“Sustainable” is the beauty industry’s favorite new buzzword — but it can be tricky to figure out what companies
really mean when they use the term. Or to put it another way: there’s a lot of BS out there. Brands tout themselves as environmentally conscious, green, and eco without any data to back these claims up. Even as a beauty editor, I had no real clue how deep the “good-for-the-planet” rabbit hole went in terms of jargon and misinformation.
To help me wade through it, I spoke with licensed esthetician, brand founder, and skin care truth-teller
Charlotte Palermino, who’s done her fair share of research in the sustainable beauty department (she’s the co-founder of Dieux, the skin care brand that blew up on TikTok for its reusable Forever Eye Mask). Two hours later — we’re thorough, what can I say? — and I had a better grasp on what exactly makes a product “eco” and “sustainable.”
While I’ll spare you the 120 minutes worth of knowledge I now possess, I
will hit you with the honest takeaway: “The truth is, nobody has it figured out completely,” Palermino says, “but there are brands who are doing their due diligence and helping to do the work on minimizing their carbon footprint and overall waste, and who pivot when research shows there’s a better option because science does change.”
So, after a lot of vetting, here are a few of my favorite products and companies that I think are doing amazing things in the beauty and home product space — a.k.a producing top tier products while simultaneously helping to minimize our impact on the planet.
At Romper we only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. An Eye Mask With The Earth In Mind
Since I spoke to Palermino in depth about her brand’s efforts, I’ll start with her company, Dieux: Their viral
Forever Eye Masks, $25, are reusable, meaning they’re made of a non-porous silicone so you’re not tossing sheet mask after sheet mask into the trash. To use them, simply apply your favorite eye cream or serum, let the formula get a little tacky, and apply in the usual manner — they work to hug the formula close to your skin for maximum penetration. After doing a life cycle analysis of packaging options available, Palermino and her two co-founders will be transferring the packaging of the brand’s other products to 100% recycled aluminum by 2023. “For me, it’s like, how do I offer you a great eye mask from Dieux with a fun decal on it that you want to take a selfie wearing, but simultaneously make sure, on our company’s end, that we’re doing our part to protect the planet and be transparent in the process when it comes to cost and sourcing?” adds Palermino. “That really should be every brand’s thinking and responsibility.” An SPF That’s Kind To Our Oceans
One of my favorite SPFs —
Kinship Self-Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen Zinc Oxide SPF 32 — is also doing its part when it comes to the planet. Both the tube and cap are both made from post-consumer recycled plastic. Did you know that only 9% of plastic actually gets recycled? So props to companies like Kinship that aren’t using virgin plastic — meaning new plastic that hasn’t had a second life — and, instead, turn to plastic that has been melted down to resin and reused to make another product’s packaging. In addition, all of Kinship’s minimal outer packaging and shipping materials are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (which ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits), and the brand has removed over seven tons of plastic waste from our oceans. For which I say thank you. A Facial Scrub That Helps Rebuild The Earth’s Greatest Carbon Sinks Alpyn Beauty Wild Huckleberry 8-Acid Polishing Peel Mask — the ultimate face scrub, IMO — uses brightening vitamin C, an AHA and BHA blend that thoroughly exfoliates, and bamboo powder to gently slough off any dead skin cells. But this product helps do more than make your skin insanely smooth. The brand wildcrafts its formula, meaning it sources its actives and ingredients from their natural environment in Jackson Hole. “The ecosystem and the health of plants is so important to us,” Alpyn Beauty founder Kendra Kolb Butler told me. She explains how when Europeans first came to Jackson Hole in the early 1900s, they settled in what’s now the National Park and started to rip up the sage, scrubs, and flowers in order to plant smooth broom grass, (an invasive species), to feed their cattle. As much as 5,000 acres of the park was torn up. “So, a park that was once considered a carbon sink — anything that absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases —was diminished and all of its indigenous animals had to leave for lack of food and shelter,” she says. And thus Kolb Butler’s mission was born: to restore the forest, bring back the animals that left when their food source disappeared, and plant back brush and trees that make for a better ecosystem. So far, the brand has partnered with the Grand Teton National Park Organization, giving 1% of profits to the park’s reforestation. “To date, we have restored 1,000 acres, so they can start to replot and put the native species back in there,” Kolb Butler proudly told me, “and once we do the 5,000 acres in this park, we’re going to move to the next closest park to help restore the damage there.” A Biodegradable Soap That Won’t Clutter Your Shower Shelf or The Earth’s Waterways
Another genius product:
PLUS Body Wash, which cleanses your body with biodegradable ingredients that are kind to both your skin and Mother Earth. The brand’s insanely innovative plastic-free packaging houses soap sheets — perfect for travel — that suds up in the shower and then wash down the drain with any skin sins you’ve committed (along with its outer packaging!). In addition, the brand recently launched an at-home dispenser, (it gives me old school Bubble Tape gum packaging vibes, but super-sized), which allows you to pull off as much sheet soap as you need, brought to you in 50% recycled PCR plastic.
