what makes makeup brands sustainable

how to choose sustainable beauty brands

living more sustainably begins with our choices, and the brands we choose to support reflect the world that we want to create. our lives are very busy and making environmentally positive choices can be difficult. I wanted to create this guide to make finding ethical beauty brands as easier process. our skin absorbs 60% of what we put on it and when you look at it this way it becomes crazy that we don’t even know a fraction of the ingredients that we put on our faces every day. however, once you know a few simple things to look out for well worth the little bit of effort, not only your your skin and personal health, but but for our environment as a whole. the products you choose to buy have an environmental impact and the more you learn to look out for these factors you’ll be reducing your impact and supporting  more ethical and sustainable brands. 

environmental impact 

choosing environmentally conscious brands is about considering the materials used in the products as well as the packaging they come in. 

avoid microplastic

packaging in the cosmetic industry is extremely wasteful. each little bottle is throw away and the small particles of plastic in most makeup scrubs is washed down the drain, and being too small to process they eventually end up in our lakes, rivers and oceans. luckily a lot of these ingredients cosmetic products in some countries but it’s still important to check a product’s ingredients list for microbeads. if you’re looking for a more comprehensive guide organic glow published a great post outlining the effects of microbeads in cosmetics and most important what to look out for on a label.

low-waste packaging

look for brands who use recyclable or reusable packaging, and as a general rule of thumb the less packaging the better. buying products in bulk, opting for larger bottles and palettes all mean that less plastic is being thrown away, and if you can find glass or biodegradable bottles, even better. buying locally is another point to consider as it means less packaging and less fossil fuels used to get the products to you. 

reusable makeup wipes

throw away face wipes are an unnecessary beauty product and are easily replaced a muslin facecloth that can be reused for years. one-time use face wipes are made with plastic fibers that are non-biodegradable and often end up in landfills. replace cotton pads with reusable cotton rounds which can be cleaned in your washing machine. replace cotton earbuds with paper stem cotton buds or ones with sticks made from bamboo or wood. there are also often chemicals in pre-packaged makeup wipes and in contrast using a natural cloth like muslin is better for your skin and the environment.


sustainable beauty products


sustainably sourced ingredients 

look for brands with clean ingredients lists, meaning labels with ingredients lists that you can understand. the artificial chemicals in most makeup brands aren’t good for your skin or the environment. avoid products with preservatives also referred to as parabens and paraffins, these additives dry out the skin and tend to cause allergic reactions. also keep an eye out for palm oil as the plantations are a large cause of deforestation of the rain forests. as a general rule of thumb, the more legible the label the better. thinking about all these factors can be overwhelming, but it’s mostly just important to become aware of these ingredients so you can make better educated choices.

anti-animal testing

animal testing is an outdated and unnecessary part of the cosmetics industry and more accurate data can be obtained from artificially grown human skin cells. animal-testing is atrociously unethical and with all the more ethical options on the market now it’s easier and easier to avoid. a good way to guarantee that your beauty products aren’t tested on animals is to refer to list from a third party certifier like leaping bunny or peta australia, if a brand is certified by a label like this it’s a good guarantee that they aren’t testing on animals. peta also offers a list of well known labels that still test on animals. clinique, estée lauder, maybelline and victoria’s secret are all big brands that I wasn’t aware tested on animals. although this can be discouraging to see it’s also really helpful to know what labels to avoid and the good news is there are lots of ethical options out there.

cruelty-free makeup


go local

there are so many reasons to support small scale brands and it’s one of the easiest choices we can make to live more sustainably. for one, you save the energy and packaging used to transport products half way across the world, and secondly locally sourced products are generally from smaller scale brands with more eco-friendly ingredients and ethical production processes. there is more responsibility on the owners, higher standards of ethics and more human connection. it’s also just a great feeling to get to know a label personally, to know to people behind the brand and support their creative project. And if you do get to know the owners it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can bring back and reuse your bottles and makeup jars as well. 

everything counts 

don’t worry if at first all this information feels a little overwhelming. the part to remember is that every positive choice counts, and once you become aware of these details it’s just a matter of habit.and if you don’t always find cosmetics brands that follow these guidelines 100 percent of the time that’s totally ok too. even if they do one of these things it’s still better than a generic cosmetic brand and the important part is that it’s a step in the right direction. 


if you guys are interested in some recommendations to get you started, check out my list of eco-friendly makeup labels.

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