Zero-Waste Makeup: Ethical Eyeshadows

This is the first in my new series of blog posts surrounding zero waste and low waste makeup options. I started giving plastic the old heave-ho a fair while back, but it’s been a much longer process than I thought it would be. It was sooo tempting to throw out all of the plastic that already existed around the flat and replace it with more eco-friendly alternatives, but I resisted.

Anything good enough to donate or give away, I did. I figured: If I can give this to someone else, it’ll stop them from buying it brand-new, and I can be responsible for purchasing an eco friendly alternative. It might not have made much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, but it might have.

Anyway, that was a really long-winded way of telling you that most of my makeup collection is still in plastic, but it was all purchased before I embarked upon our zero waste journey. I’m just getting to the point where things are starting to run low, and I’m frantically scouring the internet for plastic-free replacements. (Or, single-use-plastic-free replacements. See the intro to this blog post on why plastic isn’t always the evil villain it’s made out to be).

When I first went vegan with my makeup (back in 2016) I struggled SO MUCH with eyeshadow. Lanolin (from sheep’s wool) gives makeup an incredibly creamy texture, so finding brands that didn’t use it was really difficult. Veganism wasn’t such a big thing back then, either, so finding information online was like finding a piece of hay in a stack of needles.

I’m tangenting again. 

Basically, eyeshadow used to be the tricksy one, but just three years later the situation seems to have turned on its head. I have tonnes of cruelty free, vegan, low/zero waste options to share with you (man, that list just keeps growing). What I’m really struggling with is foundation! If anyone has any ideas (besides the Lush Slapstick) do let me know in the comments.

I’ve split these down into ‘zero waste’ and ‘low waste’ so you can browse depending on your preference.

Zero Waste Eyeshadow Options

Lush “Naked” Makeup

Okay, this is really frustrating. I first wrote this post a few weeks back, but came on to have a quick check over everything before I pressed ‘publish’… Lush’s zero waste eyeshadows have gone. Aaaaah!

What? Where?! When I followed the links I had so studiously pointed to Lush’s website, I was taken to a blog post about “The Great Lush Makeup Shakeup”. Basically, they stripped back their entire makeup range to make way for new “naked” makeup. Whilst this is great for the long-term, in the short-term it’s mighty frustrating that their options are so limited!

It seems as though they’ve come out with a new “naked” something every time I go on Instagram, so I can’t grumble too much. Patience is a virtue, I tell myself, through gritted teeth. 

Zao Refillable Palettes

Zao is certified cruelty free by Cruelty Free International, which in my opinion is the most reliable certification a brand can have. Every single one of their products is also certified vegan by the Vegan Society. 

As far as I can tell, they’re only available to purchase online. Although some of their products do seem to contain small amounts of plastic, their eyeshadow palettes are completely plastic-free. The palettes contain a magnet which allow you to refill them with whichever products you like, and are made from bamboo.

Although bamboo might be difficult to compost at home, it won’t hang around for half as long as plastic would. The fact that they’re refillable also means they (hopefully) won’t go to waste, anyway.

Antonym Bamboo Palettes

Antonym is definitely what I’d call a high-end brand (AKA, a brand I hope to afford one day). Although I haven’t tried any of their products, I have heard amazing things about their formulas. They’re also certified by Ecocert, which (amongst other things) means their packaging is guaranteed to be biodegradable.


This is a bit of a vague option, but there are lots of small businesses on Etsy that sell zero waste makeup. The reason I haven’t picked out any in particular is because when you have the option to buy from small businesses, choosing local sellers is important. Supporting local businesses is always something I will be in favour of, but when materials don’t have far to travel, your carbon footprint will be drastically reduced.

Very Low Waste Eyeshadows Options 

The Body Shop Refillable Palettes

Much like those sold by Zao, The Body Shop sell refillable eyeshadow palettes. I’ve put these into the “Very Low Waste” category because they’re made from plastic. There are 32 colour options, and you can choose from a single case, a case of four or a case of eight shadows.

These palettes and their refills are significantly discounted on The Body Shop website, which does make me wonder if they’re discontinuing this line! Fingers crossed, if they do, they’ll be replaced with something with less plastic.

(While we’re here, The Body Shop do a great makeup remover that comes in a metal tin!)

Bleach London Refillable Palettes

These palettes fall somewhere between Zao and The Body Shop – Although the reusable palettes are made out of plastic, the refills are just cased in metal which means they can be completely recycled. You can read my post on all of the other reasons that Bleach London is so fab here.

Bleach London is probably the most accessible of all of the brands I’ve mentioned in this post because they’re available to buy online, and are in-store in Superdrug. Their haircare range is also stocked in Boots, but they don’t yet stock their makeup range.

Green People 

Green People is another great brand that sells a wide range of eco friendly products. Although they don’t use any plastic in their packaging, their eyeshadows don’t come with a refillable option. The fact that they don’t use plastic is great, but there’s still a fair bit of unnecessary packaging that could be avoided with refillable palettes!

More On Zero Waste Makeup 

I’ve said “refillable palettes” so many times the words have gone sticky. Ack, I think that’s enough for today! Keep an eye out for posts I have planned that will turn your whole makeup collection green. (Not literally.)