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April 22 is Earth Day — a day to raise awareness about environmental issues and support sustainable companies that are doing good for the planet. While there are dozens of eco-conscious fashion brands out there that are working to reduce their carbon footprint, the beauty world is also making great efforts to do better for Mother Earth by reducing their plastic usage (or cutting it out altogether), going refillable or taking back empties.
Enter some of the best clean beauty brands, many of which prioritize sustainability and health in their business ethos. While there are no definitive regulations on using the term “clean,” clean beauty brands are generally free of controversial — and potentially harmful — ingredients like parabens, phthalates, sulfates and other endocrine disruptors that have been banned in Europe. Many also offset their carbon footprint and reduce their emissions by using recycled materials or working with companies like Pact, Nordstrom’s Beautycycle and Terracycle to make it easier for shoppers to recycle empties responsibly.
While going clean seems like a no-brainer for brands, the mindful move can be a costly journey due to various rounds of testing and product reformulations, which is why some brands opt for the “greenwashing” shortcut by stretching the truth about their brand’s environmental impact. In other words, not all packages with a green leaf are created equal. Whenever possible, always read and research the ingredients on your buzzy products to make sure it’s right for you. (We did the heavy lifting this time around.)
Related: The Hollywood Reporter‘s Sustainability Issue: The Time Is Now
From a makeup brand that often appears in Alix Earle’s TikTok viral videos to the influencer-owned skincare brand beloved by jetsetters including Addison Rae, Jessica Alba and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to the game-changing haircare brand that is making you think twice about your shampoo and conditioner tubes, these are the clean beauty brands to support on Earth Day and beyond.
Although TikTokers have been obsessed with Kosas’ concealer for a while now, their just-launched DreamBeam sunscreen is receiving equal fanfare from tastemakers like Alix Earle, who recently dedicated one of her GRWM (“get ready with me”) videos to the product. In addition to being vegan, cruelty-free and free of gluten, mineral oil, talc, parabens, sulfates and phthalates, this sunscreen also features a peachy-pink hue which helps neutralize zinc oxide’s natural bluish-white color. Consider this the new first step in your makeup routine.
2. Tower 28 Beauty
Tower 28 Beauty is known for its vegan and gluten- and cruelty-free products with rich pigments and fun packaging, and for being one of the few brands that are approved by the National Eczema Association. Their sensitive-skin-friendly lip and cheek cream blush is a great intro to the brand, as it’s a multitasking tinted balm that comes in a variety of hues. Hailey Bieber and Khloe Kardashian are among the beauty-obsessed stars who have sung praises for the brand.
Ilia is a vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free makeup brand that offers sustainably sourced packaging. Their multi-stick for lips and cheeks is great for on-the-go application, as it can be applied on your cheeks for a natural flush or swiped on your lips for the perfect stained tint. Fans of the brand include Vanessa Hudgens, Cindy Crawford, Kate Hudson and other stars.
4. Westman Atelier
Celebrity makeup artist (and Gwyneth Paltrow’s go-to beauty expert) Gucci Westman’s cult-favorite brand Westman Atelier creates must-have products that are as iconic as they are free of toxic ingredients. The brand’s blurring setting powder is talc-free and protects the skin with the help of ingredients including quinoa seed extract, vitamin C and probiotics, and we’re also fans of its new dermatologist-tested Skin Activator, which took five years to develop and leaves the skin looking softer and firmer and helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines.
Founded by The Moment wellness blogger (and former fashion and beauty editor) Laney Crowell, Saie is known for its non-toxic, high-performance formulas for skincare enthusiasts who love a natural-looking glow. We love their mindful shipping materials (products are packed in a cotton ball-filled pouch that you can reuse and recycle) and their recycling partnership with Pact, and their earth-minded mission includes eliminating air freight and consolidating its ocean freight to reduce its carbon footprint and a host of eco certifications (including 1% For the Planet, Climate Neutral Certified, Carbon Neutral Club, Certified Plastic Negative and Leaping Bunny).
Their newest product is the Glowy Super Skin Foundation, which features a weightless, serum formula in over 35 shades. It offers medium-buildable coverage and contains Saie’s proprietary Hydrobounce complex that works to hydrate, brighten and plump up the skin.
6. Youth to the People
Acquired by L’Oréal in 2021, Los Angeles-based Youth to the People is now for their nature-derived ingredients and their creative, veggie-packed formulas that are as effective as they are game-changing. Their Superfood Cleanser featuring kale, green tea and spinach is an award-winning face wash with superfood extracts that remove makeup, support skin’s pH balance and clear buildup in pores.
7. Kora Organics
Miranda Kerr’s Kora Organics carefully vets every ingredient for its impact on the health of the earth and people — in fact, the company even uses third-party organization Ecocert/COSMOS to independently certify all of its products, ensuring that everything is made as sustainable as possible. The brand says organic farming results in 60 percent more antioxidants from its non-GMO and cruelty-free ingredients, and the Kora is also transparent about which of its products are vegan (some contain beeswax).
The skincare brand recently released the Plant Stem Cell Retinol Alternative Serum which contains bakuchiol, which is gentler on sensitive skin but still powerful in targeting wrinkles and other signs of aging. Other botanicals such as acai stem cells, noni fruit and rosehip oil help to protect and nourish the skin.
8. Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez
Don’t overlook Rare Beauty for its celebrity founder factor — the cosmetics brand founded by Selena Gomez is cruelty-free, vegan and doesn’t use parabens, formaldehyde (and agents that release it), mineral oil, the sulfates SLS and SLES and phtalates. The brand has committed to donate $100 million over the next 10 years to the Rare Impact Fund, which helps to provide people better access to mental health support.
The brand’s Stay Vulnerable Melting Cream Blush (available in five shades) is water-resistant while delivering a natural-looking flush. No wonder it’s one of the celebrity-backed brand’s bestsellers.
9. Summer Fridays
Founded by influencers Lauren Ireland and Marianne Hewitt, Summer Fridays is a long-time favorite of Hollywood’s top style stars and has received Instagram shout-outs from Jessica Alba, Addison Rae, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and more. Their hero product is the Jet Lag Mask, which features a fragrance-free formula that nourishes, hydrates and calms skin.
Cocokind is serious about its clean initiatives, creating products that guarantee to be dye-free, vegan, phthalate-free, aluminum-free, sulfate-free, artificial fragrance-free and paraben-free. Their AHA jelly cleanser is a unique blend of four percent alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) from hibiscus flowers (two percent) and fermented grape blend (two percent), offering a hydrating trio that keeps skin comfortable while cleansing skin to the core.
Gisou is not only known for its cool, minimalist packaging — the haircare brand is also committed to being eco-conscious. In addition to being cruelty-free, the brand is also free of parabens, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, sulfates SLS & SLES, triclocarban and triclosan. Whew. Test the brand out by starting with their honey-infused hair mask.
Take your zero-waste initiatives to the next level with Nolé’s shampoo and conditioner bar set. Not only are the Latinx-owned brand’s bars biodegradable and plastic-free, they’re vegan, pH balanced, cruelty-free and made without, parabens, sulfates, silicones, salt and phthalates. They’ll also make your hair shine like never before, thanks to sustainably-grown batana oil which is loaded with antioxidants and amino acids.
Dae creates hairstyling essentials that feature clean, vegan and cruelty-free ingredients. This wave spray feature hibiscus flower extract for healthy hair growth, prickly pear seed oil for silky strands and moringa leaf extract to moisturize dry tresses.