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The Most Sustainable Skincare Brands in 2021

by Miki Wong Africa Americas Asia Europe Oceania May 26th 20214 mins
The Most Sustainable Skincare Brands in 2021

The personal care and beauty industry is among the many that pose serious threats to our environment. From marine life destruction to plastic pollution, makeup and skincare products leave lasting impacts on the Earth. Here are five sustainable skincare brands to help you reduce your carbon footprint.

We often use skincare products and cosmetics without knowing the harmful ingredients they contain. Some common ingredients, like phthalates (used as softeners in moisturisers, shampoos etc.), BHAs and BHTs (antioxidants used as preservatives in lipsticks and moisturisers etc.), are frequently detected pollutants in the environment which are known to bio-accumulate in marine animals and disrupt their genetics. Triclosan, usually found in cleansers and deodorant, is also highly toxic to algae and aquatic ecosystems.

The industry has another damaging secret – microplastics. Other than the use of excessive plastic containers and packaging, microplastics- small plastic pieces less than 5 millimeters long– are popularised by exfoliating skincare products. They can always be found in cleansers and body scrubs. The small plastic beads wash down the sink and end up in the ocean and lakes. These beads are often consumed by marine life and get stuck in their guts. As the plastics build up in their digestive tract, it becomes a vicious cycle where consumers eat the affected marine life and as a result, the tiny plastics can be found in our digestive tracts as well

Luckily, many environmentally-conscious beauty brands have made major progresses in working toward sustainability. That includes using recycled packaging, opting for organic ingredients and employing eco-friendly practices when it comes to their formulas and production. Here are some of our favourite sustainable skincare brands:

Deeply committed to green beauty, Tata Harper makes 100% natural and non-toxic products. As a pioneer in natural luxury skincare, founder Tata Harper couldn’t find 100% natural products that were up to the impeccable standards of efficacy, quality and purity, so she started her own brand which features products that are totally free from GMO, toxins, fillers, artificial colours, fragrances and synthetic chemicals. 

Their skincare products are certified cruelty-free by PETA, certified vegetarian by the American Vegetarian Association and the raw materials used are derived from renewable resources, manufactured by environmentally friendly processes and certified by ECOCERT. They also use 100% recyclable glass and cartons.

You might also like: 15 Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Brands in Hong Kong

tata harper

Tata Harper’s moisturizer line. Source: https://www.tataharperskincare.com

Lush has been championing “naked” products for a while. The company found out that 40-50% of the cost of a product goes on its packaging, hence, Lush aims to provide personal care products that work well, come with a good price, a good amount of content and no wastage at the end. About half of their products can be taken home with no packaging, which has helped them save nearly 30 million plastic bottles globally from selling shampoo bars alone over the last five years. 

When packaging is unavoidable, they use recycled materials – 90% of the packaging material is recycled and they claim to be working on the remaining 10%. In terms of ingredients, more than 70% of the Lush range is wholly self-preserving, meaning that they do not require toxic chemical preservatives. The company relies on natural preservatives such as clay, salt and honey to keep products fresh, so synthetic preservatives can be avoided.

sustainable skincare brands

The “Naked packaging” of Lush. Souce: https://www.greenqueen.com.hk

In May 2020, the Japanese-inspired skincare brand announced that they would work towards 100% reusable, refillable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2023, which include using 30% of PCR in packing (post-consumer recycled plastic), as well as reducing 50% of virgin plastic. For long-term carbon emissions reduction, the brand has already converted their distribution centre to renewable energy and are working on transitioning the headquarters

Tatcha products are formulated without parabens, synthetic fragrances, mineral oil, sulfate detergents, phthalates, urea, DEA or TEA. Tatcha is a 100% cruelty-free brand. Since most imported cosmetics sold in mainland China are required by law to be tested on animals in 2021, Tatcha has confirmed that their products will only be sold in Hong Kong in the region.

sustainable skincare brands

Tatcha Skincare line for sensitive skin. Source: https://www.insider.com

An abbreviation of “Re-encountering Earth,” Re:erth is a Singapore-based skincare label with products made in Japan. Promising to deliver “mochi-skin” — a pure, smooth and bright complexion, the brand adopts a minimal approach to beauty with skincare created from nature-derived ingredients- from sustainably-farmed Japanese white turmeric to Danish colostrum. 

Committed to upholding sustainability, the brand has collaborated with Environmental Solutions (Asia) to launch a bottle recycling initiative in 2020, in which the plastic containers are recycled into non-fossil derived diesel. To reward customers, Re:erth offers reward points for customers to enjoy discounts in their next purchases, ranging from 200 points for full-sized skincare bottles to 50 points for the mini-sized.

sustainable skincare brands

Re:erth mochi-skin ads. Source: https://www.krisshop.com

The affordable skincare brand from the US promises to deliver eco-friendly skin wellness to customers through clean, clinical ingredients. All Acure products are 100% biodegradable with green packaging and are free from harmful plastic microbeads.

To minimise harm to the environment, their entire product range is 100% vegan and cruelty-free and is free from parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, petrolatum and formaldehyde. To reduce waste, Acure has been partnering with TerraCycle to create a national recycling programme, in which customers can redeem points for a variety of charitable gifts or a payment of 0.01 USD per point to non-profit organisations.


Acure’s organic products range. Source: https://www.krisshop.com 

We hope that this list of sustainable skincare brands will help you do your part for the environment and support sustainable enterprises! 


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