The commercial cosmetic industry is trashy, literally.
Churning out difficult or impossible to recycle containers that hit the landfill by the thousands every.single.day. These ‘beauty products’ are also brimming with harmful chemicals and synthetics.
For something that supposedly enhances our skin’s natural beauty, there’s ironically nothing natural about most skincare products.
We say it’s time to fight bacne against this toxic industry trend.
Thankfully, as with all the zero waste makeup hitting the shelves these days, there’s also a host of zero waste skincare brands to give your skin that supple and sustainable glow you’ve been missing since puberty.
So in the spirit of laying down the skinny on sustainable skincare, we’ve compiled a list of the best zero waste skin care brands we could find. Jump to the end of the article to read more about how we decide which zero waste skincare brands make the cut (as well as some tips for developing a natural skin care routine).
And if you have the time and are looking for a new hobby, you can dabble in your own DIY zero waste skin care too.
Enough superficial stuff. Let’s get beneath the surface and start talking skin care, because if we care enough about the skin underneath, we won’t need to cover it up with as much concealer!
We’ll begin by mentioning some of the best zero waste skin care brands on this list. For sheer selection, EmpireSquid has a huge range (and it’s all sustainable!). Have a look at the new kid on the block – Bathing Culture for organic zero waste skin care and if you want to couple simple zero waste beauty with affordability, Etee has some very reasonably priced organic options too.
About Etee Zero Waste Skin Care
Etee is a fairly new zero waste brand on the eco-block and they stock a select range of zero waste home and personal care essentials.
As for their skincare, they hand make body soaps, lip bombs, lotion bars and our favorite, the facial cleansing bar for removing make-up and toxins while leaving moisture behind.
This bar comes in two varieties: Charcoal & Aloe for all skin types and Rhassoul Clay & Tea Tree for oily skin.
Each bar has a slightly different composition but they’re both made with cold pressed 85% USDA certified organic ingredients like olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, mango seed butter and aloe vera powder.
These zero waste vegan skin care products are also cruelty free, palm oil free and have zero plastic packaging.
As with all Etee’s products, they ship them in a cardboard box with cellulose packing tape.
Etee has its origins in kayaking and beeswax burns. Trust us it’s a novel beginning.
What we love about Etee is that they make (or design the formulation of) every product they sell. From the facial cleansing bar to the loofie scrubbers!
They oversee their entire supply chain. Which means every product you buy from Etee’s will come totally plastic-free.
The only exception are their mask filters due to regulations. But there is another good story here too, because each time you buy a face mask they’ll donate one to those who can’t afford them.
In addition to their donations, they’re also working on putting together a program for marginalized communities. We love it when brands make philanthropy part of their culture.
As for the environment, their factory is powered by renewable energy and since they’ve been in business for just a few years they’ve calculated that about 100 million pieces of single use plastic has been saved from ending up in a landfill (and probably the sea).
2. BATHING CULTURE
*Note: We are reaching out to Bathing Culture to confirm their policies.
About Bathing Culture Sustainable Skin Care
Bathing Culture celebrates the “simple necessity of bathing” and that’s what they focus on. All things related to the culture of bathing. Hence the name!
They make a range of zero waste skin care refill products, but for something different we thought we’d highlight their face and body oil.
As they say, It’s designed for a healing touch after a salty wash in the Pacific or a windy hike up the Sierra peaks.
The product has an almost entirely certified organic formulation with ingredients like jojoba seed oil, MCT oil (from coconuts), sea buckthorn oil, Abyssinian oil, sweet almond oil, squalane (from olives), grapefruit extract, and raspberry seed oil.
About Bathing Culture
3. RAW ELEMENTS
About RAW Elements Plastic Free SkinCare
This next brand is for outdoor enthusiasts who also want sustainable skincare. Raw Elements specialise in sunscreen. A protection staple for any day out under the sun.
We especially like their Tinted Face Moisturizer. Combining traditional sunscreen protection with an SPF of 30 and a moisturizing formulation.
