14 Sustainable Skincare Brands Worth Your Support (2023)
The sustainable skincare movement is here to stay – and that’s great.
But which brands are actually zero waste and how can you spot greenwashing in the beauty industry?
I’ve put together this list of my favorite sustainable skincare brands to make it easier, including links to more detailed, product-specific posts.
We’ll also cover some of the worst brands you should avoid at all costs further down.
Let’s start by going over some of my favorite brands:
Sustainable Skincare Brand Options
Ethique is probably the most reliable zero waste skincare brand – I’ve ordered dozens of products from them and never been even slightly disappointed.
Founded in 2012, Ethique began when founder Brianne West began mixing up various formulas and concoctions in her New Zealand kitchen in order to avoid frustratingly synthetic soaps.
Ethique has since blossomed into one of the most popular sustainable beauty brands there is – and for good reason.
As a brand, Ethique has some of the simplest packaging I’ve come across. Every product they stock comes wrapped in paper or cardboard, and they’ve pioneered many now-common ideas like push tube deodorants and face moisturizers.
These kinds of innovations paved the way for other brands to break into the scene; you can now find hundreds of other brands that subscribe to the same kinds of simple packaging and formula ideas that Ethique has stuck to for over a decade.
I’ve tried nearly all the products Ethique has to offer, but I’d say my favorite has to be their classic shampoo and conditioner bars!
- Certified B Corp
- Leaping Bunny Member
- Certified Palm Oil Free
- 2% Sales To Charity
Coming in as a close second, EcoRoots is another one of my favorite plastic free skincare brands; in many ways, they’re equally as impressive as Ethique.
EcoRoots specializes in small batch, low waste skincare product lines that somehow always work twice as well as you think they might – and this also includes their oral care products as well, like their zero waste floss.
What I mean by that is even if I’m not expecting much from a simple new product they’ve come up with, I end up obsessed – ordering multiples of the same thing in case they run out. For example, their rosehip facial cream is my new favorite moisturizer; replacing another zero waste brand that I used religiously for over a year.
I would describe their products as minimalist, which is nearly always a good thing. Their packaging is minimal too, with simple but aesthetic designs layered on top of sustainable skincare packaging materials like glass jars and paper boxes.
Like I mentioned above, if you want to try one of their products I highly recommend their zero waste facial cream.
- 1% For The Planet Member
Attitude is the new kid on the block, at least for me. They’ve been around awhile though – founded in 2005 by Jean-François Bernier and Benoît Lord.
I’ve recently started testing and reviewing a ton of their products as they transition away from plastic; and I’ve gotta say they’ve come up with some pretty, pretty good stuff.
One of the things I like the most about Attitude is that they use ingredients that are EWG Verified, which is essentially the holy grail of ethical skincare ingredient certification. But their certifications aren’t the only reason I’ve fallen in love with the brand; Attitude is also on the cutting edge of push tube skincare technology.
Do I sound insane saying that? Maybe. But for someone like me, seeing brands take an idea as simple as a paperboard push tube and use it to develop a full product line of amazing skincare goodies is pure bliss.
If you’re looking to try one of their products, I’d start with one of their plastic free sunscreen tubes, which come in a variety of different tints and SPF ratings.
- EWG Verified
- EcoLogo Certified
- PETA Beauty Without Bunnies Member
Meow Meow Tweet
Founded in 2009 by artists Jeff Kurosaki and Tara Pelletier, Meow Meow Tweet is another brand that I’ve willingly spent my retirement savings supporting.
And while my retirement may just be a dream – the attention to detail that goes into Meow Meow Tweet’s high-quality products is very real.
Based purely on their packaging, I think it’s safe to say that Meow Meow Tweet is one of the most aesthetic skincare brands out there – every product they stock has some kind of adorably hand-drawn animal or figure on it.
Art aside, the brand describes itself as a vegan apothecary; so if you’re specifically looking for a vegan and organic skincare brand to support, look no further!
I use a few of their products nearly everyday, but if I had to pick one to recommend I think it would be their tea tree charcoal facial soap.
Meow Meow Tweet Certifications:
- Certified B Corp
- Leaping Bunny Member
- Certified Plastic Negative
- Certified Climate Neutral
Plaine Products is best known for their refillable skincare products that come packaged in recyclable aluminum bottles with optional plastic pumps. For those of you who prefer pump dispensers for things like soap, moisturizer, or shampoo – this is probably your best option.
They’ve developed a mail-in recycling system for their signature metal bottles; the basic idea is to send back the bottle once you’re done, and in return they’ll send you a fresh replacement!
I’ve used a few of their products including their zero waste lotion and soap, two things I prefer to pump out instead of using a solid bar or scooping out of a jar.
