Buying from zero waste makeup brands rather than from conventional makeup are bound to be better for you and the planet. Most makeup found in high street shops or your local mall is filled with all kinds of questionable ingredients; preservatives, chemicals and stuff that you would be better off without. But we are starting to see real alternatives to popular beauty brands that are kind to our bodies, the planet and produce zero waste.
Even though today’s commercial makeup has moved on from the poisonous concoctions that our ancestors cooked up in the name of beauty. Some of which contained mercury, arsenic and led – yes Queen Elizabeth I and her generation of women most likely suffered from heavy metals poisoning thanks to their beauty routines. If you’d like to learn more about the bizarre beauty routines of the women who came before us you can read more here.
Here’s our list of the best zero waste makeup brands, that are non-toxic and have been made with non-toxic ingredients.
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Ethics | 100% Natural, Refillable, Cruelty-free, Organic, Vegan
Zao is an eco-luxury zero waste makeup brand made in Italy and France. Their products are 100% natural, toxin-free, cruelty-free, organic and vegan.
They focus on sustainable and low carbon practices. We love that their packaging is refillable and made from bamboo, giving a sense of eco-style and durable zero waste elegance. Forget the plastic here as they use cotton pouches rather than plastic baggies for protecting each product. These can be re-used for something else of course.
You can find anything from foundations to eye shadows, lipstick, mascara and eyeliners in their range. We’re particularly excited about their eyeliner and mascara as is it has a beautifully strong pigment that makes your eyes pop. Other favourites are the Zoa shine up powder and the Sublim’ Soft Primer.
Some of their products contain palm oil derived ingredients, so you’ll have to take care here. But we’re assured that these are all sustainably sourced and not responsible for deforestation.
Zao is available in most countries, find their website links below:
Ethics | Refillable, Cruelty-free, Vegan, Non-toxic
Elate is a Canadian company and a Certified B Corporation. They are part of the conscious beauty movement.
Their packaging is around 75% waste-free as some of their liquid products contain recyclable plastic, but they are committed to becoming 100% plastic-free and zero waste.
All products are cruelty-free certified, 100% vegan and gluten-free. The ingredients are 75% organic with a focus on fair trade – they will always choose fair trade if they can’t have both.
Elate has an impressive range of products and you can definitely build a complete makeup bag using them. We particularly like their foundation as it’s the perfect companion to especially oily skin as it’s mat but not dewy. Other favourites in their range are the cream blush and their creme lipsticks which are super moisturising.
They do seem to use palm oil, but it’s been sustainably sourced and supplied by RSPO certified suppliers.
Find them at Earth Hero
Ethics | Vegan and cruelty-free
Nicmac is a small UK based brand started by founder Nicola who was as frustrated as we are with the use of plastic packaging in the beauty industry.
What we love about Nicmac is that you can mix and match your palette so that you don’t end up with shades you don’t use (yes we’ve all been there right?).
The packaging is plastic-free and zero waste, the products are vegan and earth-friendly. This company is small so they don’t have all the certifications that the bigger brands have. But this will come with time.
The Nicmac range is a bit limited, but you can find durable brushes and a range of eye shadows in a pallet arranged to your liking. Customised pallets are so much nicer than buying a standard pre-selected one as you won’t have any colours you won’t use in your customised selection!
We couldn’t see palm oil as an ingredient in the shadows. The shades are all quite shimmery so not ideal if you are worried about hiding fine lines, but who doesn’t like a bit of shimmer every now and again right?
Ethics | Plastic free, Cruelty-Free, Natural, Vegan
All Earth (formerly called Angel Face) was started by makeup artist Julie Wiezcorek and natural skincare expert Guy Hanson.
Julie and Guy combined their expertise to create a range of natural mineral zero waste makeup that is durable and gentle on the skin. Their range includes mineral foundations, mineral cream tints that offer a pop of colour and finishing powders.
From the outset they’ve made sure that all products are available in plastic-free and biodegradable refills, making it an earth-friendly zero waste range.
