The Best Sustainable Beauty Brands for 2020
by Alicia Glenn
With the proliferation of sustainable products available, it has never been easier to shop responsibly. From refillable products to locally sourced and recyclable products, we have compiled a list of the best ethical and sustainable beauty brands that are providing premium-standard beauty products with a conscience.
Kjaer Weis, the brainchild of Danish makeup artist Kristen Kjaer Weis, with a loyal customer base. The sleek, weighty packaging looks and feels the part, in the perfect marriage of Scandi minimalism and NYC cool. Each eco-friendly product is refillable, providing smooth, lasting colour.
Must-Haves: Achieve the perfect Botticellian flush with Kjaer Weis’_ _cream blush (£41), applied over their light-weight buildable foundation (£51).
Ethical checklist: Cruelty-free, organic, thoughtfully packaged.
Tata Harper is arguably the queen of green in the beauty industry. An early pioneer of the farm to face movement, the brand was born from a desire to use products void of toxic additives. Founder, Tata, set out to create a non-toxic, natural skincare range, using unusual ingredients like gum from trees in Senegal as substitutes.
Must-Haves: The Tata Harper Vanity Case (£1,050) contains six of the brand’s best-selling products, including our favourite Hydrating Floral Essence, to combat signs of ageing and rejuvenate the skin. The pea-green vegan leather case is a practical addition and makes a perfect gift.
Ethical Checklist: Vegetarian (some products contain bees wax), cruelty free, palm oil free, organic, ethically sourced, thoughtfully packaged.
US cult-favourite Le Labo has finally landed in the UK. If you have ever taken a walk through Williamsburg, there’s a high chance you have already smelt Santal 33 wafting from scent-savvy Brooklynites. Its smoky, androgynous scent is a firm favourite amongst celebs. Le Labo is dedicated to quality and craftsmanship; every flower is handpicked and every candle hand-poured. Their insistence on artisanal practice lends itself to eco-friendliness and their products are all 100% vegan and cruelty free, with refills available.
Must-Haves:Santal 33 (£184). Its heady bouquet of sandalwood and musk, with sultry notes of violet and cardamom, intoxicates and ensnares the senses.
Ethical checklist: Vegan, cruelty-free, ethically-sourced, thoughtfully packaged.
La Mer has great reverence for the healing potential of the ocean; it is their living muse and most precious resource. Hand-harvested giant sea kelp, famed for its powers of cell-renewal, is the essential ingredient in the Miracle Broth elixir at the heart of Crème de la Mer. It makes perfect sense, therefore, that La Mer have enthusiastically committed to the conservation of marine biodiversity. Their charitable endeavours through the La Mer Blue Heart Foundation have raised over £4 million towards conservation efforts.
Must-Haves: The eponymous Crème de la Mer (£65-£1,550) is the last word in luxury skincare. It is lightweight, leaving even the most careworn skin supple and radiant.
Ethical checklist: ethically sourced, thoughtfully packaged.
LA BOUCHE ROUGE
Dismayed at the sheer volume of waste generated by the beauty industry, La Bouche Rouge delivers Parisian je ne sais quoi with a conscience. The creamy matte lipsticks are microplastic-free, from production all the way to the shop floor, and come in an impressive range of shades. The refillable leather cases, made in the French artisanal tradition, will add a touch of chicness to any dresser. We are partial to the limited-edition Ocean Blue case, made in honour of World Oceans Day.
Must-Haves: Channel Parisian cool girls with the satin V Nude Pink lipstick (£112), a ballet-slipper pink in a vegan leather case. Pair with a clean face, strong brows and a slick of black eyeliner.
Ethical checklist: Vegan, cruelty free, palm oil free, organic, ethically sourced, thoughtfully packaged
Davines is a family business, based in the historic city of Parma, with an ethos of sustainability and respect for their workers at its heart. Their haircare products are salon-quality with none of the chemicals, and they work wonders on dry, colour-treated hair. Their velvety conditioning treatments are staples for discerning beauty lovers.
Must-Haves: If you find your tresses lacklustre during the winter months, try Davines_' _OI All In One Milk (£21.50). This lightweight hair treatment, rich in roucou oil, detangles and defrizzes, leaving hair silky and nourished. If you’re seeking a greener way of trying out the wet-look trend, try the Medium Hold Modelling Gel (£17).
Ethical checklist: Mostly vegan (their website has a comprehensive list of products that contain animal-derived ingredients) cruelty free, ethically sourced, thoughtfully packaged.
Vintner’s Daughter Botanical Serum has finally landed in the UK. A decadent blend of 22 organic botanicals, sourced exclusively from organic and wildcrafted farms, has led to the Botanical Serum being hailed as “the face oil to end all face oils”. A meticulous approach of using region-specific methodical formulation lies at the heart of the company's ethos. Committed to working with the earth to create a beauty product rooted in agricultural knowledge, it can take up to eight weeks to create just one batch.
Must-Haves: The Active Botanical Serum (£175) stimulates cellular turnover and protects against free radical damage, leaving skin plump and dewy. For every purchase made, Vintner’s donates 2% to charities encouraging the education and empowerment of women worldwide, so you can luxuriate guilt-free.
Ethical checklist: Vegan, cruelty free, natural, ethically sourced, thoughtfully packaged.
Dr Hauschka is a brand dedicated to “supporting the healing of humanity and the earth" and this ethic of care inspires every aspect of the company's practise. They utilise ecologically conscious methods of growing and sourcing ingredients and engage in international fair trade initiatives that help transform disadvantage into self-reliance and economic sustainability. Although international in scope, most of Dr Hauschka’s plants are home grown in the garden behind their offices, ensuring an innate understanding of the healing properties of their botanicals.
Must-haves: Dr Hauschka’s Soothing Cleansing Milk (£20.40) is a gentle daily cleanser ideal for sensitive skin. Infused with soothing jojoba and almond oil, it cleanses and maintains the skin’s naturally protective acid mantle.
Ethical checklist: predominantly vegan (some products contain milk extracts), cruelty free, natural, ethically sourced, thoughtfully packaged.
You probably recognise Aesop’s iconic glass bottles and signature citrusy scent from hotel and restaurant bathrooms around the world. For the uninitiated, Aesop’s sustainable approach has won them a cult following worldwide. The exquisitely-scented elixirs marry plant-based formulas with contemporary technology, to ensure maximum efficacy and minimum environmental impact.
Must-haves: Indulge in Aesop’s Damascan Rose Facial Treatment (£55). Attar of rose and neroli blossom intermingle in this feather-light facial serum, creating a non-greasy formula that leaves skin glowing.
Ethical Checklist: Vegan, cruelty free, thoughtfully packaged.
NEAL’S YARD REMEDIES
Once relegated to a forgotten corner of Covent Garden, Neal’s Yard Remedies are now global leaders in eco-friendly beauty. In 2008 they became the first high street retailer to be certified carbon neutral and they successfully lobbied the UK to ban plastic microbeads in beauty products. Never content to rest on their laurels, Neal’s Yard is committed to making the little plastic they use (most of their products are packaged in apothecary-style glass bottles) 100% recyclable by 2025.
Must-Haves: Sleep sound in the knowledge that you are shopping ethically with Neal’s Yard’s Goodnight Pillow Mist (£12.80). The calming scent of lavender lulls you into deep, restful sleep.
Ethically Checklist: Vegetarian with a wide range of vegan products available, cruelty free, organic, ethically sourced, thoughtfully packaged