Another thing I love about this brand is that, in most cases, they offer an unscented version of their products. Honestly, I prefer my moisturizer to have zero fragrance!
Their origin story is relatable as well, as the founder-duo sisters Lindsey and Alison Delaplaine started Plaine Products after witnessing the insane amount of plastic littering the beaches of The Bahamas – a small fraction of the tons of plastic collecting within the Great Pacific garbage patch.
Plaine Products Certifications:
- Certified B Corp
- Leaping Bunny Member
- PETA Beauty Without Bunnies Member
- 1% For The Planet Member
- Certified WBENC
Founded by Steve Reble and based out of Toronto, Canada; Etee stands for “Everything Touches Everything Else” – a core sentiment of the sustainability movement in general.
Etee is one of the more unique eco friendly skincare brands I’ve come across for a few different reasons – the main one being how often they come up with interesting new products to try.
I’ve tried all kinds of things made by Etee: skincare, haircare, and even dental care products – all of which have exceeded my expectations. In fact, Etee is one of the few ethical skincare brands I’ve stumbled upon that sells their own electric toothbrush as well as manual toothbrushes.
All of these upsides bring me to the biggest (and only) downside – Etee tends to release new products and discontinue others at the same time. So, sometimes you’ll start using an Etee product you love only to find out that they no longer make it!
If you’re looking for a zero waste shaving cream, I would check to see if Etee’s is in stock – as it’s one of my favorites I’ve used in the past.
Fat And The Moon
Similar to Meow Meow Tweet, Fat And The Moon is what I would consider a sustainable apothecary.
Founded by herbalist Rachel Budde, Fat And The Moon describes itself as a coven of witches specializing in brewing healing potions and remedies from bubbling cauldrons.
Small skincare brands can make a big impact – and Fat And The Moon is a perfect example of that; sourcing their ingredients directly from farmers, businesses, and individuals that align with their ethical standards.
If you’re someone looking to try out a few botanical skincare brands, I’d start here – as their ingredient lists are some of the most unique plant-based formulas around.
Their most popular signature product is probably their scoopable, plastic-free deodorant pastes that come packaged in simple glass jars.
Chagrin Valley has been making soaps and beauty products since 2001 – longer than any other brand on this list.
Originally founded by husband and wife duo Ida and Howard Kasdan, nowadays Chagrin Valley stocks a wide variety of skincare and cosmetic products in addition to their famous soaps.
While they’ve outgrown their soap-making kitchen blender, the original mission of the brand remains: make the best organic products possible without using petrochemicals and other harmful ingredients.
Similar to Attitude, Chagrin Valley is starting to rapidly transition away from plastic. Some of their products do still use plastic, but you’ll likely be able to find a plastic-free version of what you’re looking for.
One of my favorite things about this brand is their website; this may not mean much to everyone but I appreciate an easy to use, well-designed website and Chagrin Valley’s site makes the shopping experience super smooth.
Chagrin Valley Certifications:
- Leaping Bunny Member
- Certified USDA Organic
Butter Me Up Organics
Based off of Etsy, Butter Me Up Organics was founded by self-proclaimed hippie Jillian Haddad in 2008.
Since then, the brand has become a staple in the zero waste beauty scene, at least for those who believe in supporting small skincare businesses. If you take a gander at their Etsy page, one of the most impressive product lines you’ll see is her luxurious lotions and moisturizers, including sunscreens!
One small detail I noticed (and really appreciate) is that Jillian even talks about how she makes an effort to minimize the use of plastic when storing and transporting bulk ingredients.
Plastic product packaging isn’t the only issue – most ingredients included in your favorite products are likely moved about in large plastic containers, so any effort to minimize this and the spread of microplastics is admirable in my eyes.
Honeywild Apothecary – the third apothecary on our list – is another Etsy-based natural skincare brand specializing in small batches of handmade cosmetics.
Their mission is simple: to share their passion for homebrewed beauty products that avoid the insane amounts of harsh petrochemicals and other ingredients usually found in formulas.
While researching Honeywild Apothecary I came across some interesting tidbits: they grow many of the herbs and flowers used in their products, raise bees themselves for ethical honey, and even forage for some ingredients that grow in the wild!
You can also find a number of other household products on their Etsy shop as well, if you’re looking for more than just skincare.
Foraged Fields is one of the best choices for those looking for vegan and cruelty free skincare products on Etsy. That isn’t to say that all of their products are vegan – some of them include things like honey and beeswax.
But if you click around their Etsy shop, you’ll notice they often have multiple options to select from; many of which are specifically made for vegans or exclude ingredients some people dislike such as coconut!
