What Is Sustainable Beauty? Guide For Eco-Conscious Skincare Lovers

Ultimate Sustainable Beauty Guide

Clean beauty. Sustainable skincare. Sustainable beauty. Green beauty. Do these words often come up in conversation, while speaking to your friends who are skincare lovers? Or are you already familiar with these terms, as you currently follow a sustainable lifestyle?

On the other hand, if you are someone who has thought about making the switch to a sustainable and clean beauty routine, then countless choices and confusing questions might come up, like;  

  • Whether the skincare products you’re spending so much of your money on, are actually clean? Are they ethical? Are they sustainable?
  • Whether the beauty brands you’ve picked are really good for the planet? Or simply trying to greenwash eco-conscious consumers?

Clean and Sustainable beauty is not a new term anymore. It has been coined to describe the concept of natural, organic, or eco-friendly skincare products and green beauty brands. 

The word “sustainable” describes how a product or business operates for the benefit of the environment; while “clean” refers to the ingredients used and manufacturing process followed. 

Sustainable and clean beauty brands are taking the steps required to offer environmentally friendly products and reduce their carbon footprint with ethical practices and processes. Before we continue, let’s paint a clear picture for you. 

What is Sustainable Beauty?

sustainable beauty
sustainable beauty

Youth To The People Facial Cleanser – Kale and

Powered by

Sustainability is the practice of creating a business model that minimizes its environmental impact.

Brands following sustainable beauty adopt practices such as using recyclable packaging, reducing the usage of single-use plastics, carefully selecting non-toxic ingredients, ensuring product safety, and minimizing their carbon footprint from manufacturing to shipping.

The term “sustainable” has been used in the beauty and skincare industry for many years; it just wasn’t clearly defined.

However, it has received a lot more attention when the United Nations General Assembly formally recognized it as one of their Sustainable Development Goals. Along with the goal to end poverty by 2030, the UN is aiming for sustainable communities, responsible production and consumption, and climate action.

Sustainable beauty has become more than an emerging trend. The goal of sustainable beauty is to make products that are safe enough for consumers to use without the fear of harming their skin or health. Such products are better for the future of the planet and its people.

What is Clean Beauty?

women with sunscreen on face, clean and sustainable beauty
Clean and sustainable beauty

Clean beauty refers to beauty products that are free of dangerous substances. They are a blend of natural and synthetic ingredients, proven not to affect human health.

The term “clean beauty” seems to have been around, as early as the 1970s. Jen Novakovich, the founder of The Eco Well, believes that the clean beauty movement originated in the early 2000s as a free-form claim. 

However, clean beauty has taken on a whole new meaning over the past decade. Searches for “clean beauty” have increased by 405% since 2012. With a dedicated follower base of beauty enthusiasts online, clean beauty purchases are growing in leaps and bounds. 

A 2021 report from Nosto stated that 68% of consumers look for “clean” beauty products, before making online purchases. And 75% of shoppers aged 31-35 years old are influenced by products labeled as “clean.” 

Why Is Clean and Sustainable Beauty So Important?  

The demand for clean and sustainable beauty products are increasing by the day. The main reason is that people are becoming more aware about the climate crisis and how their actions are affecting the planet.

They want to do something about it! One way to do this is by using sustainable beauty products.

Clean and sustainable beauty products help to protect your skin from harmful toxins, chemicals, and other dangerous substances that cause damage to your skin and body. Such products come with minimal packaging, which also helps to protect the environment.

Most-Used Beauty and Skincare Terms You Should Know

sustainable skincare terms
sustainable beauty terms

There are many terms used when it comes to sustainable skincare and clean beauty, that you need to understand before we proceed. 


Natural skincare refers to beauty products containing naturally-derived ingredients extracted from plants, flowers, minerals, essential oils, beeswax, etc. But it is not necessary that these ingredients are organically produced.

Natural products are free from harsh chemicals and are safe to use. 


Organic skincare products contain natural ingredients. Such plant-based ingredients are grown organically without using synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. 

A business must adhere to the USDA’s usage guidelines in order to utilize the label “organic” in the skincare sector. In addition, a product must have at least 95% organically produced ingredients to be termed “organic” or “certified organic.” 

Find out more: Why Is Everyone Switching To Organic Skincare?


Ethical beauty is decided on multiple factors that are kind to the planet. This depends on the brands’ position and processes related to animal testing policies, usage of organic ingredients and ethically sourced materials, fair treatment of employees, transparent supply chain, other eco-friendly initiatives, and more.  

For eco-conscious consumers and sustainability enthusiasts (like you and me), we should know how to tell if our favorite brand or any new Brand Is Ethical Or Sustainable To Avoid Getting Greenwashed.

