Clean & Low Waste Beauty


It has been a few years since I started becoming more conscious about the beauty products I incorporate into my daily routine. I can remember going into Ulta, MAC, Sephora, Target — and with little thought, purchasing whatever looked good to me at the time — walking away having spent way too much money, money I probably didn’t even have. I didn’t pay attention to how these products were made, where they came from or what ingredients they included. I was constantly swapping out to try new trendy products, never treating my face with consistency. So, when my skin would change I really had no understanding of why or how to nurse it back to health.

I can’t remember the first time I read about clean beauty products or endocrine disrupting chemicals such as sulfates, parabens, and phthalates. But once I did, I began to question the ingredients of all the products I used. I would find myself standing in the aisle at Target googling the ingredients of the items in my hand before purchasing. It quickly became overwhelming — was I ever going to remember the names of all these ingredients? Was I really going to have to google every time I came to the store? Does anyone really have time for this?

So, at first, I decided I would make my own products — I would know exactly what went into them, I would save money, I would be reducing plastic waste and I would simplify my routine. Well, fast forward a few attempted face washes, deodorants, and shampoos later and I would say the only thing that I really stuck with was the dry shampoo. That’s because I only use corn starch — it’s hard to screw up just one ingredient, right? The shampoo made my hair too oily, the deodorant did NOT work, and the face wash only works in the summer when my skin isn’t as dry. With this, I decided to start investing in products that were clean, ethically sourced, and low waste. Investing seems like a strong word, but as I continue to build out a more sustainable beauty routine I really have invested in these products — not just in terms of money, but I dedicate time to understanding the product, its impact on me as well as the environment, and the company behind it.

Like I said, I have been very thoughtful about what products I now purchase and use on my skin. Below I have shared the brands/items I use most frequently. Some of these are new and some I have used for some time — but all are clean, ethically sourced, or low-waste. All company overviews, product ingredients, and prices are pulled directly from the company website — whereas, the “Why I like it” section reflects my personal experience with the product.




River Organics: “River Organics is an independent beauty company, located in Wilmington, North Carolina. Our products are made with organic plant oils and butters and produced in small batches. Formulated to be safe for all skin types, our line of facial oils, body oils and lip balms offer a simplified approach to maintaining and nourishing your skin.”

  • Why I like it: From River Organics, I use their vegan, 100% cruelty-free highlighting makeup stick. I use this this to highlight my cheekbones and at times my brow bone. The product is a dense cream. I have always used pressed powders for highlighting so this was a little new to me. I apply the stick directly to my skin and then gently use my fingers to blend along my cheekbone. In addition to clean ingredients, River Organics use recycled glass amber bottles for their oils, while also offering a discount to local customers refilling their body and facial oils. All of their lip balms and vegan makeup is packaged in compostable kraft paper, making these products low-waste.

  • Price: $15/1 Stick (.33oz)

  • Ingredients: *Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), *Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, *Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, *Rosa Moschata (Rose Hip) Seed Oil, Tocopherol oil (Vitamin E, made from wheat germ), Mica

    *Certified Organic

CLOVE + HALLOW: “Masterminded by a professional makeup artist who lives and breathes cosmetics, CLOVE + HALLOW is revolutionizing clean beauty with products that are both swoon worthy and good for you. By creating affordably-priced clean, cruelty-free, and vegan cosmetics that perform like conventional classics, CLOVE + HALLOW enables every woman to attain beauty without sacrifice.”

  • Why I like it: I actually came across CLOVE + HALLOW’s Pressed Mineral Foundation at LARK (mentioned below). Again, this is another cruelty-free, vegan makeup product. Over the years I have STRUGGLED with foundation. I purchased various liquid foundations from MAC and almost always had a problem — for a time, the oils in the product would oxidize throughout the day leaving me with an orange tint by the end of the day. Prior to CLOVE + HALLOW, I had switched to a clay-based foundation from Tarte. It helped with the oils, but it left my skin SO dry. When I saw this pressed foundation at LARK I was really hesitant, like waited MONTHS (6+) to purchase because I was worried it would not give me enough coverage. After stopping in a few times, I noticed many of the ladies working there used this product and the coverage was flawless. So, once I finished my last tube of Tarte foundation, I finally picked up CLOVE + HALLOW’s pressed mineral foundation. Within one day, I knew I made the right choice. Unlike my previous foundation, this comes in a metal refill pan to be used with their Refillable Compact (another eco-friendly solution). If you want to go really low-waste, you can skip on the compact and store your foundation in the packaging the pan comes in (its like cardboard/paper slip). This is what I did (but now I worry every time I open it that it is going to be broken due to lack of durable storage).

