11 plastic-free skin care products worth buying

Kari Gran glass jars
Promo image Kari Gran

What’s the point of buying non-toxic skin and body care products if you’re left with a pile of non-recyclable plastic containers that will sit for centuries and leach toxins into a landfill? A growing number of people may be rejecting conventional products in favour of safer ones, but more attention needs to be given to packaging.

The problem is that packaging is not nearly as glamorous as the product itself, and a customer’s desire for the product will often outweigh concerns about packaging. Organic Monitor, a marketing research firm, made this observation a few years ago: “Although packaging has the highest environmental footprint within the realm of cosmetics products, it appears to be largely ignored when beauty companies look at sustainability.”

Despite this, I do believe the tide is turning ever so slightly. Some companies, particularly small and homegrown operations, are starting to think about the entire lifespan of their products. It is possible to find biodegradable, recyclable, and reusable packaging, if you look hard enough. This list is hardly comprehensive, but at least it’s a start and can hopefully point you in a fresh direction when shopping.

1. Fable Naturals – Vegan Lip Balm, $17.99 for 3-pack

Fable Naturals/Promo image

This small skin care company is based in Vancouver and sells all natural, Fairtrade products, many of which come in green packaging. My favourite is the vegan lip balm, which comes in a compostable cardboard tube that you squeeze upward to apply.

2. Farm to Girl – Organic Citrus Kokolotion, $8.95

Farm to Girl/Promo image

This wonderful-smelling lotion is made with Fairtrade, organic coconut oil. It comes in a recyclable glass jar with a metal screw-top lid, as do all of this company’s products. (Read an earlier review I wrote for TreeHugger about this innovative green company.)

3. Lush Cosmetics – Solid Shampoo Bar, $11.95

Lush/Promo image

The greenest packaging is no packaging, of course, which is what Lush does for its solid shampoo bars. Lush recommends storing the bar in a metal tin.

4. Burt’s Bees – Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, $7.99

Burt's Bees/Promo image

Made of sweet almond oil and beeswax, this intensively moisturizing cuticle cream comes in a metal tin.

5. Organic Essence – Relentless All Day Deodorant, $9.99

Organic Essence/Promo image

This coconut oil-based deodorant comes in a compostable paper tube for easy application and home composting. It has no preservatives, petro-chemicals, or artificial colours, nor does it test on animals.

6. Kari Gran – Radiant Lip Whip (limited edition), $30

Kari Gran/Promo image

I’ve written about Kari Gran’s high-end skin care products before, but it deserves mention again. All products come in dark glass, which is recyclable. This particular lip whip is a great combo of balm and colour. Refuse the complimentary brush if you don't want any plastic.

7. Keeping It Natural – Creamy Cake Black Mascara, $9

Etsy/Promo image

Mascara is almost impossible to find without a plastic tube, so I was delighted to come across this vegan ‘mascara cake’ in my Internet research. It’s a homemade product sold on Etsy that comes with rave reviews from hundreds of shoppers. Apply with a mascara brush, which can be cleaned and reused for years.

8. Juniper Seed Mercantile – Facial Moisturizer & Eye Makeup Remover, $11

Juniper Mercantile/Promo image

Made of organic oils, this 2-in-1 concoction is all natural and fragrance-free. It comes in a glass bottle, though unfortunately it does have a plastic lid. Ships to Canada and the U.S. If outside those countries, visit the Etsy shop.

9. Aquarian Bath – Spearmint Deodorant Balm, $6.50

Aquarian Bath/Promo image

I haven’t personally tried this deodorant, but it’s made of baking soda, cocoa butter, and olive oil, which are similar to the homemade deodorant that I use and love. This one comes in a 2-ounce metal tin, but the company offers a smaller sample for $2.25 if you wish to test it.

10. Batty’s Bath – Tea Tree Facial Nut Scrub, $15

Batty's Bath/Promo image

Exfoliate your face with this luscious whipped scrub that contains ground apricot kernel shells and tea tree oil. It comes in a 3.5 ounce glass jar with a metal lid.

11. Shea Radiance – Solid Pedicure Bar, $10

Shea Radiance/Promo image

A peppermint lotion bar made with shea and cocoa butters will help heal cracked, tired feet. It is packaged in a metal tin.

Tags: Beauty Treatments | Biodegradable | Cosmetics | Plastics | Skin Care | Zero Waste