Makeup is unquestionably one of the hardest products to separate from plastic. The global cosmetics industry produces approximately 120 billion units of packaging every year and plastic is one of the most used materials due to its malleability, cost and lightweight nature.
But it doesn’t always have to be.
As more individuals pledge to reduce their plastic consumption, we’re seeing brands come up with exciting, innovative and frankly stylish solutions. While this is obviously great news, actually finding plastic-free options, ones that suit your specific needs and makeup preferences, is still a challenge. That’s why we’re bringing you nine of our favourite tried-and-tested plastic-free cosmetics – that we promise won’t compromise on quality.
Mascara is one of the hardest products to find plastic-free. But French clean beauty brand La bouche rouge has done the (almost) impossible, creating the world’s first microplastic-free and recyclable glass mascara. Instead of the usual synthetic materials, the brush and wiping ring are made from castor plant fibre – which looks and works exactly the same as regular mascara products. The formulation also doubles as lash care, with jojoba oil to stimulate growth and carnauba wax to thicken, stretch and lift lashes. It’s fantastic for natural separation without leaving any clumps. And to make things even sweeter, you can house this mascara in one of La bouche rouge’s signature upcycled cases.
We’ll be honest: we’ve had a longstanding crush on this brand and the fact it’s been able to deliver a chic, plastic-free mascara product has only intensified our infatuation.
Michael Comninus for RIISE
Yes, we’ve watched Euphoria. And, yes, we are also trying to do our makeup like a teenager whose parents don’t check up on them. From soft lavender to daring chinotto, Flavedo & Albedo is our go-to for vibrant eyeliners that will last all day (or night) long. Model and all-round RIISE muse Portia Prince recently told us she was not only impressed by the performance and high quality of these eyeliners, but the matte finish and application too.
Colours and ratings aside, the brand goes to great lengths to remove all plastic from each step of its supply chain, using a recycled and recyclable aluminium lid for the liner.
You already know how good Flavedo & Albedo is, so let’s dive straight into the product. Housed in entirely aluminium tins that can be recycled, the brand’s eyeshadows are super pigmented and water resistant. That means they will look perfect for the entire night out. We cannot wait to recreate Nathalie Kelley’s smokey look using the berry bronze eyeshadow or this lilac dream from our fave Lily Collins using the sky velvet shade.
Lipstick is one of the most universally reached for makeup items, which is also why it’s one of the largest contributors to cosmetic waste. Lush is one of the few brands doing something about this. It has created a two-part alternative: a case made from partially recycled aluminium and brass and a range of refillable vegan lipstick formulas. The sticks (bought separately) have been dipped in peelable wax, which you remove and compost, and come in 40 different colours to choose from. No wonder Lush can afford to lose its social media presence: the products speak for themselves.
Naturally, people worry that products sold in environmentally responsible packaging will somehow compromise on quality. But if there’s one brand dispelling that myth, it’s Kjaer Weis. It’s developed an award-winning cream blush, sold in a sexy, red compact made from paper. That’s right…paper. The look of lacquered leather is crafted from FSC-certified materials that are compostable and printed with water-based ink. Plus, it’s refillable – meaning you don’t have to throw away the compact at all.
Beside our packaging awe, the creamy and blendable formulation also uses certified organic ingredients and doubles (or triples rather) as a lip and eye product. Talk about bang for buck.
Axiology’s Balmie highlighters are another product that proves plastic-free can outperform classic bestsellers. Completely naked, they’re housed in recycled and recyclable paper that you peel off as you go. Made from 10 ingredients or less, the Balmies are not only incredibly soft and creamy but also hydrate the skin using antioxidants such as elderberry, hemp and plum oil. The ingenious brand has been recognised by a number of celebrities (like Oprah Winfrey) and won multiple awards including a Byrdie 2021 Eco Beauty Award in the best affordable product category.
If you’re a regular RIISE reader then you’ll know we’ve been obsessed with Fluff for a long time now. Of the many products from its range that we love, the refillable vegan bronzer is a team favourite for several reasons.
For starters, it’s sold in a weighted metal compact that looks slick and feels way fancier than everything else currently floating loose in your handbag. And secondly, this bronzer is multifunctional: it’s designed to be worn across the whole face including the forehead, cheekbones, tip of the nose and Cupid’s bow, and as a subtle eyeshadow. It shows you don’t need a million different products in your beauty case – sometimes one is more than enough.
Sensitive or irritated skin? Ere Perez’s arnica concealer is full coverage with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties to help calm inflamed areas and encourage the skin to heal. Particularly perfect for anyone who wants to cover a few spots (or under-eye bags which seem to be all the rage at the moment) and run out the door. It’s completely plastic-free but beware not all products on its website are.
You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find a plastic-free eyebrow pencil – considering…it’s a pencil. But, La bouche rouge’s is made of wood and an infinitely recyclable metal cap, in Hesdin-l’Abbé in France. Formulated with castor oil, squalane and vitamin E, it’s the perfect blend to let you highlight your brows subtly or sculpt them with intensity. A great all-rounder in four different shades.