  • Price: $24/refill pan; $8/reusable compact

  • Ingredients: Mica, Silica, Boron Nitride, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Magnesium Stearate, Organic Jojoba Oil, Salicylic Acid, Gluconalactone, Rice Bran Extract, Lauroyl Lysine, Sodium Benzoate, Sunflower Extract, Rosemary leaf Extract, Vitamin E; May Contain Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides

    *For more information, CLOVE + HALLOW shares a full ingredient glossary where they outline each ingredient, why they use it, what it is, and where they use it — it’s pretty cool.

Elate Cosmetics: “At Elate Cosmetics we are committed to empowering everyone to use the best possible products for their daily rituals. We create safe, effective beauty products using cruelty-free ingredients, ethical marketing, and sustainable practices. With a goal of becoming the first waste free cosmetic company, our products offer innovative solutions to the otherwise wasteful practices of the beauty industry, and fill a gap in your beauty ritual. Our aim is to allow our customers to buy well, use less, and love themselves (and the Earth) more.”

  • Why I like it: I think that Elate’s Mission sums up every reason I support this brand. I currently use their Essential Mascara. Natural mascaras can be a little tricky. I read many reviews regarding different brands and it seems many people have trouble with natural mascaras lasting. With Elate, I have not experienced this at all. At the same time, I appreciate how easy it is to remove this mascara when washing my face. With many previous mascaras, I felt like I was rubbing my eyelashes/under-eyes for eternity in order to effectively remove the product. Although this product is packaged in compostable bamboo, the inner tube is plastic and needs to be removed and recycled once finished.

  • Price: $28/tube (.18oz)

  • Ingredients: Aqua, CI 77499, Hydrogenated Olive Oil Stearyl Esters, Stearic Acid, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Myrica Pubescens (Bayberry) Fruit Wax, Pullulan, Glyceryl Caprylate, Oleic/Linoleic/Linolenic Polyglycerides, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Xanthan Gum, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Galactoarabinan

Milk Makeup: “At Milk Makeup, we believe in good ingredients + epic payoff. We’re cruelty-free, paraben-free, and 100% vegan.”

  • Why I like it: Since switching to CLOVE + HALLOW’s pressed foundation, I have not had to use a setting powder. However, when using a liquid or clay-based foundation, I would set my make up using Milk’s Blur + Set Matte Loose Setting Powder. This was the first makeup product that I bought with intention — I walked into Sephora (ah, yes still shopping big brands those days) and I asked for help finding a “clean” setting powder. While I no longer use this on a daily basis, it is great for days when I opt for slight coverage rather than a full face of makeup. Sadly, there is one downside to this product and that is… the plastic packaging.

  • Price: $29/jar (.87 oz)

  • Ingredients: Mica/CI 77019, Nylon-12, lauroyl Lysine, zea mays (corn) starch, silica, magnesium myristate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, persea gratissima (avocado) fruit extract, maltodextrin, sodium hyaluronate, methyl methacrylate crosspolymer May contain/peut contenir: iron oxides/CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, ultramarines/CI 77007


LARK Skin Co.
: “At LARK, we know skincare goes much deeper than the surface. We have all felt the emotional impact of feeling uncomfortable in our skin. We want you to know you are beautiful, which is why we take a holistic approach to skincare. We consider ourselves a consciously clean company. From our products and services to our passions and customer relationships, our ethics drive every aspect of LARK.”

