While we, as a society, are finally coming to the realization that if we don’t swiftly address some of the major contributors to climate change the fate of our planet is macabre at best, we are looking to all corners of the earth and all industries to do their part. There are, of course, the front-line culprits like fossil fuels and other industrial processes, but the beauty industry has made its fair share of contribution to global warming by way of excess plastics, non-recyclable packaging, animal testing, and ingredients that put ecosystems at danger (we’re looking at you, palm oil).
Pictured: Palm Oil field next to Amazon Rainforest.
Image credit Amazon Frontlines.
A quick note about palm oil: Every year, thousands of hectares of rainforests are being deforested to produce oil palm farms, displacing endemic species and ruining rich biodiverse habitats in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, while the palm oil produced is mainly used for consumption in North America and Europe. One main, sustainable substitute for palm oil in beauty products is argan oil which is extracted from argan trees without the need to cut down the tree. A single argan tree may live as long as 600 years and will produce oil for the entirety of its life, reducing the need to displace any native species.
For decades, brands simply didn’t offer options other than those with plastic packaging and harmful ingredients. If you needed facial moisturizer or waterproof mascara, you didn’t have much choice in the way of considering a brand’s ecological shortcomings. Thankfully, in recent years there have been dozens of low-waste, fully sustainable beauty and skincare lines who have filled that gap, forcing other big-name companies to start their own initiatives to save the planet. We’re seeing vegan products from Tata Harper (Superkind Fortifying Moisturizer), Dior excluding any palm oil or palm oil derivatives from their products, and La Mer donating millions of dollars of its revenue to ocean conservation through their Blue Hearts fund.
But there are beauty and skincare brands, many of which are founded and owned by women, who have built their foundation on leaving as minuscule of a carbon footprint as humanly possible by only using sustainable ingredients and producing zero to low-waste.
Image: Ethical Elephant
Bloomtown is a UK-based skincare company that was started after founders Preya and Med spent two years living in Indonesia and witnessed first-hand the devastation caused by palm oil cultivation. When they realized how difficult it was to find body and skincare products that were free from harmful and destructive ingredients, they decided they would have to create their own. Bloomtown is the UK’s first independently certified palm oil-free company that carries an array of vegan and cruelty-free products without the use of sulfates, parabens, petrochemicals, or synthetic colors. Their salt soaks, clay masks, natural deodorants, and organic body washes are all packaged in glass bottles and jars, using paper tape with entirely biodegradable starch fillers to reduce any and all plastic waste.
2. DEW MIGHTY
Image: I Love Eco
The women behind DEW took issue with big brands constantly forcing consumers to choose between Team Science versus Team Nature, so they decided to take matters into their own hands by marrying the two, thus creating something that didn’t exist before: DEW MIGHTY. That creation strives to leave the lowest carbon footprint possible by using undiluted, pure products that are effective for all skin types. Their products include serum bars and cleaning powders as well as a variety of reusable and recyclable containers to ensure that none of the products they sell ever end up in a landfill. No greenwashing here (brands’ tendency to market products in green packaging to portray a false sense of environmentalism), Dew lives by the ‘four R’s’- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Refuse to accept anything less than the best for yourself and the environment.
3. Blue Heron Botanicals
Blue Heron Botanicals is a fully plastic-free, woman-owned company from California specializing in lip balms and organic lip therapy. Not only is their facility run entirely by off-the-grid power systems, but Blue Heron also uses only natural preservatives to ensure their products are fresh, safe, and good for your skin. In addition to being completely plastic free, Blue Heron uses 100% compostable packaging, so their products are as gentle on the environment as they are on your skin.
If you still aren’t convinced, a portion from every product sold is donated to conservation efforts to save baby sea turtle hatchlings. So, you won’t only be saving yourself from dry, chapped lips but you’ll also be giving arguably the cutest animal on the planet a fighting chance in life.
While the founder, Hanna, was living the corporate life, she was disturbed by the endless trash piling up day after day in her office building and decided to take matters into her own hands. Acala was created to make being a conscious consumer simple and accessible to everyone - even the time-starved among us. Acala offers an insanely expansive range of natural, organic, and vegan health and beauty products that are sourced from leading brands, all in one easy location. Everything from baby soap to makeup-removing wipes are responsibly packaged with zero waste and zero plastic. In an effort to become a carbon positive company (one who removes at least as much CO2 from the environment as they contribute), Acala is committed to planting no fewer than 80 trees every month as part of their partnership with Offset Earth.
Blendily is a women-owned, zero waste company from Portland that produces handmade botanical products for head-to-toe self-care. Nearly all of their products are grown or gathered locally in their own garden or from the surrounding Pacific Northwest forests, while anything they are unable to grow locally is purchased from organic-certified operations to ensure it abides by their personal standards. Blendily is totally transparent regarding all ingredients in their products and even includes a very helpful “botanical library” for any ingredient you’re unfamiliar with or would like to learn more about. What started out as a garden pop-up has quickly transformed into a full spectrum beauty store with everything from cucumber toner to terracotta foot scrubbers, and even beard oils with eco-friendly wooden combs.
6. Plaine Products
Image: Plaine Products
Plaine Products is the brainchild of sister pair Lindsay and Allison Delaplaine who took issue with the fact that every year humans produce 300 million tons of plastic with only 22% of that plastic being reclaimed or recycled. Lindsay saw the effect of that overproduction in our oceans, on our beaches, and scattered haphazardly along roadsides, and decided she needed to incite change. Plaine Products offers shampoos, conditioners, body washes, moisturizers, and toners that come in reusable aluminum bottles, eliminating all single-use plastics from their production. When you’re running low on a product, Plaine will send you a new bottle, and when you finish, you simply send it back to be refilled and reused in a truly green self-care subscription service. All ingredients are safe and non-toxic in accordance with the Environment Working Group’s database and tested on the sisters themselves for quality assurance.