So you’re curious about “Green Beauty?” Good news, I am going to lay it all out in simple terms for you so you can start making the switch today! If you’re new to this whole “green beauty” world and why you should even make the switch, be sure to check out #2 below but for more background, my friend Erin wrote a great post on products that are free of harmful chemicals.
In high school, I had terrible acne. I blame hormones, Oreos, and a beauty-routine filled with chemicals. Every time my skin broke out I would cover it up with more makeup. In college, I switched to Bare Minerals thinking I was doing something good for my skin. At the time, I probably was doing my best. Back then there were very few, if any, truly green makeup brands.
I’ve been out of school for over 10 years now and the non-toxic makeup world has come so far since then. Now, you can find amazing makeup products in every color under the sun – many of them even good for your skin.
Yes, green beauty products do tend to be pricier. Eventually, I am going to work on a post just focusing on green beauty products you can find at the drug-store or that are budget-friendly. However, I think the highest quality stuff will still tend to be more expensive though because of the ingredients they use. I’m OK with this though if it doesn’t mean I need extra skincare products to fix problems created by makeup.
RELATED: 8 ways to go green in your home today.
The process of switching over can also be daunting. That’s why I broke it down for you step-by-step on how to switch to a green makeup beauty routine. Ready?
(This post probably contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.)
EVERYTHING about Green Beauty Makeup
1.) Don’t throw everything out at once.
While it may be tempting to throw out all your “toxic” beauty products and start clean, I don’t recommend this. Not only will you feel like you have nothing to put on your face, but it will be costly to replace everything at once.
Instead, I like to give the same advice I do when people are trying to transition to a more green and healthy home. Use up what you have first and then replace each chemical-filled cleanser/beauty product with a cleaner & greener version when it is gone. It’s a lot less stressful of a process and gives you time to find great products without having to replace everything in your makeup bag in one day.
If I’m honest, I still haven’t transitioned everything out yet. I still have a few non-green (I might have just made up that term) lipsticks in my bag and a random mascara I picked up at Marshall’s one night when I was desperate. I am taking my own advice though and using these products up first before purchasing cleaner replacements.
2.) Do you Research on What’s Really In Your Makeup Bag
The next step is to research what is in your bag. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself and own products that are OK to continue using and even good for your skin. There are lots of sites and apps you can use. I’d recommend Think Dirty, the Environmental Working Group’s site, or Skincarisma.com.
Here are some facts about what’s lurking in our makeup products from “No More Dirty Looks”:
“Just open up your makeup case and check the bottle. The first ingredient is probably water, which immediately means there are going to be loads of synthetic ingredients in there. Next, you’ll probably find a cocktail of silicones, chemical sunscreens, fragrance, mineral oils, waxes, and those carcinogen releasing chemicals we keep talking about. The only quality that all those ingredients share is that none of them are good for your skin. It’s just pore-clogging, skin-dulling crap that makes you think you need it to look lovely. Nothing pretty about that.”
“If you have one you love and you apply it at the end of your makeup, on top of a base, it’s not the end of the world if it is not totally clean. But if you’re wearing it to hide pimples (which often means broken skin) beware. Broken skin makes for easier penetration and irritation, and this could just compound the problem. You’ve no doubt seen treatment conceals with tea tree oil (or benzoyl peroxide if it’s a conventional zit zapper). We think these are pricey gimmicks that will irritate your skin and drain your wallets.”
Loose and Compact Powders and Minerals
“As for nonmineral powders, most are talc-based. Talc, you now know, is verboten. Many also contain bismuth oxychloride, which can contain irritating parabens, aluminum compounds, silicones or PEG.”
People are rushing to buy mineral makeup, thinking it is good for their skin. But most are filled with parabens that can dry out your skin, or silicones to make it smooth or silky. Make sure it is a truly clean brand before purchasing.
Cornstarch is often used instead of talc and although it is nontoxic, can feed acne-causing bacteria. This is why you sometimes have to test out even the “green” products to make sure they work with YOUR skin type, not just someone else’s.
This one is tough for me because I love lipstick. I am still using up a few Mac ones in my makeup bag before I will switch completely to green brands. But even then, I am leery after reading tidbits from Think Dirty that say, “Back in 2007 when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested a batch of thirty-three lipsticks, more than 60 percent of them contained lead.” Yikes.
Added to that, many lipsticks contain BHA, “a controversial fat preservative that’s used in food and is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the EPA and NIEHS. In other words, it can cause cancer.
