Best eco-friendly moisturisers

These hero skincare brands are doing their bit for our planet and so can you, says Beauty Editor Michelle Nightingale.

Happy Lady Applying Face Cream

by Michelle Nightingale |

From chemicals being washed down the drain, to packaging sent to landfills, traditional cosmetics haven’t typically done our environment too many favours. Thankfully, many beauty brands are lifting the lid on eco-friendly products. This is so we can achieve hydrated, dewy, and glowing-looking skin and go green at the same time. Here, at Yours, we've rounded up the best eco-friendly moisturisers available to buy in the UK.

Read More: What beauty products can I recycle?

From nourishing night creams to hydrating day creams, we've got a wide selection to get your hands on.

Best UK-based eco-friendly moisturisers

Take your clean, empty plastic bottles, tubs, or pots back to your local store, and The Body Shop, in partnership with TerraCycle, will recycle and repurpose them.

The brand, which first championed Community Trade in 1987, is also currently supporting Community Trade recycled plastic from India. They use this plastic in all of the brand's 250ml size shampoo and conditioner bottles.

Infused with three essential oils, the Oils of Life Sleeping Cream is specially formulated to nourish skin whilst you sleep.

With an impressive eco-factory in North Dorset, Neal's Yard has worked hard to earn its green credentials. Neal's Yard bottle its products in recycled glass. But, the brand is working hard to ensure by 2025, all plastic bottles will use only recycled material. A product refill scheme is also available in ten stores across the UK.

We love the gorgeous smell of the Neal's Yard Frankincense Nourishing Cream - perfect for day or night.

Partnered with National Geographic, Tisserand is working towards improving sustainability and has created three new aromatherapy blends (Explore, Retreat and Paradise) that celebrate the positive effects exploring has on our wellbeing. The range contains 100 per cent natural ingredients housed in fully recyclable packaging made from 100 per cent PCR plastic.

If you're prone to a few skin irritations or blemishes, the Tisserand Aromatherapy Tea Tree & Aloe Skin Relief Cream is designed to help keep skin cool and calm while still providing that much-needed moisture for dry skin types.

Related: 14 eco-friendly clothing brands in the UK

Passionate about banishing plastics in beauty products, Beauty Kitchen uses 100 per cent natural or naturally derived ingredients. The return, refill, and repeat scheme allows customers to drop off their empty containers at selected Holland & Barret shops in return for store loyalty points. Beauty Kitchen will then wash and re-use.

You can't go wrong with their Seahorse Plankton Bright Night Intensive Cream, which works as you sleep to give you a hydrated, dewy complexion in the morning.

As well as producing hardworking skincare products, Origins is leading the way when it comes to recycling beauty packaging. Visit any Origins store or counter, and you can drop off your empties (pumps, glass, and aerosols) from any brand.

Applying the GinZing Ultra-Hydrating Energy-Boosting Cream is a real treat for dry, lacklustre extra dry skin, promising an amazing 72-hours of hydration.

Skin Academy’s Zero range is eco-friendly with 100 per cent natural ingredients, totally recyclable packaging, and zero fragrances, preservatives, and parabens. This day cream has been enriched with shea butter for its natural healing properties. As well as coconut oil which helps to reduce inflammation whilst also deeply moisturising the skin. It's vegan, beautifully creamy, and a great budget-friendly option.

Best eco-friendly moisturisers outside the UK

Ethique is a super climate positive brand that's plastic-free, vegan, cruelty-free and palm oil-free. As of March 2021, they have offset 120 per cent of their net carbon emissions. Through its 100 per cent compostable packaging, Ethique has saved 10 million bottles from the manufacture, and therefore landfill, since its launch in 2012.

This luxury solid beauty bar moisturiser can be used as a day or night cream for dry or mature skin.

Tried and tested by Eleanor Weaver, Commercial Content Writer for Yours: "I had never used solid bar moisturisers before, so this was definitely a new concept for me, but I loved the innovative way Ethique has sought to eliminate the use of plastic.

"You receive 3 mini bars of moisturiser, and you simply need to warm one between your hands and use the residue on your palms to apply to your face. Make sure to store your bar in a cool, dry place; otherwise, you'll find they 'melt' a little of their own accord.

"The cream felt thick, a little oily and deeply moisturising, so I definitely would recommend it to dry or mature skin as they suggest. That said, it didn't cause my combination skin to break out in any way, and my skin felt richly hydrated in the morning. The scent is quite subtle, with a buttery shea and coconut scent being the most prevalent."

This Australian heritage skincare brand packs all its products with botanicals and natural ingredients from its own biodynamic farm. Harnessing the power of nature directly to the skin, the concentrated, pure botanicals used in Jurlique originate from their own sustainable farm. As for the air quality, the area which is home to Jurlique's farm is rated among the best on Earth - as stated by the World Health Organisation.

This rich cream has a high-performance combination of emollients, including avocado and safflower oils, shea butter and beeswax to hydrate and restore skin's suppleness.