I’m a sucker for quality packaging, especially when there’s no plastic involved – and Foraged Fields has some of the most aesthetically pleasing packaging I’ve seen from a smaller brand.
Aside from their skincare products, April Holman (the founder) has also put together quite an impressive selection of plastic-free makeup, balms, and various other goodies.
Sow Natural Skincare
Sow Natural Skincare, based out of California, is an Etsy brand that specializes in minimalist personal care products. If you’re looking for standout balms, lotions, salves, or lip care products – this is a brand you need to check out.
If you do visit their store, one of the first things you’ll most likely notice is their insanely creamy, whipped lotions and body butters made from plant-based ingredients. Sow Natural Skincare also makes a few deodorant creams, a type of deodorant that you scoop and spread instead of applying with a traditional tube!
They’re also currently donating a portion of each sale to Nova Ukraine, a nonprofit organization supporting the Ukrainian victims of the Russo-Ukrainian War.
ScentCerae, founded by it’s owner Sherae, began out of frustration with the lack of sustainable, ethical skincare products while she was living as an American expat in Asia.
Since then, Sherae has been crafting her own products by hand and offering them up to skincare enthusiasts on her Etsy shop, with an emphasis on making products that can be carried around by those traveling or enjoying a bit of ecotourism.
I’m a big fan of their packaging in particular – using natural materials like cork instead of relying on plastic.
Recently, ScentCerae has even started making their own toothpaste nibs, which are small solid bits of toothpaste that don’t need to be squeezed out of multilayered plastic tubes.
Solde Luna Crafts
Last but not least, we have Solde Luna Crafts – one final Etsy shop based out of London and founded by Sol Hein in 2017.
Solde Luna Craft’s claim to fame are their recyclable aluminum tins they use to package a variety of products like sunscreens, moisturizers, and lotions.
Similar to ScentCerae, Solde Luna Craft’s products are perfect for those looking for travel-sized items made by smaller brands; which isn’t to say the brand is unsuccessful – being based on Etsy isn’t a bad thing!
They also stock a few products made specifically for more “mature” customers – so if you’re curious about skin creams with a little extra oomph, look no further.
What is sustainable skincare?
I’ve written this guide to help those without tons of free time – not everyone cares enough or has the energy to do extensive research on sustainable products or environmental pollution.
But I do want to briefly cover what specific things define the best sustainable skincare brands. So, here’s a short summary of what to look out for:
- Minimizing or eliminating plastic packaging entirely
- Prioritizing recyclable and reusable materials
- Formulating products without petrochemicals
- Avoiding endocrine disruptors and carcinogens
- Never including plastic microbead exfoliants
- Using plant-based ingredients instead of animal products
- Paying their employees and fair and liveable wage
This checklist could be much longer, of course, but if a brand you like subscribes to these kinds of standards – there’s a good chance they’re on the path to becoming a sustainable skincare brand.
Here’s a short but sweet video on the danger of plastic microbeads:
Another way you can examine a brand is by checking to see if they’re listed in the EWG’s Skin Deep database; which lists nearly 4,000 brands based on sustainability factors.
Which skincare brands should you avoid?
Now you know which zero waste skincare brands are the best – but what about the worst of the worst?
There’s a good chance that some of your favorite brands fall under this label, for a number of reasons. The main issue with most popular skincare brands (that everyone uses) is that they’re owned and operated by larger brands who truly do not make any effort to curb their plastic pollution.
Here are four of the worst skincare brands, with the parent company on the left and brands they control on the right:
- Johnson & Johnson: Neutrogena, Aveeno, Clean & Clear
- Procter & Gamble: Olay, Herbal Essences, Old Spice
- Unilever: Dove, Lux Skin, Vaseline, Degree
- L’Oréal: CeraVe, La Roche-Posay, Garnier
These brands are responsible for billions upon billions of plastic containers entering the waste stream each year, with no sign of slowing down. For example, Unilever and Procter & Gamble are responsible for a sizable portion of the billions of tons of plastic waste produced in areas like Indonesia each year.
Plastic isn’t recyclable in many cases – in fact, recycling plastic was never meant to be successful in the first place. If you’re interested, it’s definitely worth reading up on the greenwashing scandals within that particular industry and learning about the many ways you can reduce your plastic use among other, more general sustainability tips.
Aside from microplastic pollution, these brands are also formulated with many of the cheapest skincare ingredients you should avoid, which we’ve covered in a guide of their own.
Spending your hard-earned cash on harmful skincare products is a thing of the past; eco-conscious brands are starting to sprout up everywhere you look.
Nowadays, it’s easy to find the perfect plastic-free beauty brand that aligns with your specific needs and ethical standards.
Do you have a favorite brand that’s not listed here?