Amid a climate crisis, consumers are beginning to realise the environmental impact of their product and lifestyle choices. But, of course, there are countless ways to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle. Some of the changes people can make include food choices, transportation, shopping habits, and even beauty routines.
From sourcing raw materials to production, distribution, and waste produced by end-consumers, the $400 billion – and still growing – beauty industry leaves a significant impact on the environment. Not only does it lead to tonnes of single-use plastics ending up in landfills, but they also end up in oceans and the entire ecosystem.
Fortunately, more labels have been making conscious efforts to reduce their environmental impact, from switching to fully compostable packaging, eliminating plastic, to offering refill solutions. Today, we feature Australian beauty brands leading the way in sustainable practices.
Truly sustainable beauty brands in Australia to discover
Ethics: B Corp-certified, vegan, cruelty-free, certified carbon neutral, transparent, halal.
Product Range: Eye pencils, lipsticks, nail care and polish.
A B Corp-certified company since 2016, Kester Black states its sustainability and social justice aren’t just “glossy marketing keywords”.
The company uses plant-derived ingredients whenever possible, with more natural compounds and a smaller environmental footprint. For packaging, the brand only prints on uncoated, 100-per-cent recycled or FSC-certified stock bottles and boxes with soy inks.
In addition, it is certified carbon neutral by NoCo2. The beauty brand also donates 2 per cent of its revenue to social causes.
Ethics: Cruelty-free, halal, eco-friendly, renewable energy, B Corp-certified, vegan, non-toxic.
Product Range: Nail care and polish.
Launched in 2013, the company’s founder, Danielle Egan, wanted to offer professional quality polish that is luxurious, sustainably and ethically produced, as well as inclusive, vegan and cruelty-free.
According to the brand, Sienna is certified 100-per-cent vegan, cruelty-free, and would never sell its polish in markets that require animal testing.
All of the brand’s products are non-toxic, benzo-free, and breathable when it comes to formulation. It also claims to be the first micro-plastic free, nano-particle free, and aluminium free nail polish globally. In addition, the company says it uses plant-based ingredients with little to no waste by-products such as sugar cane, corn, cotton, and cassava.
Instead of using a plastic cap, the brand use home-compostable timber crafted from a local, non-native weed wood. This action helps lessen the use of plastic waste and help keep the local rainforest free from weed pests. Furthermore, all of the brand’s packaging is 100-per-cent recyclable, with an in-house recycling program so customers can return their empties.
The company also uses 100-per-cent renewable energy in its head office and warehouse.
Ethics: B Corp-certified, vegan, cruelty-free, FSC-certified.
Product Range: Skincare, supplements.
This Byron Bay-based beauty brand offers a range of sustainable skincare products and supplements.
As a B Corp-certified company Bear says it is committed to improving its business practices and processes through initiatives such as recycling, reducing the use of water and electricity, and carbon offsets. In addition, its products are 100-per-cent vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and contain no animal or animal by-products.
Bear boasts of using a natural, plant-based coating free from palm oil and gelatin. According to the company, Palm oil is widely used in the supplement industry but is the leading cause of deforestation, pollution, climate change, and endangered species habitats, including orangutans, tigers, and elephants. Gelatin is sourced from livestock or marine animals.
All of the brand’s products are housed in 100-per-cent recycled, medical-grade amber glass jars and bottles, eliminating the need for preservatives by protecting the ingredients from UV light.
In addition, the company uses uncoated Forest Stewardship Council paper stock across all its product boxes and labels, with wood coming from FSC-certified and managed forests. All cardboard boxes and courier satchels are made from recycled material and biodegradable in six months.
The company also donates a fixed dollar amount for each product sold to non-profit organisations, including WildArk and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
We Are Feel Good
Ethics: Reef-safe, recyclable.
Product Range: Sunscreens.
Sunscreens are hazardous for the environment, not just for the packaging but for most of the common ingredients used in it can harm coral reefs and sea creatures.
We are Feel Good offers a range of sunscreen it claims feel good physically and do good for the planet. Its products are free from paraben, oxybenzone, octinoxate, and PABA-free. According to the company, it has always been the brand’s philosophy to avoid any ingredient with any scientific evidence of potential harm to reef systems or humans.
