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Ethical beauty brands influence report

As sustainability in the make-up industry becomes more of a talking point, many brands are taking serious steps towards showing us what part they’re playing to help the planet. But with so much information to take in, which brands should we be looking at?
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Ethical beauty brands header
Ethical beauty brands header

With beauty and skincare sales increasing 23% in the past year alone, so has the demand for these brands to become more eco-conscious. As part of our Ethical Beauty Brands Influence Report, we’ve gone on the hunt for some of the UK’s biggest brands that have made the move to becoming more eco-conscious

So whether it’s cruelty-free products, a priority on employee wellbeing, or ethically sourcing their ingredients, we’ve analysed 45 brands that are widely available and can cater to your needs.

Ethical beauty brands report

Table highlighting how ethical each beauty brand is
Table highlighting how ethical each beauty brand is

Vegan brands 

The rise of veganism has been growing for some time now, but its foray into the beauty market has only become noticeable in the last few years. And with the global market value estimated to be at a sweet $15.1 billion (£10.95 billion) in 2020, it’s no wonder why big brands such as Kylie Cosmetics have been the most recent to jump onto the ‘clean beauty’ bandwagon. 

Here, we reveal the biggest brands that offer entirely vegan ranges, or have the most vegan products:

Pictures of the top six all-vegan beauty ranges
Pictures of the top six all-vegan beauty ranges

Out of 45 brands analysed, 31 brands had vegan beauty products available within their lines. Six brands, including the likes of Aveda, KVD Vegan Beauty and Cover FX also committed to a fully vegan range.

Furthermore, this number is set to increase sooner than you may think. High street retailer The Body Shop recently announced that it’s committed to making all of its products fully vegan by 2023, while KKW Beauty is soon to undergo a rebrand, with rumours that products will be 100% vegan.

Cruelty-free brands

Many cosmetic brands list themselves as cruelty-free on their website. But eagle-eyed customers may notice they are unable to gain PETA certification or Leaping Bunny approval.

That’s because brands that sell in mainland China must, by law, undergo animal testing, and therefore cannot be certified by these organisations. So which brands have gained their approval?

A picture of the top 22 cruelty-free beauty ranges
A picture of the top 22 cruelty-free beauty ranges

Products being sold in mainland China refers to physical in-store sales in China, where animal testing is required. Products may still be available for purchase online in the country that do not need pre-market testing. Our report found that 22 brands out of the 45 featured on the list did not sell products in China, and therefore earned PETA certification. These brands include NYX, Glossier, Smashbox, and Too Faced. 

However, many brands in the study still showed commitments to being cruelty-free and ethical with their products sold around the rest of the world. 

Brands such as L’Oreal Paris, Sephora and Revlon are also committed to ethically sourcing their mica - a mineral that helps add pigment to your makeup but might sometimes be gathered through unethical practices such as child labour. 

Employee and charitable wellbeing

Thanks to the pandemic, a spotlight has been shone on employee wellbeing in businesses as people adapted to working from home and the stress of lockdown.

That’s why we wanted to take a closer look at what these businesses were doing for others, by looking at Glassdoor reviews, Modern Slavery Statements, and any charitable initiatives over the last year.

Coming in first place for employee ratings was Max Factor, who scored 4.4 out of 5 in Glassdoor reviews. Meanwhile, 40 out of 45 brands had a Modern Slavery Statement or a Supply Chain Act. This suggests they’re taking steps to prevent modern slavery within their supply chains.

Suppliers for cosmetic brands can usually be from several different countries across the world, so companies must ensure all means of labour are fair and safe.

And with B-Corp status - which requires companies to meet the highest standards of environmental and social performance through their business structure - The Body Shop was the only beauty brand that passed these requirements.

36 brands were found to have participated in a charitable initiative over the last year, with the most common being for Pride Month. These brands included M.A.C., Kiehl’s, Jo Malone, and Morphe.

Ethical influencers report

With the rise of ‘clean beauty’ came ‘clean influencers’, who have amassed followings on social media platforms for their honest reviews and recommendations on upcoming eco-beauty trends.

But how profitable are these influencers? And which platform sees the biggest profits for them?

Picture ranking the highest earning eco-beauty influencers
Picture ranking the highest earning eco-beauty influencers

Combining estimated earnings from YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, Isabella Fiori was revealed to be the eco-influencer with the biggest total earnings. Our research revealed that if Isabella were to post content on all three platforms, she’d make an estimated £3,436 per post.

Isabella, who has over 2 million combined followers on her platforms, sees her largest earnings come from Instagram, at an estimated £2,169 per post. Most influencers saw better earning potential from Instagram than TikTok, as engagement for posts was higher.