The ingredients used are either USDA certified organic or certified natural: sunflower oil, green tea, black tea, coffee bean, hemp seed oil, cocoa butter, mango butter, beeswax, rosemary oil extract and vitamin E. It also contains non-nano zinc oxide which essentially means the SPF part of the product won’t be absorbed into your skin but will still provide protection from UV rays.
Importantly this zero waste skincare with SPF is reef safe and biodegradable – you can take a dip in the sea responsibly and for up to 80 minutes before having to reapply. It also comes in a plastic free tin pot so you can reuse it as you like.
Though this product isn’t vegan, due to the organic beeswax, it is Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty-free, as well as soy, gluten, and nut free.
About RAW Elements
Raw Elements is an Environmental Working Group top-rated sunscreen brand. It’s approved for all ages, skin types, and for daily use and they promise their products won’t sting eyes!
They’re also one of the more affordable zero waste skin care options for the outdoors.
The company was founded by former beach lifeguard Brian Guadragno. In the beginning, he turned his own kitchen into a lab, experimenting to find a safer, more environmental sunscreen that was suited for active people.
Raw Elements USA was born. All their products are sourced, made, and sold in the USA. The company is certified by Non-GMO Project, Natural Products Association, Leaping Bunny, and Environmental Working Group.
They make a whole ar-ray (get it?) of sunscreen options. Though, not all of their products are zero waste so do look out for the reusable and compostable options.
RAW Elements are also passionate about sun safety and environmental education.
4. EMPIRESQUID ORGANICS
*Note: Not all ES products are vegan, though they can make vegan substitutes for most upon request.
About EmpireSquid Organics Zero Waste Skin Care
Where do we even start with EmpireSquid’s massive range of fantastic handcrafted cruelty-free zero waste skin care?!
Easily one of the best sustainable skincare brands we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing.
Every label comes with a kitschy sketched animal and we’re a little obsessed with the look.
Vegan, cruelty-free, palm oil free and organic, and sans any unnecessary toxic junk. We agree with the company slogan: it’s like “health food for your skin”!
From their zero waste sunscreen to their moisturizing butters, toners, anti-aging serums, oil cleansers, natural acne treatments, and pre-made skin care kits, packages are all reusable glass. While their zero waste face masks comes in kraft paper pouches.
About EmpireSquid Organics
This LA based family-run brand started making “amazingly wholesome” and affordable zero waste skin care products in 2013. Their highly reviewed products are for women, men and children, too.
All are made-to-order from Fair Trade ingredients, palm-oil free, cruelty-free, and mostly vegan (and for those that aren’t, they can make ingredient substitutes to make it vegan).
Everything is all natural and 70% organic.
5. RAINWATER BOTANICALS
About Rainwater Botanicals Plastic Free Skin Care
Rainwater Botanical offers an affordable zero waste skincare lineup that’s another potential one-stop shop due to their wide range for all skin types.
Most things come in packaged reusable jars and bottles, and a few (like this best seller color correcting eye balm) come in compostable cardboard.
We especially love that they sell face cleansers in good old bar form too. Next to being naked, paper wrapping is the best zero waste packaging around 🙂
Most of their facial creams, toners, and serums (which are filled with natural herbs and oils) come in glass spray or dropper bottles so be sure to reuse, especially the lids.
About Rainwater Botanicals
A certified Safe Cosmetic Business Network member, Rainwater Botanicals has been hand-crafting natural skincare and beauty products since 1999 and they’ve been committed to remaining cruelty-free for two decades.
What started with a single product (this healing balm which is still available) expanded to the many vegan zero waste skincare products, as well as perfume, zero waste deodorants, and all manner of soap bars (for body, hand, and hair!).
Many of these products come in compostable packaging, but as whole, Rainwater Botanicals is not 100% zero waste. Be on the lookout for plastic lids on their squirt bottles and be sure to reuse it if you do order these products.
6. ANDREAS ORGANIC MARKET
*Note: Most products are vegan, but there are a couple that contain things like eggs and goat’s milk.
About Andrea’s Organic Market Zero Waste Skin Care
You know how the skin is the body’s largest organ? Well, Andrea’s Organic Market has perhaps the largest selection of products to match with thousands of excellent reviews.