Fair Trade 

“Fair Trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, consumers, advocates, and organizations putting people and the planet first. It is based on the simple idea that the products bought and sold every day are connected to the livelihoods of others, fair trade is a way to make a conscious choice for a better world.” – Fair Trade USA. 

So, if a brand or product has been given a Fair Trade certification, it has met various rigorous international standards set by the organization – social, environmental, or economic. When you choose Fair Trade certified products, you are supporting these companies, empowering farmers and workers, and protecting the environment as well.


Vegan beauty means using green cosmetics or skincare products made without any ingredients derived from animals or animal by-products. Such brands have a positive impact on the planet, animals, and society. Vegan products don’t have animal by-products, e.g., beeswax, honey, snail mucin, etc.

Find out more about Vegan Skincare and Vegan Beauty Brands here. 

vegan and cruelty-free clean beauty trend
sustainable beauty – Vegan


Cruelty-free beauty products are made without hurting or harming animals. To qualify as cruelty-free, brands should not test their products on animals at any point in time – before, during, or after production. 

The only way to recognize if your beauty product is vegan or cruelty-free is by checking its label. For vegan beauty products, look for a PETA-approved logo; and for cruelty-free products, look for the Leaping Bunny logo.

Read on to understand How Cruelty-Free And Vegan Are Different

Green Beauty 

Green beauty is an umbrella term, which indicates that the ingredients used in beauty products do not harm the environment and its people. Generally, the ingredients used are eco-friendly, natural, and sustainably sourced. Such green cosmetics are made using renewable raw materials.

Green beauty products are sourced, manufactured, and packaged following sustainable methods, which is good for the planet. 

Slow Beauty 

Slow beauty is not just about looking good — it’s about feeling good too. It is a comprehensive approach towards our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Slow beauty talks about taking time to do what we love and what makes us feel good. 

To us, Slow Beauty means clean beauty meets slow living, where mindfulness meets minimalism.


Skinimalism focuses on a minimal skincare routine with a lesser number of beauty products that work better on your skin. It is the main highlight of recent beauty trends, introduced to us by Marie Kondo.  

One can achieve the ultimate skinimalism routine by using multi-use skincare products that do more than one job for your skin. This saves you time, money, and, well, energy too. All the while, being mindful of the planet.  

Do read our Guide On Skincare And Beauty Terms to get more familiar with them, before making any new skincare or beauty product purchases.

Know About the Ingredients in Your Skincare

ingredients in sustainable skincare products
sustainable beauty product ingredients

We recommend you stay away from the toxic ingredients listed above, while picking your sustainable beauty products. They are harmful to your body, not just externally (like skin irritation) but also internally (i.e. causing cancer and damaging the reproductive system).

You can further understand these Toxic Ingredients To Avoid In Your Beauty Products. Always carefully read the ingredient list on the product labels, to avoid putting these ingredients on your skin and prevent adverse health effects.

On the other hand, the clean beauty ingredients listed above are safe for your skin and body. For a detailed look, visit our guide on Clean Ingredients To Look For In Your Beauty Products

Vegan Skincare and Clean Beauty Brands That Goodguilt Loves (And You Will Too!)

best sustainable beauty brands
sustainable beauty brands

Here are some sustainable skincare and green beauty brands we’ve used, and just can’t do without.

 Vegan Skincare Brands

  • Pacifica
  • Biossance 
  • Herbivore Botanicals
  • Pai Skincare  
  • Katari Beauty

Clean Beauty Brands

  • ILIA 
  • Ursa Major 
  • Osea Malibu
  • Alpyn Beauty
  • RMS Beauty 

Sustainable Beauty Brands

  • Lush
  • Farmacy
  • Kiehl’s
  • Kjear Weiss
  • Meow Tweet

Best Clean and Sustainable Beauty Products You Should Try

best sustainable skincare products
sustainable beauty products

Good Guilt Recommendations:

As you continue on your green beauty journey, here are our top recommendations for eco-friendly skincare and the best clean beauty products, you should give a shot.

Cleansers & facewash

  • Osea Ocean Cleanser
  • Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Facewash
  • True Botanical Nourishing Cleanser


  • Thayers Witch Hazel Alcohol-free Toner
  • Paula’s Choice Calming Toner


  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration 
  • Life Therapy Grounded Hydrating Body Lotion 


  • Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
  • Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen SPF 35
  • Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Clear Sunscreen with Zinc 

Clean and Sustainable Beauty Benefits

When we use clean, green cosmetics and sustainable beauty products, it provides various benefits to us, society, animals, and the planet as well.

benefits of using the best sustainable skincare products
sustainable beauty benefits

How Do You Know If a Beauty Product Is Sustainable and Clean?

