Beauty brands are making strides to cut packaging. Try these refillable beauty products and do your bit in the fight against single-use plastic waste.

You may have switched to a bamboo toothbrush, or a reusable coffee cup in your bid to become a greener consumer this year, for which, well done. But chances are your make-up bag is still a strong-hold for single-use plastics. The good news? It doesn’t have to be that way.

A hundred and twenty billion units of retail packaging are created every year in the UK, much of which is not recyclable and the beauty industry is a prime culprit. Many brands are making strides to offer refillable, or plastic-free, packaging options but from a hygiene or scientific point of view, many formulas, such as serums and mascaras, cannot be made refillable due to the risk of bacteria growth or cross contamination.

The good news is that common household beauty products that we tend to use as a household in larger volumes – think hand wash, shampoo and body lotions – are now widely available in refillable packaging. Research from The LCA Centre states that by buying a refill instead of a new product you can help make a 70 per cent CO2 saving, a 65 per cent energy saving and 45 per cent water saving.

Of course, going for products that use plastic-free packaging in the first place, or opting for packaging-free products is a great first port of call. But to assuage damage, we round up seven of the best refillable products that we’ve found in the course of our research.


L’Occitane has paved the way on the high-street when it comes to refillable beauty, launching its eco-refill pouches back in 2008. The pouches use up to 90 per cent less plastic than regular bottles, saving more than 214 tonnes of plastic each year, and they are available across a full range of products in the bath, body, hair and skincare collections. Refill stations are being trialled this year too, enabling customers to bring in their own containers to fill in-store, allowing them to offer fully packaging-free products for the first time.

Editor’s Pick: ‘L’Occitane’s Almond Shower Oil is my desert island beauty product. It’s not a sickly sweet almond scent, but nutty and delicious. I love that it turns to a milk in the shower and is so nourishing I can skip moisturising afterwards, speeding up my morning routine.’

Trish McEvoy

Make-up artist Trish McEvoy launched her eponymous brand in 1975 with the perfect tools of the trade, creating bespoke brushes for her clients. The range soon evolved into make-up and skincare products in collaboration with her dermatologist husband. Trish’s Make-Up Planners are like a Filofax for beauty; after an on-counter consultation with a Trish trained make-up artist you can build a fully customisable cosmetics organiser. The refillable ‘make-up wardrobe pages’ are magnetised to hold your custom combination of eye and face colour pans, with adjacent brush sleeves, zip pocket and pouches for liquid products. The ‘portable make-up vanity’ ensures you have zero wastage, with only the colours and products you will use every day, all contained in a buildable wardrobe you can refill again and again. Clever, sustainable and beautiful executed – ideal for women on the go.
Available on counter at Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Liberty London.

Bleach London

While currently only available in its three salons across the capital, Bleach London has an in-salon scheme that means you can buy a smart, branded glass bottle and simply return to get refills of its shampoos and conditioners, which are designed for coloured hair, once they’re empty. The company has also removed the single-use plastic tools from its all-vegan at-home bleach kits, toners and dyes and launched a reusable coconut bowl as an alternative. A wider range will be launching nationwide by next year.

Lush Naked Make-up

The packaging-free make-up at Lush demonstrates what can be done with vision and passion to really make changes in the industry. The solid foundations, concealers and highlighter sticks are sheer genius; wrapped in wax for hygiene, they are brilliant blendable formulas, and packed with skin-nourishing ingredients, too. Lush’s aluminium and brass lipstick cases are fully refillable, with bullets available exclusively online.


TerraCycle’s upcoming Loop scheme has been dubbed ‘the milkman reimagined’. REN, alongside other brands including The Body Shop, Nivea and Pantene, will offer durable packaging, designed to be collected, cleaned and refilled as part of a regular, subscription-style service from your home. The scheme has already been rolled out successfully in France and the US – with products ranging from laundry detergents to food – and is set to arrive on our shores this spring.

Beauty Kitchen

Beauty Kitchen’s ‘Return. Refill. Repeat’ programme allows you to purchase from its range of skin, body and hair products and once you’ve used the last drop, either post the packaging back for reuse, or drop it into your nearest Holland & Barratt store. All packaging in the scheme is then cleaned and reused. It is also trialling a re-fill station in Boots Covent Garden, where you can purchase a ‘bottle for life’ and refill with your favourites from the range in-store.


Ayurvedic luxury beauty brand Rituals offers refills in many of its bestselling ranges, including clever inserts for its body creams that simply slip into the original glass and wood jars. There are refills for the home fragrances range too, as well as hand washes and skincare too. A great example of how luxury brands can make an impact, without compromising on quality.


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By Lydia Mansi
July 2020

Lydia Mansi

Lifestyle Editor

Lydia is an all-round lifestyle guru, tireless champion of women in business and our resident expert on beauty.