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.
The specs: Hush + Dotti create their products with certified organic ingredients (they don't use nano particles of any kind) and ethically source them within the U.S—no gluten, no synthetics. This particular offering, a liquid eyeliner with vitamin E and aloe to allow the formula to glide smoothly across your lid, is 100 percent waterproof and durable, easy to control (we know the perfect liquid line is ever-elusive, the felt-tip applicator makes it fool-proof), and especially great for those with sensitive eyes or contact lenses.
The praise: "I don't ask much of an eyeliner, just that it apply easily and stay put. This liquid liner gives me a sharp, strong flick without flaking off or dragging along my lid (the worst). Bonus points that it doesn't contain any toxic ingredients, a factor we tend to forget about when choosing our eye makeup." - Lindsey Metrus, senior editor
The specs: Certified organic and free from gluten, petroleum, parabens, artificial coloring, and fragrance, Kjaer Weis creates makeup that works a lot like skincare. Their cream blush, for example, is formulated with rose rubiginosa seed oil to fight signs of aging in your skin. Plus, the blend includes jojoba oil and shea butter to conjure the perfect dewy sheen and a subtle flush.
The praise: "I remember meeting with Kirsten, the founder of Kjaer Weis, way back when I first started at Byrdie. At the time, people were only starting to talk about clean beauty. I was struck by Kristen's message: that clean, organic makeup can look and feel as luxe and high-quality as traditional formulas. I immediately gravitated towards her cream blush, housed in a sleek metal compartment (all of her products are meant to be refillable to prevent waste). The shade Embrace was the perfect pale petal-pink, and the consistency was perfect—unlike a lot of other organic blushes, it doesn’t require you to 'melt' the formula to get that slip.
It sinks into the skin beautifully and makes my cheeks look cherub-like, which is always an aesthetic goal of mine." - Faith Xue, editorial director, creative
The specs: RMS Beauty is committed to creating really effective, natural products. So much so, their Un Cover-Up boasts hypoallergenic, gluten-free, cruelty-free, and noncomedogenic properties. It's also free from sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehydes, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, and more icky ingredients we'd like to keep out of our products and off of our faces. As far as the product goes—it works. It's feather-light, dew-inducing, redness-reducing, and keeps your skin looking like skin.
No caking, no dryness.
The praise: "Concealer that works for me—neutralizes dark circles, brightens, doesn't crease—is a tall order. Which is why I'd practically given up finding the perfect formula when I stumbled across RMS' product. Dubbed "Un Cover-Up," the blend is so lightweight and hydrating, it practically melts into your skin, and covers any lingering redness or that bluish under-eye tinge that comes along with fatigue." - Hallie Gould, senior editor
The specs: Crop Natural products boast raw, cosmos-certified organic ingredients and Green Chemistry product processes (which means processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances). The Bio Metal Eyeshadow ($26) delivers saturated, high-impact color that is creamy and blendable when it's wet, and, once it dries down, doesn't budge.
The praise: "I first learned about this product through a fellow editor—she wrote this glowing review a few months back—and I've been applying it to my lids as much as possible ever since. The metallic liquid eye shadows are so sheen-y, pretty, and shockingly subtle. I'm no makeup artist, especially when it comes to eye shadow (blending is hard), but Crop Natural's doe-foot applicator makes it easy." - Hallie Gould, senior editor
The specs: Kora Organics' emollient balm offers sheer, luminous color that moisturizes your skin without ever feeling sticky. Made with organic noni fruit extract, as well as coconut and rosehip oils, this rose quartz highlighter adds glow wherever you may need it (Miranda Kerr suggests cheeks, temples and brow bones), and is formulated without synthetic fragrance, synthetic colors, glycols, and silicones, among others.
The praise: "I love how natural it looks—it melts into my skin and gives me a really beautiful glow. It's the perfect finish to polish off a day or nighttime look, and is really the only thing I need on the weekend after moisturizer." - Leah Wyar, GM and editor-in-chief
The specs: Vapour Organic Beauty created this sun-free, streak-free color to offer up a natural alternative to harmful chemically-based products. The formula is antioxidant rich, as it utilizes a blend of green tea, pomegranate, and acai berry, and allows for an effortless application (all makeup should come in stick form, no?). It's bendable, it's dewy, and it's entirely certified organic and cruelty free.
The praise: "I’m not going to lie—the idea of cream bronzer freaked me out. My bronzer technique is haphazard at best, usually involving me just brushing a powder all over my face with a fat, fluffy brush and hoping for the best. Vapour’s creamy stick version requires a bit more thoughtfulness—I use my fingers and apply it to the points of my face where I imagine the sun would hit, then blend it out with either my fingers or a smaller dense brush—but the effect is extraordinary. It gives me bronze-y skin with a touch of dew, and the shimmery particles just make my skin look softly glowing, instead of overtly sparkly." - Faith Xue, editorial director, creative
The specs: Blending together avocado oil, vitamin E, and organic cocoa and shea butter, this super creamy, hydrating formula adds a natural flush to lips, cheeks, and lids. It's easy to apply pretty much anywhere (your bathroom, a cab, the subway, you know the drill) and contains 72 percent organic ingredients. That, and it's also free from gluten, artificial preservatives, fragrance, petrochemicals, and mineral oil.
