When looking to reduce waste and make various zero waste swaps, I have found that some things are easier to swap out than others.
For example, you can now find bamboo or metal straws all over the marketplace, making it a fairly convenient and simple swap. Bamboo toothbrushes are also another easy-to-find zero waste product out there.
But zero waste makeup, on the other hand, isn’t so prevalent – unless you take the time and effort to make your own, of course.
Makeup is still one of those things that creates a lot of unnecessary waste. Although I promote a sustainable, low-waste lifestyle, I am not perfect and still use some non-recyclable packaged makeup like plastic mascara wands and Maybelline’s BB Cream in a plastic squeeze tube (which cannot be recycled).
I honestly cringe every time I have to throw away yet another makeup product, before going out and buying it all over again.
That is why I decided to do some digging – I wanted to show people (and myself) that there ARE in fact clean, zero waste makeup brands.
In this blog post, I am going to cover the top 10 zero waste makeup brands that are also clean for your skin!
I also decided to include which products are Think Dirty app approved! The Think Dirty app is completely free and it tells you which products are “clean” or “dirty” by giving it a score based on its ingredients list (0 being the cleanest and 10 being the dirtiest).
This app covers things from makeup to shampoos to sunscreens! It really is a great way to see if the products that you’re using are good for you or not, so I definitely recommend downloading it!
However, it’s important to note that the app doesn’t cover every single brand on the market. So some of the zero waste makeup brands that I mention might be clean, they just aren’t yet included on the app.
Another disclaimer, some of these brands are not 100% zero waste (things like squeeze tubes and most plastic brushes are landfill items), but they do have recyclable and compostable packaging options.
Oh, and before you read on, I wanted to make a plug about MASCARA WANDS: they can be donated to wildlife refuge centers! So if you are really wanting to adopt a zero waste makeup routine, this is a great way to skip the landfill and give to a good cause!
Now for the good stuff.. if you’re ready to see which makeup brands are the best for you and the environment then please read on!
Let’s get zero wasted ya’ll.
Top 10 Zero Waste Makeup Brands
ZAO is a really cool zero waste makeup brand because they offer a refill system for most of their products! And they’re also packaged in bamboo, which is 100% compostable. When you’re done with one of their compacts, you can recycle the aluminum tin it was in, then order another one! It’s also cheaper to do the refill system since you won’t be buying the bamboo packaging every time.
The only thing that is unfortunately not zero waste is their liquid BB cream foundation. It is sent in a plastic squeeze tube that can’t be recycled. So that is the only downfall.
But they do have a cream compact foundation that is zero waste! Plus, they also have a Think Dirty rating of 0, which means their products are super clean!
- 100% natural, certified organic, toxic-free, cruelty-free, gluten-free and vegan.
- Bamboo packaging, refill system
- Liquid foundations not recyclable
- Think Dirty app rating: 0
Ilia is a very transparent brand and they have really awesome, healthy ingredients in their products. However, I don’t think they really promote themselves as being 100% zero waste, because some of their products are not able to be recycled and they don’t have a refill system.
However, the products in aluminum are able to be recycled (as long as their not attached to other plastic parts). I believe you may be able to recycle the hard plastic tube in their liquid foundation as long as it gets cleaned out. Overall, I would only recommend certain products to someone looking to buy zero waste products for them.
Their Think Dirty app rating is also a 3, which means they’re still in the green “clean” area!
- Packaged in recycled aluminum
- Cream in squeeze tube is not recyclable
- Think Dirty app rating: 3
Elate is another awesome brand that offers bamboo packaging (compostable) and a refill system! Plus, their mascara tubes can be composted and recycled! They state that you can crush and compost the bamboo casing and then clean and recycle the inner plastic tube.
As for the wand, you can clean it off and donate to a wildlife refuge center!
- Bamboo packaging
- Offers refills
- Think Dirty app rating: 0 (woo hoo!)