To name just a few: rose and calendula facial astringent, matcha face scrub, papaya face wash, activated charcoal face mask, and vegan cleanser/makeup remover. Then there’s the zero waste body skin care products, which includes things like a coffee body scrub and stretch mark cream.
They even have a line of zero waste skin care products for babies, like including things like butt balm and baby powder.
All products are made with 100% non-GMO certified organic ingredients, like cold-pressed unrefined plant oils, raw butters, and herbal infusions. The only animal byproducts used are honey and goat milk (which they will substitute with coconut milk on request).
All items are packaged in glass bottles. For relevant items, you can opt for a pump on your first order and a recyclable lid for subsequent ones.
About Andrea’s Organic Market
Aside from the 50+ skincare products, Andre’s Organic Market also crafts cold-pressed shampoo bars, bath salts and oil, herbal salves, tinctures, and culinary edibles such as loose leaf tea blends, honey, and flavor extracts. Their whole product line is zero waste, as well as herb-based, non-toxic, palm-oil free, and cruelty-free.
Self-proclaimed label reader and founder Andrea wants her “natural” products to really be natural, not just a bunch of greenwash. She wants to “create products that I can feel good about selling and you can feel good about using”.
She and her team of two others hand make every single one of their extensive range of products in a workshop in Muldrow, Indiana.
7. DAB HERB
About Dab Herb Plastic Free Skin Care
We’ve covered Dab Herb’s “Nature to Nurture” products before when talking about zero waste makeup, which is primarily what they are. Thankfully, Dab Herb also recognizes the importance of the skin underneath, too
Their zero waste anti-aging makeup primer, aka “face food”, provides 4-in-1 zero waste skin care for dry skin (or at least especially suited for drier skin).
This product provides a flawlessly smooth canvas to work some makeup magic, as well as anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial benefits. Did we mention the non-nano zinc oxide even gives it an element of sun protection?
All ingredients are certified organic except the non-nano zinc oxide. As for packaging, you’ll get a compact and portable metal tin which they will refill for you.
This vegan and gluten-free product protects as much as it primes. Remember, the better the skin, the less make-up you’ll feel like you need!
About Dab Herb
Another company well deserving of a place on our Best of Zero Waste Beauty list, considering everything is packaged in compostable cardboard sticks, metal tins or decorative glass jars.
For the tins and jars, they ask that you simply clean them and then send them in for a refill.
According to Dab Herb, “beauty and self care are inseparable from sustainability, transparency, and wellness”.
That’s why everything is not only free from alcohol, silicones, parabens, synthetic dyes and fragrances, heavy metals and things harmful to you, but free from things harmful to the planet.
All products are vegan, cruelty-free, palm oil free and organic.
8. DIRTY HIPPIE COSMETICS
*Note: Dirty Hippie has announced that one of their suppliers no longer guarantees certain ingredients to be palm oil free. While they search for a new supplier, see below for some of the products to avoid.
About Dirty Hippie Cosmetics Skin Care in Compostable Packaging
Next on the list is a favorite vegan sustainable skincare brand that we’re sure our regular readers will be well acquainted with. Dirty Hippie repeatedly makes it onto our best zero waste beauty brand lists.
In fact, they’re so amazing that it’s not uncommon to find them “taking a short break to fill fresh orders” (as they were at the time of this writing). Be patient and be sure to place your order early when they’re back in action.
One of the best things about Dirty Hippie is their range (which is why they feature on so many of our sustainable personal care lists). For skin care, they make vegan moisturizers for all types of skin as well an Oatmeal and Herb Facial Grain zero waste skincare exfoliator.
For zero waste skincare with SPF, check out their zero waste coconut sunscreen balm, which is totally reef safe and non-nano particle.
All are organic, cruelty-free, vegan, and packaged in cardboard or reusable glass and tin pots.
About Dirty Hippie Cosmetics
Dirty Hippie comes to us from a solar powered HQ office in the zero waste community Bywong, Australia. There, they can best utilize natural resources, locally sourced organic ingredients, and operate at a continually growing carbon offset (it’s currently 50%!).
