As you probably know, April is Earth Month—and while that certainly seems like a pretty apt time to highlight the very best in green beauty, Byrdie's annual Eco Beauty Awards are timely for more than that one reason. Currently, the natural beauty space is exploding with products utilizing cutting-edge science and conscious sustainability practices—not to mention some gorgeous, eco-friendly packaging. In short: natural beauty has never been cooler, and there are more options than ever to choose from.
With that in mind, we made it our goal to sift through all of the offerings out there to serve up the best products in skincare, haircare and makeup.
Selecting the very best in clean beauty was no easy task—it involved a rigorous nomination process, calling in all of those picks, and then testing every last one before confirming our winners. We rated products based on three pillars: efficacy (does it work?), ingredients (is it made with high-quality, non-toxic ingredients?), and sustainability (does its creation take into account environmental impact?). Other things we took into account: if products were MADE SAFE, COSMOS certified, Leaping Bunny certified, and weren't filled with a slew of artificial fragrances. All of these winners fulfill our standards for what a "clean" beauty product is, and because "eco" to us also means earth-friendly, we tried to highlight brands and products that are making a conscious decision to employ sustainability practices somewhere along the production process, whether it's from the way they source ingredients to the materials they choose for their packaging.
Today, we're unveiling the winners of our Eco Beauty Awards in the haircare category. Yesterday, we announced the skincare winners and tomorrow will be our final installment featuring the winners in the makeup category. Let's get green, shall we?
The specs: Rahua's founder Fabian Llinguin was visiting the Amazon rainforest as an environmentalist and noticed that all of the indigenous people had long, lustrous hair. Their secret? Rahua oil. Since then, the brand has launched a collection of hair products, from shampoos to buttery oils, that not only deliver on their promise of boosting shine (the brand's OG shampoo is a Team Byrdie favorite), but all are made with sustainability at the forefront. This hydrating shampoo smells like a tropical vacation and is chock full of nourishing oils and botanicals like mango fruit extract to give you the softest hair of your life.
The praise: "I'm extremely sensitive when it comes to shampoos, particularly those made with sulfates (I itch like mad every time). Hence, I've switched to Rahua's incredible cleansing line. My favorite is its Hydration Shampoo—my hair feels silky soft and shines like the heavens after every use." - Lindsey Metrus, senior editor
The specs: Davines was created in Parma, Italy in 1983 and still manufactures all of its products there to this day. The sustainable haircare brand creates products that blend nature's best botanicals with cutting-edge science, and the Minu conditioner has quickly reached cult status for its hydration properties. Made with jojoba seed oil, it's perfect for color-treated hair that needs a dose of moisture without weighing it down.
The praise: "I'm always on the hunt for a conditioner that'll work magic on my dry, brittle, color-treated hair. Davines Minu Conditioner is so incredible. It's formulated with caper blossom extract from a farm in Italy (chic) to help protect hair, adding a silkiness and softness that I've very literally never felt on my own head before." - Hallie Gould, senior editor
The specs: Hailing from three generations of hairdressers in Parma, Italy, Rossano Ferreti first made a name for himself in the industry for his signature "invisible haircut," which led to a line of clean, thoughtfully-made hair products using the best in nature. This regenerating treatment will save dull, distressed hair and bring it back to its former shining glory. Apply it before you shampoo and conditioner, and allow your hair to drink up the butters and olive oil extract; it repairs and restores shine to even the most damaged hair, trust.
The praise: "I color my hair every six weeks, bleach it every third salon visit and torture it with heat almost everyday—no surprise, I shed worse than my pug! This has helped repair my porous hair—and truth, I even think it’s reduced my shedding. Apply it before you wash so the Shea butter and keratin can soften and strengthen your hair before shampoo has the chance to strip it. Also the deep, rich, warm scent—like a dreamy European hotel—will make you feel like you got a blow-dry in Italy every time you get a whiff of your hair." - Leah Wyar, GM and editor-in-chief
The specs: On days when your conditioner just isn't cutting it, reach for this deep conditioning cap from Briogeo. The cap not only locks in the moisture from the brand's best-selling deep conditioning mask, but is lined with an argan oil vegabead essence that adheres to the hair and adds shine. A slew of other natural, hydrating oils, like avocado and sweet almond, make this a must-have hair that needs some TLC.
The praise: "I tried this cap on a whim after Byrdie editor Maya said this cap left her curls baby soft. I went platinum a few months ago, and since then, it's been an ongoing struggle keeping my strands away from parched territory. Suffice to say, this cap made all my silky-hair dreams come true. I couldn't believe how soft and touchable my formerly-fried hair felt after wearing this cap for just an hour. I like to think of this as a hydrating facial for my hair; it's a true treat." - Faith Xue, editorial director
The specs: Playa was created with the goal of allowing everyone to embrace their natural hair texture, whether it's stick-straight or coiled. The streamlined Cali line trades harsh chemicals for natural, gentler alternatives (case in point: their shampoo uses a coconut-derived cleansing base instead of sulfates for a satisfying lather), and recently, employed a recycling program that sends customers a prepaid label to allow them to send their empty bottles back to be properly recycled. The hair oil is a silicone-free golden elixir made vitamin e and antioxidants to nourish the hair, instead of weighing it down.