  • Why I like it: Ah, there are many reasons why I love LARK — their clean beauty products, the campaign for confidence they launched earlier this year, their adorable little shop that has recently become my self-care haven, and they are women owned and local to St. Louis. Although I first stopped in LARK over a year ago, it wasn’t until the last few months that I started using their products. When you visit LARK, you can create your own custom oil blend. I previously used a lotion-based moisturizer but made the switch to an oil due to a few things (e.g., lotions are primarily made of water and often require an emulsifier - typically a lab manufactured chemical). Creating your own custom blend ensures that you are using products that best meet your facial needs. I specifically went in needing something that would hydrate my skin (as I mentioned earlier, my skin gets so dry in the winter). Over the last month or so, I have been stopping into LARK to get Manual Lymphatic Drainage facials. MLD is a type of massage that encourage the natural drainage of the lymph by carrying waste products away from the tissues back toward the heart. I started this to reduce puffiness around my eyes - following a facial, I feel so incredibly good that it has actually become more of a form of self-care and relaxation than what I initially intended. At the end of this facial, Lauren (one of LARK’s holistic estheticians), uses this magical Tulsi + Rose Calming Facial Toner. Yesterday, post-facial, I finally purchased it (the 20% small business Saturday discount might have helped me pull the trigger). And last but not least, both my oil and toner come in glass bottles — another no waste win!

  • Price: $22/1 bottle (4.8oz) Tulsi + Rose Toner; $49/1 bottle (1oz) Customer Facial Oil; MLD Facial ($55/35 Minutes - however, this item is currently not on the menu and therefore, it is possible the price could change going into the new year)

  • Ingredients: Distilled Water, Rose and Tulsi Infused Witch Hazel, Rose Water, Radish Root Ferment (Tulsi + Rose Toner)

    *Products are 100% natural + never made with parabens, sulphates, PEGS, phthalates, silicones or mineral oil and are never tested on animals.



Peace Love Happy Apothecary: “All Natural, Vegan, Organic Skin Care, Soap, Candles, Crystals & Wire Wrapped Jewelry. Made with knowledge and Intention.”

  • Why I like it: I came across this local apothecary during a winter market at Wellspent Brewing last year. I have since used their facial cleanser and I assume it is the peppermint and tea tree oil that leaves my face feeling SO fresh and clean post-use. I also use Peace Love Happy’s eye cream. This eye cream is made with local Picasso’s coffee espresso, with the primary purpose to reduce puffiness and dark circles under the eyes. Additional ingredients also support strengthening/tightening skin and moisturizing. I once read that our eyes are particularly vulnerable and tend to be neglected in our beauty routines (or at the very least, not prioritized until we begin to age). Since then, I have always paid extra close attention to nurturing the skin under and around my eyes. While the eye cream does come in a glass jar, the facial wash comes in a plastic bottle. I have yet to figure out what I will do once I finish my current supply — hoping I might be able to work out some sort of refill option.

  • Price: $11/1 bottle (8.5oz) Facial Wash; $9/jar (2oz)

  • Ingredients: Castile soap, witch hazel, chamomile tea, hemp seed oil, tea tree oil, vitamin E, lemon and peppermint essential oils (facial wash); espresso, calendula flower, hemp seed, almond oil, argan oil, shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and candelilla wax (eye cream).

Mother Mountain Herbals: “Our mission is to inspire humans living modern lifestyles to have daily connection with their bodies and the earth. We believe that human connection to nature is essential to the health and wellbeing of people and the planet.”

  • Why I like it: Another item you can purchase online or from LARK, Masa & Honey Face Polish. I use this a few times a week, something I added to my routine when trying to fix this dry skin issue. This cleansing and moisturizing facial scrub contains stone-ground masa harina that acts as an exfoliator while the sunflower oil adds moisture. During my DIY facial products stint I mentioned earlier, I used raw organic honey as a facial mask. This facial scrub reminded me of all the reasons I used to love doing them — honey is full of antioxidants, serves as a natural antibacterial, and purifies and unclogs pores. And let’s not forget, the packaging is a small glass container that can be repurposed once you finish.

  • Price: $22/jar (2oz)

  • Ingredients: Organic cold-pressed sunflower oil infused with home-grown and/or organic Calendula flowers, organic corn flour, organic vegetable glycerine, Arizona wild flower honey, fenugreek co2, clary sage essential oil


While I do not have to purchase these items frequently, I do try and make a conscious choice when it comes to purchasing makeup brushes too. My loose powder foundation brush is from EcoTools a vegan/natural beauty products company (I have had this one for years) and my pressed foundation brush is from Tarte (when I switched to pressed powder, I needed something with denser bristles). Although I have not used this brand and I do not know as much about the company, Bamboo Brushes is another option you could look into if you are in need of new, eco-friendly brushes.

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