When you’re looking for eco-friendly makeup, it’s easy to find lots of recommendations. But not all of them are created equal.

That’s because “green” can mean so many things: sustainable packaging, natural formulation, even how they source ingredients. Between this confusion and blatant greenwashing (marketing that deceives about how sustainable a product really is), it’s hard to know which brands are really making a difference.

We’ve tried to simplify things with this guide to the best eco-friendly makeup of 2020.

7 of the Best Eco-Friendly Makeup Brands to Try in 2020:

1. Besamé Cosmetics 

Besamé Cosmetics Makeup applicator

If you feel like you were born in the wrong generation, you’ll adore Besamé Cosmetics. Makeup historian Gabriela Hernandez founded Besamé to recreate the simple glamour of her grandmother’s beauty routine. And its vintage style has the added benefit of being eco-friendly!

Most makeup applicators are made with mixed materials that are impossible to recycle. Besamé’s Rouge ($20) and Cake Mascara (from $20) come in gorgeous, reusable tins, and you can even get mascara refills (which arrive in a compostable sleeve). And because it dries back down between uses, Cake Mascara is more hygienic, so it lasts longer than mascara in a tube.

Savings Tip: Find the best Besamé Cosmetics coupons plus 10% cash back when you shop with Giving Assistant.

2. Aether Beauty 

Aether Beauty  Clean vegan beauty

Aether Beauty, sold at Sephora, offers eyeshadows inspired by crystals, sunsets and the Mojave Desert. And their palettes – down to the soy-based ink – are recyclable! But this brand takes the sustainability conversation even further.

Rejecting dichotomies of eco-friendliness, Aether Beauty focuses on ethical ingredients and practices over strictly “natural” ones. Their goal is to create non-toxic, effective, sustainably-sourced products above all — even if that means sometimes using synthetics.

A deeply principled company, they even shared in a blog post that they don’t produce makeup brushes because there’s not yet a way to recycle them. This is an often overlooked part of sustainability: offering a thoughtful, smaller collection of products rather than pushing out more just because you can.

Savings Tip: Get the best Aether Beauty coupons from Sephora, plus earn 4% cash back.

3. Dab Herb Makeup

Dab Herb Makeup powered by Etsy

Dab Herb Makeup found a way to take plastic out of the equation for every makeup product you can imagine! This indie makeup brand offers a huge variety of vegan makeup in zero-waste packaging, from primer in a glass pot to blush in a paper tube. 

Probably their coolest offering? Organic herb mascara ($22), perfect for those who aren’t quite ready to take the leap to cake mascara. Dab Herb Makeup definitely has product line breadth (though they could do more in terms of depth, offering more shades for all skin types).

Savings Tip: Find the best Etsy coupons when you shop with Giving Assistant.

4. River Organics

River Organics vegan indie beauty brand

River Organics is a vegan indie beauty brand based in Wilmington, NC. Inspired by her time living in France and the Middle East, Corinne Lefebvre wanted to create a makeup line with naturally-derived oils. And even better? It’s plastic-free! That means plant-based highlighter, blush, tinted lip balm, eyebrow wax, and concealer, all in zero-waste paper tubes.

In addition to their thoughtful packaging, they even have low-waste shipping: everything comes in recycled envelopes with sugarcane labels, and without any additional marketing material, which really adds up! It’s all part of what makes this brand uniquely beautiful.

5. ILIA Beauty

ILIA Beauty minimalist brand

Ilia Beauty is a gorgeous, minimalist brand that makes the list because of their revolutionary recycling program. Yes, that’s right! 

To help close the loop on the beauty product lifecycle, ILIA accepts used makeup from U.S. customers. These empties then go to TerraCycle in a Zero Waste Box, which is an alternative recycling stream for hard-to-recycle items. To participate, simply print a prepaid shipping label from their website and attach it to your box or envelope. You can mail up to five products per month — and they can be from any brand.

Savings Tip: Find the best Sephora coupons, plus 4% cash back when you shop with Giving Assistant.

6. Keeping It Natural

Keeping It Natural powered by Etsy

One of the biggest roadblocks to makeup being eco-friendly is all the extra stuff it comes with, like bulky packaging that can’t be recycled or reused. Ohio-based indie makeup brand Keeping It Natural offers stripped-down basics — lip color and mascara — all in zero-waste metal tins. 

Their cake mascara ($16.99), which can double as eyeliner, comes in two shades. And their mineral lip color ($12.99) comes in a whopping 35 shades: 19 creamy options, 16 shimmer! Deeply moisturizing, these lipsticks have a gorgeous color payoff while still feeling comfortable on the lips. (They even have a Sheer Glitter. Take our money, please!)

Savings Tip: Find the best Etsy coupons when you shop with Giving Assistant.

7. Elate Beauty

Elate Beauty powered by Urban Outfitters

This eco-friendly beauty brand will look perfect on your vanity or bathroom counter! Elate Beauty, easily spotted with their bamboo detailing, aims to encourage more responsible consumption through what they call “conscious beauty,” even offering a quiz to help customers create their own capsule makeup collection. It’s all part of their strong code of ethics

Something else amazing about this company is that they ship products in seed paper envelopes, which you can plant at home and grow into flowers, herbs or vegetables!

Savings Tip: Find the best Urban Outfitters coupons plus 5% cash back when you shop with Giving Assistant.

How Your Eco-Friendly Makeup Shopping Can Help Nonprofits

It feels good to know the products we buy every day can help make a positive impact on the planet. When you shop with Giving Assistant, you can earn cash back to keep or donate to nonprofits of your choice.

The list of nonprofit and charitable organizations we partner with is long and growing. Here are some supporting civil rights and Black Lives Matter that you can set as your preference today.

And if you haven’t already, install the Giving Assistant Button on your browser to apply cash back automatically at checkout and never miss out on deals while you shop online.

More Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Product Ideas

If you buy a product or service through links found on our blog, we may earn an affiliate commission.