Five ethical beauty brands for millennials who shop with a conscience

Beauty without cruelty has long been a catchphrase in the cosmetics industry, although not all companies adhere to this. We search out some producers who go the extra mile to be fair-trade, vegan or organic

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 1:22pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 7:04pm

While the jury is still out on how millennials are going to run the world, there is no doubt about how their consumer behaviour is shaping the retail world. They are more concerned than their elders about the quality, ethics and provenance of everything from what they wear to what they eat to the skincare products they use.

This increase in awareness has raised the bar for many producers, not least beauty brands.

Don’t trust cosmetics companies? Go ahead and make your own in Hong Kong

Finding cosmetic companies with a conscience can be difficult. Sadly, under Chinese law, many beauty brands are required to test on animals if they want to enter the Chinese market, so cruelty-free producers face problems getting their products on the shelves, while others have to compromise their ethics in order to make money.

Here are some brands to be applauded for being vegan, cruelty-free or fair-trade and organic.

The total vegans

Kat Von D

An embodiment of edgy downtown LA, Kat Von D has a legion of loyal fans built up from her roles as tattoo artist and TV personality. Kat Von D is proving that vegan beauty brands can be cool, and she’s fully committed to her cause – at media events she asks attendees not to wear leather, and serves vegan canapés and drinks.

Available at


Founder Dana Elemara left her high-flying career in banking to produce argan oil, a plant oil made from the kernels of the argan tree that is endemic to Morocco. Arganic was born, a brand that produces argan oil for the skin (the oil can also be dipped in bread or drizzled on couscous). Elemara also believes in feeding the soul, turning her company into a fair trade supporter, helping Berber women at the argan oil farm in Sidi Yassine, a village in southwest Morocco.

Available at

Microbeads omitted from ingredient label in half of beauty products in major Hong Kong cosmetic retailers

Semi-vegan, organic and fair-trade

Comfort Zone: Sacred Nature

Respect for nature is at the forefront of this brand with products that use 99 per cent certified organic, eco-farmed ingredients and packaging made with recycled paper. The brand is also a strong supporter of reforestation projects in Costa Rica. The products’ quality shows – orbiting around the main ingredient shea butter, the face and body lines are nourishing, smell divine, and are safe for extra-sensitive skin types.

Available at Paul Gerrard Hair & Skincare

Urban Decay

Certified cruelty-free, Urban Decay takes a strong stance against animal testing, vowing to nurture an ongoing initiative with its laboratories to create product lines that are vegan. The colours are fabulous, and the consistency in texture much loved by the beauty industry.

Available at Lane Crawford.

Dr Hauschka

Dr. Hauschka’s products are made with natural raw materials that are usually sourced from its biodynamic medicinal plant garden in Germany. The eponymous doctor adamantly rejected the use of alcohol as a preservative – in fact, the brand is certified by Natrue, an international quality seal of its own, to be natural and organic with no mineral oils, parabens, chemical or synthetic fragrances, dyes and preservatives.

While certified cruelty-free by Peta, there are several products under its brand that contain beeswax, lanolin, honey, propolis, lactose and royal jelly. A list of its vegan products can be found on its website. Available at and The Forest, 17 Nelson St, Mong Kok.