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Once you’ve decluttered your overflowing makeup bag and are enjoying the benefits of your minimal makeup routine, you may find yourself also questioning the daily products you’re using on your face.

What goes into my makeup? Are the ingredients sustainably sourced? Do the brands I’m supporting share my own ethics and values?

I know that I have certainly been guilty in the past of relying on high street makeup brands that shout the loudest when it comes to offers (3 for 2, anyone?), look pretty in their packaging, or else promise the moon and the stars (yet rarely deliver).

Well, there is a different way. And, I promise, you don’t have to compromise on results when it comes to shopping more consciously! From recycled materials to reusable packaging, vegan and cruelty-free products to natural and organic ingredients, I’ve taken the time to compile my go-to list of ethical and eco-friendly makeup brands that I think you’ll love!

My Top Picks

Odylique

PHB Ethical Beauty

Facetheory

Review Summary

Here are the best eco-friendly & ethical makeup brands

For a more well-rounded understanding of what constitutes an ethical beauty brand, I’ve gone into more detail below. But for now, I’ve done all the research for you and cherry-picked my top 10 sustainable and ethical makeup brands. From beautiful packaging to kind philosophies, I hope you’ll consider supporting these pioneering companies, too!

Note: all brands are certified cruelty-free and the majority are 100% vegan. However, be aware that some brands do use animal-derived ingredients, so you may want to filter for vegan products (I’ll highlight this where necessary).

1. Odylique

  • Product range: Face, eyes, lips
  • My pick: Organic Mascara – for longer, natural-looking eyelashes with plenty of definition, this is the mascara for you (it’s also certified organic by The Soil Association)
  • Price: ££
  • Use code INTENTIONALVIEW for 20% off your order!

Odylique was borne out of sensitive skin issues like eczema, dermatitis and allergy-prone skin. So if you’re searching for the purest natural products with zero synthetic fillers, then look no further! Odylique was one of the first companies to create fair trade products with organic certification from the Soil Association (an organisation with incredibly rigorous standards!). Whilst all of their PETA-approved makeup involves no animal testing, a few of their products do contain honey and beeswax. They state that they only source these ingredients from trusted suppliers that never practice unethical or cruel methods of farming – so it’s your call whether you want to filter these out or not.

Packaging: Locally made, recyclable and non-toxic packaging is part of Odylique’s ethos. No matter the material chosen – glass, plastic or sugar cane – they have one rule: it must always be 100% recyclable. Read more about their carefully considered thought processes here.

2. PHB Ethical Beauty

  • Product range: Face, lips, eyes, palettes, brushes
  • My pick: All in One Mascara – this is my new holy grail mascara! I rave about it enough in my PHB review, but suffice it to say that you really need this in your makeup bag
  • Price: ££

One of the UK’s original ethical beauty pioneers, PHB Ethical Beauty is a family-run business based in Brighton that has been making natural, sustainable, and award-winning products since 2012 (yep, way before sustainability became trendy!). They are also 100% vegan and palm oil-free. All of their ingredients are natural and most are certified organic (see each product for a transparent breakdown), so you can say goodbye to questionable, toxic ingredients. Plus, an incredible 20% of their profits are donated to charitable causes. Find out more in my PHB Ethical Beauty review.

Packaging: Not only is PHB’s packaging completely gorgeous, but it’s also thoughtfully designed to be sustainable and minimise unnecessary waste. In 2021, they introduced a large selection of zero-waste and reduced-plastic makeup products. They also avoid sending excess leaflets and keep packaging to a minimum when shipping orders.

3. Facetheory

  • Product range: Face, lips, makeup brushes
  • My pick: Velvet Finish Foundation with SPF 15 – you’ve got to try this lightweight, silky foundation for the perfect soft-focus glow – I love the slightly dewy and barely-there finish
  • Price: ££

Facetheory appeared on the beauty scene in 2015 with a vision to create performance-driven products that were also kind, vegan and affordable. They are B-Corp certified, PETA and Leaping Bunny approved, free of chemical nasties like parabens and silicons, made in the UK and RSPO certified. Facetheory has now excitingly launched a range of makeup, with some lovely animal-friendly options for flawless skin. Oh, and if you choose the wrong shade, Facetheory will kindly send you a free replacement that’s one shade lighter or darker!