The demand for eco-friendly beauty products has increased over the past decade. We have noticed a massive shift towards conscious consumerism, especially by smart and sustainable shoppers.

Checklist for eco friendly beauty products
sustainable beauty checklist

Here’s what you need to look out for, while picking sustainable and clean brands.

  • Ingredients: Always look for products with organic, natural, or clean ingredients. Avoid using products made with microplastics and toxic ingredients.

    Remember –
    Not all chemicals are bad. For instance, Water (H20) is a chemical that is used in most beauty products or part of every person’s daily routine.
  • Environmental impact: Avoid single-use beauty products. Check the brand’s carbon footprint. Check if they follow zero-waste or low-waste practices.

    Only choose ethically-made products with plastic-free packaging that’s minimal, reusable, recyclable, refillable, or compostable.
  • Safety standards and certificates: Find out about the brand’s sustainable and ethical practices. Always check certifications like PETA, Leaping Bunny, USDA, FDA, B Corp, etc.

    Read the labels like non-comedogenic, cruelty-free, organic, 1% for the Planet, etc., to know if you are actually buying sustainable beauty products.
  • Beware of greenwashing: Let’s clear the air – this is not always black and white! We face the very real problem of greenwashing from many brands in the market today. Always stay ahead by being well-informed.

    Before making any skincare product purchases – Do your research. Check reviews. Stalk brands online. If you find anything questionable, reach out to the brand directly.
    Here’s a Comprehensive Guide on Sustainability-Related Buzzwords To Avoid Getting Greenwashed 

Sustainable Beauty Skincare Routine

use green beauty products in your skincare routine
sustainable beauty skincare routine

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you plan, create, and follow a flawless and sustainable skincare routine.

> Understand your skin type
Whether dry, oily, combination, sensitive, or normal skin type, you need to first know your skin type before you start planning your skincare routine.

> Decide your skin goals
Understand what you intend to achieve with your skincare routine. Ensure you address your skin concerns. Consistency and comfort are key.

> Follow the ‘CTM’ basic rule
Any skincare routine, for a beginner or daily user, must follow these three core steps – cleansing, toning, and moisturizing.

> Treatment with active ingredients
Include serums and active ingredients like Vitamin C or retinol to treat your skin right.

> Sunscreen is non-negotiable
Apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before stepping out, and every 2 hours thereafter, when in the sun. Opt for reef-friendly sunscreens, as much as possible.

> Don’t forget eye and lip care
Eye creams and lip balms, especially when the seasons are changing, should be an essential part of your skincare routine.

For more detailed steps you should follow for a flawless skincare routine, have a look at:

To make sustainable beauty simple and achievable for you, GoodGuilt is here to bridge the gap between planet-friendly beauty brands and conscious consumers (like you!)

Be a part of mindful conversations around sustainable and clean beauty, product recommendations, and brand discoveries, with our good guides, beauty swaps, skincare tips, and much more.

Together, let’s make shopping feel better again!

Explore our good guides on clean beauty and sustainable skincare, below.

How To Make Your Skincare Routine More Sustainable 

A Guide To Get Rid Of Acne, Naturally 

What Exactly Is Cleanical Skincare? Why You Should Try It? 

The Six-Step Skincare Routine For People With Oily Skin 

What’s The Deal With Sunscreen? How To Find A Good Reef-Safe Option?

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Sustainable Mean in Beauty?

In the beauty industry, “sustainable” describes how a beauty or skincare brand operates to minimize its environmental impact, for the future of the planet and its people.

Beauty brands following sustainable beauty adopt practices such as using recyclable packaging, reducing single-use plastics, carefully selecting non-toxic ingredients, ensuring product safety, and minimizing their carbon footprint from manufacturing to shipping.

What Are the Clean Ingredients in Skincare?

Clean skincare ingredients are safe to use on your skin and body. Some such ingredients are:
Aloe Vera
Argan Oil
Bentonite Clay
Avocado Oil
Cedarwood Oil
Hemp Seed Oil
Jojoba Oil

What Are Green Beauty Products?

Green beauty indicates that the ingredients used in such beauty products do not harm the planet and its people. The ingredients are eco-friendly, natural, and sustainably sourced, using renewable raw materials.

Green beauty products are sourced, manufactured, and packaged following sustainable practices. 

What Are 5 Sustainable Beauty Products?

Here are our top 5 recommendations for sustainable beauty products.
True Botanical Nourishing Cleanser
Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Facewash
Paula’s Choice Calming Toner
Life Therapy Grounded Hydrating Body Lotion 
Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30

Subscribe to our newsletter

To receive updates on all things good and guilt-free!