It's no secret that natural or "clean" beauty has blown up in recent years. Consumers care about non-toxic ingredients and are making a conscious effort to pay close attention to harmful chemicals commonly found in makeup products, like parabens, that could be wreaking havoc on their bodies. But let's get real: What does "natural beauty" even mean anymore? Increased demand for clean, cruelty-free, and vegan ingredients has, sadly, caused brands to use suspicious marketing tactics, slapping "natural" and "organic" labels on their products without legitimate certifications.
Plus, it's difficult to decipher if "natural" makeup brands are being completely transparent when it comes to refraining from harsh chemicals and animal testing. This is why organizations like PETA and Leaping Bunny are so important—both websites offer tools to search which brands are truly using organic, cruelty-free, and ethically sourced ingredients.
I have one more thing to address before we move on: There's a huge misconception that natural makeup products are incapable of delivering glamorous results. That might have been true, like, a decade ago, but today there are plenty of brands creating buildable, high-impact products that over-deliver in the shade department. Natural makeup brands are on the rise, and here are my all-time favorites.
This clean beauty brand has strict guidelines for the ingredients they allow in their gorgeous, Instagram-worthy products. Everything in the line is vegan-friendly and cruelty-free, and formulated without gluten, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances. Many of the products are multi-use. Their website states "Our minimalistic collection of color allows women to achieve a finished look with fewer products… encouraging a movement to declutter, minimize and simplify." Each compact feels heavy and luxurious in your palm, and is gorgeous to boot.
Kosas is the makeup brand for skincare lovers who want their cosmetics to complement their skincare regime. Whether you're looking to be extra hydrated, soothe irritated skin, or brighten dull skin, each makeup product contains ingredients that works with that goal, while also delivering enviable color payoff. Kosas has banned the use of over 2,700 different ingredients that they swear to never put into their formulas. The Leaping Bunny certified brand claims their line is "loose, quick, active clean beauty that works the way you want it to."
Bite Beauty's motto is that clean doesn't have to mean boring. Their lip products bring the boldness and intense color, without harmful or sensitizing ingredients. Superfoods replace harmful chemicals in their formulas, so you don't have to sacrifice anything for your beauty look. Licensed toxicologists review all the products that Bite puts out, and tests them for safety, allergens, and efficiency. When your makeup artist has a lab coat on, you know the dedication is real.
Tower 28 Beauty
Tower 28 doesn't want to limit who can use their products, which is why every single item is formulated with sensitive skin in mind. This dermatologist-tested brand is hypo-allergenic, non-comedogenic, and gluten-free. From their truly poppin' lip glosses to their glowing highlights, this brand uses ingredients that are safer for even the most sensitive consumer. Tower 28 Beauty follows the National Eczema Association's ingredient guideline, which is a rarity in the beauty world. So if your sensitive skin has been holding you back from getting into the beauty world, this brand is perfect for you.
Vapour Beauty is not only dedicated to providing makeup products that are stunning, but they care for the planet, too. On their website, they say, "Vapour is dedicated to giving back and supporting charitable causes that are close to our hearts. We believe everyone deserves safe cosmetics that delight the senses, support health, and reduce exposure to potentially toxic chemicals." They regularly work with incredible organizations, like Lipstick Angels, that provide beauty services to cancer patients. They also have a recycling program that encourages consumers to send back their empty products so the brand can safely recycle them. Not to mention, all the ingredients that the brand uses are organic and natural.
Not only does Beautycounter up the game when it comes to clean beauty, but they are transparent about their progress, even going to far as to put out an annual Social Mission report, which lists their accomplishments. While the brand is certainly dedicated to teaching their consumers about the benefits of clean beauty, they are also working to change laws and national guidelines for beauty ingredients. Beautycounter regularly supports nonprofits and is dedicated to constantly improve their formulas and environmental impact.
Annie Lawless, the brains behind Lawless Beauty, personally knows the benefit of clean beauty. As a child suffering from debilitating eczema and gluten allergies, she sought to create a clean makeup brand that wasn't exclusively for beauty minimalists. "I started Lawless Beauty with the mission to create highly pigmented, full coverage, and long-wearing clean makeup with a no tolerance policy for sheer, wimpy, no-makeup makeup formulas and any kind of potentially toxic ingredients," Lawless says on the brand's website. If minimal isn't your style, then Lawless has you covered–in an ethnical, clean way.
During her first pregnancy, Juice Beauty founder Karen Behnke saw how needed effective, clean beauty brands were. Every ingredient in the skincare and makeup line is certified organic and ethical, with farm-to-beauty sourcing. From their cult favorite CC cream to their lash-boosting mascara, Juice Beauty has you covered. The brand even owns a farm in Northern California where they harvest natural products to use in their beauty line. It doesn't get more natural than that!
