As customers demand skincare products that are free of toxic chemicals – and therefore better for your body and the environment – greenwashing is becoming more and more of an issue. This is especially true in the United States, where the $85 billion beauty industry is largely unregulated. Many brands pass themselves off as natural when in fact they are just scratching the surface. Fortunately, there are plenty of truly sustainable beauty brands out there, including these six: Botanical Republic, My July, Lunalis, Just Beauty CBD, PURR Skincare, and Nopalera.
But before exploring these clean beauty brands and the stories of their founders, the first question most savvy consumers ask themselves is: How can I know for myself if a brand is really eco-responsible? Here are two companies created to help you.
ClearForMe is the first-of-its-kind database of over 1.8 million ingredients that appear in beauty products. It’s a trusted partner for over 360 brands and retailers. Founded by former NYSE derivatives trader Sabrina Noorani, ClearForMe provides a simple plug-and-play API to make ingredients clickable, searchable, and purchasable.
CEO Noorani is also a mother of three. She believes knowledge equals power and usually shares nutritional information with her children to help them understand what they are eating. She wanted to bring this idea to beauty by creating a platform that describes and simplifies beauty product ingredients so that consumers have the knowledge to make informed decisions. With ClearForMe, she hopes to open the door for any customer to feel empowered to shop with confidence.
Another brand helping consumers take research into their purchases is Climate Neutral Certified, which brings carbon transparency to the beauty industry. Users can verify brands’ climate action programs and weed out unsubstantiated claims made in the severely underregulated industry. Since its launch in 2019, Climate Neutral has certified over 500 brands, helping them measure and offset their carbon footprint.
Now let’s move on to six beauty brands that are going beyond greenwashing and the women who are driving their growth.
Botanical Republic is a Korean-American luxury skincare line made in Los Angeles that uses organic, natural and artisanal plant ingredients. Using a small batch process eliminates the need for synthetic preservatives and harmful chemicals while minimizing waste. All products are presented in glass bottles and jars. The brand also plants a tree through One Tree Planted for every item sold on its website.
Hannah Kim was inspired to found Botanical Republic when she turned 40 and noticed that the skincare products she used had stopped working and also contained tons of harmful chemicals. However, the price of natural skin care products was very high. She set out to create a skincare line that helps hydrate and fight premature aging without the use of harsh preservatives or fillers — and at an affordable price.
“You have to believe in yourself and be passionate about what you do,” Kim tells aspiring entrepreneurs. “It’s not a sprint but a marathon. It will take a lot of trial and error. Make sure to surround yourself with people who support you because often you want to give up the race.
my month of july
My July is a plant-based gentle skincare brand founded by mother-daughter duo Dawn and Micaela Hoo. They entered the clean beauty space because of their daughter Micaela’s chronic health issues. Due to her late-stage chronic Lyme disease, she suffers from rashes which in the past became so severe that she lost the flexibility of her fingers. This gave her mother Dawn the impetus to create natural skin remedies in the kitchen. My July Body Butters, Body Oils, Face Oil and Face Mist are organic, vegan, free of parabens and toxic chemicals.
“I don’t wish my chronic conditions on anyone, but I truly believe they were given to me for a reason,” says Micaela Hoo. “Healing full-time while running a full-time business is a constant balancing act, but I’m passionate about both.” Her mother agrees it can be difficult to balance work and personal life when she runs a small business, but finds the work deeply meaningful.
They both warn aspiring entrepreneurs to “be sure you are completely obsessed with what you are doing. Once you start making a career out of it, you will have to eat, breathe and sleep according to your chosen path. If you’re not 1000% in love in the first place, it won’t line up in the future. That said, if you look at your business through the prism of pure, unadulterated love, it’s living your life’s purpose. It’s a life worth living.
Lunalis is a Moroccan-origin, American-made luxury skincare collection founded by sisters Laila and Nana Quiroga after losing their mother to cancer. This tragic event showed them how serious health issues like cancer can be triggered by the toxic chemicals your body is exposed to. They embarked on a journey to find the highest integrity ingredients and discovered fabulous botanicals in their native Morocco like prickly pear seed oil. All pure Lunalis skincare products are free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, dyes and artificial colors.
Lunalis’ core mission, beyond creating all-natural products, is to empower women and make a difference in underserved Indigenous communities. They source their ingredients from organic farms run by women in Morocco, pay fair wages, and ensure ethical working conditions and job stability.
“Follow your heart and success will follow,” Laila Quiroga tells aspiring changemakers.
Just Beauty CBD
CBD-infused skincare and beauty products have exploded in popularity over the past few years. Just Beauty CBD aims to differentiate itself by manufacturing CBD beauty products that are both eco-friendly and affordable. Founded in Latin America and owned by women, Just Beauty is led by husband-wife team Israel Cancel and Shamor Belliard.
Just Beauty CBD products are clean, vegan, cruelty-free and sustainably packaged. Plus, they don’t contain water, which means fewer fillers and preservatives, more concentrated formulas, and products that are better for the earth. The co-founders welcome diverse employees and customers of all genders, races, sizes, and backgrounds.
“We created Just Beauty CBD at the height of the Covid pandemic in 2020 while hiding at home with our very energetic 4 and 6 year old boys,” Belliard tells aspiring entrepreneurs. “You have to burn the boats and fully commit to starting your own business. There should be no plan B. Avoid distractions and stay hyper-focused on your why. The road to success won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the long run.
PURR skin care
Growing up with strong ties to her Taiwanese roots, PURR Skincare founder Cynthia Lin has always felt connected to ancient healing practices passed down from her ancestors. To combat the health problems she encountered from an early age, she received regular treatment from traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists. This spurred his lifelong interest in minimal, natural, and herbal remedies. Designed to be used as a ritual and grounded practice, PURR’s 100% organic, sustainable, plant-based products are handmade in the USA.
Lin was diagnosed with the most severe form of lupus (SLE) when she was 10 years old and has been taking steroid medication for more than three decades. The drug has side effects including thinning of the skin, severe acne, facial flushing, and scratch-like marks on the skin. Hundreds of visits to dermatologists and thousands of dollars spent on products haven’t worked, from laser treatments to high-end skincare lines. So, Lin decided to take a certified course in organic skin care and start her own business.
To aspiring changemakers, Lin says, “The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy. It can be very lonely, frustrating and sometimes exhausting. My advice is to trust your intuition, hold on to your dreams, and do it with the determination of a squirrel.
Mexican beauty brand Nopalera recently announced an oversubscribed $2.7 million seed round. For the previous two years, founder Sandra Velasquez single-handedly launched the startup beauty brand. Nopalera harnesses native Mexican and South American plants such as cactus to create its own skincare line, which is available at retailers including Nordstroms, Whole Foods and Free People.
As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Velasquez is filled with both pride and responsibility for building a successful Latina-founded brand. “I hope my story of being an outsider to the beauty industry and launching Nopalera at the age of 44 without outside funding will inspire others in the community to take big steps,” she says. .
“I have a lot of advice for budding entrepreneurs,” says Velasquez. “First, don’t let your dreams and desires be limited by your current economic situation. Two, start with the end in mind. Decide what you want, then work backwards to achieve it. Third, stop trying to do everything on your own. Ask for help.”