Packaging: Facetheory are in the process of completely phasing out single-use plastic, with 95% of their product range now available in amber glass jars with aluminium caps or 100% recyclable aluminium tubes. Plus, all packaging used to ship your order from their Sheffield HQ is minimal and biodegradable.

4. The Body Shop

  • Product range: Face, lips, eyes, brushes
  • My pick: Fresh Nude Foundation – comes in a diverse range of 40 shades for every skin tone, as well as being encased in eco-friendly glass packaging
  • Price: ££

The Body Shop originated in Brighton in 1976. Its approach to beauty has always been radical and rooted in activism, with feminist and human rights at the forefront of its ethos. Ethically sourced and natural ingredients equal products that are made to make women feel good in their own skin. From the very beginning, profits have never overtaken principles. They are cruelty-free, work with farmers and suppliers directly, and have helped communities to thrive through their Community Fair Trade programme. Just remember to filter by ‘Vegan Makeup’.

Packaging: The Body Shop aims to minimise virgin plastic production with the mantra ‘Refill, Reuse, Repeat’. They have refillable lipsticks and have removed the plastic pump from their foundation bottles to make them completely recyclable (they come with a nifty spatula, instead!). By 2030, they pledge to reach full circularity with 100% of packaging being reusable, recyclable, or compostable, and 50% of all plastic being from recycled sources.

5. Zao

  • Product range: Face, eyes, lips, palettes, brushes
  • My pick: Cooked Powder Bright Complexion – I’m a sucker for anything that adds luminosity, so this is a great product for a subtle glow (whilst also keeping your makeup in place all day!)
  • Price: ££

The founders of Zao were particularly inspired by travels in Asia and observations in nature. The name itself comes is inspired by Eastern philosophy by amalgamating the words ‘Zen’ and ‘Tao’. An invitation to meditation, peace of mind, and the search for harmony and authenticity. If slow fashion is a thing, then Zao embodies the concept of ‘slow cosmetics’. With all-natural origin ingredients from organic farming practices (plus EcoCert organic certification), you can rest assured that Zao is free from petrochemical derivatives or synthetic preservatives. They are also 100% vegan.

Packaging: Firstly, can we all just stop to appreciate that Zao’s packaging is not only refillable – it’s gorgeous. You’ll honestly want to keep hold of it for a lifetime! The decision to use eco-design bamboo packaging is what really gives Zao their unique point of difference. They have also worked hard to make the vast majority of their products refillable.

6. RMS Beauty

  • Product range: Face, eyes, lips, sets, brushes
  • My pick: Lip2Cheek – I’m all about multitasking products, so this is definitely one for your everyday makeup routine (I like the shade Lost Angel)
  • Price: £££

With celebrity endorsements from the likes of Emma Watson, this is a brand that people only have good things to say about! Launched in 2009, RMS is on a mission to clean up the beauty industry and set a higher standard. Their products are formulated using only raw, food-grade, organic, wildcrafted, and natural materials (i.e. free from parabens, gluten, GMOs, sulfates, phthalates, talc, and other nasties). They also transparently disclose every hand-picked ingredient they use, including fragrances – which are never synthetic. RMS are cruelty-free, but some of their products aren’t strictly vegan.

Packaging: Primers are the first refillable product from RMS, and they plan to add more refillable products to their makeup selection. Their preferred packaging material is glass, which can be endlessly repurposed. All new launches from 2022 prioritise new sustainable packaging initiatives – using alternatives to plastic or at least 50% PCR plastic.

7. bareMinerals

This is minimal mineral makeup at its finest. I love the ethos of bareMinerals, which is all about enhancing the appearance of your skin rather than caking it in a mask of makeup. Whilst a lot of products will clog your pores and actually make skin issues worse (think acne, rosacea, psoriasis and eczema), these mineral products are clean, pure, and naturally protective. So pure, in fact, that bareMinerals claim you could sleep in them (not advisable with white pillows, mind you!). Their Original Loose Mineral Foundation is made up of just 5 natural mineral ingredients, so if you find that your skin gets irritated by traditional formulas, I’d recommend giving it a try!

Packaging: bareMinerals have reduced their use of virgin plastic and raw materials in their packaging, with new bottles and jars made with PCR materials. In 2021, they also took steps to minimise the amount of shipping materials used per product, with the introduction of smaller boxes and more thoughtful packaging. They aim to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions related to shipping by 2026.

