The sustainable beauty brands making a real difference

With numerous sustainability schemes, initiatives and promises being made across the beauty industry, from brands including Maybelline and L’Oreal Paris, we’ve rounded them all up in one place. 

The last few years have seen growing amounts of incredibly impressive sustainability efforts from the beauty industry. There was a time when brands were being criticised for using too much packaging, for not making recycling easy enough, and for contributing too much to plastic pollution, amongst other issues.

Research by Maybelline says that 146 million make-up products are produced every year in the UK alone. With only 32% of make-up users regularly recycling make-up, there’s still a lot of change that needs to happen but it’s fair to say we’re definitely going in the right direction.

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In part it’s thanks to consumer conscience, but it’s also down to the beauty brands who’re playing an active part in tackling the impact the industry is having on the planet. Not only have they started to make it easier for consumers, but they’re also being more mindful when it comes to sourcing packaging and ingredients – but it’s getting harder to keep track of exactly what different brands are doing, so we’ve pulled together this list to help make things a little bit clearer.

From Maybelline’s recycling scheme to Miller Harris’ sustainable packaging and The Body Shop’s clever use of wonky fruit, here are a few of the brands that are truly making a positive difference to our world.

The most sustainable beauty brands

  • Garnier


    Not only is Garnier the first mass brand to bring eco-friendly, plastic-free shampoo bars to the high street but it’s also a brand that’s really improving it’s sustainability credentials across the board. The launch of Multi-Restore Hemp Gel Cream, £7.99 wasn’t just a brand new innovation for the beauty industry, but Garnier also became the UK’s first mass market brand to launch a paper-based tube. That’s not all, though, and earlier this year it launched its Green Beauty Initiative in a bid to reduce the global environmental impact it has. As part of that it pledged that by 2025 all products will be made with zero virgin plastic; all packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable; and all industrial sites to be carbon neutral.

  • Maybelline

    Maybelline have launched the UK's largest recycling programme

    Today (10 September) marks the launch of the UK’s largest recycling programme  – it’s the UK’s largest aptly named Make-up Not Make Waste – and to prove they’re serious about sustainability, it’s the UK’s largest. Maybelline has partnered with TerraCycle and together they’re placing recycling stations in over 1000 Superdrug, Boots, Tesco and Sainsburys stores nationwide (head here to find your nearest). Any and all brands are accepted – so not just Maybelline – and they accept everything from compacts and palettes, mascara, eyeliner, lipsticks, lip gloss, plastic tubes, pots and bottles and other things, like caps, pumps or trigger sprays that are notoriously hard to recycle. All they’re asking is that packaging is as empty as possible in order to help the cleaning and recycling process.

  • Pai

    Pai's re-launch has sustainability at the core

    Launched 13 years ago, Pai has just undergone a complete rebrand – but rest assured the products you know and love remain the same, even if some names have been changed – with sustainability at the core. Every aspect from production right through to finished product has been thought about. Packaging is laminate free, it has biodegradable tamper seals and the unique box design means there’s no need for any adhesive or leaflets. 

  • L’Oreal Paris

    loreal hair sustainability
    L'Oreal Paris is switching to 100% recycled bottles

    A recent announcement has put L’Oreal Paris on the sustainability map, which, let’s be honest, is very necessary but it’s also no mean feat considering it’s one of the world’s biggest – and most influential – brands. Not only is it pledging to evolve its formulas, but it’s also looking at the way bottles are made. As of this month, L’Oreal Paris haircare comes in 100% recycled and recyclable bottles, which will save 900 tons of plastic a year. The bottle caps aren’t yet made from 100% recycled materials but that’s something the brand is working on – however, they are recyclable. 

  • The Body Shop

    Arguably the front runner when it comes to using ethically sourced and sustainable ingredients, everything this brand does is with people and planet in mind. Adding to a long list of existing initiatives, The Body Shop has introduced new ranges that utilise wonky bananas, carrots, and other fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. All the products are bottled in 50% post-consumer plastic, too, which helps to minimise the environmental impact.

  • Miller Harris

    Earlier this year, luxury candle brand Miller Harris launched a new bath and body range that has sustainability at its core. Knowing that the majority of its customers were city dwellers, it decided against using biodegradable plastic because it’s unlikely they would have access to gardens or compost bins. Instead, all packaging is made from 50% post-consumer waste, with the next production run being 75%. Lids and pumps are matte black because they have carbon in them, which helps recycling plants to detect them, while all labels are made from bamboo, the cellophane used can go into recycling bins and the entire Miller Harris supply chain is biodegradable. 

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Main image: Courtesy of brands