Editor’s Spotlight

Sustainable Indie Makeup: Do niche cosmetics brands hold the answer to a circular economy?

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / (azgek)
© Getty Images / (azgek)
A seemingly infinite number of niche personal care, cosmetics, and fragrance brands have come to market under the guise of being sustainable, green, or otherwise better for the environment than the typical drug store or department store brand. Here, Cosmetics Design looks at a selection of indie beauty brands that hope to be exemplars of green beauty.

Retailers like Credo Beauty and Whole Foods, digital-first product discovery services like Beauty Heroes, and grassroots industry education initiatives like the Eco Well are all at work to define, discover, and deliver so-called clean and green beauty in the market place.  

In fact, this week in San Francisco Credo Beauty is hosting its first summit, where brand leaders will come together to learn more about the retailer’s recently updated clean beauty guidelines. According to an item on glossy.com​, 60+ brands and over 100 individuals will attend the event.

Credo sees its guidelines as a way to meet current (and evolving) consumer expectations. When the new guidelines were announced this past summer, Mia Davis, director of mission at Credo, told Cosmetics Design​, “The Brand Standard is a strong foundation for clean beauty ingredients and good manufacturing practices, and as such, consumers will be able to have confidence that they’re purchasing products from brands that run a tight ship.”

As terminology advances, it’s fair to say that clean and green are not perfectly interchangeable. But it’s almost unheard of for a clean brand striving to make ‘less toxic’ product to not also be running a business and producing product that isn’t also green, i.e. ‘less toxic’ to the natural environment, (and vice versa).

Sustainable packaging

Tiila Abbitt’s recently launched Aether Cosmetics is quickly making a name a name in the industry for its zero waste packaging, including fully recyclable makeup pallets.

“Plastic makeup componentry is a huge source of pollution globally,” ​asserts the Āether Beauty about page, “and Tiila really wanted to create a brand that was ethically-sustainable, beyond the formulation, but in everything that Āether Beauty creates…. and as a founder, [she] wants to bring sustainability into every decision at Āether Beauty.”

Sustainable sourcing

Ashley Prange’s color brand Au natural Cosmetics was at the forefront of what she calls the clean beauty revolution. “Au Naturale Cosmetics,” ​says Prange, “represents both a brand and a cause. We are a full line of color cosmetics that 100% vegan, sustainable, cruelty-free, synthetic free, and made in our own lab in Wisconsin.” ​Read more about the brand in this Indie Beauty Profile​. (As well as here​ and here​ on Cosmetics Design.)

Sustainable water use

Linda Treska founded Pinch of Colour on the premise that water is a scarce and precious resource. “Through her globe-trotting journeys and personal experience with water deficiency as a child, Linda has been deeply affected by the devastating consequences of water shortage,” ​explains the about page on the Pinch of Colour ecommerce site. “This awareness, coupled with her love of makeup and passion for philanthropy, inspired the genesis of beauty with a cause: waterless products created to conserve a precious natural resource and donate to those in need.” ​Learn more about Treska’s brand in her Indie Beauty Profile​.



Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands

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