Just like all-natural, organic, and eco-friendly skincare, sustainable skincare is a tricky term. Skincare is already complicated, but toss in a lack of regulations, brand self-reporting, and the ever-changing definition of “sustainability” and things get even more confusing. Since sustainable, cruelty-free beauty and skincare products started taking off, brands have been clamoring to announce they source their products sustainably, create less waste, and cause less harm. In reality, many brands slap labels of sustainability onto their products without backing up their claims. It takes research, probably more than it should, to identify truly sustainable brands that are really making safer choices for your skin and the environment. That’s where we come in.
Plantie tested the latest and greatest beauty products from sustainable skincare brands, and we spoke to experts in the field who are so passionate about conservation and skincare, they’ve started their own sustainable brands. Keep your skin looking incredible and keep our planet healthy with our guide to the best sustainable skincare products of 2020.
Best Cleanser: Ethique Bliss Bar Face Cleanser, $17
This creamy bar of organic goodness doesn’t leave your skin feeling stripped or tight—which is a rarity when it comes to bar soaps. Also, we found it to be moisturizing, leaving skin feeling smooth and hydrated. It also happens to be a zero-waste product which makes it a win-win for your skin and the environment, something that founder Brianne West takes seriously.
“At the rate the world uses plastic, we are going to have more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050,” West told Plantie. “Over 40% of total plastic use comes from product packaging and a lot of products, particularly more high-end brands, have packages within packages – none of which tend to be recyclable.”
By comparison, Ethique’s packaging is certified 100% compostable, but West has ensured her company goes beyond packaging and tackles sustainability with a 360-degree approach.
“Ethique is run as sustainably as possible, in every sense of the word,” West shared. “Our teams are all paid well above a living wage, our ingredients are sustainably sourced and free of troublesome ingredients (like palm oil), and we donate 20% of annual profits to charity.”
Best Makeup Remover: Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm, $34
As a brand, Farmacy takes a holistic approach to sustainability by ethically sourcing its ingredients from local farmers and using renewable raw and recyclable materials for packaging. This cleansing balm delivers. A little bit goes a long way, melting down even the most long-lasting liquid lipstick or waterproof mascara without leaving your skin dry or tight. As abonus, it offers natural chemical exfoliation via papaya enzymes and is a great first step in a double-cleanse skincare routine.
Best Moisturizer: Heart of Gold Sweetbriar Hydrating Nectar, $70
This deeply hydrating serum-like “moisture milk” is incredibly effective as a mix-in, which means it works overtime as part of a sustainable skincare routine. It can be used alone to hydrate, blended into your favorite serums or gels, or slathered on as a deeply moisturizing mask. Its starring ingredients include wild rose, blackcurrant, and juneberry which soothe skin and reduce inflammation. Meadowfoam, aloe, sweetbriar, and birch sugar infuse skin with nourishment and weightless moisture. This kind of multi-tasking, courtesy of ethically sourced ingredients, is a cornerstone of the brand. And is hugely important to founder Ally Draizin.
“The beauty industry romanticizes exotic superfoods which are frequently rare and threatened,” Draizin shared. “That romantic mindset has decimated wild plants like white sage, chaga, and palo santo … In my opinion sustainability means thinking long-term about habitat restoration, ethical harvesting, responsible resource management. And making sure the people involved are paid fairly, and live in safety and comfort.”
Best Toner: Youth to the People Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner, $38
There’s a misconception that sustainable products don’t work as effectively as ones that are harsh on mother earth and your skin. Youth to the People dispels that myth with their incredibly effective, vegan and cruelty-free toner that comes in reusable packaging. This powerful mix of lactic and glycolic acid is a pore-erasing, skin-smoothing miracle worker. As combination of tree bark and kombucha black tea work together to give your skin a prebiotic boost.
Best Face Oil: Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Antioxidant Beauty Face Oil, $64
Herbivore Botanicals, an instagram star and also cult favorite brand has been making beautiful, cruelty-free products in reusable containers for years. But the brand’s face oils are by far the biggest showstoppers. Also, If you’re new to face oils, we’d recommend starting with the Orchid Antioxidant Beauty Face Oil. Which uses squalane and orchid extract to deeply hydrate all skin types. As a brand, Herbivore Botanicals uses food-grade, cold-pressed oils, no fillers (meaning every ingredient offered by the brand is an active ingredient). And strives to keep ingredients organic.
Best Face Mask: Stevie Fox No Bunnies Unicorn of Masks, $22.50
This mask is great to slather on overnight for a truly deep hydration experience. That leaves skin smooth, glowing, and incredibly soft (seriously, you won’t believe it). A blend of azulene extract and hematite provides a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory boost. That also works wonders on dark spots left by blemishes and hyperpigmentation. It’s silky smooth and formulated admirably featuring organic and vegan ingredients that are cruelty, paraben, and palm oil free.
Being able to cater to the next generation of skincare junkies and Instagram obsessives. While protecting the planet is hugely important to Stevie Fox skincare founder Lisa Cherry. She set out to make chic products that support the environments they’re sourced from.
“Beauty consumers want the newest, the latest and the greatest but at what expense to the planet?” She says.. “If more brands focus on sustainability first, we feel that the beauty industry can become even more beautiful.”
Stevie Fox Beauty purposely doesn’t highlight its packaging on social media or its website. Instead focusing on the products themselves. The word “planet” was included in the Stevie Fox website URL. To emphasize the importance of including mindful production and consumption in every step of the brand’s beauty journey.