7 Zero Waste Beauty Brands You Need in Your Makeup Bag

Emma Hakansson

In case you weren’t already aware, the beauty industry has a huge plastic problem.

Think about it. Mascara, eyeliner pens, lipsticks, foundation, concealer, bronzer. All of these things, the majority of the time, come packaged in plastic.

In 2017, 76.8 billion plastic packaging units were produced by the beauty industry. That’s a scary number! But some excellent zero waste beauty companies are trying to change that.

Image via Axiology Beauty


Axiology sustainable zero waste makeup

To make a difference remember no action is too small, here’s a few things you can look for:

  • If you’re looking at foundation, concealer or cream eye shadow pots, opt for one that comes in a glass bottle or jar rather than a plastic one, as this is more likely to be recycled and is also less toxic to produce.
  • Anything with a metal lid or cap rather than a plastic one is better, as metals are more valuable materials and so are therefore more likely to be recycled. It’s cheaper to produce new plastic than it is to recycle it.
  • Eye and lip pencils are generally better than pens, as they’re made predominately of wood which will decompose, rather than of plastic.

There are also plenty of brands that make more eco-conscious makeup shopping easy. They’re generally also brands using less toxic ingredients, not testing on animals, creating vegan cosmetics, all those good things.

Nearly any natural beauty product you love has a zero waste or plastic free dupe that you’ll equally love, here are some of the best ones.

Elate plastic free makeup

1. Elate Beauty

Elate replaces a large number of potential plastics with bamboo; a compostable, renewable and fast-growing natural material that does not require pesticides to grow. Their bamboo is also Forest Stewardship Certified.

The brand sells refillable compacts, which means only the individual metal pans holding eye shadow or blush is replaced, not the compact it’s held in. The refills are sent out in seed paper envelopes that can be planted in your garden!

Elate also has a section of their website called ‘Perfectly Imperfect’, where they sell discounted, completely functional products that most other brands would simply send to landfill, because of small imperfections. Elate is also completely vegan and free from animal testing.

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Axiology lipstick zero waste makeup

2. Axiology Beauty

All the good lipstick! This brand makes lipsticks with all different ‘payoffs’, including sheer, shimmery, soft and rich creamy options.

Axiology lipsticks are in a tube made from recycled aluminum.

Aluminum is a valuable material and can be recycled forever without the quality of the material decreasing. The product comes in a box that can be recycled or composted and is made from recycled paper.

The formula of the lipstick is palm oil-free and all-natural, and all products are vegan and free from animal testing.

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Lilah B zero waste beauty

3. Lilah B

Lilah B has many products that come in glass and metal, two materials more likely to be recycled than plastic.

The brand also has a recycling program where you can (for free) send unwanted beauty products, from their brand or any other, so that the goods can be processed and recycled, instead of cluttering your life.

Lilah B is completely vegan and free from animal testing.

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Zao organic plastic free makeup

4. Zao Organic Makeup

Zao sells organic makeup that comes in packaging that includes materials like glass and bamboo.

Plus many of these products come in packaging which is made to be refillable to reduce waste, energy and plastic use (though it is difficult for plastic to be completely eliminated).

The brand is also completely organic, vegan and free from animal testing.

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Ilia zero waste beauty

5. Ilia Beauty

Ilia packages their products in recycled aluminum, including the lids of their foundation, which is something many brands who use some sustainable packaging materials don’t!

The brand also uses glass, post- consumer recycled paper and vegetable dyes in their packaging.

Ilia is not completely vegan but has a clear section of their website for vegan products, and is free from animal testing.

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Sienna plastic free beauty

6. Sienna Byron Bay

Sienna creates nail polishes that are toxic-free and made in Australia.

The brand uses a timber cap made of a local, non-native weed wood which is compostable, and the bottles are made of glass, which they explain how to clean properly so they can be recycled effectively, on their site!

Sienna is vegan and free from animal testing. It’s also B-Corporation certified!

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Dirty Hippie plastic free cosmetics

7. Dirty Hippie Cosmetics

This brand is almost completely zero waste!

With return and refill options available, glass, aluminum and cardboard packaging, as well as recyclable and recycled post packs, vegetable-based ink printing and a green energy powered lab, there’s a lot to love here.

Dirty Hippie is completely vegan and free from animal testing, and its ingredients are ethically sourced and fair trade where required.

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Emma Hakansson

Emma Håkansson is the founder and director of Willow Creative Co, a content creation and ethics consultancy agency working to make fashion kinder. Emma is a globally published writer, and has created campaigns for animal rights groups both exposing violence against animals and encouraging more compassionate choices.