In Australia, sunscreen is classified as a therapeutic good, and by law, all packaging must be either glass, aluminium, or food-grade virgin plastic. The company says it has not found a suitable alternative for its plastic packaging to date, but all bottles, lids, and tubes are 100-per-cent recyclable once used.
Unfortunately, the brand is not cruelty-free. While China no longer requires cosmetics to be animal-tested before being sold in the market, other markets like South Africa still do.
Ethics: Recyclable, ethical, sustainable.
Product Range: Skincare, facial tools.
The beauty brand was born after its founders, Katie Eales and Dave Tingle, felt distressed after seeing the amount of single-use items they found on the beach in Sri Lanka.
Sabbia creates sustainable facial tools like sponges made from konjac and facial pads made from cotton.
The brand’s reusable facial pads can cleanse, exfoliate, and remove makeup using only water. It also claims that its pads can withstand over 200 machine washes, replacing 1000 single-use makeup wipes.
The company is partnered with TerraCycle, a recycling company that specialises in hard-to-recycle materials. In addition, the beauty brand incentivises its customers with a discount each time they return their used packaging for recycling.
Ethics: Eco-friendly, cruelty-free, refillable, biodegradable.
Product Range: Mineral makeup.
Eco Minerals was founded in 2007 by Lulu Starman and Amber Handley to offer a natural and environmentally friendly mineral cosmetic range.
Accordion to the brand, it uses only 100-per-cent natural minerals, including zinc oxide to calm skin, iron oxide to give pigment and titanium dioxide for natural sun protection and coverage.
All products are free from fillers, parabens, chemical preservatives or palm oil. In addition, all ingredients are ethically sourced and handmade locally in Byron Bay.
Refills are available for customers when their makeup run out, and the packaging, from jars to boxes, are biodegradable.
All Eco Minerals products are independently certified by CCF and Peta.
“The magic of Eco Minerals lies in our clear intention to create beautiful, pure products that are eco-friendly and cruelty-free, that look and feel simply perfect on your skin,” says Starman.
Shampoo with a Purpose
Ethics: Cruelty-free, eco-friendly, natural, vegan.
Product Range: Haircare, laundry soap, kitchen bars, pet soap.
Shampoo with a Purpose was born from a need to reduce plastic waste from shampoo bottles. Each bar is equivalent to six bottles of shampoo and conditioner.
One of its founders, Liz Valek, has been in the body-care industry for 40 years, running Clover Fields, Australia’s oldest family-owned soap mill. The company was the first to make non-tallow soap and was the first to encourage the packaging-free display of naked soap bars. The soap company has claimed to be a minimal waste brand since 1983.
What started initially as a shampoo replacement, the company now offers a range of soap bars from hair, pet, kitchen, to laundry soaps.
All of the brand’s product contains no harsh chemicals, no palm oil, sulphates, animal by-products, and it’s pH balanced for use on scalp and hair.
Ethics: Vegan, diverse, ethical, eco-friendly, refillable, recyclable.
Product Range: Makeup, skincare.
Fluff is a sustainable cosmetics brand focused on minimalism. According to the company, its brand is for anyone who thinks that the world doesn’t need more products, just better ones.
All ingredients used are 100-per-cent vegan; use no lanolin, beeswax, wool or carmine. The brand also stated that it is committed to using no palm oil. For the packaging, the company use refillable and recyclable glass bottles.
The company is a member of 1% for the planet, where it’s committed to donating the equivalent of 1 per cent gross annual sales through a combination of monetary, in-kind, and promotional support for environmental non-profits.
According to the company, it is on its way to becoming a certified B Corp and Peta-approved by the end of this year.
Sustainable and true
When it comes to sustainable beauty products, there is a plethora of terms brands can easily slap on their labels. Buzzwords like “green”, “sustainable”, “cruelty-free”, or “natural” can be easily placed on labels or product descriptions. All branding, no real action. We hope that our curated list helps you discover brands that are truly making a positive impact on the planet.
Footnote: We are not affiliated with any of the brands above. Our curation is based on research from our writers. If you have any recommendations you would like to add to this list, let us know.