Recently here in Hong Kong there has been a lot of talk about going plastic free, low waste and recycling more. As there should be, because it really is terrible here! China has stopped taking certain types of waste, so now with no where to go it is just piling up in Hong Kong – one of the world’s most expensive and densely populated cities – ekkkk!
Now when I am looking to buy anything I am trying to be much more conscious of waste. So I decided to go on a hunt for eco friendly makeup brands – they need to be sustainable, cruelty-free, clean and of course they must work!
Sounds like a tall order but amazingly there are quite a few options available. Let’s start with the top end and work our way through.
No compromise – luxury, sustainable & clean – Kjaer Weis
Kjaer Weis is a beautiful luxury eco friendly makeup brand, I just love their packaging!! Makes me want all of their products – I think you will agree with me…
A bit of background because that is something I love so much about all these wonderful brands, the founders all have a story as to why they decided to cut out nasty chemicals and in these cases save the planet at the same time! Kjaer Weis was founded by Danish-born, New York-based makeup artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis. She worked as a makeup artist for years, sick of hearing models complaining about allergic reactions to various mainstream products but not able to find anything natural that could get the same results – she made the decision to start her own line.
Sustainability was very important to her and she ended up creating metal packaging that is refillable so the user can ‘recycle’ it herself.
The star product is their cream foundation – it is makeup that actually benefits your skin due to skincare level ingredients – always a plus! It is a medium to heavy coverage foundation which is great because most of the clean brands that I like are medium to light coverage.
This product has coconut oil in it which means that the consistency can change depending on the climate you are in. If it is cold it will be a bit harder and hence need less blending than if you are in a warmer place like Hong Kong where our coconut oil is nearly always liquid, so best to use with a beauty blender or foundation brush.
This brand is exclusively made in Italy and the majority of the ingredients are organic.
This is a luxury brand and is priced accordingly – on a par with Chanel or higher with some products. But once you have invested in the first one you can keep refilling which makes it more economical over the long term and much better for the environment.
Available on net a porter in most markets – UK, Australia, Hong Kong & USA were the ones I checked.
RMS beauty – minimalist, sleek and sustainable
If you have read some of my other posts you will know that I am a fan of RMS beauty! RMS is a clean beauty brand that was also founded by a makeup artist, Rose-Marie Swift who had health issues from using mainstream cosmetics so decided to put her extensive industry experience to the test and create her own line. RMS is one of the real clean beauty success stories.
Here is a short clip from Rose-Marie on her makeup philosophy which really resonates – simple, clean & healthy.
Their packaging is very simple – I don’t lust after it in the same way as Kjaer Weis but it is still very sleek and minimal. Much of the packaging is all biodegradable, recyclable or reusable. A lot of the products are packaged in recycled glass.
The products are formulated with raw, food grade and organic ingredients in their natural state ensuring that even the natural ingredients have not been tainted during the extraction process by being refined, bleached, deodorized, clarified, fractionated and heated to high temperatures.
The star product is definitely the living luminiser – it is an ultra-sheer, mineral illuminating product that gives the skin a natural, healthy glow. It contains coconut oil and rosemary extract – great to highlight those cheekbones!
RMS prices are in line with major luxury brands such as Giorgio Armani and YSL.
ZAO makeup – negative carbon footprint & refillable packaging
Zao organic makeup is a French brand that was founded by David Reccole. He was inspired by a gift from a Taiwanese friend of a pen and pencil made out of bamboo. So all Zao’s packaging is now made out of bamboo. It has an added bonus of helping the brand maintain a negative carbon footprint – certainly not something I can say for myself…..!
In addition to this, amazingly most of the products are refillable.
Zao makeup’s star product is their organic concealer that comes in lipstick style packaging. It is creamy and lightweight but covers blemishes well. The concealer is rated 0 on think dirty, it has a few ingredients that are rated 3 – Alcohol, Titanium dioxide in one of the shades and Chromium oxide green in another. Overall I prefer my products to not have any ingredients more than 2. However, titanium dioxide is a controversial ingredient but is very hard to escape as it is in a lot of makeup products. There are different types of titanium dioxide but as long as it doesn’t contain nano particles and it is only micro particles size then it cannot be absorbed by the skin so is no longer a concern.
Zao organic makeup is pretty reasonably priced comparable to Lancome, so premium but not luxury positioning.
It has a strong sustainability focus which I really love, they have a wide range of products and a reasonable price point making it an attractive option. I am a luxury girl at heart and like my packaging to be more modern looking….but apart from that it is a great choice.
It is widely available – in Hong Kong you can get it on Zalora, UK & US there are a lot of stockists.
Elate – wrapped in seed paper that you can plant
Another brand with bamboo packaging is Elate cosmetics, it has a very similar look to Zao organic makeup. Elate is a Canadian brand, their products are vegan and budget friendly, coming in at the lowest price point of all the brands here.
Their bamboo packaging is sourced from a green certified, fair trade manufacturer in China. And they really prioritise reducing waste – all of their pressed powders come in seed paper that you can plant in your garden to grow wildflowers or herbs!
Their mascara and eyeliner come out on top in terms of product performance. Well known to be good for sensitive eyes. I personally would avoid the mascara because I do not want to use any products with the preservative Phenoxyethanol in it. I am constantly amazed how many great brands still slip it in there in a few selected products – pretty disappointing.
In Hong kong you can get them at Plastic free hk.
Conclusion – some great makeup products that are both sustainable and clean
If you wanted to try something from each of these brands I would suggest – Foundation from Kjaer Weis, highlighter from RMS, concealer from Zao and eyeliner from Elate!
But more realistically I hope that this article helps you discover some new brands and then depending on what you are looking for, what budget you have and what your priorities you can decide which one to try.
We all need to do our bit to help save the planet from becoming one big sea of plastic so why not choose Eco friendly makeup brands that are great for your skin!
Let me know if you have tried any of these brands and which products you liked best?