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A guide to the most sustainable skincare brands

From Youth To The People to REN, discover the most eco-friendly ways to look after your skin – without feeling guilty about what you’re washing off into the sink afterwards.

It’s an open secret that the beauty industry is one of the most polluting in the world. An estimated 122 billion product packages are created to encase our fancy creams and serums each year – meanwhile, less than 10 per cent of these are recycled and a staggering 7.2 billion pounds of single-use plastic flow into the ocean on a yearly basis. This simply won’t do. Luckily, a small but mighty selection of skincare brands are turning the tide of unsustainable skincare to provide high quality products with guilt-free ecological footprints. Dig in!

YOUTH TO THE PEOPLE

California born and bred, YTTP sources its ingredients locally where possible, to produce vegan, cruelty-free, and biodegradable skincare. In order to reduce the quantity of plastic waste produced by the beauty industry, the brand has also partnered with Heinz in an effort to provide glass packaging over plastic, and any paper used is recyclable. YTTP collaborates with carefully selected partners in order to ensure their supply train is as green and transparent as possible: all their paper is from Neenah mill in Wisconsin, which manufactures using 100 per cent renewable energy, and Calitho, the greenest pressroom in the Bay Area. Impressive.

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REN

One of the UK’s favourite skincare brands has pledged to become zero waste by the end of 2021. By producing only recycled, recyclable or reusable packaging, REN has proven that it can be just as clean to the planet, as its products are to our skin. To date, the brand has produced over 250,000 products using recycled materials, removed 1.5 tonnes of waste from the ocean and saved over 4.4 million single-use sachets from going to landfill. Whew. Keep up with their sustainability initiative, #WeAreAllies, here.

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VERSED

Versed applies sustainability to every step of its production process, from recyclable and PCR packaging to fuel-efficient methods – all of which have the brand inching ever closer to carbon neutrality. Miraculously, Versed has emitted zero greenhouse gas emissions since launch in 2018, while producing products with 100 per cent vegan ingredients. Their non-toxic, sustainably-minded mission doesn’t end here, though: by the end of the year, at least half of Versed products will be domestically produced and made using energy-efficient methods.

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CREDO

While Credo isn’t technically a skincare brand, it gives a home to some of the most sustainable beauty businesses out there. Since launching in 2015, they require all partners to meet specific ingredient and packaging requirements, in order to refuse the use of single use plastic and non-recyclable materials. In fact, as of June 2021, single-use plastic has been banned from Credo – yes, that includes sheet masks (dubbed the new plastic straws” by Vogue) and makeup wipes. Sorry!

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KRAVE BEAUTY

Krave might only be two-years-old, but the brand is already making waves in the skincare game – by levelling up their ingredients, sure, but also by looking after the planet. So far, most of the products Krave offers are mostly or totally recyclable without even having to remove the stickers, and they’ve got big plans to perform carbon and water accounting audits on suppliers in order to explore ever-greener options. Keep an eye out for their sustainability progress report.

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PIPERBERRY

Sustainability is at the heart of what Piperberry does. And vegans, rejoice! The independent brand lives and breathes plant-based ingredients, all of which are 100 per cent vegan and cruelty free. The pillars of the brand are based upon adaptogens, which can reduce the toxic effects of stress on the skin; superfoods, which defend against free radicals; and sustainable, recyclable packaging.

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MAMALANI

This Hawaiian-based skin and bodycare brand has made a lifelong commitment to locally grown agriculture, which it uses to create all of its products. Mamalani operates from a solar-powered facility in Kailua, Oahu, where its founder Mele was born and raised. Her commitment against harmful chemicals and plastic packaging comes as part of a lifelong goal to make Hawaii a more sustainable place to live, to keep the land clean for future generations.

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SEED PHYTONUTRIENTS

Pennsylvania-based Seed Phytonutrients was actually launched as an incubator via the L’Oréal group in 2018, though the brand has since then been bought back by a professional formulator. Its founder, Shane Wolf, sought to create a non-synthetic, sustainable and effective brand that could also give back to small-scale, organic farming in the US. You guessed it: at Seed Phytonutrients, the hero ingredient is just that, seeds, where a plant’s nutrients are encased and protected. The brand also pioneered revolutionary, shower-friendly paper bottles, which use up 60 per cent less plastic than a traditional one. Result!

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BYBI

Founded in 2017, BYBI has become renowned for clean, high-performance formulas and green focus. The brand is based in a special ecolab in London, which houses a team of scientists who leave no stone unturned when it comes to making the most climate-conscious decisions. BYBI’s internal auditing system, The Susty Score, seeks to figure out a certain ingredient’s carbon footprint so that proper, environmentally-friendly practices can be used when it comes to products and packaging.

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ALTILIS BEAUTY

Since 2017, Altilis has harnessed the power of New Guinea’s breadfruit, a staple food crop in tropical islands and key active ingredient in all the brand’s beauty products. Atilis collaborates with workers in Samoan villages to collect breadfruit flowers, which provides income to their communities. Plus, they’re helping them develop long-term cultivation practices, which include consistent replanting, provides food security, and conserves traditional knowledge of breadfruit.

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KINSHIP

Not only does Kinship provide cruelty-free, plant-based formulas, they also use post-consumer recycled materials such as Ocean Waste Plastic and minimal packaging. The brand has removed over 5 tons of plastic waste from the ocean – a figure which keeps on growing – while all their SPFs are reef safe and free of genetically-modified organisms. Kinship has also spearheaded a direct to consumer initiative, which seeks to amplify the voice of Black-owned businesses.

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