The world's trusted guide to sustainable and ethical fashion

The world's trusted guide to sustainable and ethical fashion

Sustainable Skincare Brands That Offer Refills

Image credit: Activist Skincare
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Skincare is a tough industry when it comes to balancing both sustainability and quality. While there are countless luxury skincare brands on the market, there aren’t nearly as many that offer a more sustainable experience, especially when it comes to packaging.

In fact, the skincare industry produces 120 billion units of packaging annually, the majority of which are made from non-recyclable plastics. Plastic pumps and droppers, for example, are additions to these single-use packages that aren’t recyclable. Some companies use programs such as mail-in recycling to offer customers a more climate-conscious option for disposing of their containers, but sadly, these programs are often just greenwashing tactics.

But some brands offer a better refillable option, which can truly help mediate the use of virgin and single-use, unrecyclable plastics. These are often mail-in programs that allow you to purchase refills in the form of recyclable pouches or drop-in containers. And some brands take the initiative to offset their carbon footprints related to shipping. 

By refilling the containers that your favorite skincare products come in, you’re not only keeping single-use plastics out of landfills, but also reducing the amount of petroleum-based plastic produced for new packaging. 

But be careful about refilling your conventional beauty product containers. Many containers are made with toxins like phthalates, which can leach into your product and potentially wreak havoc on your skin, reproductive health, and even your future offspring. Look for refillable containers that are made with nontoxic materials, such as high-quality glass that can be reused endlessly.

Also don’t forget that sustainable skincare brands avoid the use of toxic chemicals and opt for more natural ingredients in their products, as well as their packaging. Look for brands that are cruelty-free, B Corp-certified, climate-neutral-certified, and Fair Trade-verified. These certifications have strict requirements, so you can feel better knowing that the brands you shop from are putting maximum effort into making sure they are meeting high expectations for ethics and sourcing. 


[RELATED: Check out our roundup of the most affordable clean and nontoxic skincare brands]


We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite sustainable skincare brands that offer refills on your beloved staples.

Activist Skincare

This brand has it all, including serums, moisturizers, cleansers, toners, and even sunscreen. It focuses on clean and natural ingredients, packaged in sustainable and refillable glass jars and bottles for ease of reuse. The refills come in a full-sized pouch and can be purchased in a one-time fashion or via subscription so you never run out. Activist skincare ships its products in low-impact, recyclable packaging and contributes 1% of its annual sales to nonprofits that fight for environmental justice. 


Meow Meow Tweet

Featuring products for all skin types, Meow Meow Tweet offers plenty of skincare essentials that focus on natural and herbal ingredients. Any of its products made with a plastic cap are refillable, and its lip balm and deodorant packaging can be safely composted in your own backyard once they’re used up. This brand also offers a bulk purchase program, which allows you to purchase your products in bulk aluminum packaging so you can refill your bottles at home. You can also send your bulk bottles back so they can be sterilized and reused again. Meow Meow Tweet is a B Corp-certified, climate-neutral, and certified plastic-negative brand.


The Organic Pharmacy

Based in London, The Organic Pharmacy is a hub for refillable skincare, from refillable cleansers to refillable eye creams and face creams. You can order one-time refills of your favorites, or opt into the subscription program to refill monthly or every three months. This brand uses natural and sustainably-sourced ingredients in its products, avoiding synthetic fragrances, parabens, and GMOs. The brand uses recyclable packaging to deliver your products, and all of its products are reef-safe.



Those virgin-plastic, travel-sized bottle sets from the supermarket might be convenient, but they’re often made from toxic plastics and manufactured unsustainably. Ries is helping you stick with your favorite brands by offering refillable, eco-friendly and travel-compliant skincare product containers to reduce plastic and product waste. You can put your favorite serums, moisturizers and even hair products in Ries containers so that your every unique skin and beauty need is taken care of. The containers are made from FDA-approved recycled plastics that are rigorously tested to withstand pressure, prevent leaks, and drastically minimize the waste that single-use plastic travel bottles produce. 


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