Fundamentally, makeup is all about enhancing your natural beauty. (Unless you’re on the #nomakeup train a la Alicia Keys, in which case never mind.) So it’s a buzzkill to learn when dabbing on a foundation or touching up with some blush, that you could be primping yourself with chemicals that could be interfering with your health.
“The cosmetics industry in the United States is not well regulated,” explains Rebecca Casciano, a natural beauty expert and makeup artist, who’s done the faces of Mary J. Blige to Hannah Bronfman. “So there are a ton of harmful ingredients in most commercial cosmetics.”
“When we choose more natural products, not only do we avoid a lot of toxic ingredients, we support companies who care about the well-being of women and the planet.”
And she’s not just talking pore-cloggers, though they’re for real, too.
So which are the most important makeup items to swap in favor of clean alternatives—and which equally glam products should you use instead?
Casciano explains why these are the three essential swaps to make in your cosmetics routine when you’re going natural.
Why: Most foundations contain pore-clogging ingredients and lead to breakouts—and they cover your entire face!
As someone who’d struggled with acne, Casciano found that switching to a natural, plant-based foundation made the biggest positive impact on her skin.
“Many commercial foundations contain ingredients like dimethicone, which can trap bacteria and sebum, causing more breakouts and blackheads,” she says. “Since foundation is the makeup item used on the largest area of skin and often worn from morning until night, a healthier alternative is essential for healthier skin first and foremost.”
“I love the W3ll People Narcissist Foundation Stick ($29) because it feels so light on the skin and it’s convenient to apply on-the-go,” says Casciano.
“Vapour Organic Beauty Soft Focus Foundation ($50) feels like luxurious skin-care and makes skin look glowy,” she says. Plus it uses a nourishing herbal infusion that calms skin as it provides a satin finish—and comes in twelve different shades.
Why: Many contain carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting chemicals.
Casciano recommends switching to a natural blush next, for many of the same reasons as using a non-toxic foundation: large surface area plus breakout causing ingredients. “Blush often contains dimethicone, as well as parabens and BHT, two synthetic preservatives which are believed to have carcinogenic and hormone disrupting effects,” she says.
“I am drawn to Antonym Baked Blush ($36) because of its gorgeous bamboo packaging and certified organic and mineral ingredients,” says Casciano.
“I also love Kjaer Weis Cream Blush ($32) because it creates a perfectly natural, sheer wash of color,” she adds. And, like a skin-care product, it contains natural oils like jojoba and almond to keep your cheeks super soft and glowy.
3. Lip color
Why: Many lipsticks still contain lead and a petrochemical base of ingredients.
“You’ve probably heard the estimate that over a lifetime, a woman may eat over four pounds of lipstick,” says Casciano. (Yikes.) And that’s a problem considering “many conventional lipstick formulas still contain traces of lead, and most incorporate fragrance and lots of synthetic pigments in petrochemical base of mineral oil and/or microcrystalline wax. So not only are these ingredients potentially harmful to our health according to EWG, they use unsustainable resources.”
“Ilia Beauty’s lipsticks ($26) are a favorite because they offer such a wide range of on-trend colors,” says Casciano.
“Nu Evolution Lipstick ($30) is fabulous for the rich pigments and nourishing formula that doesn’t dry out your lips,” she adds.
Don’t miss out on the buzziest beauty products: These are the natural alternatives to the Kylie Lip Kits and other coveted cosmetics. And here’s why you might want to consider swapping your face wash for raw, organic honey.