2021 Winners The Best Eco Skincare Products Eco Beauty Awards
Eco Awards 2021 Skin Winners
2021 eco beauty awards

The Best Eco Skincare Products

Keep scrolling for Byrdie's 2021 Eco Award winners.

After the year we've had, beauty has only become more paramount in our lives. It's the rituals and sensorial experiences that eased our anxious minds and helped us feel cared for amidst enormous adversity. Beauty is so much more than products—in fact, for many of us, it's been a lifeline during a time when we've had very little control over anything else. Vivian Diller, Ph.D, explains, "Like rhythmic breathing during meditation, morning beauty routines induce a feeling of calmness and control." With that, we've also had more time at home to dig into formulas—and better understand what works for us (and what may work against the planet). And thus, our fifth annual Eco Beauty Award winners were tested and chosen. You can read all about our process here, as well as learn a little more about the history of "clean" beauty. Ready? Let's get to the products.

Skincare has always been an important part of our daily lives. But given the pandemic, its significance has changed. While professional services took a backseat, our relationship with our treasured products flourished. The masks, cleansers, serums, bars, and creams have been there for us through hormonal changes, stress, maskne, crowded households, and the like, and helped us find a few minutes a day for self-care. Below, find our treasured 2021 Eco Beauty Award winners in the skincare category.

01 of 21

Best Gel Cleanser

Gentle Matter
Klur Gentle Matter $40
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Highlights

  • The gentle, refreshing, non-foaming gel is suitable for sensitive skin
  • Made without fragrance, phthalates, or dyes
  • Sustainably manufactured in the U.S.
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back
  6. Black-Owned

Learn more: Get to know another Klur favorite.

"This cleanser gently yet effectively lifts oil and dirt from my pores without stripping my skin—it never leaves my face feeling tight. I love the beautiful recyclable packaging. It's the kind of bottle you like to leave on display on the counter or in your shower."
- Tennille Jenkins, clean beauty influencer

02 of 21

Best Cream Cleanser

Renew Nourishing Cleanser
True Botanicals Renew Nourishing Cleanser $48
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Highlights

  • Targets dehydration and addresses skin sensitivity
  • Cleans, conditions, and promotes softness
  • Key ingredients include aloe vera, green tea seed oil, and white tea
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back

Learn more: These are the benefits of using aloe vera on your skin.

"If I had to choose only one skincare brand to use for the rest of my days, it would be True Botanicals. The Renew Nourishing Cleanser removes every last trace of makeup while also leaving my face feeling unbelievably soft and refreshed. Each product is developed, produced, packaged, and shipped in ways that minimize their impact on the environment, and the brand conducts independent clinical studies to make sure the formulas do what they claim."
- Karli Bendlin, senior email editor

03 of 21

Best Oil Cleanser

Milky Mushroom Gentle Cleansing Oil
Kora Organics Milky Mushroom Gentle Cleansing Oil $40
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Highlights

  • A milky, dual-phase cleansing oil that smooths, hydrates, and plumps the skin
  • Rich source of essential fatty acids for maintaining strong, healthy skin
  • COSMOS-certified and housed in recyclable packaging
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Gives Back
  5. Sustainable Packaging

Learn more: An exclusive interview with Kora Organics founder, Miranda Kerr.

"To me, a good cleanser melts away all of the gunk (think: dirt, oil, and makeup) but doesn’t strip the skin of moisture. This certified-organic cleansing milk contains fatty acid-filled ingredients like silver ear mushroom, babassu oil, and sunflower seed oil to smooth, hydrate, and plump my skin. If you’re familiar with Kora Organics (which was founded by supermodel Miranda Kerr), you’ll know that it has been an eco-conscious brand from the start. In particular, this product is COSMOS Natural certified by Ecocert Greenlife (according to COSMOS Standard) and housed in recyclable packaging."
- Olivia Hancock, associate editor

04 of 21

Best Cleansing Balm

Metamorph Cleansing Balm
Ayond Metamorph Cleansing Balm $80
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Highlights

  • Ingredients include babassu and copaiba oils, as well as sage, chaparral, and frankincense
  • Can also be used as a calming mask, slip for tools or facial massage, or as aftershave
  • The brand uses 100% post-consumer paper and products are wrapped in compostable cellophane
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Gives Back
  5. Sustainable Packaging

Learn more: Why frankincense is good for your skin, mind, and spirit.

