I’m no longer a big wearer of make-up but if you’re into your cosmetics and wanted less harmful options here’s a list of sustainable ethical makers to consider.
Just to note, I am not a chemist or a scientist so I’ve had to take claims of ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ at face value (pardon the pun). If you’d like more information on this I’ll direct you to the the American consumer health website Mamavation who published results of a very comprehensive evaluation of toxins in make-up brands on the US market in. They look at the typical ingredients in make-up, the regulations around the products and the best companies to buy from. It’s not ideal for us in Ireland as it’s focused on the American market but it’s the best resource I’ve come across to date.
Interestingly they discovered real issues over mineral-based make-up, which accounts for most of the companies I’ve listed below. I’ll continue to update this article with info as I get it but the mantra ‘buyer beware’ seems paramount when considering what to put on your skin.
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Ireland (made or sold here)
Lush is 100% vegetarian, cruelty-free UK make-up brand that claims to be committed to ethical buying and using as little packaging as possible. Their website states that ‘when packaging is unavoidable, we prefer to use recycled materials. 90%, by weight, of our packaging material is recycled and we’re working on the remaining 10%. We like our packaging to be reused, recycled or composted at the end of their lives and aim to have 100% of our packaging recyclable or compostable.’ As recycling for their black pots is not available everywhere they offer a free fresh face mask to customers that bring five of them back to their stores. The black pots are recycled or re-used as art material. They now sell package-free vegan lipsticks. You can read all about their governing principles; from air travel and carbon tax to charity donations, on Lush’s policy page. There are a number of Lush stores in Dublin, Cork, Newry and Belfast.
Green People make organic mineral make up in the UK. Products are free from cruelty, SLS, SLES, methylisothiazolinone (MI), methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), parabens, lanolin, phthalates, propylene glycol, alcohol (ethyl alcohol, ethanol), harsh foaming agents, irritating emulsifiers, synthetic fragrance, PABA-sunscreen, gluten, colourants, petrochemicals, urea, DEA, TEA or PEGs. Their products are certified by Eco-cert as being organic. Their website doesn’t mention anything about packaging. You can buy their products in health stores throughout Ireland.
Developed in Germany Dr Hauschka has makes 100% natural and/or organic make-up that is cruelty-free. They state that they almost exclusively obtain their plants, oils and waxes from controlled organic cultivation (biodynamic quality where possible) and under fair trade conditions. Their factory in Germany recycles rain water, composts waste and have been using 100% certified green electricity for many years. They also use heat recovery heating, provide company bicycles, pay their employees’ public transport fares and provide a carpooling platform. They are also are working with the World Hunger Organisation to offer around 700 farmers who now use organic methods an alternative to opium cultivation. The American website displayed the BDIH standard for organic and natural cosmetics, while the German website shows some products as being certified by NaTrue. Each of the product page lists the ingredients contained in the product and also the nasties that it’s missing and whether it’s suitable for vegans. Their products are widely available in health stores and pharmacies across the country, including Nourish.
Founded in 1987 and located in Germany Lavera make 100% certified natural cosmetics with plant ingredients, using organic where possible. Their 280 products are all free from cruelty, parabens, SLS, silicone, paraffin, GMO ingredients, synthetic preservatives, synthetic emulsifiers, synthetic fragrances, synthetic colours. Most of their products are gluten-free and vegan. Each product page helpfully lists all the ingredients contained in each product. The company is certified by NaTrue. Interestingly the American version of the Lavera website says it’s an ‘organic’ skincare company, while the German one simply states ‘natural’ skincare using organic ingredients. You can buy their products in health stores throughout Ireland.
Couleur Caramel is a French company that makes natural cruelty-free makeup and are acredited by Ecocert and Bureau Veritas (Qualité France), whose main missions are the control and certification of organic products and who’s terms and conditions of certification are claimed by Couleur Caramel to be some of the strictest. The company appears to use quite a bit of cardboard packaging but there is no mention of this on the parent company’s website. You can buy their make up in Nourish stores throughout Ireland and Virginia Claire in Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6W. On a personal note, I bought their concealer. I found it good but too light in coverage for my skin. I also got a really nasty cut on my finger from the edge of the cardboard-clad aluminium pot the concealer came in. I emailed the company that I bought the concealer from. They said they’d speak to the company and come back to me. I’ve since heard nothing.
Set up in 1972 French brand Phyt’s offer 100% natural make up with organic ingredients online and from the beauty salon Virginia Claire in Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6W. They list all of the ingredients on their website and the company are signed up to a quality charter by Cosmebio, a self-regulating Professional Association for Natural, Ecological and Organic cosmetics. Their organic ingredients are also certified by EcoCert and Agriculture Biologic. Their range is available to buy in a host of beauticians and retailers throughout the country.
Pure Bio is an organic make-up brand that uses only with natural ingredients to make vegan, cosmetics that are free from parabens, petrolatum, nickle and all synthetic ingredients in Italy. Their packaging seems to mostly be plastic. You can buy their products in the Organic Hairdresser in Dalkey, Co Dublin or from a host of e-tailers.