Ingredients not sourced locally are acquired Fair Trade. They are also in the process of moving toward being palm oil free since their Olive and Coconut oil supplier no longer guarantees them to be palm oil free. For now, that affects only the Hydrating Hempseed and Red Raspberry Facial Primer moisturizing creams, cream concealers, mascaras, and eye liners.
Dirty Hippie’s do-good nature isn’t just limited to sustainability, either. They donate to many rotating charities such animal rescues, suicide prevention, and currently, The Stroke Foundation Australia.
Your grandpa might have made you believe to be a “dirty hippie” was a bad thing; we personally think it’s one of the best things to be!
9. BYROBIN CREATION
About ByRobinCreation Zero Waste Skin Care
ByRobinCreation’s offer a wide selection of natural vegan and cruelty-free zero waste skin care items so your skin care routine is as kind on the living world as it is on your skin. From vegan night cream to baking soda face scrub (excellent zero waste skin care for sensitive skin!), they have an impressive selection for most needs.
For those who want to sustainably and safely recapture their youth (we hear hunting for that notorious fountain can be dangerous) check out their many anti-aging products. Just avoid both the cleansing pads and wrinkle plumping eye stick, which are not zero waste.
Acne-sufferers will also find many zero waste acne skin care products, including blemish spray, spot treatment, moisturizer, face scrub, and even an acne scar lifting balm.
With a few exceptions, most items are packaged in tins or glass, though as with other zero waste skin care brands on our list, the spray caps and dropper lids do have some plastic parts, so please avoid refill and reuse!
ByRobinCreation comes to us from New Mexico and make a wide range of vegan personal care products beyond skin care. They also make products for hair, teeth, nails, hygiene, adornment, and more.
Not everything they make is zero waste, but they are slowly working on phasing out the few remaining plastic packaged items. If you aren’t sure, check individual product descriptions for packaging updates for that particular item.
They also offer refills for all non-compostable containers.
More than anything, ByRobinCreation constantly demonstrates how much they care, down to the hand-written thank you notes included with each order.
It really is the little things that count, just like a zero waste lifestyle 🙂
10. HERBAL CHEST
About Herbal Chest Zero Waste Skin Care
Herbal Chest make a lot of all natural, zero waste skincare options, including a replenishing serum, anti aging serum, skin regenerative serum, under eye cream, several moisturizers, and more.
That’s not to mention targeted salves and balms, like scar and stretch mark cream, as suited for your acne pocks as it is for your post-baby tummy.
In fact, if you want to try their balms, take advantage of their Buy 2, Get 1 Free sample sizes offer. This is especially great for trying out new products because that way, if you don’t like it or it doesn’t work for you skin, you don’t waste nearly as much.
Sample away in the name of sustainability!
Each product description breaks down the ingredients and specifies how each of them works in conjunction with the other. We just love that because it’s crucial to know not just what the ingredients are, but why you’re using them.
It’s a lesson in being a more conscious consumers (and just happens to be giving us clean skin all at the same time!).
About Herbal Chest
A bit smaller and newer on the sustainable business scale, Herbal Chest is somewhat young but an up and coming vegan plastic free skin care brand.
Run solely by a Pacific-Northwest based mother, they have an expansive line-up with thousands of 5-star reviews on Etsy thus far.
Her botanical based holistic approach to beauty and skincare is intended to promote “self-care and wellness”. All products are plant-based and cruelty-free, though there is no mention of a palm policy that we could find.
All products are packaged in cute jars, tins and even glass vials with metal lids. Their lip balms are the exception, and those come in compostable cardboard tubes, so even better.
Totally plastic free is totally our jam.
11. FAT AND THE MOON
*Note: Face-based skin care products are vegan but body skin care products typically contain ethically sourced beeswax
About Fat and the Moon Zero Waste Skin Care
Some of the best zero waste skin care products are those made by Fat and the Moon, especially is you’re looking for zero waste skin care for sensitive skin. Don’t believe us?
Check out some of the over 11,000 reviews on Etsy averaging nearly 5 stars.
