It’s never been easier to find beauty and personal care products made with clean, cruelty-free, and vegan ingredients. These aren’t your granny’s homemade soaps (although, if your grandma is in the vegan soapmaking business, have her hit us up, please). Today’s cruelty-free beauty products are legitimately luxe—made with bona fide, highly effective, quality ingredients straight from nature.
In other words: it’s a good time for skin. But, if you seek even more from the brands you slather all over you, that’s doable, too.
More what, exactly? How about brands with commitments to being zero-waste and more environmentally friendly than the leading mainstream brands.
Perfection is a lofty goal, but these beauty brands and products come pretty darn close.
1. By Humankind
The folks at By Humankind have an overarching imperative: reduce plastic waste. According to the brand, 28,000 tons of plastic waste make their way into our oceans every single day. This is a big problem, especially if you live in the oceans (like most of our fellow earthlings do). So, what can be done? By Humankind believes refillable beauty products can play a role in shifting humans away from our plastic addiction. The subscription-based model sends you a reusable, refillable container and the first refill packet (shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, hand sanitizer, etc). Your next delivery is just the fully recyclable refill container. The scientifically proven formulations are all plant-based and cruelty-free—and try as you might, you’ll have a really difficult time finding their product packaging floating in any ocean.
2. Meow Meow Tweet
Brooklyn’s Meow Meow Tweet is clearly the best-named skincare brand of all time. But beyond that, it’s a brand that keeps on giving—or, as the case may be, not giving the planet any more packaging to sort out. Take its zero-waste deodorant, for starters. The packaging, just like your armpit B.O., disappears. While the body odor will be gone with a few swipes of the creamy, cruelty-free essential oil-blended deodorants, the packaging takes a little longer to disappear (a full year to biodegrade). But the key here is that it will biodegrade 100-percent ... unlike plastic packaging that can last hundreds of years in landfills and oceans.
3. Dr. Bronner’s
The family-owned Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap brand is legendary. Known for its iconic label ranting, the company is committed to supporting a number of sustainability initiatives and animal-rights issues. While its best-selling liquid soaps do come in plastic (bar soap in paper is an option, too), the company is using post-consumer recycled plastic. It’s also committed to a near-zero waste production cycle, uses 100-percent renewable energy in its factory, prioritizes efficient transportation, and works with smallholder farms that emphasize regenerative organic practices. And those ranty labels? They’re as inspiring as it gets with the “all-one” and “heal earth” messages (consider shower time credit toward a degree in sustainable living). There’s clean, and then there’s Dr. Bronner’s-clean!
Ethique bills itself as “the world’s most sustainable beauty brand,” and we’re not going to argue with them. They’ve been around since 2012 when founder Brianne West (she’s a scientist) went on a mission to reduce plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles. The brand now boasts more than 40 products including soaps and deodorants. It’s all cruelty-free and committed to sustainable supply chains, too. The best part? In just eight years, Ethique has kept more than six million plastic bottles out of landfills and oceans.
5. Olas Wellness
Okay, so toothbrushing time isn’t exactly the fun part of personal care. But it may just be the most important part. It’s also one of the most environmentally destructive—from the chemical ingredients in commercial toothpaste, to the plastic brushes, toothpaste, and mouthwash tubes and bottles, to the rolls and rolls of plastic floss ... it’s no wonder many of us dread the twice-daily routine. That is, until Olas. The brand makes toothbrushes from sustainable, renewable bamboo, and its mouthwashes come in recyclable glass bottles. The alcohol-free mouthwash is made from a blend of sea salts, blue-green algae, and botanical-based essential oils. It’s enough to make you smile and mean it.
6. Dirty Hippie Eco Mascara
Makeup is indulgent. There’s no denying that. But it doesn’t have to be irresponsible. Dirty Hippie is taking mascara to near-necessity levels with this truly eco indulgence. The plant-based ingredients are free from harsh chemicals and nasties, and it comes in a recyclable glass container and aluminum cap. The brush is made from sustainable bamboo and can be reused through multiple tubes. In fact, if you reorder from Dirty Hippie, you can opt-out of a new mascara wand if yours is still in good shape. How cool is that?
7. Fat and the Moon
Rachel Budde’s Fat and the Moon body care products are inspired by her family history of herbalists and healers. Budde focuses on the healing powers of the plant kingdom, hand formulating and blending all of her products. Ethically sourced organic ingredients are hand-packed into reusable or recyclable containers with a nod to minimalism. Bath salts, creams, soaps, or oral care, Fat and the Moon makes dozens of products for all body types and sizes with the prescient reminder that whatever body we find ourselves in, we’re all connected in the most important ways.
8. Franklin & Whitman
To say that the consistency of this company's in-tact ethics has wowed us would be a huge understatement. But beyond its commitment to good (they donate five-percent of all sales to dog rescue organizations and host regular events that benefit homeless dogs), the product itself is as luxurious and stunning as you can get—with all-natural products made from just a few ingredients that effectively help users achieve optimal skin and hair. Founder Christopher Cieri started this company because he saw there was a need for high-quality, low-ingredient, vegan skincare, but also because his mission-driven mindset led him to focus his efforts on helping the environment—which he accomplishes by ensuring the packaging is as cruelty-free as the product itself. When customers ship six empty containers back to the company, they receive a face mask. The plastic containers are then recycled, while glass containers are upcycled into beautiful art glass objects. And in an effort to protect the planet, the company uses biodegradable packing peanuts (made from vegetable starch) which dissolve under hot water (or will even biodegrade in your garden). We at Kinder Beauty love Franklin & Whitman so much that earlier this year we worked with them on an exclusive box featuring solely their products, and let's just say that you might find some Franklin & Whitman surprises in forthcoming Kinder Beauty boxes (but you didn't hear that from us)
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Please note: A product appearing in our blog is not an official Kinder Beauty endorsement. While every product we feature in an article is cruelty-free and vegan, these products do not necessarily meet all of our strict brand standards for curation in a Kinder box.
Jill Ettinger is an LA-based writer and editor focused on vegan and cruelty-free living.