Even your lip balms aren’t necessarily safe. Ever notice the more you use them, the more you seem to need them? It’s because many contain alcohol which dries out your lips. Seems counterintuitive, right? Instead, stick with someone completely natural or better yet, make your own DIY chapstick.
Not only do many mascaras contain formaldehyde releases, mercury, SLS, coal tar, parabens, etc, but those chemicals are also close enough to get in our eyes. Not pretty. Thankfully, it seems there is a new green brand of mascara out each day. Some better than others but the testing part can be fun.
Don’t let this information leave you feeling overwhelmed. It is good to be armed with knowledge about what we’re really putting on our skin so we can make better choices in the future.
3.) Research “Cleaner” Products to Buy Instead
I’m going to give you guys a cheat sheet because I’ve already been doing my research on green products to use. Below are ones recommended by “No More Dirty Looks” and my own personal research. Hopefully, this is encouraging that there are lots of cleaner brands out there that are good for your skin.
- Lavera tinted moisturizer and Lavera makeup fluid
- Nvey Eco Organic liquid foundation
- Jane Iredale Dream Tint Moisturizer
- W3LL People Narcissist Mineral Cream Foundation
- RMS Beauty “un” coverup
P.S. RMS beauty offers a “signature palette” which allows you to sample a bunch of their products in one handy case. It is on the pricier side but lasts a long time and is GOOD for your skin so to me it is worth it.
What do I use?
It’s not on the list, perhaps because it is fairly new, but I use Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass color correcting cream as my foundation. That’s because I use it as a very light foundation that actually helps clear my skin. It’s never made me break out, covers all my blemishes, and even helps clear them.
According to Skincarisma, it does contain some ingredients like alcohol or surfactants that in a perfect world would be gone. But overall it gets really great remarks and has done wonders for my skin. Also, a little goes a long way.
I also use RMS beauty which seriously makes your skin GLOW.
Loose and Pressed Mineral Powders
- Laura Mercier Mineral Powder
- Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Foundation
- Jane Iredale Amazing Base and Pure Pressed Minerals
- Alima Pure
What do I use?
I typically use the pressed powder from a company called Youngevity or Bare Escentuals.
- Couleur Caramel Mascara
- Dr Hauschka Volume Mascara
- Tarte Lash Hugger
- Josie Maran Mascara
- Jane Iredale Purelash Mascara
What do I use?
The Honest Beauty Extreme Lash and Primer. It’s green, it’s clean, and it gets my lashes really long. I’ve also used Josie Maran’s and loved it.
- RMS Beauty Lip2cheek
- Couleur Caramel Lipstick
- Josie Maran Lipstick
- W3ll People Nudist Lipshine
- Anything from 100% PURE
What do I use?
If I’m being honest, I am still using up my lipsticks from Mac. I am a stay-at-home mom now so not going through them as fast as I usually do. When I use them up I will switch to 100% Pure and RMS Beauty.
- Vapour Organic Beauty Aura Blush
- Dr. Haushka Rouge
- Alima Blushes
- Juice Beauty
What do I use?
RMS Beauty or 100% Pure.
4.) Test out different products finding what works best for YOUR skin.
Just because a product is “green” doesn’t mean it will be best for your skin. For instance, I have very sensitive skin so I avoid most products that contain coconut. However, coconut oil is still a green ingredient and may not bother someone else’s skin. You’ll never know until you try. It’s the same with products that contain Shea Butter for other women.
Also, different brands have different feels and consistencies and while one person might love the feel of a certain foundation, you might not. Find out what works best for your skin type.
5.) Don’t forget about DIYs.
By now I’ve tried making my own DIY foundation, mascara, and blush. The mascara and blush were a disaster. The DIY lipstick is more like a tinted lip balm but works well. My DIY foundation, however, is great. Try it out!
I’m also reading about using fresh beets to make your own blush and I am going to give that a try soon. If you want to try it with it just cut a small piece of raw beet and use the cut side to apply directly to cheeks or lips. Not only is it natural, but super healthy filled with antioxidants, it also is very bright and works as a great stain. I can’t wait to try!
This week, I am also going to try making my own DIY eyeliner using activated charcoal capsules mixed with aloe vera juice. I will keep you posted on how that works.
Let me know if you’ve tried any DIY makeup that’s worked. I’d love to give it a go. And hopefully, I’ve helped make the transition a little easier to a green makeup beauty routine.
If you still want MORE information on the green beauty world I’ve written specific posts on the below topics so be sure to check those out as well!