"Ayond's balm-to-milk salve thoroughly cleanses (and removes otherwise stubborn makeup) with unbelievable ease. Massaging it in is an experience I genuinely look forward to, as it melts and releases an otherworldly scent—sage and frankincense—while softening, hydrating, and calming your skin. The brand uses 100% post-consumer paper and products are wrapped in compostable cellophane. You can also request a return label to send your caps, pumps, and droppers (from Ayond or another beauty brand) back to have them properly recycled."
- Hallie Gould, associate editorial director

05 of 21

Best Exfoliator

Wild Huckleberry 8-Acid Polishing Peel
Alpyn Beauty Wild Huckleberry 8-Acid Polishing Peel $56
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Highlights

  • A blend of eight natural acids, bamboo powder, and vitamin C
  • It resurfaces skin, refines pores, and evens texture in five minutes
  • The brand is committed to giving back 1% of all sales to environmental causes
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Gives Back
  5. Sustainable Packaging

Learn more: Read a full product review of this peel.

"This is the most effective at-home peel I've ever used. It offers what the pros call a 'double exfoliation.' The acid blend (featuring glycolic, ferulic, and malic acids) dissolves surface dead skin for five minutes; then, as you rinse, blueberry and bamboo powders physically remove any debris, leaving skin super fresh and glowing. The brand also helps fund Grand Teton National Park's highest priority wildlife and natural resource program, and, after partnering with rePurpose Global, every Alpyn Beauty purchase will now carry a net-zero plastic footprint."
-Leah Wyar, SVP and general manager

06 of 21

Best Toner

Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner
Farmacy Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner $28
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Highlights

  • Gently exfoliates, cleans pores, and controls oil
  • Made for combination and oily skin
  • Formulated with salicylic acid, moringa seed extract, moringa water, and papaya enzyme
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Gives Back
  5. Sustainable Packaging

Learn more: We have nine shopping secrets for anyone obsessed with Farmacy.

"This toner has it all: A gentle-yet-powerful BHA solution that helps unclog pores and lift away dead skin, recyclable glass packaging, and soothing moringa sourced from a family-owned farm in SoCal. It’s my absolute go-to when my skin looks dull and congested, and I’m never disappointed with the results."
Lindsey Metrus, editorial project director

07 of 21

Best Face Mist

Glass Skin Mist
Peach & Lily Glass Skin Mist $29
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Highlights

  • Peach & Lily never use more than .05% essential oils to make sure their formulas work for sensitive and sensitized skin
  • Ingredients include cucumber water, Reishi mushrooms, and lotus extract to nourish, hydrate, and balance skin
  • Suitable for all skin types
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Gives Back

Learn more: Here's a full product review of the cult-favorite Glass Skin Mist.

"'Glass skin' may be an unrealistic goal (texture is beautiful and normal!), but still, the prospect of giving your skin a bit more of a dewy sheen is appealing and exactly the result you’ll get from Peach & Lily’s Glass Skin Mist. A fresh, plant-based mix of antioxidants, fatty acids, adaptogens, and vitamins helps nourish, hydrate, and balance the skin while imparting a glistening veil to last you throughout the day. Better yet, the formula only uses clean, researched synthetics to preserve the natural ingredients."
Lindsey Metrus, editorial project director

08 of 21

Best A.M. Moisturizer

C-Caf Cream
BYBI C-Caf Cream $25
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Highlights

  • Lightweight yet nourishing daily moisturizer
  • A mix of vitamin C, green tea, shea, glycerin, matcha, and squalane
  • The tube is made from sugarcane, a carbon-neutral material and 100% recyclable
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back

Learn more: Everything you need to know about BYBI landing stateside.

