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We're facing a single-use plastic crisis in the United States, and the beauty industry isn't just part of the problem, it's tantamount.

The Zero Waste Alliance reports that the beauty industry creates 120 billion units of packaging each year, and only 8.7% of all plastic waste is actually recycled. As a result, 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year. And what happens to the plastic that doesn't fall into our water? It takes several hundred years to even start to degrade, and when it does, it breaks down into a microplastic, which is even worse for our planet, since those particles are so tiny that they are even more easily ingested by animals and lace our own water supplies.

Since we know that more than 40% of all plastic comes from product packaging, that is where the change needs to begin, and beauty brands are starting to take note.

While there is an encouraging trend in the industry of brands beginning to take steps toward reducing how much plastic is in their packaging and their overall production, there are a few brands that are leading the charge by being entirely plastic-free. And today, we're going to give them their flowers.

Ethique

As a New Zealand-based brand with a serious plastic-free commitment, the brand sells hair and body products in solid bar form (as well as concentrates that you can mix with water yourself if you're not a fan of bars) and has been 100% plastic-free since its inception. Not even the tape on their shipping boxes are made of plastic. The brand also offsets 120% of their carbon emissions and uses no airfreight shipping, to boot.

Our Fave Ethique Product

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Sweet Orange & Vanilla Solid Body Butter

$13; ethique.com

Common Heir

Launched in early 2021 by two beauty industry vets, Cary Lin and Angela Ubias, Common Heir is a plastic-free brand committed to developing high-performance skincare products. All of their products are plant-based, come in readily biodegradable capsules, and the company offers carbon-neutral shipping.

Our Fave Common Heir Product

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Vitamin C Serum

$88; commonheir.com

Pangea Organics

Pangea Organics has a unique story: the line completely relaunched at the end of 2021 as a plastic-free brand with a #LifeAfterPlastic initiative. They also feature infinitely recyclable aluminum bottles as well as ingredients that have been sustainably harvested from organic farmers around the world.

Our Fave Pangea Organics Product

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Catalonian Cypress & Juniper Body Wash

$28; pangeaorganics.com

Kate McLeod

Former pastry chef Kate McLeod took two careful years developing her eponymous brand of body stones — solid moisturizers made with just a few, simple ingredients, that offer a massage as you apply them. Each stone is waterless and Made Safe certified, meaning ingredients are vetted by scientists to ensure the highest level of non-toxicity.

Our Fave Kate McLeod Product

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Face Stone

$86; katemcleod.com

Petal

This hand soap brand was built to clean up the personal care industry, which is one of the beauty categories that has the highest daily usage, but lowest recycling rates. That's why Petal provides a system where you mix a soap pod with water in a reusable aluminum bottle. Each soap pod is non-toxic, biodegradable, and fully dissolvable. The company also offers carbon-neutral shipping.

Our Fave Petal Product

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Starter Kit

$25; withpetal.com

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BYBI

This British beauty brand takes a hard line against carbon emissions, single-use plastics. and waste in general — they even get their strawberry seeds from juice manufacturers who would've dumped the seeds in a landfill. Their packaging is also made from sugarcane polyethylene (a recyclable bioplastic), and all exterior boxes are made from grasspaper.

Our Fave BYBI Product

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Acid Gold AHA Face Mask

$23; us.bybi.com

Dew Mighty

A brand based upon a philosophy of slow beauty, Dew Mighty touches every aspect of the sustainability picture by making a waterless, plastic-free, filler-free multi-use product, so you can do a lot for your skin with fewer products. They also provide carbon-neutral shipping, and all packaging is compostable.

Our Fave Dew Mighty Product

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Bloom Jelly Serum Bar

$45; dewmighty.com

From non-toxic makeup and skincare to sustainability practices, Clean Slate  is an exploration of all things in the green beauty space. Find out what's really in your products — and what's being left out.