9 Zero Waste Lotions For Plastic Free Skin Hydration (2023)
Your average bottle of lotion is the source of a surprising number of unnecessary issues.
Considering how useful a good lotion can be, that needs to change – and luckily for you there are brands trying to make a real difference.
In this guide I’m going to cover everything you need to know about zero waste lotion and how you can find the best one to suit your needs.
The key things to focus on when it comes to lotion is reducing exposure to harmful chemicals, and preventing more plastic from entering the environment.
Starting with the brands themselves:
Zero Waste Lotion Options
Plaine Products – Top Choice
Plaine Products makes the lotion you’ve been looking for. It’s really as simple as that, but let’s go into more detail, of course.
They make a huge bottle of luscious but light vegan lotion that comes in three different scents – what more can you ask for?
And I know what you’re thinking: what about the plastic?
First of all, the pump dispenser is optional; and the other thing worth mentioning is that you can buy refills without the plastic, and simply reuse yours forever.
And you probably will, too, because their lotion is nearly perfect. I’ve tried a lot of plastic free lotions, too, but this is the one I keep coming back to.
It’s not heavy and won’t suffocate your pores like a lot of coconut oil based lotions might, but at the same time it keeps the thirstiest of skin moisturized.
This goes for all of their products to be honest, so you may want to check out their shampoo and conditioner as well!
Extra Plaine Products Info:
- Certified B Corp
- Leaping Bunny Member
- 1% For The Planet Member
If you follow brands in the sustainability scene, it shouldn’t be surprising to see Ethique’s lotion on this list.
And if you’re looking for a tube of lotion in particular (for travel or at work?), this is the best option out there.
Personally I’m all about that unscented lotion life, but Ethique carries – at the time of writing this – around six different fragrances of their lotion tubes.
Maybe you’re looking for a kid and baby friendly lotion? Well, Ethique also has a baby bar version too!
With all that being said, what’s the lotion actually like? Obviously it’s great, or I wouldn’t include it – but it’s a little bit heavier than my top choice.
Everyone has a preference, but if I was going to pin down who would love this one, it would be someone who wants all-day lotion coverage while on the go, or someone who just hates lotiony fingers.
Ethique’s zero waste face cleanser is also insanely good!
Meow Meow Tweet
If you’ve read my guide on sustainable moisturizer, you may be wondering why I’m also including Meow Meow Tweet’s skin cream here.
Well, that’s just how good it is. Their skin cream is quite possibly my favorite sustainable skincare product overall, and it works just as well as a lotion.
Only gentle but effective vegan ingredients are included, and that goes for all of their other products as well actually.
The craziest part about their skin cream is you only need an absolutely tiny amount to cover areas in need – and when I say tiny, I mean a pea sized amount could probably cover half your body.
It has a mild grassy, nutty scent and works all day long from one application without being greasy!
Extra Meow Meow Tweet Info:
- Certified B Corp
- Leaping Bunny Member
Fat And The Moon
Fat And The Moon’s All Cream is another product I’ve featured in this guide on top of my moisturizer list for similar reasons as Meow Meow Tweet.
To put it simply: big glass jar, versatile and hydrating cream, admirable brand.
And a little truly does go a long way with this lotion, but they sell both a small and large jar if you want to stock up on it.
One thing I will mention is that it’s not entirely vegan as it contains beeswax, but that’s the only animal product involved.
There’s actually only six total ingredients in the lotion to begin with, making it one of the simplest options out there for those looking for maximum ingredient transparency!
EcoRoot’s lotion bar is another great choice for those on-the-go, if you aren’t into the idea of push tube lotions.
The recyclable tin in comes in is also easily reusable, a major plus on top of the purely plant based ingredients they include in their formula.
In my opinion, this lotion bar is best suited for things like dry or cracked hands, heels, and elbows.
You could, of course, use it for all of your moisturizing needs – but the shape, size, and thickness of the lotion just lends itself perfectly towards any problem areas you may have.
Another reason for this – the bar takes a bit of time to warm up and spread around easily, and it’s not that big. So, using it specifically for smaller areas is what a lot of people end up doing!
Also, you can just order the bar itself as a refill and skip the recyclable tin altogether if you want.
Extra EcoRoots Info:
- 1% For The Planet Member
Similar to the bar above, Etee makes this travel sized hand lotion bar with a mild tangerine scent packaged in a metal tin (or barebones refills).
And it’s pretty small (1 oz), obviously, as they specifically make it for hands.
Do you work in an industry where handwashing may border on the obsessive, like healthcare? Then try this lotion bar, seriously.
The smaller size may put off some people – but when you think about it, a hand lotion bar should be small enough to stuff into a pocket and forget about until you need it.
It does contain some beeswax, so it’s not the best option for any vegans out there, but I’ve covered other options for those avoiding animal products.
If you’re in need of a plastic free shaving cream, you may also want to checkout Etee’s bar version!
Chagrin Valley is an underrated skincare brand, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make incredible products.
Their whipped body butter is just one of many lotions they make, and this one in particular is great for soothing pregnant bellies, but it should work for all your needs to be honest.
And it’s pretty mild in the scent department as well, if you’ve got a sensitive sniffer – all you’ll notice is the mild aromas of cocoa and mango butter.
Chagrin Valley has a super interesting lineup of skincare products compared to other brands, but if you’re avoiding palm oil like me, make sure to read their labels closely!