Their products are animal-friendly, vegan friendly and cruelty-free. They do offer return by post-TerraCycle and have pots for life that can be refilled with their 100% biodegradable and recyclable refills. We’re still not convinced with TerraCycle as it’s really hard to find drop-off locations. However, they do offer recycling by post which makes it much easier to return packaging for recycling.
The pair has recently launched a new and unique pot for life which is made from sustainably sourced beechwood and plastic inners that are made from recycled fishing nets that have been salvaged from the ocean.
Ethics | Plastic free, Cruelty-Free, Natural, Vegan, Handmade
Dirty Hippie is one of the more well known zero waste cosmetics brands, especially to those in Australia. They are a family run business that produces hand-made cosmetics down under.
Their ingredients are non-toxic, sustainably sourced, vegan and cruelty-free. When it comes to the packaging they offer eco-friendly and refillable packaging with a recycling return service to folks in Australia. Their products usually come wrapped in newspaper, which is a unique and slightly DIY touch – which is great.
Some of their products contain ingredients that use palm oil as part of the production process, but they are currently sourcing alternative options.
Dirty Hippie has a good range of products which include mineral powders, blushes, eye and lip colour, mascara and BB creams to name a few. They also make a big range of personal care products, which is worth a try.
Ethics | Biodegradable, Certified Organic, Cruelty-Free, Halaal, Natural, Vegan
Inika is an Australian based company that has been around since 2006. Their products are 100% vegan, 100% halaal, certified organic and cruelty-free. Their packaging is made from sugarcane and claimed to be 100% biodegradable and fossil fuel derivative-free. The company says that all its packaging is fully recyclable. Some products contain palm oil but these are ethically sourced.
The company has won a horde of awards and also has a skincare range, which follows the same credentials as above.
As far as products go, Inika’s foundation is a medium coverage foundation that blends really well. It leaves your skin looking like skin, which is a definite plus. But will require layering if you need full coverage. From what we’ve seen their products are long-lasting, so delivers great wear all day, but their colour range is still a bit limited.
Other products we like are their mascara, which is super lengthening along with their eyeshades which are highly pigmented and lasts all day.
Ethics | Handmade, Organic, Cruelty-Free, Vegan
Clean-Faced is a small handmade cosmetics brand that sells on Etsy based out of Michigan in the US. Their products are mostly organic, however, as they are still small it doesn’t appear to be certified organic. They don’t test on animals, are 100% vegan and products are handmade by the owner Laura. Orders take roughly 2 weeks to process, but it’s made on-demand so completely understandable in that respect.
Their pricing is very reasonable and has been trading on Etsy since 2014, have a 5-star rating and offer a refill service.
Clean-faced cosmetics contain non-toxic ingredients and they strive to be as low waste as possible. They have a great list of lip colour and eye shadows, that will fit most skin tones.
Find their shop on Etsy
This is another small handmade brand sold on Etsy that is definitely worth the attention. Dab Herb products are mineral-based, using certified organic plant pigments and colouring that promote healthier lashes, brows and skin.
Products don’t contain chemical ingredients so you may need to re-apply some products throughout the day; long-wear products are usually long-lasting because of the chemicals it contains. The company is small in super approachable so if you’ve got a question you can send them an email directly, which is always encouraging. They are organic, cruelty-free, vegan, fair trade and sustainable!
Find their shop on Etsy here
Love the Planet started as a UK based kitchen operation in 2002 and has rapidly grown to a well know zero-waste brand. They do not use palm oil in their products or parabens, they are vegan and cruelty-free.
Love the Planet is truly committed to the health of the planet and its customers, which we appreciate muchly! Their range doesn’t end with makeup they also carry 100% natural deodorant.
Founded in 2018 in the US, Āether is a relatively new brand but definitely don’t lack experience as founder Tiila Abbitt worked in product development for Sephora for many years. Abbitt wanted to create an ethically sustainable brand that goes beyond formulation. She proactively manages the brand’s eco-footprint throughout the production process.
Ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced, vegan and cruelty-free. Some of their products include sustainably sourced palm oil and packaging is zero waste and/or recyclable.
