The personal care industry is still fairly unregulated, and makeup is one of those things many of us ladies use daily without always thinking of the adverse effect it could have on our health.
My team and I decided to do some research and put several natural makeup lines to the test to see if there was a way to upgrade our makeup so we can feel beautiful without sacrificing our health and safety.
For a long time, I had a stigma about natural makeup brands. I felt that they didn't work as well as the conventional brands and I wouldn’t feel as good using them.
Truly it was the last thing to go holistic in my life and in the interest of full disclosure, I still use conventional mascara and eyeliner because I haven't yet found natural substitutes that work as well.
Nonetheless, my switches have been made. We all have to commit to a personal care product safety standard that goes beyond what is legally required in the United States.
Know your “never list” of ingredients not to put on your body because so many of these chemicals in makeup products are hormone disruptors and add an entire load of unnecessary chemicals linked to asthma, cancer, infertility, and more.
Excerpted from Beauty Counter, start comparing your current makeup to the list below so you can choose what to ditch and what to replace.
Benzalkonium chloride: a disinfectant used as a preservative and surfactant associated with severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation and allergies. Found in: sunscreens, moisturizers.
BHA and BHT: synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life. They are likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors and may cause liver damage. Found in: lipsticks, moisturizers, diaper creams, and other cosmetics.
Coal tar hair dyes and other coal tar ingredients: a byproduct of coal processing that is a known carcinogen. It is used as a colorant and an anti-dandruff agent. Found in: hair dye, shampoo.
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA): a chelating (binding) agent added to cosmetics to improve stability. May be toxic to organs. Found in: hair color, moisturizers.
Ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA): surfactants and pH adjuster linked to allergies, skin toxicity, hormone disruption, and inhibited fetal brain development. Found in: hair dyes, mascara, foundation, fragrances, sunscreens, dry cleaning solvents, paint, pharmaceuticals.
Formaldehyde: used as a preservative in cosmetics. A known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity. Present where quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), and several other preservatives are listed. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath.
Hydroquinone: a skin-lightening chemical that inhibits the production of melanin and is linked to cancer, organ toxicity, and skin irritation. Found in: skin-lightening creams.
Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone: chemical preservatives that are among the most common irritants, sensitizers, and causes of contact skin allergies. Found in: shampoo, conditioner, body wash.
Oxybenzone: sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber linked to irritation, sensitization and allergies, and possible hormone disruption. Found in: sunscreen, moisturizer.
Parabens (methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl- and others): a class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine (or hormone) disruptors, which may alter important hormone mechanisms in our bodies. Found in: shampoo, face cleanser, body wash, body lotion, and foundation.
Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP and others): a class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. Phthalates disrupt the endocrine system and may cause congenital disabilities. Found in: synthetic fragrance, nail polish, hairspray, and plastic materials.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG compounds): PEGs are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. Depending on manufacturing processes, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which are both carcinogens. Found in: creams, sunscreen, and shampoo.
Retinyl palmitate and Retinol (Vitamin A): a nutrient that may damage DNA and speed the growth of skin tumors when used topically. Found in: moisturizer, anti-aging skincare.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS and SLES): SLS and SLES are surfactants that can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies. SLES are often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a byproduct of a petrochemical process called ethoxylation, which is used to process other chemicals to make them less harsh. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath.
Synthetic flavor or fragrance: an engineered scent or flavoring agent that may contain any combination of 3,000-plus stock chemical ingredients, including hormone disruptors and allergens. Fragrance formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets and therefore can remain undisclosed. Found in: all types of cosmetics.
Toluene: a volatile petrochemical solvent that is toxic to the immune system and can cause congenital disabilities. Found in: nail polish.
Triclosan and Triclocarban: antimicrobial pesticides toxic to the aquatic environment; may also impact human reproductive systems. Found in: liquid soap, soap bars, toothpaste.
Sources: National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, CosIng, Health Canada, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database
This list is just a start – there are more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that really shouldn't be used for products that go on the skin.
