top eco-friendly brands in the UK

Revealed: The most eco-friendly and ethical beauty brands in the UK – and which really need to do better

17th September 2021 | Author: Katherine O'Shea

Most of us are trying to be more environmentally conscious, eco-friendly, and ethical when it comes to buying our beauty products, but it can be tricky to know which brands are actually delivering what we want.

Some brands only sell a handful of vegan products, others still test on animals in certain regions. Some are still relying heavily on plastics, while others are switching to reusable packaging.

To make finding eco-friendly gifts and beauty products easier, Uswitch has looked at 45 of the most popular makeup brands in the UK to see which are committing themselves to be more ethical and sustainable. The full list can be found at the bottom of this page but we’ve highlighted the best, and worst performers below.

For each of the top brands, the switching site then analysed several ethical factors such as cruelty-free status, vegan products, and the ethical sourcing of mica. Mica is a mineral that adds pigment to makeup, namely foundation. It is sometimes gathered through unethical practices such as child labour.  You can find the full results in the Uswitch Ethical Beauty Brands report.

FURTHER READING: Clean beauty: What are clean beauty products and how can I shop more consciously?


Best eco-friendly and ethical beauty brands UK

Below we’ve listed which brands came out on top, and which need to do more but the main results of the research found that only three of the top 16 brands (19%) offered all-vegan products – Lush, Superdrug’s B. and MUA.

In fact, Superdrug’s B. and Lush were the only brands in the study that passed all sustainability checks, including having a sustainable energy manifesto and ethically sourcing their mica.

Less than half (44%) were certified cruelty-free by PETA, including Covergirl, bareMinerals, and Makeup Revolution, while only 56% have stated a commitment to reducing plastic, including Soap & Glory, Maybelline, No 7, and Avon. Of the full list, 12 brands (75%) have taken part in some form of charitable initiative in the last 12 months.

FURTHER READING: Vegan vs cruelty-free: What’s the difference?


Best vegan brands UK

Uswitch

Veganism is growing in popularity fast, so UK brands are offering more vegan makeup options than ever before.

The top companies that are producing all-vegan makeup, or those offering the most vegan products, include:

  • Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
  • Cover|FX
  • B.Cosmetics
  • MUA Makeup Academy
  • KVD Vegan Beauty
  • Aveda

You can read more about MUA Makeup Academy in our guide to the best cheap makeup brands

The big brands that are certainly not vegan pleasers and don’t offer any vegan products include Bourjois Paris, Clinique, and Jo Malone London, amongst others. However, these brands perform better in other categories in the Uswitch report, which you can read below.

FURTHER READING: Recycle logo quiz: Do you know what the recycling logos on beauty and makeup packaging mean?


Best cruelty-free brands UK

Best cruelty free makeup brands UKUswitch

If you’re looking for cosmetic products that are cruelty-free, it can be a bit of a minefield, especially when brands advertise themselves as such but aren’t entirely.

Firstly you’ll need to buy beauty brands that don’t sell physical in-store products in mainland China.

By law, any beauty products sold in China have to undergo animal testing.

To be sure you’re buying from brands not tested on animals, you’ll also want to shop with cosmetic brands that have PETA certification or Leaping Bunny approval.

Thankfully the research from Uswitch makes it really easy for you to find cruelty-free makeup by listing which beauty companies have certification and which don’t.

The top cruelty-free beauty brands include Liz Earle, Urban Decay, Marc Jacobs, Revolution Beauty London, as well as 18 other brands in the report.

Elsewhere, if you want to find the most ethical makeup and cosmetic products, you may also only want to choose brands that are committed to ethically sourcing their mica – a group of silicate minerals often broken down into a sparkling powder, also known as “natures glitter”.

Sometimes mica is sourced by unethical practices, such as child labour, so to be sure you’re buying the most ethical makeup you’ll want to use:

  • L’Oreal Paris
  • Elizabeth Arden New York
  • Charlotte Tilbury
  • Cover|FX
  • Marc Jacobs
  • Liz Earle
  • Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
  • Revolution Beauty London
  • Sephora
  • Revlon

FURTHER READING: How to get free skincare samples in the UK online and in stores


Best plastic-free and low-plastic brands UK

Best plastic-free brands UKUswitch

Eco-friendly beauty shopping also means you’ll want to pick brands that are reducing the amount of plastic they use.

Eco-friendly beauty brands in this list include Aveda, Avon, Benefit San Francisco, Bobbi Brown, No7 and Too Faced, as well as 20 other brands in the Uswitch ethical beauty brands, report shown to be reducing their plastic use.

The report from Uswitch also looked into how companies treat their employees and their charitable initiatives over the last year.

The Body Shop was the clear winner here because they’ve achieved a B Corp certification – a status given to companies who meet high standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

The Uswitch report looked into Glassdoor reviews (where current and former employees anonymously review companies) and Max Factor came out top with a score of 4.5 out of 5.

The lowest-scoring brands were KVD Vegan Beauty (2.1), followed by Covergirl (2.3).

The great news is 36 of the top 45 UK beauty brands were found to have participated in a charitable initiative over the last year.

So if you’re shopping for eco-friendly gifts for yourself, looking for vegan beauty products, or wanting to support companies who support other people, then this guide will really help you to make informed decisions when it comes to shopping for your ethical cosmetics.

FURTHER READING: Best sustainable beauty brands UK: Our pick of eco-friendly makeup and skincare brands and their must-have products


Best eco-friendly brands UK

Below is Uswitch’s full analysis of the top 45 beauty brands in the UK. Click the picture to expand it in a new tab, where you can zoom in and out.


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