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The best sustainable beauty products for 2021

Makeup and skincare are riddled with plastic packaging and applicators. Clean up your routine with these ethical, eco-friendly beauty companies.

The best sustainable beauty products for 2021
[Photo: courtesy Axiology]
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The start to the new year comes with fresh new habits and plans for improvement . . . usually. This year, it’s a little different. After 2020, many of us may feel burned of resolutions past, ambitious plans and promises pushed to the side by COVID-19. 

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This isn’t something to feel bad about—if anything, learning to be slower, gentler, and more informed is the silver lining in 2021. To ease into new commitments, here’s an easy place to start: Give your beauty and skin regimen a waste-free makeover. In an industry full of plastic, single-use products, and harmful ingredients, looking at what you’re putting on your body and the Earth are small steps toward a better, more conscious you. Here are some of our favorite, innovated low- and no-waste beauty and skincare brands committed to keeping the earth (and your makeup drawer) clean.

[Photo: courtesy Axiology]

Axiology
“100% evil-free” is how Axiology likes to define its brand and its commitment to products with clean ingredients and ethical sourcing. The company’s Balmies (from $14) are a totally waste-free, vegan color product, wrapped in recyclable paper and shaped like an oil pastel with a pointed tip. They are creamy, moisturizing, and multiuse, meaning you can use them on your lips, cheeks, or lids for a monochromatic glow. The 3-pack in neatly house box made from repurposed trash from a women’s cooperative in Bali. Available in a range of warm and shimmery colors, the Balmies are perfect for on-the-go and pre-Zoom touch-ups. And once they’re gone, they’re gone.

[Photo: courtesy Credo Beauty]

Āether Beauty
When former Sephora product developer Tiila Abbitt set off on her own, she set her sights on clean beauty. Founding Āether Beauty in 2018, Abbitt focused on sustainable packaging and created the brand’s hero product: a zero-waste eyeshadow palette. Made with FSC-certified recyclable paper and aluminum pans, the palette forgoes mirrors and magnets typically used to snap the palette shut in order to avoid waste material. The shadows and face colors are soft, blendable, and highlighted with actual crystals and gemstones for all-natural luster and shimmer.

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[Photo: courtesy Credo Beauty]
Exa
Eco-friendly and inclusive—Credo Beauty’s Exa offers 43 shades of High Fidelity Foundation ($38) housed in glass bottles with recyclable caps and water-based ink labeling. The formula is buildable, lightweight, and full of skin-quenching, -protecting, and -plumping ingredients such as peach leaf extract, hyaluronic acid, and aloe vera. We also love their demi-matte, pore-blurring Jump Start Primer ($34) that sinks into the skin and helps your foundation glide on like butter.

[Photo: courtesy Kindred Black]
Kindred Black  
Part of Kindred Black’s eco-savvy comes from glass bottles and vials so beautiful, they’ll never see the bottom of a trash bin. Their small-batch Apothecary collection includes potions, salves, and serums for whatever ails your skin, body, or hair: moisture-packing Dew serum ($65), inspired by the May Day folklore of the magical powers of morning dew, and Icy Silence ($65), a multiuse, hydrating peppermint balm for lips, aches, and pressure points.

[Photo: courtesy Bathing Culture]
Bathing Culture
Biodegradable soap ($35) in groovy, refillable glass bottles put Bathing Culture on our radar. Their signature Cathedral Grove fragrance is woody, fresh, and addictive enough to buy a full one gallon refill. Also worth noting: their collection of natural bathing accessories, like ethically harvested Sea Sponges ($20) and volcanic rock pumice stones ($8) gathered from Califorian’s Mt. Shasta.

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[Photo: courtesy Henry Rose]
Henry Rose
Actress Michelle Pfeiffer’s gorgeous, transparent perfume line, Henry Rose, expanded to bath, body, and home last fall, bringing the brand’s same environmentally sound standards to new categories. The lineup—that is certified sustainable and deemed safe by nonprofit watchdogs Cradle to Cradle—now includes paraffin-free candles ($65) housed in recycle glass and hemp paper packaging, and rich body creams ($65) in the same distinctive (but still phthalates-free) fragrances as her signature perfume collection.

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