Zero Waste and Plastic-Free Make-Up Options

I’ve never been a big wearer of make-up, and when I went plastic-free back in 2012 I decided it was easier to simply skip the make-up altogether. Six years later and make-up is something I’m beginning to explore again, for a couple of reasons.

The first: people often ask me what the zero waste make-up options are, and I like to be informed about the answers! Second: whilst I don’t think make-up will ever be something I fully embrace, as I get older maybe I can appreciate what it offers a little more.

I always remember in a teen magazine I read, it said: “blusher is for making you look like you’ve had a good night’s sleep when you haven’t.” Colouring my cheeks in, I’m open to that. And in serious need of that, on occasion!

I thought I’d share some of the solutions I’ve come across so far. I’m no expert, but hopefully you’ll be able to share your own experiences too and we can put together a useful resource!

The DIY Zero Waste Beauty Approach

I tried to make activated charcoal by burning almonds once in order to make eyeliner, and I made a huge mess and swore never again. Fortunately now it is possible to buy ingredients like activated charcoal from bulk stores (I know The Source Bulk Foods has it). Other ingredients I’ve seen used in DIY beauty products that are available in the bulk store include cocoa powder, beetroot powder and maca powder.

For me, I just don’t use enough and I’m just not interested enough to get experimenting with these things. If you are, the bulk store is a great starting point.

The one DIY-type thing I have done is used Australian pink clay as blusher. I tend to apply after I’ve moisturised as it’s easier to rub in, and I apply with my fingers.

The Done-For-You Plastic Free Beauty Options

Fortunately there are individuals passionate about creating cruelty-free, plastic-free beauty products, so if the DIY approach is not your thing either, it is possible to buy ready-made options.

Dirty Hippie Cosmetics

Dirty Hippie Cosmetics is based in Canberra, ACT. Danni (the owner) set up her business after giving up plastic and realising the only plastic products she was buying were make-up products. Not being able to find alternatives, in 2012 she started her zero waste business and sells eye and face make-up, as well as skin care, body care and man care products.

All the packaging is glass, aluminium and compostable cardboard, and the products are sent without plastic packaging. It’s possible to request products without stickers. (I asked for stickers for the purposes of taking photographs!)

The products I’ve used are the black mascara and eyeliner (which come with optional bamboo applicators), a tinted moisturiser and a concealer.

Dirty Hippie Cosmetics sell their products via Etsy and in eco stores. If you’re in Perth, the Raw Kitchen in Fremantle is a stockist.

Website: Dirty Hippie Cosmetics

Clean-Faced Cosmetics

Clean-Faced Cosmetics is a US business based in Michigan, and Laura has been selling products on Etsy since 2014. She has a penchant for fun colour and has lots of interesting shades of eyeshadow and mascara. There’s even a gold mascara! No, I didn’t buy that one.

Most of the products come in reusable recyclable aluminium tins. The website has some products in glass with plastic lids also.

There’s the option to ask for no applicators and no stickers on the packaging, and the products are all sent plastic-free.

(I purchased some products from this store because I wanted to talk about them on my blog because many of my readers are American. From a eco footprint perspective, it’s always better to choose the most local option. If you’re in the US this may be it! For me, it isn’t.)

Website: Clean Faced Cosmetics

Luna Beauty (Not Longer Trading)

Whilst I was in the UK I ordered a mascara and blusher from Luna Beauty, but by the time I got round to writing this post, Elisha had decided to close the business to concentrate on her other job. I don’t know whether she will re-open in future, but currently there’s a UK-shaped hole in my listings, so I’d love to hear from anyone who knows another great business.

I’m no make-up expert, but I’m heartened to know that there are people creating zero waste and plastic-free make-up options. When it comes to waste there’s always multiple solutions. Being make-up free might work for me but it doesn’t suit everyone, and it’s great to have a choice.

Now I’d love to hear from you! Are you a fan of make-up, or do you prefer the natural approach? Has that changed since you started learning more about waste? Do you know any great DIY make-up recipes? Do you know any waste-free brands selling eco-friendly products? Anything else you’d like to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Zero Waste and Plastic-Free Make-Up Options
22 replies
  1. Sophie
    Sophie says:

    I’m spent so much time hunting for zero waste makeup options and.. there really is a huge gap in the market. Zao is another brand to check out. Apart from that, there’s very little choice. I’ve come to terms with the fact that unless I give up makeup entirely (I’m not ready to do that just yet) there’s going to be some waste, and I’m OK with that. I limit the makeup I use and only purchase a couple of items per year; hopefully we’ll see some more zero waste makeup brands popping up soon!