Everything is all-natural, mostly organic, cruelty-free, palm-oil free, and includes a hilarious product description (we do love a bit of personality!).
All face products are also vegan, though most body and crossover skin products contain ethically sourced beeswax.
When it comes to zero waste skin care for your face, they have you covered with three product options.
The Sage and Rose Face Mist is a gentle toner to keep pore clogging bacteria at bay.
Face Oil is their answer to keeping your natural face oil production balanced. Contrary to what we’re often told, the oils produced by our skin aren’t bad for us. In fact, according to Fat and the Moon, “When you attack the oil on your face, you face is like, ‘wtf, I thought we were friends,’ and then it overcompensates trying to make things right.”
This Face Oil is also rich in vitamins, protein, and omegas for healing if you have skin damage (like acne scarring).
Of course, when those stubborn spots do emerge, you can treat them with the Pimple Mud mask. Its extracts bacteria from pores and increases blood flow.
If you need a solution to zero waste skin care for dry skin their Aloe Lotion and All Cream are really good options and can be used for both face or body.
Both products contain sunflower oil, aloe vera and beeswax (so not vegan) and are intended for moisture therapy. They’re similar products but the Aloe Lotion is a zero waste skin care option with SPF.
About Fat and the Moon
Zero waste skincare aside, Fat and the Moon offer a huge spread of zero waste deodorant, makeup hair care, and more, all packaged in reusable tins.
Totally woman-owned and operated, Fat and the Moon creates all their “potions” under the guidance of traditional healer philosophies. Everything is gentle, non-toxic, and designed to truly heal. And since “body products, like food, are not meant to last forever”, rest knowing your products are fresh and handmade to order.
12. MEOW MEOW TWEET
About Meow Meow Tweet Vegan Cruelty-free Skin Care
We’ll kick things off with Meow Meow Tweet’s zero waste face soap. A good place to start a zero waste skincare routine by cleansing and detoxing your skin from those unhealthy off the shelf products.
You can choose between Pink Rose Clay and Tea Tree & Charcoal facial soap bars.
The Pink Rose Clay bar, with its mild ingredients and gentle floral oils, is a good moisture solution for zero waste skincare for sensitive skin.
While the Tea Tree & Charcoal bar is more of a zero waste skin care exfoliator with its absorptive properties – the best for oily or combination skin.
Either way, both are totally vegan zero waste skin care options made of only the finest unrefined plant oils and cold-pressed essential oils.
About Meow Meow Tweet
MMT is a New York City based brand. They’re certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny.
Made without preservatives and in small batches, all products are fresh and as close to nature’s intent as possible. Aside from zero waste skincare products, MMT also makes cardboard stick deodorants, cream deodorants, and soaps in oh-so-many scents.
Beyond merely offering sustainable personal care products, their missions is to transform people’s attitudes about ethical beauty as easy and accessible (which it is!) through small, effortless changes.
Did we mention they regularly donate to lots of charities?
DIY ZERO WASTE SKIN CARE
As with most zero waste personal care products, sometimes the best and most affordable are those you make yourself.
This video by Living Waste Free does a great job of breaking down a DIY zero waste skincare routine.
Even if you don’t typically have the time to devote to DIY, most DIY zero waste skincare is super simple. As in, we’re talking 1-2 ingredients simple!
For instance, plant-based oils (such as coconut oil, hemp seed oil, jojoba oil, and grape seed oil) work all by themselves as a moisturizer from makeup remover. And the oily base even helps balance out your skin’s natural oil production, especially if you have naturally oilier skin.
Remember how we mentioned the best way to fight oil is with oil? Seems counter-intuitive but it’s true!
For DIY facial cleanser, use ground oats (which are easy to buy in bulk pretty much anywhere) as a gentle exfoliant. This super simple recipe only requires 3 ingredients!
Alternatively, just use plain raw honey! It not only softens the skin and reduces redness, but acts as a natural antibacterial pore cleaner.
You can even alter the honey base very slightly for different effects. Add granulated white sugar for extra exfoliation or turmeric for stimulation and acne fighting power.
This is obviously not a vegan option, but if you’re not vegan, see if you can get your hands on some sustainably harvested honey from local beekeepers.
