Eco-Friendly Beauty Brands That Are Innovating The Industry

These skin care and beauty products do a whole lot more than slap on a "clean" label.

When it comes to saving the planet, beauty and skin care brands are realizing that vanity and sanity aren’t mutually exclusive. Consumers and companies alike are subscribing to the idea of going green in an effort to create a cleaner and safer environment, and the beauty industry isn’t new to the eco-friendly movement.

While it’s easy to slap a “clean” label (which isn’t regulated by the government) on a beauty product, not every brand makes an innovative effort to change the way the industry operates. We’ve dug up some brands with revolutionary ideas that are worth knowing about ― here’s how they’re contributing to the green movement in their own unique way.

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UpCircle Beauty
This brand’s face and body scrubs are made from repurposed coffee grounds collected from artisan coffee shops, transforming a byproduct from an entirely different industry into a useful skin care product. Previously brewed chai spices, for example, are used to make Upcircle Beauty's soap bars, and the byproducts of the production of fruit oils (called fruit stones) are powdered and used in cleansing face balms.

Get the Upcircle Beauty Coffee Face Scrub (citrus blend) for $16.
Caire Beauty
Many brands get derailed by the large financial investment that's required to manufacture eco-friendly products. But Caire Beauty found a way around this by using leftover packaging from bigger players. “For their Triple Lift Molecule Mask ... they bought an ‘odd lot’ of several thousand pieces that would otherwise have directly entered landfill and they found another lot of 1-ounce containers and used that up,” said dermatologist Beth Goldstein, founder and CEO of Get Mr.

Get the Caire Beauty Triple Lift Molecule Mask for $52.
Jill Razor
Jill Razor
When we think of exfoliating our skin, what comes to mind? Scrubs, pumice stones, etc., right? But what if a razor can help exfoliate our skin while we shave and also act as a primer for our makeup? “This brand allows you to get more mileage out of your current skin care routine, meaning you get better results while using less of the products. This helps facilitate sustainability by throwing away less product packaging,” said Dustin Portela, a board certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon. The innovative blade design is ideal for a woman’s face, and is petite enough to use on eyebrows, upper lips and nose tip. The bigger blade and the Jill wide blade are creatively designed for the entire face and neck. “The device’s recyclable model is for the consumers who are interested in avoiding the disposable plastic razors on the market,” Portela explained.

Get the Jill Glow Kit for $24.99.
Ren Clean Skincare
To protect our skin from harmful UV rays, we often use layers of chemicals strong enough to reflect and absorb UV radiation. This, in turn, is harmful for the environment (particularly coral reefs).That’s why Ren uses a blend of naturally and synthetically produced compound and kitchen ingredients packed in post-consumer recycled plastic, producing a non-toxic sunscreen. “Zinc oxide is the powerhouse active ingredient -- a non-toxic physical blocker that actually deflects UV rays instantly," said Hayley Goldbach, a board certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Brown University. It also contains passion fruit, which she explained "is an antioxidant that helps minimize free radical damage while rice starch helps soothe the skin.”

Get the Ren Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 Mattifying Face Sunscreen for $38.
Squalene is a trendy ingredient these days, but it’s a common practice for brands to derive it from shark’s liver -- and those sharks, many of which are endangered, must be killed to have the squalene extracted. Biossance saw this as an opportunity to engineer a vegan, sugarcane-derived squalane (the version spelled with an "a" at the end is more shelf stable). The brand also makes sure to harvest sugarcane and other natural ingredients sustainably.

Get the Biossance Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream for $54.
This Is Elims
This Is Elims
Sales of oral hygiene products and teeth whitening strips saw a steady increase during the pandemic, and This Is Elims has created a whitening mask that fully dissolves itself in the mouth, eliminating unnecessary waste. Ingredients like PVP, pectin, glycerin, water, hydrogen peroxide and peppermint make the mask safe enough to leave on your teeth without removing.

Get the This Is Elims Magic Melt Away Teeth Whitening Mask for $75 (14-day treatment).
This brand uses just one natural source as a main ingredient that tackles basically all hair issues. Mekabu powder is a Japanese ocean botanical, mainly used as a food source, which is known for providing massive hydration and nourishment. This low-foaming shampoo in particular contains no parabens, sulfates, phtlalates, alcohol, silicone or animal testing.

Get the Masami Mekabu Hydrating Shampoo for $38.
This brand found a powerful single natural source that’s sustainable enough to create multiple different skin care products. Also known as “The Tree of Liberty” or “Miracle Tree,” every part of a moringa plant can be utilized to make the brand's line. Moringa seeds come from their pods, and the pods make the entire harvesting process sustainable. How? Picking the pods triggers them to flower, a perfect source for bees to feed on. This in turn also produces more pods, which helps regenerate the deforested land. A perfect way to nourish both your skin and the mother earth.

Get the Moringaia Salvation Balm for $49.
This Stuff Goes Bad
This Stuff Goes Bad
While we couldn’t do without water, our skin care products could very well do without it. The majority of beauty products are diluted with water, which tends to extract and absorb compounds from other ingredients, making them less effective. That’s why this brand opts to leave water out of its formulas. Using no water also makes it easy to eliminate preservatives, as water or water-like ingredients make for a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, fungi and mold to thrive. The brand also creates zero waste: “All packaging is 100% recycled, recyclable or reusable all the way down to the tape," said Katie Noffsinger, a licensed esthetician. "You can just send the jar back (free of charge!) when you are ready to refill."

Get the This Stuff Goes Bad Day Whipped Body Butter with Sun Protection for $20.

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