The praise: "There’s nothing I appreciate more than a multi-tasking product, and Ilia’s Multi-Stick has earned a permanent place in my makeup bag for its versatility. The sunflower seed oil- and Shea butter-infused formula comes in the most flattering shades—it’s hard to choose which one is my favorite, but lately, I’ve been gravitating towards the cool-toned pink, Dreamer—and their miniature size makes it easy to toss in your bag to touch up on-the-go. You can use the sticks on your cheeks and lips, and I’ve even been dabbing a bit on my eyelids for a monochromatic look.
It’s the perfect little makeup multi-talker, and will instantly wake up your face with zero effort." - Faith Xue, editorial director, creative
The specs: This lipstick has been a Byrdie favorite for a while now. It's a blend of jojoba and rosehip seed oils, as well as mango seed butter, to provides antioxidants, skin-smoothing properties, and tons of moisture throughout the time you're wearing the formula. It's a natural-looking, super flattering color and is entirely cruelty-free and gluten-free, as well as free from parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, and synthetic fragrance.
The praise: "Rosewater is the perfect "your lips but better" shade for my coloring. I'm so fond of it that I keep a tube in just about every facet of my life—at home, at work, and in my travel bag. I also love that it's super creamy but reliable enough to hug my lips for a good amount of time before I need to reapply." - Lindsey Metrus, senior editor
The specs: Created by a makeup artist and cosmetic dermatologist, W3ll people offers non-toxic formulas and simple, easy-to-use products. Their newest mascara is no exception. The formula is volumizing, thickening, and lengthening, as well as water-resistant (though it's not difficult to remove). The plant-based formula is infused with jojoba oil to nourish your lashes while it works and EWG verified for non-toxic health and safety.
The praise: "When it comes to mascara, I’m always looking for maximum impact—I want something that thickens my lashes and makes them look miles long. The formula in the W3ll People's Expressionist Volumizing Mascara ($22) has 50 percent more cellulose plant fiber that the original, which helps to thicken and lengthen lashes naturally. The fluffy brush also adds major volume and lift." - Kelly Gallagher, senior social media editor
The specs: Give your eyes a dewy glow and sheer wash of color with Jillian Dempsey's blend of organic oils and butters. Made entirely with organic and naturally derived ingredients, this luminous, glossy formula can be worn alone or layered with traditional eye shadow to add dimension. Plus, it's vegan as well as paraben and gluten free.
The praise: "I love a cream eyeshadow. My mornings are often rushed, so I need something that's fast and foolproof. This fan-favorite version blends easily and leaves me with a pretty, slightly shimmery wash of color. I personally love Lilac and Bronze." - Lindsey Metrus, senior editor
The specs: Formulated without silicone, parabens, phthalates, talc, BHA, BHT, petroleum, and drying alcohols, Pacifica's Alight Clean Foundation ($16) is just that—clean. It also comes in 30 shades and boasts a formula brimming with hyaluronic acid, coconut water, and rose leaf extract for healthy, dewy, hydrated skin and really great coverage.
The praise: "I pretended I didn't need foundation for decades (OK, no one needs foundation), but I've finally come around to the perks of blurred pores and softened hyperpigmentation. Pacifica's formula goes on light and blends easily, providing just the bit of coverage I'm looking for—no caking or clogging involved. - Elspeth Velten, editorial director, growth
The specs: As I'm sure you can imagine, nail polish can be packed with some really gnarly ingredients. Côte's formulas, on the other hand, are cruelty-free, vegan, and free of the major toxins associated with nail polish: formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, camphor, formaldehyde resin, and triphenyl phosphate (TPHP). That, and they offer a really beautiful color rage, easy-to-use brushes, and glass bottles. Plus, the brand recycles all of its used polish bottles and offers customers a 10% discount off their next polish purchase when they bring in any used bottle of polish to their NY or L.A.
The praise: "I fell in love with Côte the first time I stepped foot into their nail salon in Los Angeles. There's a laidback California vibe that's infused throughout the line, and it was one of the first polish brands to really come out and take a stand against some of the really toxic ingredients in most nail polish brands. I love the wide range of pastel shades, and the formulas are one of the longer-lasting ones I've tried." - Faith Xue, editorial director, creative
The specs: Inspired by ancient botanicals, these moisturizing lip sheers offer both translucent and vibrant color—all at the same time. The formula is velvety but still dewy and truly offers the best of both worlds when it comes to lip color (hydration and fresh, natural-looking color). Plus, every Rituel de Fille product is formulated in-house with the smallest number of ingredients possible.
The praise: "If you’ve ever had a conversation with me about makeup, you’ve probably heard me talk about Rituel de Fille. I can talk about the brand’s pretty pigments and otherworldly highlighters for hours (and I have), but there’s another products from the L.A. based clean makeup brand that you shouldn’t sleep on: the Enchanted Lip Sheers. These sleek little tubes have a jojoba seed oil base, but unlike other tinted lip balms, they don’t leave a shiny finish behind—instead, they somehow hydrate your lips while giving a velvety, just-bitten finish.
It doesn’t make sense, but take my word for it. Datura is a fleshy pink that I can’t stop wearing. And did I mention all the products are cruelty-free and free of synthetic dyes, synthetic fragrances, parabens, phthalates, talc, palm oil, or plastic-based glitters? You’re welcome." - Faith Xue, editorial director, creative
Click here to see the Eco Beauty Award winners in the haircare category.