Extra Chagrin Valley Info:
- Leaping Bunny Member
- Certified USDA Organic
Currently, Sioné only makes lotion. Which means all their love and attention goes into this one product – and it shows.
They offer four different scents including: lavender, jasmine, eucalyptus, and an unscented version for sensitive skin.
And they also have a range of sizes from 4 to 16 oz, all of which can be purchased without the optional plastic pump, or you can just get the pump once and buy refills without it.
The consistency of their vegan formula is similar to many conventional options; it’s creamy and hydrating without being thick and suffocating or too watered down.
Feel free to use this 15% off code on Etsy: SUSTAINABLE15
Sow Natural Skincare
How much do I really need to say about this lotion? I mean, just look at it – it’s beautiful.
Aesthetics and jokes aside, Sow Natural Skincare makes one of the only unrefined mango butter lotions I’ve come across, in both an unscented version as well as chamomile vanilla, and strawberry.
So if you’re someone who dislikes the scent of shea butter or coconut oil, this could be your holy grail lotion.
It’s a really simple cream, and you can also get it in a few different sizes depending on how much you need.
Another thing I appreciate about this brand is the level of detail they painstakingly go into on their product pages, where you can find extensive information about their ingredients, labels, packaging, and even their production equipment!
Extra Sow Natural Skincare Info:
- Etsy Star Seller
Lotion plastic waste is out of control
Lotion is one of the most popular skincare products out there, and a sizable portion of the world uses it everyday. Which means an insane amount of it is produced and thrown away each day.
And yes, it’s all packaged in plastic – something that’s abundantly clear if you’ve ever been down the personal care aisle of any grocery store.
So billions of bottles are thrown out or “recycled” each year, when it really doesn’t have to be that way. And even if plastic recycling was effective (hint: it’s not), packaging lotion the way we do is still extremely wasteful.
Until you’ve used a sustainable lotion bar or push tube, you don’t know what you’ve been missing out on. Seriously – push tube lotions and moisturizers are a game changer.
No more greasy hands, or nasty and crusty bottles, or scraping out the last bits of remaining lotion. And even if you’re not into those options, reusing pump dispensers also cuts down on plastic waste substantially!
Eliminating plastic is great, and when you do need to dispose of sustainable packaging you’ll have a choice between composting, recycling, or reusing it.
A few harmful lotion ingredients to avoid
The good news is, there are plenty of zero waste skincare brands exploding in popularity!
But, lotion also commonly contains a ton of harmful ingredients that you need to be aware of if you want to live more sustainably. This includes things like petrochemicals and animal products, some of which I’ve highlighted below here.
And yes, almost everyone has to look up what these names even mean, which means most people simply won’t. And that’s one of the reasons why most people are completely unaware of how widespread this issue is.
When you apply lotion, many of these ingredients are absorbed through your skin, inhaled or swallowed in microscopic amounts.
That’s why it’s so important to find a lotion made with beneficial ingredients, instead of harsh chemicals.
I’m going to go over a few of the most shameful chemicals below, but you can also check my skincare ingredient guide if you want more information on which ones to avoid.
Hydroquinone is a skin lightening chemical commonly found in products like lotions and moisturizers.
And it really could be considered one of the worst skincare ingredients of all time, in my opinion.
Basically, it bleaches your skin.
Your skin (our largest organ) contains melanocyte cells that produce melanin, which is why humans have such a wide range of skin tones. When exposed to hydroquinone, your skin produces less melanocytes and melanin.
Not everyone uses skin lightening lotion, but it’s worth talking about hydroquinone for a few reasons.
It’s banned in a lot of countries, but you can still find it lining the shelves of others:
There’s evidence that hydroquinone may cause organ toxicity, ochronosis (darkening and hardening of connective tissues), skin inflammation and it’s also a suspected carcinogen.
Not only that, but hydroquinone is a petroleum derived chemical and is often contaminated with impurities like mercury due to extremely poor regulation of the production process.
Palm oil is the most common vegetable oil in the world, and is harvested from two species of oil palms.
It’s a highly efficient crop that supplies nearly half the world with cooking oil – which makes it a controversial topic due to the environmental damage it causes.
Plantations of these palms are mainly situated near the equator in rainforest areas like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and areas of South America.
The most pressing issue when it comes to palm oil is the widespread deforestation of natural habitats where the plants thrive; and at this point entire islands previously full of rainforests are just massive oil palm plantations.
Not only does this lead to massive biodiversity loss and threaten already critically endangered species, it also directly harms humans.
You probably haven’t heard of the 2015 Southeast Asian haze.
Sounds a bit scary, right?
Well, back in 2015 there was a severe air pollution crisis caused by massive rainforest fires in countries like Indonesia; and these uncontrolled slash and burn deforestation campaigns led to over 100,000 suspected deaths across Southeast Asia.
The most ridiculous part is, these types of haze events happen pretty often. They basically happen every 3-6 years at this point, with the most recent one in 2019.
What animal products are found in lotion?
You can avoid lotions tested on animals or containing animal products if you buy a vegan and cruelty free lotion.
With that being said, here are some animal products you may find on ingredient labels:
- Collagen (animal skin)
- Estrogen (pregnant animal urine lol)
- Panthenol (various sources)
Plastic free lotions that aren’t made with unnecessary and harmful chemicals can be difficult to find, but they do exist!
I’ve gone over what I consider the best options out there in this guide, so now you’re ready to reduce your chemical exposure and plastic waste even further.
So give your skin the care it deserves, instead of lathering yourself with ingredients pushed by the fossil fuel industry.