Do you have any favorite brands? Let me know below!
RELATED: 3-Ingredient DIY Charcoal Face Wash
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Wow! I had no idea there wee so many green options. Thank you for sharing your expertise.
I was pleasantly surprised, too!
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
It is so important to know what we are putting ON our bodies, not just IN!
This is why I’m so picky and skeptical about the makeup that I wear. I needed this post, and now I can understand why I was subconsciously skeptical. I will be sharing this and screaming about it from the rooftops.
Amberlynn – you WERE right to be skeptical! Thankfully, there are a lot of clean brands, too.
Alexandra Moncada says
This post is so helpful! It is hard to decode the best beauty products that are not only good for our health, but also do their job.
Glad it helped!
Kiarna Jayne says
I love the idea of switching! I do not wear makeup often but this is not something I have ever thought of before!
If you rarely wear makeup it doesn’t matter as much, but still good to be cautious!
Emily @ Pizza & Pull-ups says
This is super helpful! Thanks for sharing.
I have been trying to switch to all natural beauty brands for a while. I find it quite easy with lipstick and mascara, but for the other stuff I’ll definitely check out your suggestions. The one area I find tricky is finding a natural moisturizer. I need a high SPF (at least 45), but I can’t find a natural product that has SPF. If you know of any please let me know! Thanks 🙂
Yolanda – let me look into that and get back to you!
Laura @ The Mindful Mom Blographer says
Great comprehensive list! I really appreciate you listing out the things to look out for and the steps to take, as well as the cosmetics you use as a starting point on what to look for! Definitely saving for later as I use up my products and need some inspiration for what to get next that is greener.
Awesome! glad it was helpful, Laura!
Brilliant article and thanks for the recommendations. I’m all for chemical free living and I too choose natural skincare over anything else. Check out my blog on natural and DIY skincare, http://www.coolthingsilove.com
Thanks, Clara. I will definitely check your blog out!
It’s hard to make the change but #1 is great advice. Thank you!
This is such a helpful post! I had no idea how big of an issue this was. Definitely pinning this to reference when my makeup runs out at the end of the month!
That will be perfect timing then!
Very interesting post, and theme to think about, thanks for sharing xo
I’ve just recently started switching my beauty products and my skin has been so much better! Love all of these tips.
This is wonderful advice! I didn’t know that there were so many options for green makeup products. I really had no idea so this post was super helpful. I liked your advice on DIY-type projects too!
Beth || http://www.TheStyleBouquet.com
Thanks! Yah, I like a mixture of great products + DIYs 🙂
This is such a helpful post! I like that you recommend switching over products slowly, which helps keep your budget in check!
Exactly! It can be pricey for sure.
OK… so now I am horrified of what is actually in my makeup. I’ve bookmarked this post and going to refer to it as I try to rid my small, but substantial stash of trash (basically) makeup! Glad you shared!
Tiffany | http://tiffanystaples.com
Yay! You can do it, Tiffany!
WOW! I had no idea how many toxic ingredients were in most makeup items! I don’t wear much myself but my teen daughter is wanting to start wearing it. Glad I came across this post!
Wonderful – you can help her pick out healthier versions now!
April Kitchens says
When I switched to cruelty free products back in college, I didn’t throw everything out. I used up my not so great items and replaced with cruelty free items.
That is the way to do it.
Ariana Soleil says
Thank you for all the green beauty product information. I feel more educated about buying now.
So intrigued by the DYI foundation. Off to read more!
I don’t wear makeup or know much about it, but it’s super helpful to know what my options would be if I decided to learn!
Actually you’re in the best position of all not to wear any!
That’s one amazing list and great post you made, it’s good to always have a knowledge of what’s you put on or the product you use. With information like this, one will be very comfortable with what he or she wants to use.
Cait Weingartner says
Wow, this is such a well researched post, full of valuable information. I’m definitely going to try several of these products!
Great info here Sarah,
Just in reference to the lead in lipsticks issue, some researchers claim that we shouldn’t worry too much because they think we’d need to ingest 1000s of lipsticks to develop lead poisoning. But at the same time, why take the risk when we don’t have to?
As you mention, the green beauty world has undergone serious innovation in the past 10-15 years. There are even more exciting innovations lined up for the future!
We actually discussed some of these future innovations (and the past history of lipstick ingredients) in a recent post. Plus, we reveal some ingredients to avoid for any of your readers looking to go natural or vegan:
Thanks again for all of this great info,