To make your own zero waste toner, use rose water, apple cider vinegar and a little lavender essential oil. Check out an exact recipe here.
For those of you seeking specific zero waste skin care for dry skin, check out Treading My Own Path’s advice on oil-based facial moisturizing (along with a zero waste cold cream recipe) and watch this video on a DIY zero waste face moisturizer.
FINDING ZERO WASTE SKINCARE BRANDS
Just remember, from the perspective of a conscious consumer the goal of zero waste is to reduce landfill trash as much as possible, not to live like a sustainability saint (more on this below).
A zero waste life is a bit like a journey toward a mirage; you never feel quite there. But the most sure-fire way to get moving is to switch to naked products or products in compostable or reusable containers.
This zero waste requirement is of course on top of our usual sustainable personal care criteria. For new readers, that means we look for products that are:
- all-natural / organic
- palm oil free
- made from ethically-sourced ingredients and
- in compostable or reusable zero waste packaging.
Yup, it takes us quite a bit of time to find these sustainable skin care brands that meet all (or most) of our criteria. And if you’ve read some of our other zero waste beauty articles, you’ll notice some of our brand favorites making another appearance here because they just tick all the right boxes 🙂
As always, we would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on other sustainable brands that you think should make the cut.
DEVELOP A MINIMALIST ZERO WASTE SKIN CARE ROUTINE
But before we get into the details, we thought we’d take a moment to touch on our zero waste skincare routine. And that involves a minimalist mindset which applies to all our personal care practices.
We’re made to believe our skin needs all this STUFF: cold cream, day cream, night cream, anti-aging cream, and that’s just the creams. Let’s not get started on multi-step clarifying treatments etc.
Of course, more stuff means more money spent on more chemical laden and plastic products.
We believe when it comes to skin (and most other things) simplicity or a minimalist approach is best.
While your skin will have different needs from someone else’s, a minimalist zero waste skin care routine can solve even the most problematic skin by preserving its own natural oils.
Nature does indeed know best, though we’ll touch more on this later under zero waste skin care beauty hacks (see the bottom of the article).
As a pro for the planet, you’ll buy fewer products which equals less shipping, less ingredient sourcing impact and less packaging (because even reusable packaging is still more impactful than no packaging).
So as you’re reading this list filled with many awesome zero waste skincare products, remember you don’t need them all. Find the products your needs and loves.
ZERO WASTE SKIN CARE BEAUTY HACKS
- It messes with your skin’s natural pH by altering its acid mantle. Exfoliation in particular can actually damage skin with an alkaline pH because it won’t be able to self repair afterward. This leads to dry and irritated skin.
- It damages your skin barrier (aka the dreaded natural skin oils we try so diligently to scrub away). Natural oil is necessary because it not only prevents water loss through the skin, but keeps our skin from producing too much oil to overcompensate. So ironically, washing and exfoliating your skin too much makes it even oilier.
- Wash your face less frequently. Skip the morning scrub and save it for before bed, when you want to wash off the grit and grime of the day.
- Cleanse WITH oil: don’t just cleanse to get rid of it. Again, over oiling your skin is the best way to help it figure out how much oil is enough.
- Water and oil do mix when it comes to moisturizing. You can actually replace moisturizer all together by combining an oil-based skin product (like coconut oil) with a water-based one (like rose water or aloe). Apply the water-based product first, then use an outer layer of oil to seal in all that moisture.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ZERO WASTE SKIN CARE
See? Beauty IS skin deep!
Okay, maybe not, but it turns out sustainability is. And just because there’s more to beauty than looks doesn’t mean you should feel any less amazing with healthy, glowing skin.
Imagine how it’ll feel knowing that epic epidermis came without any cost to the planet!
We hope this list of zero waste skincare brands helps in your search to develop a sustainable skin care regime that’ll leave your pores and the planet positively glowing.
So how did we do? Maybe we missed one of the truest best zero waste skincare brands. Maybe you’ve been harboring some groundbreaking skin secret and you’re finally ready to tell the world.
Either way, drop us a note in the comments below!