According to BlueBird Climate, if one in three households switched to PLUS instead of a typical bottle of plastic-housed body wash, there would be an annual savings of 104,035 tons of plastic waste, which is equivalent to 1.6 million garbage bags full of plastic.
Press-On Nails That Put The Planet First
L.A.-based nail brand Olive & June is also doing their part: The nails in their Instant Mani press-on set are made out of 94% post-consumer recycled material. And you’ve got options — they also come in 44 shades and designs, four shapes, and four lengths. Plus, each package includes 21 sizes (for the best nail fit possible), with 42 total nails included — all of which can be reused after removing with warm water.
A Decadent Shea Butter Company That Cares For Its Workers
Sustainability doesn’t just pertain to packaging; fair wages and responsible sourcing factor in, too. Palermino raves about
Hanahana Beauty, a company founded by Abena Boamah-Acheampong, who runs her business with sustainable agricultural practices in Africa. Abena also ensures workers in Ghana are getting paid properly, hosts biannual healthcare check days for the Katariga community in Ghana, and holds bimonthly community health education classes, on top of offering other crucial benefits that are transparently listed on the brand’s site. Makeup Remover Pads That Hope to Erase Single-Use Wipes
I also love these Face Halo Original Makeup Remover Pads, which come in multiple colors. One pad replaces up to 500 single-use makeup wipes and one can be washed up to 200 times. To date, the brand has already prevented over one billion wipes from entering landfills and waterways.
A Plastic-Free (& Refillable) Luxury French Beauty Company La Bouche Rouge launched in 2017 and became the first environmentally-responsible French makeup brand to come out with clean formulas. They follow the rigorous European Union standards, which prohibit 1,300 ingredients, and are housed in refillable, plastic-free packaging. The chic, streamlined brand opts for vegan leather derived from mycelium and metal to create the packaging for its signature lipstick, and formulates without beeswax, animal fat, or microplastics (83% of the earth’s water is polluted with microplastic, by the way!). La Bouche Rouge also set out to change the way people buy makeup by introducing refillable packaging. The mascara is the first of its kind in the world, with a tube made up entirely of glass, a cap made out of plant-based bio-materials, and a brush made of castor plant fibers.
Plus, as often as physically possible, the brand’s ingredients are sourced locally to minimize their carbon footprint. The charitable cherry on top: For each lipstick sold, the company donates the equivalent of 100 liters of drinkable water to the Eau Vive Internationale association, supporting a program dedicated to children in the Kermerida region in Togo.
An Australian, Plant-Based Biodegradable Soap Brand
I was recently introduced to
Koala Eco, a biodegradable, plant-based line of cleansers, hand soaps, dish soap, and floor cleaner that uses no new plastic when creating their bottles. Everything is made out of 100% post-consumer recycled bottles and they have the chicest labels and use locally sourced essential oils that will leave your kitchen smelling insanely fresh — all while donating back 1% of profits to environmental groups. A Fun Home Cleaning Company That’s Taking Plastic Out Of The Equation Blueland, another brand Palermino put me onto, “is almost like a science experiment,” she explains. Instead of buying a new Windex bottle, for example, every single time you run out, you only have to buy the brand’s refillable BPA-free Tritan and glass bottle once. When you’ve run out of product, just fill it to the top with tap water, and drop in Blueland’s glass cleaner tablet for a brand-new product. The brand also makes a shaker powder soap to wash your dishes, and laundry detergent and toilet cleaner refills in tablet-form. According their site, Blueland has helped to eliminate over 1 billion single-use plastic bottles from landfill and oceans since 2019.