My journey into the Green Beauty world was a random one. I was in search of local San Diego bloggers to connect with and through my search I came across The Organic Bunny blog. I must admit, the aesthetics of her blog were what kept me on her site long enough to inject a new thought into my mind… organic makeup and skincare.
Funny coincidence that right around that time, we were assigned an infographic project in my Adobe Illustrator class and one of my classmates happened to do hers on the harmful chemicals found in makeup.
It was divine intervention.
It wasn’t long after that that I went into research mode. I began searching for other Green Beauty bloggers and also began subscribing to some YouTube channels. When I initially thought of organic makeup, the image of clear/generic bottles with homemade labels came to mind. I was surprised to see how far the industry has come with respects to products, packaging and marketing. I’m having just as much fun sampling and discovering new products as I do shopping at Sephora and Ulta.
I chose to go down this rabbit hole in hopes that this can be another way to help my skin from the current set of acne breakouts I’ve been experiencing.
The Current State of Ingredients
A lot of mainstream makeup is created using harsh chemicals and synthetic ingredients that can disrupt an individual’s skin/body. It’s a much longer and more complex conversation to have as to why the FDA/USDA has not cracked down on makeup brands to change their ingredients, so I strongly suggest grabbing a copy of Siobhan O’connor and Alexandra Spunt’s book, No More Dirty Looks, to get a good overview.
The list of harmful ingredients is too long to list in a single blog post, but below are some examples of how some of these ingredients affect the body.
Earlier this year, a St. Louis jury found the Johnson & Johnson company liable for the ovarian cancer diagnosis and unfortunate death of Jackie Fox. The company was ordered to pay $72 million dollars to Fox’s family as a result. What was the cause of her cancer?
Talc is in several health and beauty products and while in the past it was marketed as being a safe ingredient, new studies are now proving that that is not the case. Johnson & Johnson currently has other cases against them from other women with ovarian cancer, so it’s raising concerns for many beauty/health companies.
You may have started to notice several beauty products labeled Paraben-Free. Once considered to be a safe preservative in many food, health and beauty products, Parabens have recently been proven to cause the growth of breast cancer cells. Traces of Parabens have been found in breast tumors that several companies have been quick to replace this ingredient from their formulas. WebMD has a good Q&A piece on the correlation between Parabens and Breast Cancer for more information on this topic.
Fragrances. Unfortunately, companies are under no legal obligation to disclose what “Fragrance” means when it’s listed in a ingredients list. The FDA/USDA has left this category open for any secret ingredients that give the company a competitive advantage, but this makes it all too easy for companies to hide some questionable ingredients. Mainstream makeup companies have caught on to the Green Beauty movement and they know many consumers are doing an exceptional job of reading labels and calling out anything that isn’t safe.
Phthalates are an ingredient that is considered to be an endocrine disruptor (a.k.a. hormone disruptor). They have been found to be one of the main ingredients hidden under the Fragrances category, so several green beauty bloggers will advise you to steer clear of any products that have this listed in the ingredients list. Fragrance-free is the way to go.
There’s truth as to why your coworkers begins to sneeze or get headaches when your hand lotion is strong. They’re experiencing an allergic reaction to the product and while their sneezing and headaches will go away as soon as you exit left, I would be more concerned with you and that the product is sitting on your skin. As previously mentioned, the Fragrance category is a catch-all for harmful ingredients that, aside from disrupting hormones, can also cause skin irritations, Eczema flare-ups, etc.
Quaternium-15 is a type of formaldehyde used in cosmetics, hair products and lotions which is known to cause Eczema flare-ups and Dermatitis. Preservatives like Phenoxyethanol are also culprits to skin irritations and can even affect the nervous system in children when exposed to it at an early age.
Bloggers and YouTubers
For me, the best place to go for information on new products is both blogs and YouTube videos. Since many of the Green Beauty products must be purchased online, it’s really important to get as much information about the products as possible, and these creators do an amazing job of providing detailed product reviews, swatches, and collaborations. They also do an amazing job of reading through the ingredients lists and calling out certain brands that have questionable ingredients.
The Organic Bunny – Amanda has done a phenomenal job of showing that living an organic lifestyle can still be glamorous. She’s even started a product subscription service called The Organic Bunny Box where, for a monthly fee, you can receive a box full of natural products (makeup, skincare, house goods) that she has selected herself. Every month is a different set of products and she helps to provide discount codes on almost all the products. I haven’t purchased a box myself, but it’s something I’m considering in the future.
