The Best Sustainable Beauty Brands of 2020
Megan d’Ardenne rounds up her favourite sustainable beauty brands of 2020
In addition to clogging up our waterways to endangering marine animals globally, the cosmetics and beauty industry produces over 120 billion units of waste each year, which has a devastating impact on our planet.
With more and more people becoming aware of the growing climate crisis, there is no surprise that in recent years we have seen a growing trend towards people opting for eco-friendly alternatives and ditching the plastic to make their beauty routines zero-waste.
In the UK, sales of certified organic and natural beauty products has risen by 23 per cent this year alone. According to the Soil Association, 79 per cent of people are more likely to buy a product if it says ‘organic’, and 64 per cent of consumers said they were looking for products with recyclable packaging.
Whether you’re new to sustainable beauty brands or unsure where to start looking for zero-waste products, this article highlights a selection of zero-waste beauty and makeup brands which are at the forefront of the green beauty movement.
They are using innovative methods to create high quality natural skincare, body care and cosmetic products which don’t cost the earth. As well as being environmentally conscious, all of these brands are cruelty-free and vegan (except The Body Shop, which still sells a few non-vegan products, but they are well labelled).
Ethics | repurposed ingredients, sustainable
Product range | skincare, bodycare
UpCircle Beauty grew out of a literal ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ moment. When they contemplated the staggering amount of coffee grounds that must be wasted from cafés each day, they decided to do something about it.
The coffee grounds used in UpCircle’s products originally were sourced from one café, but currently the brand rescues and repurposes 350kg of fresh coffee grounds each day from over 100 partners across London and turns them into handmade face and body scrubs and serums the next day.
The Cacao and Coffee Exfoliating Body Scrub is made with top-quality Arabica coffee grounds which not only buffs away dead skin cells, but stimulates blood flow and minimises the appearance of cellulite. The product is also blended with unrefined raw shea butter to ensure skin is left feeling soft, smooth and refreshed.
The packaging across all of UpCircle’s products are 99 per cent plastic-free and for the 1 per cent they offer plastic-free refill options.
When re-ordering your favourite scrub, customers can simply save the cap from their first tube and select “repeat order – no cap” from the drop-down menu when they make a repeat purchase.
Ethics | organic, refillable
Product range | makeup
Zao prides itself on creating quality makeup products with ethic and passion, based on the principles of sustainable development.
Their refillable makeup products are primarily made out of bamboo; an ecological raw material that has a phenomenal growth rate without the need of any fertilisers or pesticides.
The bamboo used in their packaging grows in endemic forests in protected areas, and only needs four to five years to regenerate against a minimum of 30 years for a tree.
Without petrochemical derivatives or synthetic preservatives, Zao products are made with 100 per cent of the ingredients of natural origin, obtained by a non-polluting and simple transformation of a plant or a mineral such as plant extracts, vegetable oils and butters, mineral pigments.
Zao’s Lip’inks are 100 per cent natural, vegan and Cosmos* organic certified by Ecocert. They are made using organic carnauba wax that protects the skin and guarantees a long makeup lasting and enriched with organic castor oil known for moisturising properties.
The Lip’inks are available in four shades which allows customers to easily alternate the refillable colour tube in the bamboo packaging depending on the occasion.
* COSMOS is the European harmonised standard for natural and organic cosmetics.
Ethics | natural, sustainable, refillable
Product range | skincare, bath and body, haircare
In the UK over 95 per cent of beauty packaging is thrown away after just one use. In order to combat this, Beauty Kitchen have pioneered a ‘Return, Refill Repeat’ system where they wash and reuse returned bottles in their next batch of products.
Customers can drop off any “empties” that have the Return • Refill • Repeat logo at any Holland & Barrett store in the UK, Ireland Netherlands or Belgium or can download a freepost label to return empties directly to the factory.
In addition, all of Beauty Kitchen’s products have been certified with Plastic Soup Foundation’s ‘Zero Plastics Inside’ badge, which means that there are absolutely no microplastics in any of their products.
In addition, Beauty Kitchen partner with the Plastic Soup Foundation to fight for clean oceans. The Plastic Soup Foundation has lead the way on banning micro plastics from cosmetics, and to support their work, Beauty Kitchen donate one per cent of all their sales to the charity.
Beauty Kitchen’s Botanic Bliss Body Wash is herbal and aromatic, and packed full of organic coconut and sunflower oil to leave skin feeling clean and refreshed.
As with all the products in the range, this body wash natural and organic body wash is product is Leaping Bunny certified. To ensure they are sustainable as possible, Beauty Kitchen have stopped selling products with plastic pumps.
Customers can still buy a pump for life if they wish, but all Beauty Kitchen’s products have been designed to work perfectly well without.
Skin and Tonic
Ethics | natural, organic
Products | skincare
Skin and Tonic like to do things simply, honestly and ethically. All the ingredients they use are certified organic by The Soil Association and are primarily sourced from British and French farms and suppliers.
When they do need to look further afield, they source from Fairtrade women’s cooperatives in Sri Lanka and Ghana.
The women in this co-operative earn a fair income by collecting, processing and selling shea nuts, shea butter or coconuts. The income generated helps them provide an income for their families and send their children to school.
The brand also uses 100 per cent recyclable glass containers and will soon be providing refills to save on packaging.
Skin and Tonic’s Rose Mist toner is distilled using organic rose petals and is enriched with powdered aloe vera, a powerful adaptogen that contains natural salicylic acid which helps prevent and treat blemishes.
The Body Shop
Ethics | cruelty-free, sustainably sourced ingredients
Products | skincare, bath and body, makeup, haircare
In addition to leading the way in sustainably sourced Fairtrade ingredients, The Body Shop was the first global cosmetics company to campaign to end animal testing in 1989, almost a decade before it were banned in the UK in 1998. Sadly, they are not yet fully-vegan, merely vegetarian – but they are working towards becoming 100 per cent vegan-friendly, with the majority of their products suitable for vegans.
In 2018, the brand worked with Cruelty Free International in their Forever Against Animal Testing campaign which fought to wipe out animal testing across the globe. Their petition reached 8 million signatures which allowed them to go to the United Nations in October 2018 to call for global action.
The Body Shop is now on a mission to become ‘the world’s most ethical and truly sustainable global business’. In 2019, they became a certified B Corp, meaning that they meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.
The Body Shop is officially the biggest B Corp ever to be founded by a woman – pioneer Dame Anita Roddick.
In 2019, the brand partnered with Plastics for Change and launched Community Trade recycled plastic. This trade helps empower the waste pickers with access to more sanitary working conditions, a fair price and the respect and recognition they deserve.
After the plastic is collected and sorted in waste segregation centres, it is cleaned, compressed into bales and transported to Europe where it is converted, rigorously cleaned and sterilised.
The resultant resin is tested to food grade standards and is then converted into granules and recycled back into the brand’s bottles. Currently, the plastic is used on the 250ml Shampoo and Conditioner bottles.