Ethical cosmetics brands are made with plant-based biodegradable ingredients, free from talc (an inorganic substance often used in shadows and powder) and with no animal ingredients (like insect-derived carmine, often found in red or pink lipsticks and blush). Ideally they are also sold in biodegradable packaging like bamboo or wood, or with reusable containers. Also see the post on badger-friendly make-up brushes.
Most natural brands use minerals that are harvested sustainably. And look for lipsticks that replace beeswax with alternative plant-based waxes (ensuring good worker welfare for harvesting carnauba wax). Some lipsticks have shea butter, avoid these for latex allergies.
All Earth Mineral Cosmetics (also sold at Natural Collection) is a collaboration between a make-up artist and natural skincare expert. Everything is sold in cardboard pots or sustainably-harvested beechwood pots (the liners are made from recycled fishing nets). Made in Cornwall and Kent, the items are sold with linen storage bags (the vegan brushes do contain plastic but if you purchase direct from their site you have the option to send them back to the maker in a returns envelope for recycling).
Love the Planet (Scotland) offers a line of mineral cosmetics (full sourcing information on their site). These cute little tins are sold with their own compostable pouches (including the zip lock strip that is made from starch). Orders are sent out in paper envelopes, with products decanted into a container already owned by customers, and wholesale orders are sent in biodegradable packaging.
Zero Waste Mascara
Zao also offers shadows in biodegradable bamboo pots. If you wear mascara or prefer ‘tube lipstick’, this company offers bamboo casings that you buy once, then order refills (in recyclable plastic).