Life in the Time of COVID
By: Maria Casey
There are many reasons to use clean makeup. Did you know that conventional color is full of endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, and substances that cause cancer? The EU has already banned 1,300 of them. The US? Only 11.
If those stats didn’t make you want to ditch your favorite lipstick, maybe this one will: 40% of plastic pollution comes from packaging. Now, think about your beauty routine. Are most of the containers plastic? Yep. Because the cosmetics industry produces 120 billion pieces of plastic per year.
It's complicated—most cosmetics packaging needs special treatment. So don’t just throw old makeup in the trash or blue bin. A few brands recycle their containers, and Origins will take any of your empties. Additionally, TerraCycle and Garnier have partnered up to recycle cosmetic packaging. For an in-depth guide, read this great article by Refinery29.
We would never ask you to ditch your makeup—we love it too! But many of the environmental problems we’re facing include our not-so-friendly friend, plastic. If you’re in the market for some new products, why not try an eco-friendly line instead? There are so many lovely brands to choose from these days. To make it even easier, we’ve curated a list of companies that offer the highest quality products in the most eco-friendly packaging. Read on for our top five picks.
Founded by industry veteran Rose Marie Swift, RMS Beauty has it all! Their makeup is formulated with food-grade ingredients that nourish your skin, and it works like skincare. With so many gorgeous colors to choose from, we’re sure you’ll find at least one or two products you can't live without. Their “Un” Cover-up is even available 16 different shades. They just say no to GMO, soy, gluten, and animal cruelty, and stick with organic and wildcrafted materials.
Although some RMS packaging contains plastic, care has been taken to ensure that any plastic used is recyclable. Most items you’ll find on this site are housed in glass and aluminum, two of the most recycled products on the market.
Elate is one of the most sustainable brands we’ve come across. They aim to do everything with kindness and ensure that no person or animal is harmed in the process. A favorite of zero-wasters because each product they make is packaged in bamboo, this line is known for its sustainability. They also sell refills that arrive in seed paper, not plastic. Simply plant them in your garden and get wildflowers and herbs along with your eco-friendly, cruelty-free makeup.
Kjaer Weis is another eco-superstar. Kirsten Kjaer Weis, a Danish makeup artist who’s worked for Elle, Vogue, and Marie Claire, grew up on her family's farm. Disillusioned by some of the ingredients she found in traditional makeup and the allergies they caused for her clients, Kirsten created one of the first organic makeup lines. She designed her formulas to stand up to the most rigorous beauty standards and perform during high-fashion photoshoots. Check out their cream foundation, available in 16 different shades.
Kjaer Weis’s packaging is much more than just recycled—it’s a work of art. She tagged Marc Atlan, of COMME des GARÇONS fame, to create her signature metal compacts and tubes. The compacts are made from recyclable metal and get this: even the mascara is refillable.
Sasha Plavsic founded ILIA Beauty when her mother asked her about the ingredients in her favorite tinted lip balm. Drawing on her mother’s commitment to natural healing, her previous experience as a fashion industry branding expert, and a deep commitment to performance, she set out to create a line that would marry the two worlds. ILIA is cruelty-free, gluten and dairy free, and uses organic ingredients.
ILIA’s packaging is “beautiful and sustainable wherever possible.” Although we see some plastic in their line-up, you can easily choose products packaged in aluminum or glass. They also use recycled paper and vegetable-based dyes to create their boxes.
Talk about being committed to the greater good while making us look good! With a tagline like 100% evil-free, you know what you’re getting with this lipstick—a vegan, clean, natural, and cruelty-free pop of color that will leave your lips soft and plump.
Their crayon containers aren’t recyclable, so we suggest you go for their lipsticks: aluminum packaging plus vibrant fashion-forward colors equals amazing! Not only that, but Axiology never uses palm oil, and donates a portion of every tube you buy to the Orangutan Foundation International. In addition, Axiology works with a female-owned factory in Bali that uses recycled trash and traditional paper-making methods to create Axiology’s signature boxes.
If you went shopping for organic food in the early 2000s, you’ll remember searching far and wide to find it. Nowadays, most supermarket chains have an organics section. The reason? Purely economic—supply and demand. For example: Organic food sales totaled $10 billion in 2003, but in 2018, they topped $50 billion. This is a consumer-driven change. So, when you choose to funnel the $300,000 that you’ll likely spend on makeup into responsible, eco-friendly companies, you’ll be the change the industry needs.
So there you have it, eco-fashionista! What are your favorite eco-friendly makeup lines? Leave a comment below—we’d love to hear from you.