"BYBI is a fun, affordable UK-based skincare brand that prioritizes the health of our planet with its formulations and packaging. This vitamin C, matcha, and caffeine-infused moisturizer gives tired skin a major boost in the morning. The formula is vegan and tube is made from sugarcane, a carbon-neutral material, and uses plant-ink to make sure the coloring doesn’t hinder the recycling process." 
- Annie Jackson, co-founder and COO of Credo Beauty

09 of 21

Best P.M. Moisturizer

Antu Brightening Night Cream
Codex Antu Brightening Night Cream $90
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Highlights

  • Clinically proven to even skin tone over time and soften skin overnight
  • Cupuaçu butter and black jack flower improve skin elasticity and reduce trans-epidermal water loss
  • Suitable for all skin types
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back

Learn more: Why Stephanie Shepard is a huge fan of Codex.

"This moisturizer is so creamy and leaves my skin hydrated all night and into the morning. And, you don't have to take my word for it—for each of Codex's products, they run clinical trials and publish their efficacy data. Their polyethylene packaging is made from sugarcane instead of fossil fuels, and they focus on a clean supply chain with biodiverse farming and fair-trade sourcing."
- Kathryn Vandervalk, editorial and strategy director

10 of 21

Best Do-It-All Skincare Product

Boundless Solid Oil
8 Faces Boundless Solid Oil $88
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Highlights

  • USDA organic and ingredients are ethically-sourced via free-trade
  • All-in-one facial oil and balm can be used to nourish skin, hydrate hands, smooth hair, and/or soothe irritations
  • Features shea and cocoa seed butters and amla extracts
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging

Learn more: Why dermatologists are obsessed with amla extracts in skincare.

"I have a thing for balms, and I am very picky about them because it's not easy to create a beautiful, melt-in-your-palms, vegan, USDA organic balm. The Boundless Solid Oil delivers the most enchanting experience, packed with ingredients like amla, cocoa, and tremella, with a deep citrusy earthy scent that feels like a warm hug that I keep going back for."
- Krupa Koestline, cosmetic biochemist

11 of 21

Best Retinol Serum

Retinol
Marie Veronique Gentle Retinol Night Serum $110
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Highlights

  • Vitamin C, micro-encapsulated retinol, and stabilizing vitamin E work together to yield visible, transformative results
  • Boosts collagen production and speeds cell turnover
  • The brand uses recyclable glass bottles without outer packaging
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging

Learn more: Read our complete guide on retinol for skin.

"A fan favorite in the clean beauty space, this night serum, which is actually a blend of vitamins C and E, and encapsulated retinol (for better potency), pledges to give 'near-miraculous results,' which isn’t too far off of a promise. The brand isn’t just pledging to give you great skin, though. This year, it’s moved to eliminate single-use packaging by discontinuing samples. But sustainability has long been at the forefront of the brand, as its full-size products are packaged in glass bottles with the ingredients written directly on the bottle to forego outer packaging."
Lindsey Metrus, editorial project director

12 of 21

Best Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C Serum
Common Heir Vitamin C Serum $88
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Highlights

  • 100% biodegradable, vegan capsules and plastic-free packaging
  • Oil-soluble vitamin C derivative evens skin texture and tone
  • All palm- and coconut-derived ingredients are RSPO-certified
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back

Learn more: Read our full review on Common Heir's Vitamin C Serum, as well as everything you need to know about vitamin C.

