U.S.-based cosmetic companies are making strides in redefining the beauty industry’s relationship with sustainability. Household makeup names from E.L.F. to Kat Von D to Aveda are setting the bar high for cosmetic companies, illustrating ethically sourced ingredients and cruelty-free practices are easier to embrace than brand names previously thought.
Amidst a broader call for environmental consciousness and better business practices, these companies are at the forefront of the movement towards the balance between sustainability-focused business and outstanding performance.
What It Is: Glossier, a woman-founded and run beauty startup gone viral, offers a full array of cosmetics products. The company had a quick rise to fame after garnering critical acclaim from beauty reviewers and online affiliates. From skin care to cosmetics, Glossier’s straightforward products are innovative and effective.
What They’re Doing: The company strives to redefine the beauty industry and its relationship with consumers. Their products are vegetarian (and sometimes vegan, if they don’t include honey) and shipped in an original protective pink pouch, replacing the common excess of bubble wrap and paper used by other brands.
What It Is: Kat Von D offers a renowned line of bold and high-pigmented cosmetic products, brought to fame by its fearless and innovative founder, Katherine Von Drachengberg, and her success as a tattoo artist. The company has become the poster child for out-of-the-box, dramatic looks for the consumer with an edge.
What They’re Doing: KVD is one of the few companies that has gone 100 percent vegan. It’s no surprise they’re pushing the envelope with ethical sourcing as they strive on being early adopters of new practices. Their products are cruelty-free and never tested on animals.
What It Is: An offshoot of popular creative brand Milk, Milk Makeup offers a full suite of skincare and cosmetic products. Their claim to fame is their Hydro Grip Primer and Vegan Milk Moisturizer that merge high-end results with clean ingredients.
What They’re Doing: Despite the name, Milk Makeup is entirely vegan. The company also prides itself on its cruelty-free practices that go a step further. Similar to other brands listed, Milk does not test on animals; the company also does not contract with any suppliers who test on animals and they do not sell their goods in China where animal testing is mandatory for beauty products.
What It Is: Aveda is a popular hair care brand with salons around the country. They have made a name for themselves as a producer of reliable products with unwavering quality.
What They’re Doing: Aveda is 100 percent vegan — a notable achievement in haircare where beeswax, an animal byproduct, is a key ingredient in many industry-wide products. The company also has strong environmental initiatives for clean water, including partnering with charity: water, a non-profit that has provided $300M in clean water initiatives across 27 countries.
What It Is: As pop superstar Rihanna’s brainchild of cosmetic excellence, Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin have become two of the top names in US-based cosmetics.
What They’re Doing: Focusing on Earth-conscious manufacturing and shipping, Fenty embraces the interconnectedness of our world and how good business choices can make all the difference. Fenty has eliminated excess packaging and uses only recyclable materials for shipping when absolutely necessary. They also believe “refillable systems are the future,” and implemented a single purchase bottle system available for a refill when the time comes.
What It Is: e.l.f. is the poster child for affordable and widely available cosmetics, and they’ve teamed up with Chipotle to launch an unforgettable collaboration. The line offers makeup products and accessories alike, all inspired by the fast-casual staple’s menu.
What They’re Doing: e.l.f. and Chipotle both made sustainability strides in 2020, with the former eliminating over 650,000 pounds of excess packaging and the latter increasing transparency and highlighting local farmers. The collaboration marks both companies’ continued efforts to embrace good business. “We’re always looking for opportunities to lead culture and make authentic connections with Gen-Z alongside brands that share similar values,” says Chipotle’s VP of Digital Marketing.
What It Is: BeautyCounter’s products range from cosmetics to skincare to bath and body. The company’s focus on influencer marketing has set it apart from similar brands and made its success increasingly dependent on real people’s reviews.
What They’re Doing: BeautyCounter has banned over 1,800 harmful ingredients still standard in many companies’ formulations. They also have strong social and environmental initiatives ranging from advocacy assistance programs in the Pacific Northwest and support for clean water acts across the country.