The praise: "My hair is really curly, but also super fine. So while it needs a ton of moisture to nix dryness, the formulas I use can't be too heavy, or else my hair will get greasy, flat, and frightening in minutes. Playa's Hair Oil is the perfect happy medium. It smells amazing—it's a blend of coconut, apricot, and sunflower oils—and works to deeply hydrate and feel completely weightless all at once." - Hallie Gould, senior editor
The specs: Klorane’s dry shampoo, with its instantly-recognizable green cap and white can, has reached cult status for a reason. But aerosol sprays aren’t exactly friendly to the planet, which is why the brand created an aerosol-free version of its much-loved original. The new version comes in an eco-friendly, fully recyclable bottle and contains the same organically-harvested oat milk in the OG formula, along with corn and rice starch to soak up oils and silica to get rid of dirt and any smell.
A portion of every product purchase goes towards the Klorane Botanical Foundation, which serves to protect and preserve botanical heritage around the world through initiatives like decontaminating polluted rivers and supporting after-school gardening programs in low-income schools.
The praise: "I've been using Klorane's cult-favorite dry shampoo since before I worked in beauty. It's always been my absolute favorite offering, allowing for a happy mix of grit, volume, and grease-zapping. That's why I was so excited to find out the brand launched a new aerosol-free version that soaks up oils and adds volume without harming the ozone layer. I use it on dirty hair for that fresh, clean feeling and even just-washed hair for loads of texture. It's a twist on an iconic product that gets it right." - Hallie Gould, senior editor
The specs: Act + Acre believes that good hair starts at the scalp, and that great hair takes time and care. The brand launched earlier this year with a streamlined three-piece collection featuring a scalp detox treatment, shampoo, and conditioner featuring the brand’s signature Cold Process Method, which allows the ingredients to retain the highest nutrient levels. Another plus: by not using heat to extract the ingredients, the brand saves 90% the energy. The Scalp Detox helps bring your overworked scalp back to equilibrium by removing buildup and pollution, while delivering ingredients like morina oil and baobab oil straight to the hair follicle.
Go ahead and recycle the (highly-Instagrammable) bottles once you’re done—they’re made with PETG1, the highest grade of recyclable plastic.
The praise: "My haircare routine used to be described in one word: lazy. Since my double process, I've had to accept the fact that keeping my hair healthy takes more than just washing and air-drying like before. Act + Acre's Scalp Detox makes the extra time I spend on my hair actually enjoyable. The little squeeze bottle and applicator make it ridiculously easy to use; I squeeze the treatment directly to my scalp, massage in, then rinse out after 20 minutes. It's gotten rid of the itchy scalp situation I was dealing with post-bleach job, and I swear my hair has been looking shinier, too." - Faith Xue, editorial director
The specs: Like a topcoat for your hair, this shine-inducing pomade locks out humidity and moisture to keep frizziness at bay. Instead of relying on chemicals and slick, heavy oils, the pomade uses castor and rice bran oil to ensure your strands—straight or curly—stay shiny and bouncy, instead of veering into pouf territory. On the sustainability front, Aveda is the first beauty company to manufacture its products with 100% wind power in its facilities in Minnesota, and has made "carbon neutrality" a core goal of the haircare brand.
The praise: "A pomade was never a product I'd consider a staple in my hair routine—until now. My colorist Christine Thompson insisted I try this shine-boosting product from Aveda to smooth down flyaways and seal in my frayed ends and, in short, I was blown away. It only takes the tiniest amount—I scoop it into my palm, warm it up, then gently glide my palms over the top of my head and down the lengths of my hair. It keeps everything looking smooth, even when I'm caught in a surprise NYC thunderstorm (which has happened more than once this year)." - Faith Xue, editorial director
The specs: The haircare industry has only recently started expanding its offerings for anyone whose hair isn’t naturally straight, but Sheamoisture has been there since the beginning. Paving the way for the new crop of naturally-minded hair companies since its inception in 1912, the brand now offers hundreds of SKUs ranging from hair masks to curl jellies to even skincare. All Sheamoisture products are made without parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, DEA, formaldehyde and petroleum, swapping in highly-potent and hydrating natural botanicals and oils instead.
A portion of all proceeds from select collections are invested in their partner cooperatives in Ghana, Jamaica, Turkey and others that supply ingredients, building community infrastructure and more employment opportunities. How’s that for a sustainable mindset?
Click here to see the Eco Beauty Award winners in the skincare category.