"Not only is this the first plastic-free vitamin C I've tried, but it's also the first irritation-free formula that works for my skin. Common Heir's serum leaves my skin glowy, but never greasy. Plus, the capsule is biodegradable—you can dissolve it in warm water—and housed in a recyclable paper tube. I love the capsule delivery method because there's the perfect amount of product inside each one, even for the often-missed neck area."
- Kathryn Vandervalk, editorial and strategy director

13 of 21

Best Face Oil

Squalane + Tea Tree Balancing Oil
Biossance Squalane + Tea Tree Balancing Oil $49
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Highlights

  • Quick-absorbing, weightless, hydrating facial oil
  • Targets blemishes, pores, and redness
  • Formulated with tea tree oil, squalane, and rosemary extract
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back

"I’ve always stayed away from oils in fear they’d trigger my congestion-prone skin, but I’ve found this one actually improves my skin’s clarity. It’s loaded with tea tree oil, which reduces redness and inflammation to help bring down any existing breakouts. Beyond its skin-clearing prowess, Biossance’s tea tree oil is cultivated using the highest quality eco-friendly farming practices that meet ISO standards. Further still, all Biossance formulations and made in a My Green Lab Platinum Certified facility, meaning it has taken measures to implement sustainable practices and technologies."
Lindsey Metrus, editorial project director

14 of 21

Best Acne Treatment

Arnica Elderberry Jelly Organic All Day Maskne + Spot Rescue
Loli Beauty Arnica Elderberry Jelly Organic All Day Maskne + Spot Rescue $28
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Highlights

  • A zero-waste organic gel packaged in a food-grade reusable glass jar with a compostable label
  • Made with up-cycled superfoods
  • Clinically proven to help protect skin for 8+ hours against the blemish-causing bacteria
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back

Learn more: Loli Beauty let's you DIY your entire skincare routine.

"I’m usually a high-powered-spot treatment-or-bust kind of girl, but I was really impressed with how well this natural treatment helped shorten the life of my breakouts. Resembling that of a pre-mixed Mario Badescu Drying Lotion (but in a pretty purple hue), this soothing acne treatment harnesses the power of arnica to soothe inflammation and redness. It also comes packaged in a food-grade reusable glass jar with a compostable label (how cool is that?). What’s also cool is that it caters to a new skincare category—'maskne'—and it’s actually suggested that you lightly rub the gel on the inside of your face mask before wearing to help prevent those lower-facial breakouts from happening in the first place."
Lindsey Metrus, editorial project director

15 of 21

Best Eye Cream

Dream Eye Cream with Goji Stem Cell and Ceramides
Youth To The People Dream Eye Cream $48
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Highlights

  • Targets fine lines, dryness, and loss of firmness
  • Sources extracts from local suppliers and uses choose post-consumer materials 
  • A blend of goji stem cell, plant-based ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back

Learn more: Our complete guide to hyaluronic acid for skin.

"I love using this eye cream the night before I know I need to look fresh—it does a great job of plumping up my under-eye area. Whenever possible, Youth to the People sources ingredients from local suppliers in the company’s native California. The brand is vegan, and cruelty-free, and uses recyclable glass bottles and paper for its outer packaging."
- Eden Stuart, associate editor

16 of 21

Best Brightening Mask

Resurfacing BHA Glow Mask
Tata Haper Resurfacing Mask $65
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Highlights

  • Made with pomegranate enzymes, pink clay, and willow bark to exfoliate, tighten, and even skin tone
  • Made for dry and combination skin
  • 100% of the total ingredients in this product are from natural origin
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back
  6. 2019 Winner

"Since facials have been a pipe dream for most of the pandemic, I've had to turn to at-home solutions to get the same clarifying glow I'd get at the hands of an esthetician. This mask is as close to an in-office treatment as they come. It smells like lemongrass and makes you feel like you’re being pampered in a fancy spa. All ingredients are naturally sourced, the majority of which are organically farmed; it’s also COSMOS Natural certified by Ecocert Greenlife according to COSMOS Standard."
Lindsey Metrus, editorial project director

17 of 21

Best Overnight Mask

Resurfacing Sleep Mask
Cocokind Resurfacing Sleep Mask $22
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Highlights

  • Unscented formula
  • Gently resurfaces skin overnight to smooth texture, even tone, and reduce the appearance of dark spots
  • Ingredients are sustainably and ethically sourced
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back

