packaging), Briogeo (great for all hair textures), Davines (sustainable since 1993).


The Skin Saviors

The product design is not the only genius thing about Tata Harper’s line of skincare. Beauty lovers know can spot a green bottle in a department store lineup and know that the ingredients will deliver extreme results for their skin concerns, whatever they may be. The duo behind the brand met and started the line on their farm in Vermont. They strive to provide the most naturally sourced elements in their products with nothing artificial, no GMOs, and no fillers. The glass packaging is reusable or recyclable and their pumps are made using corn rather than petroleum to lessen the carbon footprint. The paper? Recycled and printed on with soy ink. The entire line is pretty special but our favorites continue to be the Regenerating Cleanser ($42-$82), Resurfacing Serum ($88), and the Restorative Eye Crème ($98).

Other brands we love: Kora Organics (Miranda Kerr’s go-to), REN Skincare (great for sensitive or irritated skin), Acure (affordable), Kypris Beauty (sustainable biotech).


The Color Commanders

RMS beauty is so transparent with their ingredients and practices that they have a published guide to everything they use in their products. Our skin is the largest organ on the human body and everything we put on it gets absorbed into our bodies. It was with this mentality that Rose-Marie Swift, amid health concerns of her own, set out to discover a better alternative to the makeup we use every day. She would know, being an OG in the industry as a makeup artist with many years of work under her belt. All of the packaging in the line is either reusable or recyclable, prompting us to reconsider how we approach our empties. Cult classics in the line include the well known Un Cover-Up ($36) the concealer that comes in 14 shades, Lip2Cheek ($36), and Living Luminizer ($38).

Other brands we love: Kjaer Weis (products are refillable), ILIA (great color range), lilah b. (send back empties), Besame Cosmetics (cake mascara).


The Body Badasses

We bet you didn’t know that the cult classic perfume brand Le Labo is sustainable! We sure didn’t when we started researching for this article. Perfume is one of the most toxic things to the body and to the environment. Sometimes the items on your vanity cost a lot more than the price tag at the store. Le Labo is shattering that with it’s formulations and packaging. The brand uses sustainably sourced and naturally derived ingredients and all of its bottles are recyclable. Bring back an empty to have it filled at any boutique where Le Labo is sold. Sure the cult classic is the Santal 33 fragrance but with a full line of body creams, scrubs, oils, and laundry detergent why not just swap out your bathroom?

Other favorites by category:

Deodorant - Agent Nateur 

Sunscreen - Soleil Toujours

Body Oil - African Botanics

Body Cream - Grown Alchemist


The Upcycle Unicorns

While some of the more established companies may not have it in their operations to overhaul all of their packaging, there are some that are trying to practice more sustainability. They do this by encouraging beauty junkies to bring their empty containers back to a nearby retailer and get rewarded. Kiehl’s is using the punchcard method (image above). Similar to that free latte, every time you bring an empty to Kiehl’s you get a stamp. Once you have ten stamps you can redeem your punchcard for a full sized product. MAC Cosmetics have been in the recycling game for a minute with their Back to MAC program. Every six empty containers you bring, you can receive a full sized lipstick of your choice. Empties here include everything (glass, plastic - even mascaras)! Department stores with MAC counters also participate. Pacifica accepts your empty containers in partnership with Preserve to re-manufacture that plastic into toothbrushes and razors!

If you often buy online or can’t get to a shop, check out the brands’ websites. A lot of brands and retailers that recycle products will give you free shipping label to encourage you to send empties back to them. When in doubt, reach out to the companies via email to see if this is something they are doing or plan to do in the future.



Cover photo by Adil Zhanbyrbayev.

Treat Mom to beauty gifts from Nordstrom with her favorite fragrance, skin care and more.