The last couple of years have been amazing for this skincare-mad modern ghost. Not only is cruelty-free skincare becoming, dare I say it, very nearly the norm. It’s also becoming more effective, more innovative, and more accessible by the year. Sustainable vegan skincare brands are embracing ingredient-led simple formulations, holistic approaches to self-care, and their client base’s eco-conscious mindset. And for us, that means that gone are the days of the weird-smelling, medical looking, £30-a-bottle products. Instead, we’re both spoiled for choice AND have all the information to build the right routine for us at our fingertips on the internet!
But, as with everything, throwing caution to the wind is not the one. There’s greenwashing galore, and everything from slightly misguided to downright misleading claims being merrily printed on marketing materials. Fake leaping bunnies, ‘zero waste’ plastic bottles (under the pretence that recyclable is waste-free, erm, what?), and in-house definitions of ‘cruelty-free’, you’ve really got to know what you’re looking out for. I’ve written a whole post on sustainable skincare considerations if you want to learn more. The TLDR is that it’s not straightforward and consumers really need to engage with what they’re buying.
But where there’s dark, there’s also light. While some brands are extremely wishy-washing, others are doing some outstanding work. As you know, I try to take a holistic approach to my wellbeing, and that means thinking about what I put on my face, and how that’s going to affect me as well as the environment I live in. I’ve gathered my favourites in this post, I hope you find it useful on your journey!
Bybi is a brand that I use really quite a lot. Founded on the principle of ‘Healthy Skin, Healthy Planet’, it resonates with me with its simple eco packaging and super effective formulations. I also love their use of affordable boosters, which allow you to tailor your skincare without having to rely on a huge product range. Baby are available in a couple of high-street outlets as well as online, and my only gripe is that some of my favourite products are often sold out for lengthy periods of time. I take this as a sign that they don’t over-produce though, shifting stock before commissioning more – and while that can be a paid for us while we’re waiting for our beloved SPF to hit shelves again, I suppose it’s a practice we can all get on board with?
You can’t really talk about green vegan beauty brands without stumbling across Lush at some point. They hardly need an introduction, but I’ve been using them so much that it didn’t feel right not to include them! Anything packaged in their black pots or clear bottles is part of a closed-loop low-waste recycling system – provided you clean them out and bring them back to the store, of course. Each item you return gives you a small amount of credit towards your shop! Now granted – they’re not the most affordable of options. But they’re physically pretty accessible, with shops in most cities as well as an online offering. And while they certainly have their faults, they have also trailblazed the solid product market and have been leaders in the cruelty-free scene for much longer than it’s been cool.
Australian brand Sukin has exploded onto the scene in the past couple of years. I’ve tried quite a lot of their products, but their cleansers in particular are real winners in my eyes! I’m particularly into the lack of strong fragrance and how well they remove makeup. I’m also a regular user of their face mists and eye creams, which are affordable but feel like a real luxury. Sukin are 100% cruelty-free and vegan, support a number of environmental intiatives and offset their emissions. They also use completely recyclable packaging – although I’d love to see them ditch plastic completely where it’s reasonable!
UpCircle Beauty are another established favourite. Based entirely on the basis of utilising things that would usually end up in landfill, the brand have created face and body scrubs, as well as serums, moisturisers, and soaps, all from upcycled materials! Fun fact for my fellow coffee lovers – their original upcycled product was coffee grounds, and they still use these in lots of their products. Their packaging is incredibly low-waste, with very little plastic involved, and eternally refillable through their website.
Best Buys: My ride-or-die serum
We all know about solid soap and shampoo by now, but did you know solid skincare is also a thing? Ethique have expanded their offering to include a whole range of solid skincare. Their range includes cleansers, exfoliants, and moisturisers, and they even do lipstick!
Best Buys: Their mini selection to find your favourite products