Zero waste, plastic free and vegan beauty basics

Coming to uni and being on a budget does not mean you have to compromise your morals, says Katie Mortimer.

The rise in ethical beauty continues, and access to these products is becoming far cheaper and more convenient.

Previously we have seen eco brands pushing the sales of their environmentally friendly and animal-testing free products for prices that are simply unaffordable for those on a budget. However, as we become more aware of the horrible circumstances under which much of our skincare and makeup is produced, sales have shifted to more ethical items.

As organisations have pressured larger corporations into eliminating unethical practices, many high-end brands have acknowledged this demand for cruelty-free and vegan beauty and since introduced new lines that please the public. Sustainable, ethical beauty is set to surge from $34.5billion in 2018 to $54.5 billion in 2027, suggesting that the market is, in fact, growing.

Here we have a list of items and stores that stock cheap and environmentally sound options for those wanting to shift into guiltless beauty.


Too Faced, an incredibly reputable brand and one that can be sourced in most larger beauty retailers, is great for face makeup. The brand has two foundations, both in 35 shades, that pride themselves on masterfully blurring the line between makeup and skin. Too Faced also sells a replenishing face primer and a matte bronzer that work to revitalise and touch up your look, respectively. All four products are vegan and cruelty-free.

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, Boots’ own ‘Collection’ brand is perfect for sourcing some great value, natural beauty products. The brand is entirely vegan and cruelty-free also!

For those wanting to score a hattrick and invest in some plastic-free options, Lush is the place to go. Known for its high ethical standards and overt disapproval of animal testing, the brand has recently expanded to plastic-free and reusable packaging where possible. Lush’s foundation ‘The Slap Stick’ and concealer ‘Trix Stick’ provide the perfect base layers for any subtle look.

Credits: KINN Living on Unsplash

Eyes & Brows

Barry M prides itself on being 100 per cent vegan and cruelty-free for 40 years. Not only that, but the company do not permit their products to be sold in retail stores in countries where they still require animal testing (talk about commitment!). Amazingly, their entire range is perfect for anyone looking to get started on their eco journey. The products are also incredibly well priced and won’t break the budget. Likewise, their extensive range and long-trusted reviews mean that you have various options ready for testing.


Revolution, stocked at both Boots and Superdrug, is known for its PETA-certified cruelty-free status. Whilst it is not an entirely vegan brand, a whopping 76 per cent of its products are suitable for vegans meaning that you will have no difficulty sourcing the perfect lip colour for your next night out. Revolution is taking the beauty industry by storm, and their lip range is excellent. They have lip tint, lipstick, lipliner, lipgloss, and much more, all available in various colours – you are practically spoilt for choice!


The UK’s weather is annoyingly unpredictable. With the lack of sun reaching Nottingham for most of the year, the need for a self-esteem-boosting tan has never been greater. Luckily for us, a wealth of tanning products have recently changed their ingredients, making them acceptable for vegans and those who disagree with animal testing.

Brands such as Skinny Tan and Isle of Paradise are hosts to some great glow essentials, tanning face mists, and overnight lotions. Skinny Tan is better for those winter months wherein the sun is busy hiding away and keeping our skin pale and cold. Whereas Isle of Paradise has created colour-correcting formulas that need sun support to provide you with that sun-kissed boost.


Vegan nail polish is relatively easy to come by. Boots and Superdrug are home to a massive selection of cruelty-free brands and an even better selection of colours. Finding ethical makeup is usually tricky, but the hardest part will be deciding which colour to choose!

For those who enjoy getting their nails done at the local salon, you may have a harder time finding a vegan gel. Most salons bulk-buy gel polishes that contain shellac – a resin-based ingredient sourced from lac bugs. This can be the same for acrylic extensions too. Before going in for your next set, it is always worth checking with your local salon to see if they can cater to your needs.

Credits: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Cleanser, toner, and moisturisers

Ahh, the ultimate skincare trio. For me, these were the first ever products I ever put on my prepubescent skin in an attempt to avoid acne forever. As imagined, that did not go as expected, but this routine is trialled and tested by millions. Luckily for us, they are super easy to come by, and most are accidentally vegan in nature. Annoyingly, they are a packaging nightmare. So, what can you do?

The Body Shop recently introduced a refill scheme to help limit their customer’s plastic waste. The scheme requires shoppers to purchase one of their aluminium bottles that can be refilled, reused and repeated to their heart (and faces) content. Not only does this embrace the circular economy and help eliminate waste, but it also allows The Body Shop to set an example for similar companies. The more zero waste packaging is broadcast and utilised, the higher our chances of making a difference.

If you prefer to shop locally, then we also have the wonderful zero waste shop on Friar Lane called Shop Zero. This women-owned independent also offers refillable personal care items, as well as additional plastic-free items.

All the brands mentioned throughout this article can be found in Nottingham city centre, making it easier to collect and try them out for yourselves. Shopping in person also helps limit your carbon footprint as you will not have to cover those pesky delivery fees, and you will be lessening your CO2 emissions. Happy beauty shopping everyone!

The products listed in this article are based on the writer’s opinion and Platform Magazine is not liable for any side effects that may be caused by them.

Lead image: Harper Sunday on Unsplash

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