There’s no denying the damaging effects the beauty industry has on the environment – think plastic packaging filling up landfills, deforestation led by a quest for ingredients such as palm oil and harsh chemicals in products that, washed down the drains, ultimately destroy ocean life. With a steady stream of eye-opening facts and figures and a growing demand from consumers for products that are nicer to nature, beauty has had something of a makeover in recent years. As big names join the revolution (L’Oréal has pledged to be fully sustainable by 2030), opting for a fully eco-kind skincare routine is now more achievable than ever before.
But, before we dive into the brands to be applauding and investing in, what exactly is sustainable beauty and what should we be championing? In simple terms, look out for environmentally friendly formulas that avoid harmful chemicals, have biodegradable or reusable packaging and formulated with natural ingredients from renewable sources and ethical production processes that respect the ecosystem. Armed with this checklist, here’s our guide to five clean, cruelty-free brands that promise nourished, healthy skin without harming the planet…
Syrene – straight out of New Zealand, Syrene is a skincare brand by women, for women. Products are made locally, using natural and native ingredients like Manuka honey and Pohutukawa (also known as the Kiwi Christmas tree). Inspired by the Pacific Ocean, the brand aims to soothe dull, dry skin, restoring its natural radiance. Lightweight and gentle on the skin, we suggest trying out the nutrient-rich Gel to Foam Cleanser for a refreshing start to the day.
Pai – London-based Pai is a vegan brand that guarantees goodness every step of the way. Free from parabens, alcohol and artificial fragrances to name just a few, founder Sarah Brown and her team have worked hard to develop formulations that won’t irritate even the most sensitive skin. Look out for the Back to Life Hydration Serum, packed with a trio of Australian berries to encourage moisture retention, which is great for eczema-prone skin too.
Herbivore – celebrating almost a decade of green skincare, Seattle-founded Herbivore leads in natural, effective formulas that are as good for your skin as they are the planet. From its bestselling Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist to its Pink Clay Exfoliating Mask, Herbivore’s products are completely synthetic-free and packed full of vegan-friendly goodies like rose hips and coconut oil. Even better, the brand aims to remove all virgin plastic from its packaging in the next 5 years, reinforcing its commitment to total sustainability.
Haeckels – from the shores of Kent, Haeckels is the brainchild of Dom Bridges, a self-confessed coastal enthusiast. Much like Syrene, the brand looks to harness the powers of its local environment and the sea, drawing specifically on the anti-bacterial, vitamin–packed properties of the seaweed the team collects (under licence of course) from Margate’s beaches. Alongside cult classics like the Eco Marine Cream, a daily moisturiser which comes packaged in a sleek amber jar – “better for the products and our beaches” – Haeckels also offers a range of treatments at its flagship store for a nourishing full body treat.
Mara – established by beauty editor Allison McNamara following a trip to Turkey and a resulting lightbulb moment, this southern California brand is another name making waves with its active sea and plant-based blends. Algae and Moringa oil feature prominently, thanks to their inherent hydrating capabilities and abundance of nutrients. The Universal Face Oil (Mara’s first ever product) embodies the brand’s “simple, effective, beautiful” ethos: with its thirst-quenching mix of plankton extract, Kalahari watermelon and more, it’s a one-stop solution to youthful-looking skin and that sought-after glow.