8. Kjaer Weis

  • Product range: Face, eyes, lips, kits, brushes
  • My pick: Cream Blush – add to this stunning reusable metal compact; the shade Reverence is a beautiful rosy hue if you have cool undertones
  • Price: £££

Spearheading the luxury organic makeup movement, makeup artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis was tired of having to sacrifice the health of her skin by using synthetic, irritating products. She also found that ‘natural’ products didn’t live up to the standard of professional makeup. Kjaer Weis grew out of this gap in the market. Now, admittedly, this is a brand which is at the pricier end of the makeup spectrum. However, a minimal makeup routine means that you can spend on fewer, higher-quality products. So, why not treat yourself?

Packaging: If you’re looking for plastic-free makeup, Kjaer Weis offers stunning refillable metal compacts. Impressively, even their mascaras are refillable. Whilst the initial outlay may be costly, bear in mind that the refill prices are less expensive in the long run.

9. Inika Organic

  • Product range: Face, eyes, lips, sets, brushes
  • My pick: Sheer Coverage Concealer – a bestseller for a reason, this lovely lightweight concealer helps to camouflage blemishes, dark circles, redness and pigmentation (without the typical creasing or caking!)
  • Price: £££

Australian-owned but easily available to purchase in the UK (yay!), Inika Organic prides itself on consciously creating organic and natural products that are completely free from nasty chemicals and synthetic fragrances. They have won many awards for excellence and innovation in the beauty industry, including the Organic Beauty Awards’ Best Skincare Brand 2020. Plus, they are even used on global fashion runways – proof that vegan, toxin-free products can perform at the highest level, without ever compromising on quality or performance.

Packaging: Leading the way in sustainable beauty, Inika Organic claim to be the first certified plastic-neutral global makeup brand. 90% of their packaging is made from sustainable and reusable materials, and they have minimised their virgin plastic use by 84% (from 8.1 to 1.3 tonnes). They also work with charities to collect and repurpose plastic into fence posts, which helps to rebuild communities affected by flood, fire, and drought.

10. Love the Planet

  • Product range: Face, eyes, brushes, reusable cleaning pads
  • My pick: Vegan Mineral Blusher Refillable Tin – I just adore this highly pigmented mineral blush, it’s really pretty and a little goes a long way; it’s also super versatile with a sweep over the eyes or lips
  • Price: £

With humble beginnings in founder Laura Nicholson’s kitchen, Scottish-born Love the Planet has grown into an award-winning mineral makeup brand with a cult following. The planet-friendly collection is made in the UK and includes a range of beautiful zero-waste makeup products that are free from parabens, palm oil, and never tested on animals (all products are 100% vegan and cruelty-free). The whole range is also really affordable, but if you’re unsure of your shade, samples are available for a small fee.

Packaging: Committed to building a more sustainable future by reducing waste that goes into landfill, Love the Planet have put plenty of TLC into their packaging efforts. They use refillable tins, as well as offering zero-waste compostable refill pouches for all of their products, which can be easily decanted into an existing container.

What Is an Ethical Makeup Brand?

When you start to delve further into what exactly constitutes an ethical makeup brand, it can feel like opening up a can of worms. If you started with the simple (and important) criteria that your makeup be made from minimal, naturally derived ingredients that are kind to your skin, then you may also find that you begin to care about whether these products are certified vegan and cruelty-free, too.

Fortunately, you’ll tend to find that where a company cares about one of the below criteria, they have an ethical view that considers all aspects of intentional beauty.

Here’s a quick summary of what I looked out for when selecting my favourite ethical makeup brands.

Clean, natural & organic ingredients

One thing should go without saying: women should never have to choose between their health and beauty products. It may be tempting to reassure yourself that trace amounts of toxic ingredients are safe (as regularly touted by the beauty industry), but what about the daily build-up of product when used over weeks, months, years, even decades?

Whilst the UK has stricter regulations in place when it comes to prohibited ingredients in cosmetics, there are still plenty of nasties to watch out for. For example, proven carcinogenic PFAs are still being sold in products in the UK by major cosmetics companies.

