Zero-Waste Makeup: Low-to-No Plastic Foundation

It has been months since I last wrote about low-waste and eco-friendly makeup. My attention has been turned to cruelty-free and vegan makeup and, to tell the truth, finding low or no waste beauty products is really hard. I recently wrote this post on my favourite three foundations – all three are cruelty free and vegan, but only one is zero-waste.

I’m okay with that. This quote of Anne-Marie Bonneau (@zerowastechef) has been floating around the internet quite a bit of late, and I’m a fan:

“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

I’ll probably never make it into the elite club of zero waste bloggers for saying this, but you shouldn’t kick yourself for buying plastic. It is really easy to get overwhelmed and swept away when you first start on your journey towards living a more eco-friendly or sustainable life – I did, and it made me kind of miserable.

Makeup, which I use sparingly, amounts to a small percentage of my overall consumption of consumables (consumable consumption – there’s a tongue twister for you). In fact, I haven’t thrown away a single pot of foundation in over a year – I have had two plastic empties, and both have been put to good use second-hand.

I’m definitely getting off track here – what I’m trying to say is, if you’re looking for zero-waste foundation then 1) you’ve come to the right place and 2) don’t read my last review post.

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

Zero Waste Foundation Options

This Lush foundation-in-a-bar was revolutionary when it first came out, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. It comes in a simple cardboard box, with one end dipped in wax so you can hold it without getting messy. Once you’re down to the end, you can peel off the wax or go in with a brush. At £17 for a bar this isn’t the cheapest foundation out there, but it goes a long way!

Like I mentioned above, I did a miniature review of this a few weeks ago – you can imagine the verdict, given the name of the post: “The Best Vegan Foundations of 2019”. TL;DR: it’s not great if you have oily skin or live in a really hot country (it’s pretty melty), but I personally found it quite forgiving and really easy to apply. I LOVE how many different shades this foundation comes in – there really is something for everyone – and they sell complimentary brushes and concealers.

This used to be an online exclusive, but I went shopping in Liverpool One recently and saw them on sale in-store, which is great for making sure you get the right shade.

Kjaer Weis is hard to find in the UK. Although you can get it delivered through Cult Beauty, options for finding a discount or coupon are limited, which really stings at £51 a go. I haven’t tried this, partly due to the cost and partly due to the fear of buying the wrong shade!

Zao is certified cruelty free by Cruelty Free International, and every single one of their products is certified vegan by the Vegan Society. I have never seen them in-store anywhere in the UK, so although they don’t directly state this I can only assume they’re exclusively online.

Most of their makeup products are refillable, but it looks like their only completely plastic-free one is the compact. The first time you purchase this it is £30.50 for a compostable bamboo case and the compact inside, but following that each metal compact refill is just £10.75. They also do a £2 sample, which is great for trying out a colour before you splash out on the full-sized product.

Antonym Baked Foundation Zero Waste & Eco Friendly

Antonym Cosmetics do a baked foundation in a wooden palette, which is plastic-free and looks gorgeous. This is slightly less pricey but still not cheap at £36. Again, if you’re in the UK you have to order through a limited number of third party sites, which just isn’t the same as walking into a store and finding the exact right shade for you. They also sell a whole range of other makeup items that are plastic-free, if you’ve got the budget for it!

Low Waste Foundation Options 

If you’re looking for a liquid foundation, your only option is to go for something in a glass jar (I look forward to the day you can take your own pots up to a makeup counter for refilling). There are quite a few foundations available in glass jars, but I haven’t tried many of them so I’m not here to make any recommendations!

As well as their pressed compact above, Zao also do a liquid foundation in a glass bottle.

Tarte Cosmetics have quite a few glass-bottled products, but they come with plastic lids and applicators. Most of them are vegan:

  • Shape Tape Foundation (the ‘matt’ foundation IS vegan but the ‘hydrating’ foundation is NOT)
  • Rainforest of the Sea Foundation
  • Babassu Foundcealer
  • Shape Tape Contour Concealer
  • Aquacealer Concealer

Burt’s Bees Goodness Glows Liquid Foundation also comes in a glass bottle with a plastic applicator. I assumed this would contain beeswax or honey and therefore not be vegan, but I can’t see it anywhere in the ingredients list.

e.l.f’s Flawless Finish Foundation comes in a glass bottle, but with a pretty hefty lid (but it’s still less plastic than alternatives).

Too Faced ‘Born This Way’ liquid foundation comes in glass too, although their parent company is Estee Lauder, who test on animals – it depends on your personal ethics as to whether you’d class this as ‘cruelty free’ or not. If you do, it’s also vegan.

What are your favourite tips for keeping a low-waste makeup routine?