There are hundreds and thousands of different cosmetic products in endless shades, textures and consistencies. But what do they all have in common? They are all swamped in plastic and likely damage the natural environment in some way, shape or form. 

From the very first time our parents let us wear mascara, our love affair with beauty products has been second to none. While it's something we all take for granted, what we have packed away in our makeup bags and bathroom cabinets is actually contributing to a global waste problem that the beauty industry has a very large stake of. However, the need for sustainability is dominating every sector with beauty following suit. Consumers are starting to become more conscious of what they buy and brands are catching on. Cult names are switching strategies and new companies are popping up left, right and centre.

What impact does the beauty industry have on the environment? 

Humans have created over 8.3 billion tons of plastics since the material first became mainstream in the 1950s. A staggering 91% of this hasn't been recycled and now remain in landfill or the natural environment where it takes over 400 years to decompose.  Approximately 8 million pieces of plastic find their way into the world's oceans each day and by 2050 there will be more pounds of plastic in the ocean than fish. 

According to a report by Zero Waste Europe,  12o billion units of packaging are produced by the global cosmetics industry every year

The beauty industry is reportedly worth £400 billion and is predicted to grow another £280 billion in the next four years. With it being such a crowded market, it's becoming harder and harder for new and existing brands to stand out.  As a response to this, brands often turn to the use of unnecessary materials like paper, plastic and glitter in a bid to drive sales. The industry is also known to produce plastics in a rainbow of different shades, particularly popular with hair care products, even though they can never be recycled due to the colour. 

For most of us, It would be near impossible to give up our holy grail products for which we rely on to look and feel good. Don't worry, you don't need to give up altogether, you just need to shop more mindfully. 

What is eco-beauty?

These are products that are developed in a conscious way that have very minimal impact on the environment. Eco-beauty can also go by the name green beauty, sustainable beauty or the more broad term 'clean' beauty. The term eco-beauty covers everything from what's in the product to how it's made, packaged, distributed and disposed of.  

Eco-beauty products are kind to you and kind to the earth. They aren't coated or packaged in non-recyclable plastics, tested on animals and do not contain toxic ingredients. When purchasing beauty products, be sure to ask yourselves these questions to help you determine whether or not you are buying green:

  • Is the packaging biodegradable? 
  • Are these products cruelty-free? 
  • Does this contain harmful ingredients such as micro-plastics? 
  • Does the company support the earth's wellbeing and give back to the community? 

Eco-beauty top picks: 


Encased in a distinctive triangular box, Axiology lipsticks palm oil-free and made using 10 natural ingredients. The brand as a whole prides itself on being clean, vegan and cruelty-free. The female-owned factory in Bali, where there is a huge beach plastic problem, transforms local waste into packaging. Even the gold lipstick tube is made from recycled aluminum!

Try the Lipstick in shade Philosophy, £29,  for a high-pigment nude lip


This brand's primary packaging material is bamboo which is sealed in reusable cotton bags instead of plastic or cardboard boxes which are immediately thrown away. Even the nail varnishes are made with bamboo handles! Most Zao products are refillable too, including the concealer, compact powder, foundations, eyeshadows, mascaras and more. 

Try the Refillable Aloe Vera Mascara, 7ml, £20.75, for volumised and nourished lashes


Copenhagen-based company Gosh is carbon neutral and takes 40% of the plastic packaging for it's Dextreme Foundation from plastics from oceans, beaches and rivers. Gosh states that buying one foundation is like removing around 10 plastic bags from the sea. 

Try the Dextreme Foundation, 30ml, £9.99, for a full coverage, satin-like finish


Aveda is the first beauty company to use 100% PCR PET. Since 1999, it has raised over £49 million for environmental causes. Currently, all of its haircare is vegan and by 2021 the rest of its products will be too. In partnership with charity: water,  Aveda also provides access to clean water for people living in India, Nepal, Madagascar and Ethiopia (Which is where they ethically source many of their ingredients). 

Try the bestselling Damage Remedy Intensive Restructuring  Treatment, 150ml, £30,  with quinoa protein to strengthen weakened hair

Bleach London

The company is aiming to be carbon neutral buy 2020 and has already abolished single-use plastics from bleach and colouring kits. The once plastic mixing bowl is now a sustainable coconut shell! Its bottles will be 100% PCR by the end of 2020. 

Try the Silver Shampoo, 500ml, £8, for a toning treatment to eradicate yellow,  brassy tones from
 blonde hair and highlights 


Each of carbon-neutral brand Ethique's products come in solid bar form which saves about 1 litre of water each compared to bottled products. Products are also compostable and plastic and palm oil-free.  The company is set to save a staggering 10 million plastic bottles from manufacture and landfill by the end of 2020. 
Try the Trial Pack for Oily Skin and Hair,  50g, £10.99,  for a  taste of the zero waste life


Bybi stands for Beauty Insiders, as it was founded by blogging sensations Elsie and Domenika. This London-based cult beauty brand houses it's products in either glass or bioplastic tubes derived from sugarcane and shipped in grass paper boxes which saves up to 4,800 tonnes of Co2 emissions. Many of their products are made from byproducts produced by the food industry; the Strawberry Booster is an effective moisturiser made from cold-pressed seeds that are a waste product from a juicing factory.

Try the Strawberry Booster, 15ml, £12 for a hydrating blend of omega-3s and -6s 

Medik 8

Medik 8 is a cosmeceutical brand, hence the name, that focuses on three key skincare steps; "vitamin C plus sunscreen by day, vitamin A by night" (CSA). It uses natural exfoliators like jojoba beads and bamboo instead of polluting micro-beads. They aim to be the world's most sustainable professional-led skincare brand. To achieve this goal, they have incorporated PCR into their bottles, use 40% recycled glass and are 100% vegan. 
Try the Intelligent Retinol Serum,  15ml, £29,  clinically proven to improve skin texture 


Using bottles made from ocean plastic, REN has partnered with organisations like TerraCycle to eliminate the use of unnecessary packaging and wasteful sample sachets. Last year, the brand made a commitment to go zero waste by 2021. 

Try the Glycol Radiance Renewal Mask, 50ml, £36,  an award-winning exfoliating mask that leaves skin looking brighter

Face Halo

The average makeup wearer uses around 730 wipes each year but a single makeup wipe can take over 100 years to breakdown in landfill.  The Face Halo is a reusable alternative to the makeup wipe and can be machine washed up to 200 times! Using only water, a Face Halo effectively removes makeup without the need for any extra product or harmful chemicals. 

Try the Original Face Halo Makeup Remover Pad, £7, for a deep clean and gentle exfoliation

Hydro Phil

German company HydroPhil has saved over 80 tonnes of plastics far which is equivalent to 2.7 million plastic bottles. The UK uses more plastic cotton buds than any other country in Europe with a figure of around 13.2 billion. HydroPhil creates a range of water neutral, vegan and fair products, including bamboo cotton buds, toothbrushes and accessories including wash bags. What's more, 10% of the company's profits fo to Viva con Agua, a charity that helps to improve the drinking water supply in developing countries. 

Try the Organic Cotton Buds, £1.85, for a 100% biodegradable alternative to the bathroom cupboard staple

Spectrum Brushes

One of the most popular and Instagrammable makeup brush brands, Spectrum is an independent company that makes brushes using sustainable wood and cruelty-free synthetic hair. In 2018, the brand also cut it's plastic packaging by 50% and gives away 1% of its gross revenue to plastic clean-up operations.

Try the Beauty Fix 6 Piece Brush Set, £29.99,  for the tools to create a flawless face