Ingredients to keep on your watch list

  • BHA and BHT – Preservatives that are linked to cancer and birth defects.
  • Formaldehyde and mineral oils – Popular in eyeshadows, these substances are derived from crude oil.
  • Heavy metals like lead, arsenic, and titanium dioxide – Watch out for ‘carbon black’ in eyeliner and mascara, or lead in lipstick. Repeated exposure to heavy metals can cause cancer and reproductive harm.
  • Phthalates – These product stabilisers are endocrine disruptors. In other words, they disturb your hormone balance. Studies suggest they may decrease fertility in men and lead to birth defects.
  • Parabens – More nasties that can mess with your hormones.
  • Petrolatum (liquid paraffin or petroleum) – Used in moisturising products, petrolatum has been widely linked to cancer.
  • PEG compounds – Found in many cream products like foundation, these compounds can be contaminated with ethylene oxide, a chemical compound that leads to cancer and nervous system damage.
  • Parfum (fragrance) – A term used to hide a whole concoction of harmful ingredients. Side effects can range from allergies to respiratory problems. And, concerningly, even reproductive issues.
  • Talc – Can be contaminated with asbestos.
  • Triclosan – A compound that reduces bacterial contamination, but can disrupt the hormonal system and may lead to the formation of antimicrobial resistance.

Opt for transparent brands that publish their full ingredients list. They should use clean, natural ingredients, preferably certified organic where possible. To help decipher what you’re actually putting on your face from the marketing jargon, I’d recommend the Skin Deep ingredients checker or the Think Dirty app.

Cruelty-free & vegan ethics

Cruelty-free and vegan makeup, confusingly, aren’t one and the same. So, if you want to minimise the suffering inflicted on animals in your quest for intentional beauty products, then this is definitely one to watch out for.

A cruelty-free makeup brand is one that doesn’t test on animals, whereas vegan products don’t contain any animal-derived ingredients – an often overlooked yet crucial distinction.

For vegan-friendly makeup, make sure your chosen brand gets the seal of approval from an organisation like The Vegan Society. For cruelty-free certification, Leaping Bunny and PETA are the most widely accepted standards to look for.

Sustainable Sourcing

The importance of ethically sourced makeup ingredients

As with many products you mindlessly consume (just look at fast fashion, for instance), it’s easy to purchase a perfectly packaged product with zero thought given as to how it came into existence. When the manufacture of many household items is carried out halfway across the world, ethical considerations conveniently remain out of sight, out of mind.

However, if you care about the health of the planet, as well as living and working conditions in poorer parts of the world, then educating yourself about ethical sourcing is a must.

There are some ingredients in makeup like palm oil and mica that, whilst naturally occurring, have destructive effects when sourced irresponsibly.

As the name suggests, palm oil is derived from palm trees. It also requires less land than many other oils (for example, coconut or sunflower). However, the rampant demand for palm oil is a leading cause of rainforest deforestation, destroying the natural habitats of people and animals.

Mica, on the other hand, is a mineral that has been used for millennia. It is particularly prized for its shimmery effect (think highlighters, eye shadows, etc). Much of the makeup industry’s mica is mined in the so-called ‘mica belt’ in India. And this is where the not-so-glamorous side of the beauty industry rears its ugly head. Child labour and dangerous working conditions are rife in the mica mining industry. There are also plenty of long-term chronic health conditions associated with repeated exposure through inhalation.

Rather than boycotting palm or mica entirely, review the sourcing transparency of your chosen brands, or contact them directly for further clarification.

Thoughtful Packaging

In 2018 alone, the global cosmetics industry produced a whopping 120 billion units of packaging, much of which was plastic and destined for landfill.

Where possible, look for plastic-free packaging and zero-waste makeup brands. Or, at the very least, companies that are committed to using recycled and recyclable plastic, as well as finding alternative solutions. For example, metal tins, glass bottles, or compostable packaging. Some brands are also cutting their plastic pollution by creating innovative refillable products.

Whilst some of the brands above may not be perfect, they are all actively engaged in trying to tackle the big hairy packaging monster. A worthy cause that I’m sure we can all get behind.

Let your inner beauty shine through with intentional cosmetics choices

Let Your Inner Beauty Shine Through With Conscious Makeup Choices

By supporting any of the great brands in this list, you’re advocating for a more beautiful world – both inside and out. This is not only beneficial for your own personal health but also has positive ripple effects on the planet, people, and animals. Where you shop is important, as Anna Lappe reminds us:

Every time you spend money you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want.

For a non-toxic base of natural and organic skincare, then check out my post here. And to read more on where to shop intentionally for your clothes, accessories and cosmetics, don’t forget to check out my posts on ethical fashion, vegan handbagssustainable jewellery and conscious haircare.

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