Makeup, no matter what it’s made from, is never “good” for the planet. You won’t find “wear makeup” on the list of activities we can do to solve our climate crisis, so when you’re hunting for makeup that is more sustainable, remember it’s “less bad”. All makeup involves using up the planet’s finite resources, expending energy, and disposing of waste. Yes, some makeup companies use their business to support powerful social and environmental work (like the company that I purchase from to dress up my face) but with a rise in greenwash wording, I just had to get that off my chest.
Unlike some sustainability advocates who are happy to go without, I’m also not about to tell you not to wear makeup. Although I don’t wear it often, when I do, I use Aleph Beauty makeup and have done so since they launched in 2018. Their products are predominantly packaged in glass and aluminium which can be sent back to Aleph to be reused or recycled. The makeup is multifunctional, reducing the clutter in your makeup cupboard, plus they’re concentrated so a little goes a long way.
If you’re branching out and wondering how your current favourite makeup stacks up, avoid the main nasties like parabens, fragrances, phthalates, talc, petroleum, and formaldehyde. Some of these ingredients are carcinogens but you’d be surprised by how often they’re listed in the ingredients list on makeup products. Ditch makeup with excessive plastic packaging (no matter how hard they try to convince you, the packaging is most likely unrecyclable) but also be aware that makeup can contain plastic in the actual product. It will disguise itself as microbeads and plasticised or silicone polymers. I don’t think any of us want to smear plastic on our faces before heading to work, plus our waterways deserve better.
Sometimes sustainable switches involve giving things up. But honestly, all the sustainable makeup products I’ve tried have improved my skin as a brilliant bonus. The horrible cakey makeup from my youth caused breakouts and I craved taking it off at night. Choose products that contain ingredients like jojoba seed oil, that nourish your skin instead. Just another incentive to entice you to join the sustainable makeup club!