This holiday season, you obviously want to give your loved ones something that shows you truly care, and a great place to start is sustainable beauty gifts. Because, really, what says you care more than helping them look and feel their best with products they can actually feel good about using?
Looking and feeling good about yourself — or helping a friend do the same — shouldn’t mean sacrificing sustainability. But, unfortunately, the beauty industry doesn’t exactly have the most stellar reputation for being eco-friendly. In 2018, Zero Waste Week reported that more than 120 billion units of cosmetic packaging were produced, with the majority of that not being recyclable (via Forbes). In fact, per the EPA, as much as 70 percent of plastic waste generated by the beauty industry isn’t recycled.
And in case you need one more nudge toward making the sustainable switch, consider this: In 2018, U.N. scientists reported that unless we drastically cut back carbon emissions to keep global warming from surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next decade, the resulting consequences will be devastating.
We all need to do our part, no matter how big or small. So, how great is it that your part can include gifting the best beauty junkies in your life with stuff that isn’t harmful to our environment? Here are a few sustainable beauty gift ideas to get you started.
Our editors & writers only recommend products that we think are awesome and you’ll love. We do occasionally use affiliate links, which means that we may make a small commission at no additional cost to you.
1. C’est Moi Gentle Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
Not only is this fragrance-free mineral sunscreen lotion light, silky and totally nourishing, but it’s made with clean ingredients, to boot. It’s phthalate-, paraben-, sulfate- and dye-free. It’s not tested on animals. And C’est Moi’s packaging is made from recyclable plastics and Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper, meaning the forest’s trees are replanted after being farmed for paper.
2. Love Beauty and Planet Sulfate-Free Coconut Oil & Ylang Ylang Shampoo and Conditioner
How happy were we to discover you can get this incredible sustainable brand at box-stores like Walmart? A little background info: Love Beauty and Planet contributes $40 per carbon ton to a carbon tax fund which then supports programs that work to reduce carbon emissions and landfill waste. Their fast-rinse conditioner technology means less water is needed, and their bottles are made from 100 percent recycled plastic (they’re working on the caps and pumps now). Plus, all of their ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced. As if that wasn’t enough, the essential oils they use make these shampoos and conditioners just about the best-smelling you’ll ever come across.
3. Beautycounter Charcoal Cleansing Bar
You may not have realized this, but Beautycounter is on a mission to be part of a clean beauty revolution. To that end, they use 100 percent FSC-certified paper packaging, as well as glass and recyclable “safer plastic materials” in their product packaging. They also offset their carbon footprint by working with carbonfund.org. We love this charcoal cleansing bar for the company’s ethos, obviously, but also because it detoxes skin of impurities without drying it out. Plus, you know, it looks really cool.
4. Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant Rose + Vanilla Jar
If you haven’t tried Schmidt’s natural deodorants yet, get two jars — one for the friend you’re gifting and one as a gift to yourself. This award-winning, BPA-free unisex formula neutralizes odor to keep you fresh in a non-greasy, non-sticky way. To further reduce waste, it’s packaged in a sustainable (and chic!) glass jar that is recyclable. Save your lids, too, because if you send five in to the company they’ll reward you with a free deodorant of your choice.
5. The Seaweed Bath Co. Whole Seaweed Detox Bath
Wrap your brain around this: The only ingredient in this pure bath soak is organic bladderwrack seaweed with more than 65 vitamins and minerals — and it’s sustainably hand-harvested right off the coast of Maine. The company is also conscientious about utilizing post-consumer recycled plastics in their packaging, and they proudly partner with organizations dedicated to keeping our oceans clean and protected.
6. Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm Peppermint
Say hello to the perfect sustainable stocking stuffer. Dr. Bronner’s lip balms are all meticulously made using organic beeswax, jojoba, avocado and hemp oils with top-quality essential oils — peppermint, for this one. This lip balm is certified organic to USDA National Organic Program standards, so you know it’s the good stuff. And the company is committed to sustainability through its zero-synthetic ingredient policy and other initiatives like regenerative organic farming and 100 percent post-consumer recycled packaging.
7. Avalon Organics Intense Defense With Vitamin C Cleansing Gel
This drug-store cleansing gel (you can score it at Walmart) has a cult following, and for good reason. For starters, it lathers away toxins and impurities to leave your skin looking and feeling amazing. But also, the certified-organic plant-based cleanser is made with a blend of top-notch botanicals and essential oils. It’s GMO-, paraben-, synthetic-, phthalate- and sulfate-free; not tested on animals; and, per the company, crafted with “a profound respect for the earth.” That includes evaluating the organic carbon to CO2 conversion rate necessary for biodegradable certification.
8. Loli Holiday Kit
There’s so much to love about LOLI Beauty, which stands for Living Organic Loving Ingredients. First, the company is Made Safe-certified — which means a third-party chemist screens their ingredients to confirm with certainty that nothing they make harms the environment or ocean. Second, LOLI is the world’s first zero waste organic beauty brand, packaging their products in recycled, recyclable, refillable food grade glass and garden compostable labels and bags.
LOLI created a Matcha Rose Radiance Mask kit just for the holidays. For $62, you can gift your loved ones mini deluxe sizes of Matcha Coconut Paste Mask, Plum Elixir + Rose Hydrosol plus tools. Even better, it comes in a garden compostable bag for zero waste.
This oil has become one of our go-to gifts for, well, everyone. It’s like a miracle in a bottle, because all it takes is a tiny pump to turn hair into a tangle-free, lightly (and divinely) scented dream. But in addition to being a hair must-have, this product is a winner because of how it’s made: by a company that truly cares for the environment.
Their flagship Parma, Italy, office? It powers itself with electricity from renewable sources. They have a CO2 offset policy in place. They abide by a “Sustainable Beauty Manifesto” and “Packaging Research Charter,” the latter of which is a collection of guidelines to ensure the packaging they choose is eco-friendly. Plus, they are an official BCorp-certified company — a designation given to companies that meet “the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.”
10. Lush Hello Gorgeous Bath & Shower Bundle
You’ve probably heard of lush shampoo bars, right? This company was arguably one of the packaging-free shampoo pioneers of the beauty industry, so the answer is probably yes. What you may not know is they’re committed to “naked packaging” for 35 percent of their products. The rest, like this bath and shower bundle, are packaged in recycled and recyclable material. They’re also 100 percent handmade, they don’t test on animals, and they rely on ethical buying for all of their ingredients. Gift a friend this set and you’ll be treating them to Lush’s best-selling Dream Cream Body Lotion, the Comforter Bubble Bar and luxurious facial moisturizer — all packaged in a whimsical, reusable box they can use to stash bits and baubles.
Looking for another eco-friendly gift this holiday season? Check out tower gardens, the new vertical gardening trend that uses 90 percent less water.