    • Lindsay (Treading My Own Path)
      Lindsay (Treading My Own Path) says:

      Hi Sophie, yes I agree. Luckily for me it’s not a market I’m hugely in need of, but back in the days when I did wear make-up it was all over-packaged, and of course plastic, and I bought it of course. So it would be good to have the options there for people who do want to wear it!

      I looked up Zao make-up and they are based in the USA, for anyone who is interested :)

    • Erin
      Erin says:

      That is very true, however I think there are more options than you think. Try Elate, they have plastic free zero waste powder products (e.g. bronzer, foundation etc.), concealer, brow products, eyeshadows etc.

      Here is where I get (or would get if I used some of them) all my make up products:

      Foundation (powder): Elate Cosmetics, (there are many others)

      Foundation (liquid): LUSH UK, BARE MARKET (if you live in Toronto)

      Setting powder: corn starch works great, otherwise: Kjaer Weis (plastic free), Zao (some plastic)

      Bronzer (powder): Elate

      Bronzer (stick): LUSH UK

      Blush (powder): Elate

      Blush (crème): Elate

      Highlighter: Elate, LUSH UK

      Concealer: Elate, LUSH UK

      Eyeshadow: Elate

      Eyeshadow primer: Zao

      Eyeliner & Mascara: Keeping it Natural (on ETSY, it’s the same product and is amazing)

      Brow products: Elate, Dirty Hippie Cosmetics

      Many other zero waste companies also carry these products, this is just where I would purchase from, hope this helps!


      • Lindsay (Treading My Own Path)
        Lindsay (Treading My Own Path) says:

        This is great Erin, thank you so much for sharing! As I said, I don’t tend to wear make-up so it is hard to know all the options. I did hear about Elate just after I wrote this. Now I have more to investigate! I will have to update this post sometime. Thanks again :)

  2. Rebekah Jaunty
    Rebekah Jaunty says:

    Thanks for starting this conversation! Beauty products are one of the hardest things for some of us to replace or give up.

  3. Laurie McNeill
    Laurie McNeill says:

    I have just ordered from Lush here in the UK. Their fproducts are as organic as they can make them and they supply a packaging-free range, which I was thrilled to stumble across, including shampoo bars, highlighter (which I use as foundation), blusher, and creme stick eyeshadows. Lovely!

    • Lindsay (Treading My Own Path)
      Lindsay (Treading My Own Path) says:

      Hi Laurie and thanks for the tip! I do remember owning a Lush mascara packaged in glass back in 2012 (a gift after I went plastic-free) but I didn’t think to check them out. With all the interest in plastic-free living I’m sure they will only increase their range, too!

      • Bec
        Bec says:

        Unfortunately lush had changed their glass bottle mascara to the standard plastic packaging last time I went to get one. I’ll check out raw kitchen next. Thanks for the tip!

  4. XLP
    XLP says:

    Timeless Beauty in Perth CBD and North Beach locations do custom blended foundation in a refillable pump action bottle. The ingredients are great for sensitive skin and are suitable for vegans. There’s the option to customise the finish and coverage and add things like SPF. I’ve been using them for over a year now – on my third refill. Price is very reasonable especially for a perfect product. Yes the source containers for the ingredients are plastic but I’m hoping they get reused. Jess from Timeless is very big on zero waste

  5. livinglightlyinireland
    livinglightlyinireland says:

    I totally agree with buying as local as you can. I wrote up a compendium of 22 zero waste make-up which mostly focuses on European brands but sometimes i mention further afield because Irish and UK retailers and e-tailers often stock them.

  6. Maggie Paul
    Maggie Paul says:

    Dear Lindsay,
    I have been passionately following your blog for quite some time, all the way from India. I have been trying to adopt a minimalist lifestyle with moderate success. Now I’m here in Australia and therefore decided to reach out directly. The idea of a zero waste make-up kit is great but could you suggest some brands for natural and zero-minimum waste general skin/hair care products such as sunscreen, moisturizer, shampoo etc…that could be found here. I could DIY in India but as a student living in a hostel with shared spaces…as well as limited time and resources…I don’t have the bandwidth to do so anymore. Thought I should reach out. I currently reside in Adelaide.

  7. abigailrose16
    abigailrose16 says:

    I will say, if you’re careful about product choice, a lot of more “mainstream” natural beauty/skincare brands (ones that already consciously offer vegan/cruelty free products) have certain product lines packaged mostly or entirely in metal or glass. Purchasing those can send the message that you value those products and the way they’re packaged, as well as reaching out to the company about how they package and that you would be interested in purchasing more if they reduced plastic use (or asking to ship without plastic, as Tarte does).


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