Finding high-quality natural and organic beauty products on the cheap may have been an impossible feat a few years ago, but ‘green’ lines that rival department store regulars are now popping up in more places than ever before — and with smaller price tags. All in all, the prices on green beauty products have gone way down while the quality has gone way up, which makes this April the perfect time to find your inner green girl and try out a few new natural products for your beauty arsenal.
When it comes to selecting natural cosmetics, first decide which products you’re not ready to part with and which products you’re ready to swap out for a greener version. Aim for something in between a full-scale chemical assault and rubbing raw blueberries on your face. You want a product with a mix of ingredients you understand (like food and plants) married with safe, trusted technology to deliver results.
If you have concerns (or are just curious) about the green-ness of any cosmetics you’re using, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database, called Skin Deep, a comprehensive guide that breaks down the ingredients found in thousands of beauty and personal care items into layman’s terms. (So you know exactly what those 12-letter words on the labels really mean.)
In the meantime, I’ve done some digging so you don’t have to. Check out a few of my favorite Earth-Day-certified, natural beauties that are guaranteed to give you the great results you want without the nasty chemical ingredients you don’t.
It’s always a good idea to prep your skin with a primer so you can get the most mileage from your foundation. Minerologie’s Face Primer ($25) uses silica (a very fine sand) to absorb oil and boron nitride (a mineral) to perfect the look of skin and minimize pores. It also serves as a ‘base coat’ of sorts, giving your foundation (which doesn’t have to be a mineral one) something to cling to, allowing it to last a lot longer.
A little-known makeup artists’ trick is to use 100% pure certified organic Jojoba Oil ($15) in order to set makeup on skin that’s become dry or dehydrated. Clean a small, empty spray bottle and then fill it with the Jojoba oil. Lightly spritz the oil onto your skin once your makeup is applied. A spritz of Jojoba oil is also a good way to refresh your makeup during the day (when your face feels tight and uncomfortable) because of its unique ability to moisturize skin without leaving an oily finish.
If you haven’t yet tried the phenomenon known as mineral makeup, now is the time. Sure, there are expensive lines out there, but Everyday Minerals isn’t one of them. In fact, they let you try their mineral base for free with a sampling program that should be standard in online makeup sales. For a $5 shipping fee, you get to try out 4 different foundation samples in your shade range by ordering their Try Me sample kit, and when you fall in love, the full-sized foundations are just $9.50 a pop. Mineral makeup is known to be great for your skin because it’s made from minerals (duh), but some of those minerals are also natural sunscreens: mica, titanium dioxide, zinc. SPF protection built right into a formula that’s suitable for even the most sensitive skin is definitely a win-win.
Perhaps the easiest thing to switch over to a green formula is lip balm, sold in most drugstores and generally cheap, but lip balm is also something that ultimately goes in your mouth, so having one that isn’t riddled with chemicals is a good idea. I really like Noah’s Naturals Peppermint Lip Balm ($3) because it soothes your lips with a texture that glides on, and its ingredient lineup reads like a grocery list.
Few things pep up the skin better than a good bronzer, and they also keep you looking sun-kissed without actually needing to expose yourself to the sun’s harmful rays. If you’ve never used a liquid bronzer, now is a good time to give one a try. They’re easy to use and adjust because, if you’re using the bronzer on your arms or legs, you can ‘water down the color’ by using a bit of moisturizer or body lotion. Physician’s Formula Organic Wear Liquid Bronzer ($11) is free of synthetic ingredients and is 84% certified organic. It’s also packed with skin-loving moisturizers like sunflower seed oil and shea butter, so your skin will be bronzy, nourished, and well-hydrated.
As a professional makeup artist, I’ve tried plenty of natural mascaras and I really like Tarte’s Lash Hugger Natural Mascara ($18), which gives you long, full lashes just like a commercial one but without the parabens, petro-chemicals, synthetic dyes, and sulfates. Even the tube itself is green because it’s made from recycled aluminum. If you’re a lash perfectionist, Tarte’s Bottoms Up Lower Lash Mascara ($16) is also free from synthetics but both the brush and the formula are specially designed for the lower lashes, so it’s applied using a smaller wand for targeted application with a smudge-proof, water-resistant, and flake-free formula.
Going green can seem overwhelming, but it isn’t about being perfect — it’s about taking baby steps towards being better. As you run out of the makeup you already use, slowly start replacing it with more natural versions. You’ll feel more comfortable (and probably save more money) by dipping your toes into the cool waters of natural beauty product by product instead of diving right in.
If you do decide to go green in one fell swoop, however; be sure to check out my tips for hosting a makeup swap and recycling your old beauty products.
Photo: Everyday Minerals
Copyright 2010, Carissa Passerella and Shoestring Magazine. Photo: iStock