New to natural and organic beauty? Want to change the products you use but not quite sure where to start? We don’t blame you. Sure, with skincare, it’s not hard to find some great natural alternatives – beautiful face serums, floral toners, shampoos and hair oils, for example. But when it comes to makeup, it can be trickier to navigate which products are most toxic and should be organic, and of course, it’s also tricky knowing how you can test organic makeup colors in the flesh.
There are some makeup products that most certainly should be organic or natural, whilst others aren’t too bad if they’re mainstream. There are also some brands that are far superior than others. Here, we give you our top tips for spring cleaning your cosmetics bag of the most harmful chemicals in makeup.
1. Know which ingredients to avoid
There are loads of chemicals in most makeup brands, with some being more harmful than others. For example, Carbon Black is a dark pigment used in eye makeup that has been linked to cancer, while mica, which is found in shimmery eye shadows, blushers, lipsticks and powders, is only harmful if it’s inhaled.
It’s hard to make a short list, but the most damaging ingredients to your health include: lead, parabens, mineral oil, CI+ a number (artificial colorings), DEA, Parfum, PEG, coal tar and more. Find out more about which ingredients to avoid here and here. In short, if there are loads of ingredients you can barely pronounce, toss it in the bin.
2. Know which products to ditch first
It’s hard to part with your favorite products, and let’s face it – we all get pretty comfortable in our beauty routines. But consider this: you literally eat about 7 pounds of lipstick over a lifetime – of course, not by gnawing on the product, but by having traces of it smeared onto our food. Ever eat an apple whilst wearing lippy? Look at the skin after your first bite and you’ll see what I mean!
Lipstick is usually full of not only all those CI+number artificial colorings that can cause cancer, but lead and even parfum too! So, it’s definitely one of the first organic products you should buy.
Secondly, anything that covers a large surface area, like foundation, BB cream, primer or tinted SPF cream, should be all natural, since the skin absorbs a lot of what is put onto it. These products often include parabens, which have been linked to cancer, as well as parfum and other nasties that can lead to all kinds of health issues.
Finally, know that ALL major brands – including the well-known ones like Tom Ford, YSL, Chanel, Lancôme, MAC, Smashbox and the likes – contain nasty chemicals. Ever wondered why you get a major headache when you spend too much time in the cosmetics section of a department store? That would be why. Sure, their colors and packaging are gorgeous, but is it worth risking your health to have a posh lippy in your bag? And besides, equally gorgeous alternatives are available. Just read on to see!
3. Learn about the biggest and best
After working in the realm of sustainable beauty for several years, one thing’s become clear: some natural makeup brands are better than others. The truth is, it’s not easy to make makeup from natural sources that mimic the shades we love. But some brands have done a great job, and are gaining fame for it, too.
4. Forget patriotism, for now
So, you’ve tossed out your nasty old foundation and lippy and…now what? Where can you buy something new? This isn’t only about stores, it’s about countries – the same brands may have different formulations depending on where they’re made. For example, many harsh chemical ingredients that are permitted in the USA are banned in Europe and Japan, so if you live in the United States, it’s best to order your makeup online from Europe – even if it’s the same brand you buy in the USA. In short: be aware that makeup regulations change from nation to nation, and shop in the healthiest place you can – because you’re worth it, right?
5. Test drive before you buy
Makeup purchases are highly personal, depending on which shades suit every individual. Unfortunately, natural beauty and makeup shops are still few and far between. There’s a load of great online retailers but the obvious issue there is you can’t test the shade of a lippie when it’s on a computer screen. But it is important to test, especially when you’re investing money and planning on wearing this stuff all over your face, every day.
Requesting samples is another great idea, and most natural brands or online retailers are still small enough to provide awesome customer care and send you a little smidgen of what you’re looking for. Why not select a few of each product before you decide to invest in a full-size product?
So, there you have it: the best way to attack your makeup bag. Focus on one product at a time, familiarize yourself with the brands that are available and always try before you buy. Once you’ve found the products that work for you, you’ll be delighted with the results. They honestly make such a difference to your skin and you can be safe in the knowledge that they’re doing both your looks and your health a whole lot of good.