Rituel De Fille
Los Angeles-based clean makeup brand Rituel De Fille knows what it takes to create a captivating glow. Seriously, their cult-favorite highlighters leave a supernatural-looking finish on the skin that'll make an onlooker do a double-take. Dreamed up by three sisters, this brand uses the magic of natural ingredients to make pigment-rich products that you can apply almost anywhere. "We approach our formulation like potion-making," the sisters write on their website. In other words, you can trust that each product is crafted with care, are completely natural, and made with minimal ingredients.
& Other Stories
You may know this stylish Swedish brand for their minimalist chic clothing, but you should get to know their beauty products, which are equally as elevated and clean. & Other Stories has two international ateliers, in Paris and in Stockholm, with color cosmetics that are paraben-free and cruelty-free with over 85-percent natural ingredients. "Each product in the range has a formulation with a bespoke blend of hand-picked active ingredients with certified origin from France," Catarina Åberg, senior cosmetics chemist at & Other Stories told Vogue Arabia in an interview. Many of the colors mimic the clothing, and there's also body products and makeup products a part of the collection. You're guaranteed to glow with their dazzling eyeshadows, creamy feel-good formulas, and shine-blinding lip products.
On a scale of one to 10 of freaking amazing products in the natural makeup space, RMS Beauty is a big 1-0. The company was dreamed up by esteemed makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift, who values health and wellness just as much as cosmetics. She's taken this ethical approach a step further, creating concealers, highlighters, and lipsticks formulated with raw, food-grade, and organic ingredients in their purest state. You can expect these good-for-you ingredients to make your skin glow from the inside-out.
Unsurprisingly, I was drawn to Alima Pure when I found out the brand was birthed in my beloved hometown of Portland, Oregon. There are many great things about Portland, but one of the city's most admirable characteristics is its dedication to eco-friendliness. Alima Pure is an authentic extension of Portland's DNA, which is grounded in sustainability. The brand boasts a "less is more" mentality, producing mineral-based makeup products with minimal ingredients free of toxins, irritants, or preservatives. Even better: They've managed to thoughtfully formulate a full and inclusive shade range of satin matte foundation, which happens to be their best-selling product.
Let's set this straight: If you turn down food-themed makeup, you and I can't be friends. But if this combination sounds enticing, you're welcome to keep reading. Indie brand Beauty Bakerie was founded in 2011 by Cashmere Nicole, and their dessert-themed makeup will make you feel happy inside. Most importantly, the pillars of the brand are rooted in good-for-you formulas. Nicole overcame a battle with breast cancer, which inspired her to go paraben-free, vegan, and cruelty-free with all of her products.
In 2019, make it a point to be intentional about what you're putting on your face. Ilia makes it easy to be more mindful with makeup choices. The luxurious packaging is made from recyclable aluminum and each product is carefully crafted with health-conscious ingredients. They're on a mission to make clean beauty the norm, and are aware that not all natural products are created equal. With shades that range from neutral to vibrant, trust that these will do right by your skin.
W3LL People believes in the idea of combining skincare and makeup to create something beautiful. If you're a no-makeup makeup lover, you'll appreciate how their products will enhance your natural beauty. Staying true to its natural roots, all products are handcrafted in small batches, which means when you receive each product you can trust that it's been made to ensure the safest, freshest experience.
One look at Kjaer Weis' shiny, chic packaging will convince you that natural makeup products can indeed look sophisticated and deliver equally-gorgeous results. As a long-time makeup artist, founder Kirsten Kjaer Weis experienced the struggle of not having high-performing organic products for clients with sensitive skin. This brand is a crowd favorite because it uses only top-tier organic ingredients that won't ever compromise the health of your skin. You get elegance and clean formulas without any parabens, silicones, petrochemical emulsifiers, or synthetic fragrances.
The Lip Bar
Natural makeup products should be accessible and inclusive. Period. Creator of The Lip Bar, Melissa Butler, recognized that need after growing incredibly frustrated with the beauty industry's lack of diversity. Her brand offers 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free ingredients in an array of shades suited for all skin tones. Oh, and did I mention everything is under $20?
P/Y/T Beauty takes natural makeup seriously–they’ve banned over 1,300 harsh chemicals from their products, source their materials sustainably, while still maintaining bold and inclusive shades. Whether you’re going for a simple look to hop on a zoom call or something a bit more exciting for the ‘gram, P/Y/T has you covered at an affordable price point. Best of all, their concealer is formulated with nourishing ingredients like shea butter and olive oil. According to P/Y/T, “the result is safe, better-for-you makeup that looks damn good!”
Clean beauty brand Saie is known for their surprisingly long-lasting and flake-free oil-based mascara, but that doesn’t mean their other products can’t share the spotlight. With their tinted, SPF enhanced moisturizer, dewy highlighters, and glassy lip balms, Saie let’s you beat your face without worrying about harmful additives or lackluster performance. The brand claims, “Our makeup should be free from toxic chemicals, but we also want it to work and look good. Saie is about getting the best of both worlds— we believe you really can have it all.”