More than 1,400 of these chemicals are banned or restricted by the European Union, so you want to err on the side of caution and employ the philosophy “guilty until proven innocent” on things you put on your skin.
Don’t be a guinea pig with your health. You’re too precious for that. 🙂
After much research and testing by my team and I, here are the three lines that made our cut and our favorites from each product line.
Beauty Counter has a noble mission to get safer products into everyone’s hands. They clearly state on their site that the US has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of the ingredients used in personal care products since 1938. With decades of studies since then pointing to serious health implications from exposure to toxic chemicals in these products, we really must take matters into our own hands and upgrade our products as a top priority.
Our favorites from this line include:
Tinted Foundation: Sand and Honey
I made the switch from my old tinted moisturizer and really haven't missed it. It spreads great, is light and stays put. Also, it's $7 cheaper per tube than what I was using.
I use this first and then a conventional volumizing brand after that to get the look I want. If you have a natural mascara that you love, please tell us about it in the comments!
We love that this vegan line is designed in Australia and made in Italy according to strict organic standards. Their motto is that beauty stems from health, so we are on the same page there.
Primer with Hyaluronic Acid
If you use mineral makeup, using a primer avoids the cakey look and makes it lasts longer. I don’t use mineral makeup myself, but it looked great on our girls who tested it out.
This is another tinted moisturizer that we all liked. It keeps the moisture in your skin and feels nice and light.
Mineral Eye Shadow
All of them were wonderful!
I’m a lip gloss kind of girl, but my team voted their lipstick as excellent with a long lasting finish.
Available online or nationally at Ulta Beauty or Pharmaca
A California-based organic, plant-derived line that uses fruit stem cells, moisturizing cold pressed oils, and botanical waxes/powders rang in for our top 3.
Our favorites included:
They use phytopigments from plants instead of artificial dyes. Our make up artist used it live for a “last looks” blush.
Luminous Lip Crayon
A little lip liner and lip crayon and you’re good to go!
Flawless Serum Foundation
We loved how this was a combination of serum and foundation all in one. Makes life simpler (and cheaper)!
The bottom line is that we have choices and we should exercise them. The natural beauty industry has evolved to the point where there is no reason to sacrifice health for beauty. These lines work just as well as the high-end brands and are often a bit less expensive.
At the very least, I encourage you to upgrade your foundation (if you wear it) and your lipstick or lip gloss, because anything you are putting on your face is getting absorbed and you are eating whatever is in your lip products.
I will leave you with some beauty tips from my favorite hair and makeup artist, Angelina Dawson from xoangelina.com
Should we use a sponge or our fingers when applying foundation and concealer?
When applying foundation or concealers, I prefer using my fingers to lightly dab product into the skin. Sponges can absorb a lot of your liquid and cream products so you may find yourself going through your product quickly. Using your hands helps the product to go on smoothly, achieving concentrated coverage without being wasteful. I use a soft dabbing motion to blend the product into the skin instead of rubbing which can stretch the skin.
How can we warm up the natural eyeliners that don't spread easily?
Try warming the liner up by coloring your hand first or even using your blow dryer on the tip. The warmer the product, the easier it will glide on to apply.
How to determine if BB cream (tinted moisturizer) or foundation is right for you?
A BB cream is advertised to not only offer coverage, but also to serve as a moisturizer, primer, concealer, and sunscreen. BB cream has a lighter coverage, but it is buildable meaning you can partner it with other products if needed to achieve desired results. A regular foundation may offer more coverage but doesn't have all the perks of a BB cream. Test your product options out before committing. Wear a sample for a day and see how your skin feels. Consider BB cream as medium coverage and hydrating with a dewy finish and consider regular foundation as more coverage with a matte finish. You never know, you may like using both!
How to decide on cream or powder blush?
I always differentiate cream and powder products based on skin type, using a powder on oily skin and cream on dry skin. Another factor is the finish; a cream blush will appear dewy while a powder blush sits matte.
When is it best to use a primer?
ALWAYS! Face and eyelids should always be primed to ensure products go on smoothly and evenly, make shade stand out more, and stay on longer.
Now we’d like to hear your beauty secrets and favorites in the comments below!