ZAO is a cruelty-free French brand that offer products said to be made with 100% natural organic ingredients, including bamboo. Some of their products are refillable and they appear to use quite a bit of bamboo packaging but it doesn’t talk about the sustainability of the bamboo that they use. You can buy their products from littlegreenshop.ie
Available online , in Biofresh Salons in Swords and Drogheda, and on Ryanair and Aer Lingus Flights, US brand Bellápierre, offers 100% natural cruelty-free mineral cosmetics. The company states that it’s mineral foundation contains only 4 ingredients; mica to cover, iron oxides for colour and titanium and zinc oxide to give protection from the sun. Some of their products are listed as vegan.
RMS Beauty products are said to be formulated with raw, food-grade, organic ingredients in their natural state which they claim allow their living, healing attributes to penetrate and rejuvenate the skin. All RMS Beauty products are free of harmful chemicals, synthetic preservatives, synthetic vitamins, and genetically altered ingredients (GMO) etc. Packaging for RMS Beauty products is minimal, and all of it is biodegradable, recyclable or reusable. I’ve been told that Spack NK in Dublin 2 sells this brand.
You can buy mineral eye-shadow, foundation, blusher and concealer powder refills in paper envelopes from Minimalist Grocery. The products are free of parabens and palm oil. It doesn’t say if they’re non-nano.
When it comes to nail varnish or nail paint we can now choose a 4 ingredient nail varnish free from endocrine-disrupting chemicals, like TPHP. You simply set the varnish with a hairdryer and it last just as long as regular nailvarnish. You can buy online from the website above, or McCartan’s Pharmacy, Sutton Cross, Dublin 13 or from jiminy.ie or reuzi.ie online or at one of the markets that they visit regularly. They also do a kids version called piggy paint.
PHB Cosmetics is a family-run company offering a large collection of Natural, Vegan, and Cruelty & Alcohol Free (Halal) beauty products which they handcraft in their UK & Canada facilities. They donate 20% of net profits to charities that improve the lives of people and animals in the UK and around the world. They don’t engage in animal testing and only use 100% naturally derived ingredients. All PHB products are free from alcohol, animal ingredients, palm oil, parabens, SLS / SLeS / ALS, synthetic fragrance / parfum, colourants /dyes, PEG / petrochemicals, formaldehyde, DEA / TEA / phthalates and microbeads. They say that much of their packaging is 100% recyclable, including our Aluminium lids, PET Bottles and Glass Jars and that they also use eco-friendly packaging made from post-consumer recycled sources.
UK company Odylique offer cruelty-free organic fairtrade make-up made from 100% natural ingredients. Their website lists all of the ingredients in each item, and more importantly the ingredients that aren’t included! Some of their products are suitable for vegans and most are suitable for vegetarians. The plastic packaging that they use has been made in Europe and is, according to the company, recyclable. The company also uses some packaging made from recycled plastic, boxes made from sustainably sourced paper (FSC certified) from a carbon neutral company and their packing peanuts they use are biodegradable. They also support a range of charities and are accredited as an ethical company by The Ethical Company Organisation.
All Earth Mineral Cosmetics make cruelty free, paraben and palm oil free and vegan friendly, non-nano pure mineral based cosmetics in the UK. They keep their minerals as loose powder so that they do not need added ingredients to bind them together or preservatives are needed in them. Their products are also free of bismuth oxychloride, a chemical often present in mineral make-up and one that people can be allergic too. Interestingly that explain that for a mineral make-up product to be certified as organic, they need to contain 70% of an ingredient like rice powder or corn-starch. This would diminish the value of the minerals and the make-up would not feel light, give great coverage and would be irritating to the skin and lose the SPF. They offer samples, half size foundations and refills and a money back guarantee on all products. They state that all of their ingredients are ethically sourced and so do not involve child labour. Their products either come in a reusable long-lasting bamboo container or compostable cardboard packaging. They use recycled bags for posting out their products.
Love the Planet offer paraban, palm-oil and cruetly-free vegan mineral make-up in either aluminium tins or compostable refill pouches.
Additional Neals Yard Remedies, the well know organic health and beauty brand, sells a 78% organic mascara.
Eco Minerals describes itself as an Australian vegan, cruelty free, ethically-sourced brand that offers 100% money back guarantee for returns within 60 days. The website doesn’t say anything specifically about packaging but they do offer free shipping on powder refills in what appears to be cardboard packaging.
Dirty Hippie (see photo above) claims that their products are sustainably geared, organic and 100% cruelty and toxin free. Their website says that all products are made fresh to order at their green powered Hippie HQ located in Canberra, Australia and that they only use recycled and compostable / recyclable materials in their packaging. Again no Irish based stockist but products can be sold from their Etsy store.
Products from American company Alima Pure are free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes, phthalates, dimethicone, petroleum, talc, bismuth oxychloride, and nanoparticles and are not tested on animals. You can read all about the ingredients they use here. They are also a carbon neutral company, donate 1% of their annual gross revenue (sales, not profit) to grassroots environmental organizations dedicated to protecting our planet and offer refillable containers for some of it’s products.
