The Best Sustainable Beauty Products Ahead of Earth Day 2024

From refillable products to face wipe alternatives, here’s how to make your beauty routine more planet-friendly


by Rachael Martin |
Updated on

The count down to Earth Day 2024 is on. We'd like to think that we're pretty conscious of trying to reduce our daily environmental footprint and actively trying to live sustainably and yet, although we might be making small daily changes to our everyday routine to become more eco-friendly and buy sustainable products, according to Zero Waste Week, the beauty industry was responsible for producing more than 120 billion units of packaging (which were mostly non-recyclable) last year. If we want to create real change, therefore, we need make effort to buy into those brands that are producing beauty products sustainably and moreover making real efforts to affect change for our planet.

Unfortunately, it's often the case that products marketed with 'eco-friendly', 'organic' or 'sustainable' labels often come with a luxury premium. Shopping sustainably should be an option for every consumer— not just those with a higher income.

The Big Beauty Initiatives

Thankfully, high street beauty brands are listening and starting to deliver earth-friendly options that don't break the bank. Take L'Oréal and Maybelline for example. L'Oréal commissioned a whole load of researching that shockingly found that 32.8 million Brits still can't get on board with recycling bathroom products. Furthermore 1 in 10 Brits seem to think that very little bathroom related rubbish is recyclable and 74% admit that they would opt for a product that they think worked better over one that was more sustainable. It's this concept of choosing between sustainability and efficacy that causes issues when it comes to beauty products. Luckily when it comes to L'Oréal and Maybelline buys we won't have to for much longer. L'Oréal Paris Elvive have made so many changes to the packaging of its shampoo and conditioner bottles that a huge 900 tones of plastic looks set to be saved annually in the UK - according to L'Oréal that's the same weight as 50 double decker buses, just to put it into context. The bottles have always been recyclable, but now they're set to be made from 100% recycled plastic, and as L'Oréal Paris Elvive is the number one shampoo and conditioner brand in the UK, these actions have a serious impact.

And a reminder of Maybelline's now iconic make-up recycling scheme across supermarkets and stores nationwide. The brand have teamed up with TerraCycle to introduce recycling bins to over 1000 Tesco, Superdrug, Boots and Sainsbury's stores across the UK - the intention? That regular supermarket, Superdrug and Boots customers like you and I can drop off our bathroom cabinet and make-up bag empties (of any brand at all) whenever we schedule in a shop. Genius. Keen to find your nearest recycling bin? Click here

Of course, for Earth Day 2024 there are a number of brands reminding us of their pledge to helping to earth - take Chantecaille for example, a brand well known for its deep philanthropy roots - it's been committed to being cruelty free globally since launch, 'giving a voice to urgent environmental needs through permanent philanthropy SKUs, all whilst dedicating two limited-edition collections to carefully considered philanthropy partners each year.' There's Aveda too, a brand who pride itself on its partnership with Charity: Water. And Davines, who are well known for its commitment to sustainable production practices - over 60% of the ingredients used in its products are natural and organically certified.

Look for packaging that's both recyclable, and recycled

According to forecasting agency The Future Laboratory, an estimated 90.5 per cent of the plastic waste we produce has never been recycled so, of course, shopping for fully recyclable products is a step in the right direction. But if this packaging is being produced again and again, that's not very sustainable either. Look for brands like the below, which not only use recyclable packaging, but recycled materials too.

Solid skin, hair and body care formulas equate to less packaging, less waste and less water waste. Consider brands like Eco Warrior a great option for being kind to the environment on Earth Day and beyond.

Find face wipe alternatives

There's no two ways about it— single use face wipes and sheet masks are not good for the environment. An estimated 11 billion face wipes are making their way into landfill and our waterways every single year. And because they're made from plastic-fibres, they won't break down naturally. Change is afoot however with Holland & Barrett stopping its sale of wipes altogether. Brands are listening too, launching with compostable options that you can pop in your food waste bin. Even better, ditch the wipe completely...

These reusable cotton pads are designed to be used over and over again making them a great wipe alternative for sweeping away make-up.

Refillables — what's the deal?

There's been a lot of talk recently about refillable beauty options — but is this really a viable answer? Buying a refill, rather than a completely new product, can save up to 70% on CO2, 65% on energy and 45% on water according to research carried out by The LCA Centre. The problem, however, lies with the fact that refillables rely on a massive behavioural shift from the customer, which can take time. Refill options are also often offered on luxury products, where the customer can save money on re-purchasing expensive packaging, rather than simple and effective re-fill options for our every day essentials.

When your trusty Lala Retro Whipped Cream is finished then opt for the refill - it minimises waste and will save you ££ in the longrun.

Can't recycle it? Origins can!

Recycling beauty products can be tricky. Cosmetics are often packaged in containers that are comprised of mixed materials (a plastic pump, a metal spring, a glass bottle, etc) and while the different components may all be technically recyclable it is often cheaper and easier to throw them in the landfill than separate and recycle. Brands like LUSH and The Body Shop offer recycling schemes, where you can return empties in order to get money off new purchases. However, it's Origins on-counter recycling scheme 'Return to Origins', which really makes things easy. Origins will accept any product empties — from any beauty brand — and recycle the packaging on your behalf. Since 2010, the programme has recycled over 1.2 tonnes of beauty empties… and it's just getting started.

Zero-Waste beauty is the future

Of course, when it comes to tacking the problem of packaging, zero-waste is where it's at. Ethique, the world's first completely zero-waste beauty brand uses only 100 per cent sustainably sourced, vegan, paraben and sulphate-free ingredients. It also donates 20 per cent of profits to environmental charities and is completely palm-oil free.

The brand say, 'Sustainability and ethics are at the core of what we do. Ethique aims to set new standards for responsible business practices. We continuously strive to minimise waste, uphold ethical standards, and contribute to the well-being of nature and communities.'

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