clean beauty products from Herbivore

No one creates a fully sustainable lifestyle overnight, but one simple place to start on your journey is adopting a sustainable beauty routine. This means choosing products for your skin, hair, and body that are not only good for you, but for the planet too. Whether it’s buying in bulk, making DIY products, or supporting sustainable beauty companies, clean beauty looks different for everyone.

Environmental Impact of Beauty

The beauty industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging each year. It is predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. Turtles and birds often mistake plastic for food and mistakenly consume it. Microbeads, small plastic beads often used in face scrubs and toothpaste, end up in the ocean and can have damaging effects on marine life.

Furthermore, there are a variety of toxic chemicals in common beauty products that negatively affect both our health and the environment. For example, oxybenzone is a common chemical in many sunscreens. It is highly toxic to coral reefs. Parabens, a type of preservative used to prolong the shelf life of many products, are known to penetrate the skin and remain within our tissues. Parabens have even been found in the bodies of marine animals. Similarly, Talc, a common chemical in makeup has been proven to enter the body through the skin. Unfortunately, some talc contains asbestos, a substance known to cause a variety of cancers

With all of these concerns in mind, you are probably wondering: what can I do to reduce pollution created by my daily routine? Luckily, there are a variety of beauty alternatives that can improve your environmental impact without compromising on quality skincare!

The Clean Beauty Movement

The clean beauty movement is about finding products with natural ingredients that are safe for your health and for the environment. This includes being ocean safe and sustainably sourced. Clean beauty brands look at the ways to give back to and have a net positive impact on the environment, while also protecting your health and wellness. 

How do you know if you can trust products that claim to fill the clean beauty standards? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has created the EWG Verified mark to help consumers choose healthier, safe options. Check the EWG website for more information.

It’s also important to identify brands you trust. Here are a few brands we recommend. 

Sustainable Brands We Recommend

True Moringa

There are a handful of brands that are dedicated to sustainable practices. One great example is True Moringa. Founded in 2011 by Emily Cunningham and Kwami Williams, True Moringa sells face, body, and hair oils as well as body balms. They are based in northern Ghana where they source their moringa locally and ethically. By sourcing locally, the brand is not only employing a community of people but also regenerating the local ecosystem by planting trees. So far, they have planted 2000 trees and helped 500 farmers.

Lush Cosmetics

Lush Cosmetics has a “naked” product line, meaning products that you can buy with absolutely no packaging at all. By not using any packaging, they are reducing waste and shrinking their carbon footprint. For Lush products outside of the “naked” line, they use packaging materials that are 100% recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable.


Herbivore is an organic, vegan skincare brand based in Seattle, WA. Founded by Julia Wills and Alexander Kummerow, their products are all-natural, non-toxic, and do not use fillers of any kind. To top it off, all of their products are packaged in glass, which can be recycled an infinite amount of times. 

Venus in Leo

Created in 2016 by Bimbola Akinbola, Venus in Leo is a sustainable non-toxic body care company. Akinbola says, “I created Venus in Leo with the goal of providing effective and luxurious non-toxic body care products at accessible sliding scale prices. My goal is to create a product that is produced and distributed ethically and with my community and the planet in mind. I work to purchase in bulk from local vendors whenever possible. I also try to choose containers made of sustainable materials like glass or steel whenever possible. Even my shipping materials are recycled from bulk shipments I receive!”

Nina Naomi Curl Shop

Nina Naomi Curl Shop is a Brooklyn based clean beauty hair care company specializing in hydrating, health-focused products for people with curly and coily hair types. In a recent interview, Nina Hay, the founder of Nina Naomi Curl Shop, stated, “My products are inspired by my favorite fruits and foods growing up as a Jamaican person. The Curlshop aims to redefine the natural hair industry to encourage clients to listen to their own hair, promote self-education about hair health, and think retrospectively about going back to our roots with respect to our beauty.” Nina also uses all glass packaging. 

Fenty Skin

In 2017, Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty with the goal of providing a foundation for people of all skin tones and shades. Her new line, Fenty Skin uses SPF that is coral reef safe and incorporates a product refill system, which reduces waste created by packaging. Fenty Beauty is also partnered with Rihanna’s non-profit organization, The Clara Lionel Foundation, which funds education, health, and emergency preparedness initiatives around the world.

Activist Skincare

Activist is a vegan skincare brand based in California. All of their ingredients come from sustainability-minded suppliers and they package all of their products in glass bottles. They also have a pouch-based refill program. Activist is aware that “communities of color face extensive environmental injustices,” so they decided to donate 5% of sales for the rest of 2020 to non-profits who advocate for environmental justice. 

How to Make Your Beauty Routine More Sustainable

In addition to supporting sustainable beauty brands, another way to build a sustainable routine is to buy in bulk. Buying in bulk simply means shopping in larger quantities. If you buy a larger quantity of a product you end up with less waste per volume. This is an easy way for us to reduce our waste even if we cannot afford to shop at zero waste shops. 

Another great way to incorporate sustainability into your beauty routine is through DIY practices. Here are some links to quick, easy, and budget-friendly recipes for homemade face masks, floral bath soaks, and at-home herbal hair oil.

Finally, make sure to explore the Environmental Working Group’s website to find out what brands and products are EWG verified. Looking for the EWG verification mark ensures that your beauty and skincare products are good for both you and the planet.

Businesses, governments, and individuals all need to take greater responsibility for the waste they create and educate themselves about the ingredients in their products. The beauty and skincare industry has made great strides towards becoming more sustainable. Fortunately, consumers now have options to purchase sustainable products and to collectively minimize our impact on the environment.