Gurl Gone Green – Suzi is another great resource to go to for information on natural products. She’s a licensed esthetician and hair stylist, so she goes deep into hair products and safer color systems. She also has a podcast by the same name where she and her co-host, Dr. Matt Angove, go into things beyond products, such as the effects of stress, food, and mindsets on the body. They offer great advise that applies to everyone, both men and women.
Genuine Glow – If you’re interested in the luxury end of Green Beauty, Lilly’s blog is a great place to go. She’s also produced a few YouTube videos where she goes into product reviews and monthly favorites.
Teri Myahira – Teri is awesome. She goes into great detail about the ingredients, the packaging, the application and the final appearance of many products in different price ranges. Throughout her channel, you’ll find videos on makeup hauls, Get Ready With Me, empty products, monthly favorites, and many more. She’s recently begun her own subscription box with products that she’s created, so she’s definitely taking her brand to the next level.
Laura’s Natural Life – I love Laura’s personality and honesty. Her channel is not only focused on makeup but also skincare, home, and cleaning products. When it comes to the makeup, she does a really awesome job of going into detail about the ingredients and the effect of the product on your skin. Her videos range from Get Ready With Me to makeup hauls and monthly favorites.
Erika Summers – Erika’s skin complexion is really close to mine, so I follow her channel with a close eye. Similar to Laura, her channel is a mix of makeup, skincare and home products; more importantly to note, she focuses on vegan products.
Chemical Detox – Emma’s videos are short and concise. She’s got a good mix of videos: makeup hauls, Get Ready With Me, monthly favorites, and many more. Even though she’s in Australia, the majority of the products she reviews are available worldwide.
Where to Shop
While stores like Sephora and Ulta are beginning to stock up on organic/natural brands, there’s not a large selection. Your best bet is to shop online at sites that house several brands so you can save on shipping. Many of these online retailers offer specials, coupons and memberships so you can save some dollars.
Because many have a strict return policy, it’s best to sample the products before you make full purchases. Fortunately, almost all the retailers below offer samples at a low cost so you have the opportunity to test out the products in the comfort of your home.
Safe & Chic – With over 60 brands, Safe & Chic is a great place to stock up on products from 100% Pure, Lily Lolo, Ilia Beauty and many more. Regularly, they have discounts on featured brands for the week and offer free shipping with orders over $75. They don’t offer samples on every product, but they do offer a Foundation/Concealer sample pack that includes a total of 10 samples for foundation, concealer and primer products.
Citrine Natural Beauty Bar – Citrine started out as a flagship store in Phoenix, AZ (still open) and has now blossomed into a well-known online retailer of natural beauty products. They house brands like Jane Iredale, RMS Beauty, Vapour Organics and many more. They offer free shipping with purchases of $75 or more and have holiday/season sales. Unfortunately, they don’t offer samples, but they can help match foundations colors if you send them a quick email with a picture of your face. One thing I like about their site is that they have a section called “Get the Look” where their employees create makeup looks and provide you a list of the products used. It’s a great resource for inspiration.
The Detox Market – What started out as a pop-up shop in Venice, CA has now expanded into three locations (one in West Hollywood and two in Toronto, Canada) and an online store. Whenever I’m in the Los Angeles area, I can’t help but make my way to their store to test out the products in person. They offer brands like Alima Pure, Hurraw!, Ecobrow and many more. Their sample pack is available for $10, which is 5 samples of makeup and/or skincare products to your liking. Free shipping on orders of $80 or more.
Aurora Beauty – Aurora is an online retailer of natural products. I come to this site to stock up on my Gressa foundation, so I have yet to try some of the other makeup brands they carry. I love how every purchase of $50+ comes with free shipping and 2 samples of my choice. I once forgot to include the names of the 2 samples I wanted, so they followed up with an email and got me what I wanted! For $19, you can sample 5 products of your choice. Lately I’ve been using the sample pack to test out their skincare products.
What I’ve listed is only the tip of the iceberg of people who are dedicated to offering safe and organic products. It’s a growing industry that has stretched well beyond beauty and skincare products; there are products targeted for men, children and even your pets! If replacing your whole makeup bag seems a bit much, you can try swapping out one products and see how it goes. If you’re concerned with the price of these products, have no fear… there’s a brand for every price range. Happy Shopping!