"This is the only overnight face mask I use. The plant-based bakuchiol helps improve your skin texture while you sleep. After using it, I wake up with refreshed skin (like I had a mini facial overnight). It is surprisingly lightweight and creamy, and effortless to apply. Simply put, I love it. It's also packaged in a recyclable glass jar."
- Tennille Jenkins, clean beauty influencer

18 of 21

Best Hydrating Mask

Hydrating Mask
Circumference Hydrating Mask $65
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Highlights

  • Uses cactus flower for it's intense moisture-retention properties
  • Visible glow after just 20 minutes
  • Moisturizes, soothes, and softens the skin
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back
  6. 2019 Winner

"If you're looking for intense moisture and a super-potent formula, look no further. c created a mask using botanical oils and concentrated plant extracts to repair dry, sallow skin to soft and supple. It's creamy, works quickly (20 minutes, to be exact), and the natural ingredients are all effective, sustainably sourced, and guided by radically ethical practices. In fact, the brand works closely with local farmers to monitor signs of shortage; if there is a shortage of a certain ingredient, they'll swap it out for another that provides the same results."
- Hallie Gould, associate editorial director

19 of 21

Best Lip Balm

Lip Wrap Clean Hydrating Lip Mask
Ilia Lip Wrap Clean Hydrating Lip Mask $26
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Highlights

  • Ingredients include sea succulent, hyaluronic acid, and mango butter
  • Hydrates and plumps lips
  • Ilia uses recycled aluminum, glass components, and responsibly-sourced paper for their products
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back

Learn more: Find out more about our favorite Ilia beauty products.

"I reach for this balm morning and night. I keep these little jars of goodness on my nightstand, makeup vanity, and in my bathroom because my lips beg for it. After several months of using this moisturizing balm, my lips feel smoother and softer. The gentle lavender-chamomile scent is very unusual yet super lovely."
- Tennille Jenkins, clean beauty influencer

20 of 21

Best Face SPF

Self Reflect
Kinship Self Reflect Moisturizing Sunscreen $25
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Highlights

  • Sheer, lightweight sunscreen with 22.4% non-nano zinc oxide
  • Includes Kinbiome, a plant-based probiotic to support a strong skin barrier
  • Safe for blemish-prone skin
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back
  6. 2020 Winner

Learn more: Here's why microbiome skincare is so popular right now.

"Sunscreen can be a very polarizing product—there’s the white cast factor, the reef-safe debate, the will-it-break-out-my-skin conundrum, but Kinship has worked to solve all of those issues with a plant-based, skin-loving formula that’s packaged in a recyclable tube. Users say it actually gives a pretty highlighter effect, though those with dark skin tones say it’s best to really work it into the skin for a sheer finish. Plus, many of Kinship's products are made with Ocean Waste Plastic that's been collected from the shores of Indonesia, and the brand aims to use 100% OWP in the near future."
- Lindsey Metrus, editorial project director

21 of 21

Best Makeup Wipes

Skin Balancing Micellar Cleansing Cloths
Neutrogena Skin Balancing Micellar Cleansing Cloths $9
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Highlights

  • Removes makeup while nourishing your skin with vitamin E and pro-vitamin B5
  • Hypoallergenic and ophthalmologist tested
  • Made with 100% plant-based, home-compostable fibers
  1. Byrdie Clean
  2. Vegan
  3. Cruelty-Free
  4. Sustainable Packaging
  5. Gives Back

"Neutrogena's Skin Balancing Micellar Cleansing Cloths remove makeup, oil, and dirt in just one swipe. But, they don't leave your face feeling irritated or sensitive after use. They are infused with plant-based micellar, vitamin E, and pro-vitamin B5 to ensure your face is properly nourished and balanced. (That said, we recommend using them to remove makeup and washing with your usual afterwards.)These cleansing cloths are also made from 100% plant-based fiber and are home-compostable."
- Olivia Hancock, associate editor

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