If you love crystals then this brand is definitely for you as they infuse their shadows with crystals. The only downside here is that they have a limited range, but keep an eye out as they are bound to expand in future. We wouldn’t recommend shimmer if you are concerned with fine lines and wrinkles as it tends to highlight creases.
Vapour offers lean beauty from the free-spirited, eco-friendly lifestyle of Taos, New Mexico. They use plant-based formulas and are passionate about using pure ingredients that promote health and sustainability.
Their packaging isn’t exactly zero waste as with some of the other brands listed as it contains plastic, however, they do offer a recycling programme through TerraCycle where you can return the packaging back to them via post. They will reward you with $15 if you send 4 containers back at a time. As mentioned above finding a TerraCycle drop-off location can be painful, however, they also offer recycling by post which makes it much easier to return packaging for recycling.
Vapour products are cruelty-free, but they do use beeswax in some products. They also use palm oil derived ingredients and don’t explicitly state how it’s sourced but they seem to care about organic farming and sustainable sourcing overall so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here.
Antonym is a USA based company that manufactures both in the USA and Europe, so if you’re in the EU and worried about products being flown over from the USA, you need not worry with Antonym.
Their products are Ecocert organic and cruelty-free. The majority of their products are vegan, but they do use beeswax in their lipsticks – so you might want to avoid those if you’re strictly vegan. Their packaging is made from Bamboo, but they don’t seem to offer a zero-waste refill or recycling option.
Antonym lists palm oil on the ingredients list of some of their products, but being Ecocert certified these are assumed to be from sustainable sources.
A Zero Waste Makeup Philosophy
Following a low to zero waste philosophy, please use up all your existing products before gradually replacing them with more environmentally friendly brands such as the ones listed below.
Just replacing what you have with eco-friendly options in one go will mean that you will be adding your old product to landfill, which we definitely don’t recommend!
Reducing the Size of your Makeup Bag
When it comes to reducing environmental impact in your life and pursuing zero waste living, less is always more. The same applies to makeup.
Throughout the years I have noticed that I only use a small amount of makeup in my cosmetics bag. So to keep your routine lean coordinate and choose colour pallets wisely. Think of your wardrobe and colours that will complement your favourite outfits. There is no reason why you can’t mix makeup colours from your favourite zero waste makeup brands either.
So just like the principles of a capsule wardrobe, you can make your makeup go further by knowing which colours can be blended together and which colours go with your complexion to extend their use and reduce waste.
Start your makeup routine with a solid base such as luxury DIY facial oil. This allows your makeup to “sit” better on your skin. You can also use an oil such as Coconut or Jojoba as a makeup remover as oils are great at getting rid of panda eyes at the end of the day.
Although we can’t guarantee all the packaging involved in online ordering, the brands listed are low to zero waste options that are more sustainable than the average high-street option.
Chemicals in Makeup
Today there is no need for modern-day women to suffer at the hands of beauty gimmicks, although I’m sure we’ll end up falling for one or two at some point. Unfortunately, even though we’ve progressed massively, cosmetic ingredients aren’t as rigorously tested as pharmaceuticals for example. This means that we are often the guinea pigs in the long term.
Even though there are still chemicals lurking in our beauty potions, we are one of the luckiest generations yet, as we know more about harmful ingredients in cosmetics than any generation of women who came before us!
This page is a celebration of modern life and the wealth of knowledge we have readily available to assess what is good for us and what is not. Yes, the water can still be murky at times, but it’s the clearest it’s ever been. If you’re looking for lipsticks, in particular, have a look at our post about natural and organic lipstick here.
When looking at planet and people-friendly makeup, we’ll consider all aspects of environmental impact; packaging and waste, ingredients, sourcing and animal testing. It’s not just about buying from zero waste makeup brands. As always we’ll cast our net a little wider to avoid buying from greenwashed brands that don’t go the extra mile towards sustainable business practices and is zero waste.
Closing Thoughts on Zero Waste Makeup
We love that there is an ever-growing list of zero waste makeup brands popping up and we’re excited to see what’s next. Packaging is forever improving and ingredients lists are evolving. No doubt, we’ll have lots of new brands to add to this list over the next few years. Feel free to add your favourites in the comments below.