I’ve spent 15 years working in the beauty industry but it’s only in the last 3 years that I have actively and consciously sought out clean beauty products to benefit my skin and reduce my impact on the environment. What do I mean by ‘clean’? I’ll admit it’s a bit of a fluffy, broad and unregulated term, so as with ‘natural’ it’s always worth digging deeper into the product’s credentials. Here I delve into these beauty empties’ clean status, from cruelty-free bodycare to certified organic skincare, reusable cleansing tools and natural health supplements.

The Body Shop Lemon Purifying Face Wash and Hand & Body Lotion

A pioneer in natural and ethical beauty, The Body Shop is and always has been cruelty-free, campaigning against animal testing way before the EU brought in a ban on animal testing for finished goods. Today any product bought in the EU (and the UK for now) is cruelty-free, meaning that neither the finished product nor its ingredients have been tested on animals. But in order to ensure that the company does not test on animals for other markets (China for example) the best reassurance is to look for a cruelty-free logo. The Body Shop is also B Corp certified, meaning the company balances purpose and profit, considering the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. As for these two skincare empties from the Lemon range, what I appreciated most about them was the beautifully fresh and zesty citrus scent – truly like squeezed lemons. The cleansing gel works well for oily and combination skin types, and the light but moisturising body lotion boasts a fantastic texture: creamy on application, it seems to transform into a light, water-based hydrating formula for an ultra-fresh non-sticky result. Great for the summer.

Odylique calming rose super tonic

All products from this Suffolk-based beauty brand are certified organic by The Soil Association which takes any second guessing out of the equation: if it’s Odylique, it’s organic – it’s also cruelty-free and vegan. I discovered this beautifully scented floral facial mist thanks to natural and organic skincare destination Blomma Beauty, and can’t quite believe how quickly I came to the end of this bottle. I did keep it on my desk to spritz throughout the day so I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise. So yes, at £15 for 50ml it’s on the expensive side, however the 100% natural formula is undiluted with water so you do get a pure unadulterated blend of rose flower water, rose otto essential oil and soothing calendula extract.

Burt’s Bees honey Lipbalm

I love the story of Burts’ Bees’ beginnings: photojournalist Burt left the busyness of Manhattan and became known as ‘bee man’ after reviving a stray beehive in Maine. Artist Roxanne from San Francisco met Burt whilst hitch hiking, they hit it off and started making candles and lipbalms from all the beeswax Burt had been storing away. They led a low-impact, and socially and environmentally conscious lifestyle way before it was fashionable, and once she’d sold her company shares, Roxanne set up a philanthropic foundation to protect Maine woodland. Today this iconic 100% natural clear lipbalm is contained in a 50% PCR plastic casement, with a label printed in vegetable-based ink and no shrink wrap. To top it off Burt’s Bees sponsor the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) Adopt a Beehive scheme, to help raise awareness of honey bees and supports research and education projects to help save the honeybee. Oh and it keeps lips crack-free and moisturised, all for £3.99.

The Konjac Sponge Eye cleansing pads

I made really good use of these reusable cleansing pads but now that they resemble a dried up prawn cracker found at the back of the sofa 6 months post-takeaway, I think it’s time to ditch them. Luckily they are completely natural as they’re made from plant fibre, and as well as being cruelty-free and vegan, they are also 100% biodegradable. These handy little pads have travelled many places with me, I’ve used them to remove all makeup with a little water and cream cleanser, or just with water to cleanse skin in the morning.

Kind2 the restoring one Conditioner bar

I’ve become a big fan of solid haircare thanks to its great sustainable credentials: plastic-free packaging, low waste, waterless, compact and economical, Kind2 products are also cruelty-free. I still find shampoo bars perform better than conditioner bars, but this is a solid – ha – performance.

Dr Bronner’s Hand Hygiene Spray

I can’t believe it’s taken an empty bottle for me to review this hand sanitizer. How have I not written about this product in the era of the sanitizing spray? This little blue bottle from Dr Bronner is so virtuous: with a certified organic and fair-trade formula protecting against germs, it’s also certified vegan, Leaping Bunny certified, and the brand is B Corp certified to boot. Great handbag size, refreshing peppermint scent and non-sticky on application, I can’t fault this efficient product. The lavender scented version is also worth a try.

Evolve Beauty Bio Retinol + C Booster

OK so I have a confession to make: I had a little accident with this product and managed to spill half of its contents all over my desk. Which is a shame as I’m partial to anything with brightening vitamin C in it. Or anything from Evolve Beauty for that matter. The brand is currently cruelty-free, vegan friendly, all products are more than 98% natural and produced in Evolve’s eco studio with 100% wind power and low energy lighting. Not only that but it continues to improve on its commitments, with an organic certification in the pipeline. This certified vegan booster provides skin with a concentration of glow-giving ingredients when you mix a couple of drops to your moisturiser. Super easy to use with zero irritation.

Elan Skincare Pure Goodness Body Butter

Like many natural indie brands, I discovered Elan Skincare thanks to a natural beauty destination called Seekology, and this thick, rich and unctuous body butter is a great example of why small brands can hide the biggest treasures. All natural, vegan and containing organic ingredients housed in a recyclable jar, this is more of a body balm than a butter – what a texture! With all these plant butters, waxes and oils, a little goes a long way and will tackle dry skin in the most nourishing way.

Swisse Me Hair skin and nail Gummies

Gummy supplements have gained in popularity these last few years and I can see why: it’s like chewing down on sweets, no hardship there. These vegan health supplements with natural ingredients contain glow-boosting vitamin C, hydrating hyaluronic acid and Biotin for healthy skin and nails, and I never failed to chew on my daily cherry-flavoured gummy.

Maybelline Brow Precise

Argh, the fly in the ointment: the only product in this lot of beauty empties that doesn’t live up to the clean beauty label. I find high performing clean makeup tricky to come by, much more so than clean skincare. And not to peddle excuses, but I bought this eyebrow pencil before I’d committed to natural and sustainable purchases, and I hate waste. So here it is in this beauty empties edit. Very easy to use with a thin lead for precise application, it only comes in 3 shades so a perfect match to your natural shade is unlikely. The middle shade ended up being a little too dark for me so I had to wipe off excess pigment with a tissue to avoid looking too harsh.

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