Even TikTok’s biggest earner, Shelbizlee, still earned more than double from Instagram, despite having fewer followers on the platform.

Shelbizlee, who creates content around zero waste and sustainability, as well as eco-friendly make-up brands, is estimated to make £332 per post on Instagram, while her TikTok posts are estimated at only £127.

How to make your daily routine more eco-friendly

Choosing an eco-friendly cosmetic brand whose actions are in line with your own beliefs, and supporting ethical influencers are both good ways to live a more ecologically responsible and sustainable life. 

If you want to continue to make a difference, here are five actions you can take today to make your daily routine more eco-friendly. 

Reduce food waste

In the UK we throw away millions of tons of food each year. Before you bin those wilting herbs, or dump the stale crusts, ask yourself if there’s anything else you can do with them.

Can you incorporate them into a meal today? Can they be frozen for future use? And if not, can they be composted? 

Around 30% of household waste can be composted. Small compost bins for even the most compact living spaces are readily available online and in garden centres. Even a paper coffee cup can act as a makeshift composter, to get you off the ground. 

Cut out single-use plastics

Many of us are used to a world where single-use plastics are everywhere. Thankfully, the tide is changing, and you can be part of that effort by cutting single-use plastics from your daily routine. 

When shopping, re-use old shopping bags, or take a sturdier bag-for-life. Where possible, choose products that don’t come wrapped in plastic, like multi-packs of canned goods, or bananas in a bag. Carry a reusable bottle as opposed to buying bottled water or other drinks in plastic containers. 

In fact, whenever you see plastic being used in your day-to-day life, ask yourself if it’s really needed, or if you can choose a more eco-friendly alternative.

Wash your clothes in cooler water

Even on the most advanced washing machines, a hot wash consumes a lot of energy. Why not try switching to a cooler wash instead? Detergent has advanced a lot in recent years, and many brands are effective at lower degrees, such as 30°C.

Not only is this better for the environment, it’s also better for the longevity of your clothes, so they’ll last much longer, which also reduces waste and saves on energy. 

Choose an energy supplier with green credentials

When it comes to powering your home, choosing a green energy supplier can make a difference when you calculate your carbon footprint. Switch to an energy supplier that offers an affordable, eco-friendly tariff. 

Be aware, however, that the terminology used, and what it actually means in real terms, can change from supplier to supplier. Happily, the Uswitch Green Accreditation scheme offers a three-level, easy to understand system to help you quickly decide which suppliers' green deals are actually working the hardest for the environment. 

Switching energy suppliers to one with green credentials not only helps you be more eco-friendly every single day but also demonstrates to the energy industry that eco-issues are important to customers. And the more it matters to you, the more they will do. 

Be precious about paper

Paper production can take a toll on the environment. The lifecycle of a single piece of paper starts with a tree being cut down and ends with it being incinerated. In between, there’s a lot of energy, water, and transportation needed to get it into your hands when you want it. 

You can reduce this by asking your bank, broadband supplier, energy supplier, or just about anybody who sends you letters to switch you to a paperless system. This way, the paper used in bills, reminders, and other communication is replaced with digital correspondence, like emails, texts, and app updates. If your household suppliers won’t do this, consider switching to suppliers that will. 

If you’re booking tickets to an event or for travel, consider using e-tickets that will go straight to your mobile phone, as opposed to old fashioned paper tickets. 

If you do need to buy paper, go for a recycled one, whether that’s for paper for your printer, loo roll, kitchen roll, or even birthday cards. 

Sources and Methodology:

Ethical Beauty Brands:

A seed list was acquired by looking at YouGov's most profitable beauty brands as well as collections on Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty so that a range of different brands could be included for the line up.

Sources for data:

Brand FAQ Lists

Cruelty-Free Kitty

Ethical Elephant

PETA Certified

Leaping Bunny



Modern Slavery Statements:

These were found through brand websites and their parent companies. If not easily accessible to the public domain, these were listed as 'none found'.

Charitable Initiatives:

These were found through brand websites and any published press releases and articles within the last 12 months. Information is provided 'as is' and is subject to brands publishing any charitable initiatives. Private donations or gestures cannot be accounted for. If not easily accessible to the public domain, these were listed as 'none found'.

Eco-Beauty Influencers:

Initially, we gathered a seed list of eco-beauty influencers from a range of sites including:

We then used Influencer Marketing Hub and Feed Pixel to find the estimated earnings, engagement and followers across YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.

  • Instagram engagement relates to the average number of likes and comments on a user's posts.

  • Influencer marketing assumes each video is worth a certain amount based upon an influencer's engagement.

  • The calculator uses price per view, and the price it uses. Information from around the web varies from Influencer Marketing numbers.

Data correct as of 13/07/2021

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