Tried and tested by Eleanor Weaver, Commercial Content Writer for Yours

"This moisturiser is more expensive than others on this list, but it does last a long time as a little goes a long way. I found this moisturiser to be lovely and hydrating, leaving my skin to feel smooth and enriched after application. The brand is big on its botanicals and natural ingredients, and this comes across in the beautiful floral smell. It's a really well-balanced thickness, not too thick or thin, a testament to its quality. Like other reviewers, I found that my skin felt soft with had a refreshing glow."

Vegan and cruelty-free, NAYA’s brand philosophy is of a less is more approach; not only because it is more sustainable to the planet, but also more sustainable for your skin. The vegan, cruelty-free products contain a high concentration of plant-based nutrients. Plus, the brand works directly with the farmers in its supply chain to protect the rainforest. The entire range is housed in glass bottles and all other materials are fully recyclable.

This replenishing moisturiser is rich in vitamins that hydrate, soothe and transform your skin to give you a natural glow.

Tried and tested by Eleanor Weaver, Commercial Content Writer for Yours

"The packaging for this cream was really gorgeous, with the petite glass bottle coming in a fan-out box, with beautiful floral patterns. From the offset, the moisturiser looked like it was of great quality and luxurious - I would happily give this as a gift.

"Compared to other creams I tried, the moisturiser itself was of a looser consistency and really light, making it feel silky smooth when applying to my skin. I actually really liked the fact it was light as I felt my skin could still breathe beneath the layer of cream, making it feel comfortable, hydrating, and refreshing.

"I also really liked that this cream includes an Anti-Blue Light Complex to help protect your skin - as I'm constantly sat in front of my laptop screen, phone or TV, I felt this cream was a great everyday option for keeping my skin feeling and looking its best."

Navigating vegan beauty

Whether you’re following a plant-based lifestyle, or just looking for simple swaps to harness the power of plants in your skincare regime, Holland & Barrett is on hand to demystify the jargon surrounding vegan beauty.

With more Brits switching to a plant-based diet, it seems it’s not just our nutrition that is moving meat-free; this shift to a plant-derived lifestyle has filtered into our beauty choices too.

“A mix of prolonged hours indoors and simpler day-to-day lifestyles has encouraged beauty fans to move their focus from innovation in colour cosmetics, to instead prioritising natural, everyday routines for healthy skin and hair,” says Joanne Cooke, Beauty Trading Director at Holland & Barrett.

“We’ve seen our customers exploring the world of natural, vegan, and cruelty-free skincare routines more than ever before, and we can help them navigate new and trending ingredients, helping everyone to make informed choices that reflect their skin needs, lifestyle, AND values.”

Sustainable beauty
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Research from Holland & Barrett into the nation’s beauty habits has revealed that: 53 per cent of UK adults are not confident in identifying skincare products that contain ingredients derived from animals.

“From ‘V’ for vegetarian to the cruelty-free Leaping Bunny, most people understand what these symbols mean, but what people don’t know is how to spot whether the ingredients on the label are animal-derived or plant-derived,” says Jennifer Hirsch, The Beauty Botanist.

“We tend to be more familiar with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and squalane, but few know about the identical vegan equivalents that aren’t always as easy to spot on pack. It’s harder to see ingredient swaps that aren’t like for like – take collagen’s common vegan alternatives of soy proteins, amla, and collagen-boosting vitamin C. These deliver the same performance benefits, in some cases more, but you have to recognise them and what they can deliver.”

The Beauty Botanist's eco-friendly swaps to look out for

Though originally extracted from shark livers, a process which the sharks didn’t survive, squalane is commonly found in beauty. Horrible, we know. However, today's ingredients are extracted from sources as diverse as sugarcane, rice bran oil, olive oil, and amaranth oil. Luckily, for this Oleus Squalane, there is no animal cruelty in sight.

It’s every bit as effective as a hydrator, helps to reduce hydration loss, and is non-comedogenic.

Traditionally, hyaluronic acid was derived from animals, like cockerels’ combs. However, the vegan alternatives come from microbial fermentation of vegetable material, such as the Hyaluronic Acid used in this Q&A cleanser. It’s just as effective as animal-derived sources, with gentle and smoothing cleansing agents that boost your skin’s moisturisation.

Our bodies produce lactic acid, but commercially it can be created by fermenting dairy products or meat.

However, we can produce variations by fermenting carbohydrates like sucrose or glucose, corn, and cane sugar. So, these are suitable for vegans. Fortunately, REN uses plant-based ingredients throughout their ranges, such as plant-derived Lactic Acid in their Ready-Steady Glow Tonic.

With 4% bakuchiol, this super-oil contains hydrating plant squalane, omega-rich hemp, and rosehip oils to help promote a more youthful complexion. Usually, you find retinol in foods derived from animals, like fish liver oil. However, Bakuchiol is a vegan retinol alternative, derived from Psoralea corylifolia, a plant with traditional uses in Ayurveda.

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