Not all of RMS’ products are zero waste, but they are an environmentally-conscious company. They use recycled materials in most of their packaging and their cream products come in recyclable materials (glass and aluminum).
- Cream products come in recyclable glass jars with recyclable stainless steel tops
- Vegan, natural ingredients, cruelty-free
- Think Dirty app rating: 0
Vapour is on the pricey end, so it’s not something I would typically buy. However, they do carry a lot of sustainably packaged products that come in recyclable aluminum tubes.
My mom has a few of their products and they work great! You do have to warm up some of their tube products with your hand in order to get its full creamiest effect. Many of their items are also multi-use too, which is great.
- Recyclable aluminum tubes
- Cruelty-free, and natural, plant-based ingredients
Antonym is another really cool company that has adopted compostable bamboo packaging, though not all of it is bamboo.
- Bamboo packaging (100% compostable) for their compacts
- Certified organic and cruelty-free
Besame is a luxury vintage makeup brand, so most of their packaging comes in vintage-inspired aluminum tins! The best part is that they offer refills on their cake mascara… so no more needing to buy the same packaging over and over again!
- Cake mascara in reusable/refillable tin
- Lipstick in aluminum tubes
- Vegan, cruelty-free
Dirty Hippie Cosmetics is an Australian-based makeup brand that is nearly all zero waste! All of their makeup products either come in aluminum tins or glass containers, both of which have a 100% recycle rate.
As for their mascara, it comes in a recyclable glass vial with an aluminum screw top. You can either reuse the spool brush (make sure to put in Order notes that you don’t need another spool), donate it to a wildlife refuge center, or break off the bamboo handle for compost and toss the brush.
- 100% zero waste packaging
- Organic, vegan, and cruelty-free
- For Aus residents, they will refill your empty containers!
9. Kjaer Weis
Kjaer Weis offers a refill system on almost all of their products (sans the lip gloss tube, I believe). I’m unsure if they are vegan/cruelty-free, but they do use all organic, natural plant ingredients in their products.
- Offer refills for all of their compacts, mascara, and lipstick!
- Clean, certified Organic ingredients
10. Nudi Goods
Okay, so I originally wrote this post with the Etsy shop, Keeping It Natural, as the last zero waste makeup brand (still great by the way, so look into it if you feel inclined), but I had to change it since coming across Nudi Goods on Instagram.
I almost never stumble upon zero waste makeup and I was so impressed by what this company has done so I had to share.
This shop has all zero waste packaging and they are SUPER affordable too! Which, when buying sustainably, is pretty hard to come by.
They don’t (yet, fingers crossed) have foundation, but they do have mascara, a really cool eyebrow taming wax, and tons of chapsticks with tinted options too!
So if you feel overwhelmed by trying to navigate through which makeup packaging is landfill or not, then you’ll want to check this brand out since it’s all biodegradable!
I will definitely be purchasing from them in the near future so I’ll keep ya’ll updated on what I think/buy.
- 100% biodegradable packaging
- Vegan, clean, cruelty-free
Hopefully you found this list helpful! I know that I will definitely be referring to it once I switch over to more zero waste makeup…. my makeup is almost out so I will be updating this post as soon as I try some of these brands.
The ones that stick out to me the most (and the brands I would most likely buy from) are ZAO, Elate, and Nudi Goods, because they have all compostable bamboo packaging, which makes it super easy when purchasing.
Dirty Hippie is also really great since everything there is zero waste, but it does have to be shipped all the way from Australia, which is a bit of a downside for me in the US.
However, this list is meant to be a general guide to show you that there are zero waste and clean beauty products out there – it just takes a little digging, but the effort is definitely worth it.
Also, I’d love to hear feedback from anyone who has tried some of these brands, or others! I’m still on the hunt for more zero waste makeup in order to see which one is the best bang for your buck, so let me know if you know of any others! I’m definitely hopeful that more companies will adopt more sustainable packaging options, but in the meantime all we can do is vote with our wallet and support the companies that already are doing such great work!
Happy shopping everybody!