Twink Beauty offer non-toxic, handmade vegan make-up in mostly aluminium tins. They also offer refills, although they come in ziploc plastic bags. This American makers sell directly from their Etsy shop.
Kjer Weis is a New York based company offering products that are either ‘Certified Natural’ or ‘Certified Organic’. Certified natural products contain higher levels of materials that, while still natural, cannot be certified organic because they occur in non-agricultural environments. For example bamboo silica comes from bamboo grown in the wild. While there was no use of fertilizer, pesticides, etc, it grows in a non-supervised area. Such ingredients are identified as “wild crafted” or “natural”. Their products are free from Phthalates, Butylated Hydroxytoluene, Propylene Glycol, Butyl Acetate, Cocamide DEA / Lauramide DEA, Diazolidinyl Urea – Ethyl Acetate – Parabens – Petrolatum, and gluten. Some of their eye-shadows are vegan and none of their products are tested on animals. Their compacts are also designed to be reused with their Intelligent Refill System. There is free shipping on all orders to the EU over €60.
Fat and the Moon offer handcrafted, herbal body care products made in America. There is nothing on the website about their policy in relation to packaging but looking at the shop most of it appears to be glass and metal.
Keeping it Natural is a vegan brand from America that uses natural ingredients. Their Etsy shop has the term ‘Zero Waste’ in the title but I couldn’t find a specific policy on packaging. It would appear that they use a mix of metal tins and plastic jars for their products.
Clean Cosmetics make and sell mostly organic, always vegan make-up products using mined mica ethically in Germany and the US. The company states that wherever possible organic ingredients are used but it’s not always possible to get certified organic ingredients, i.e. kaolin. They also explain that they’re not 100% plant-based because many plant pigments are extremely unstable and can cause more skin reactions than, for example, mineral based pigments.
Arbonne is a B-Corp offering vegan, cruelty free make up based using plant-based ingredients. They have a ingredient policy that prohibits over 2,000 ingredients, such as PEGs, parabens and phthalates, and some of the most common allergens. They also seek third party certifications to ensure transparency and proof of their commitments. In relation to packaging the company is partnering with TerraCycle™ to launch a new national recycling program for Arbonne packaging that can’t be put into a recycling bin.
Axiology use natural ingredients (some organic) to make certified vegan lipsticks that are free of cruelty, palm oil, soy, nano particles, synthethic fragrances and synthethic preservatives. The company also refuses to sell to countries still engaged in animal testing. Their boxes are recyclable and compostable, their lipstick tubes are recyclable but their lipstick crayon packaging is not. The company also do sample sizes. You can buy directly from the company or from UK based Glow Organics or Asos.
Elate Cosmetics is a Canadian company that offers vegan cosmetics that are cruelty, toxin and gluten-free (didn’t realise that gluten was an issue in cosmetics!). They offer sample sizes of most of the products so you can try at minimal cost before investing. There doesn’t appear to be a specific policy on packaging on their website but the packaging appears to be a mix of card tubes, bamboo and metal with some plastic.
Canadian based Sweet Leilani makes vegan cosmetics that are free from cruelty, parabens, gluten and fragrance. Their website says that ingredients are obtained from sustainable sources and that their packaging is paperboard and Kraft paper printed with vegetable and soy ink, but having looked at the list of products some appear to be in plastic containers or with plastic parts.
You may also be interested in Ilia Cosmetics who create products made with certified organic bio-active botanicals, some of which come in recycled aluminium case.
During my research i came across a great listing of the 75 cruelty-free and vegan cosmetic companies and the EWG’s Costmetic Database of over 63,000 products. Launched in 2004 this database has online profiles for cosmetics and personal care products and their potential hazards and health concerns.
Content Beauty is an online marketplace that allows you to search by ethos.
Cruelty Free Cosmetics is an Irish online retailer of natural, vegan, cruelty free products using recycled and / or biodegradable packaging from Beauty without Cruelty, BiOrganics and Emani, Inecto.
Credo Beauty is an online retailer that stocks some of the brands listed above. They vow never to carry products with known harmful ingredients or animal byproducts and they only stock brands that never test on animals. They don’t mention anything about packaging but they have a very helpful List of Dirty Ingredients which gives a good explanation on why we should avoid certain ingredients.
Amazingy is another online organic & natural beauty boutique. Everything they sell is free from parabens, SLS, artificial fragrance, petrochemicals, phthalates, pegs and none of the products they sell are ever tested on animals. They don’t mention anything about the packaging of the products they carry but their website states that they use corn starch based loosefill packaging peanuts that are biodegradable in water, soil and both home and industrial compost settings. They also plant a tree for every order!
Ecco Verde is probably the largest of the online retailers stocking ‘natural’ makeup and skincare. I found it hard to find definitive information on the type of products they sell and they seem to have a wide definition of ‘natural’. Also they don’t have any information on the type of packaging each product comes in. That said that they do appear to list the certificate relating to each product so it might be a good reference point if you’re buying a lot of product.
Acalaonline in the UK retail few zero waste / natural cosmetic brands
Mio Bio is a Romanian e-tailer of a wide-range of brands in the natural / ethical make-up and skincare world.