**This post is part of a 5-part series on healthy personal care products. Part 1 gives some background on the personal care product industry and healthy options for products used in the shower, Part 2 details healthy dental care, and Part 3 covers healthy skincare products.
A side note about wearing make-up: No amount of make-up, no matter how quality or healthy, can replace natural beauty that shines from the inside out. Taking care of your body, eating well, being kind to yourself and those around you–that’s a beauty that’s more noticeable and lasting than any amount of make-up can provide you.
That said, it’s also true that there’s an interplay between looking good and feeling good. If wearing eye make-up makes you feel more polished, or covering up an untimely pimple before a job interview gives you more confidence–go for it. Use the tools you have available to feel your best.
A side note about me writing this post: Personally, I don’t wear much make-up. I do wear a little eye make-up and I’ll conceal a pimple when it pops up. But be warned that this post is about the bare basics–if you want more, read a beauty blog. :)
Above and beyond the general importance of using healthy products, it’s particularly important to be careful what you put near your eyes. Eye make-up is going to find its way into your eyes eventually.
Most eyeliners are formulated with parabens, cheap chemical preservatives that keep bacteria from growing in your eye make-up (good!) but are linked to health issues including endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, and cancer. That’s not something you want in your eyes.
As mentioned above, don’t put chemicals near your eyes that you don’t want ending up in your eyes.
For a safer mascara option, try Mineral Fusion Lengthening Mascara. Its gentle formula is free of parabens, artificial colors, phthalates and talc and it’s one of the best-rated mascaras on EWG’s Skin Deep database.
This may not be completely necessary if you wear non-waterproof eye make-up (simple soap and water should wash that off), but regardless of your cleansing method, it’s important to take off your eye make-up at night. Eyes are incredibly sensitive, and leaving make-up on overnight can block tear ducts, leading to infections and excessive dryness. (Have you ever gone to bed with your make-up on and woken up with a bunch of black stuff pooled in the corner of your eye? That’s not good.)
In choosing an eye make-up remover, avoid products that contain formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (look for “diazolidinyl urea” or “imidazolidinyl urea”), which are linked to cancer and immunotoxicity. As with any personal care product, also avoid synthetic fragrance (also listed as parfum). Fragrance is considered proprietary information and companies are not required to disclose their ingredients–but you can be pretty confident they include phthalates and are linked to allergies, dermatitis, respiratory problems, and headaches.
Instead of cleaning your eyes with that, try a more natural option like Aveda Pure Comfort Eye Makeup Remover, which is gentle and safe for contact lens wearers.
Tinted moisturizer is an easy way to simultaneously even skin tone, moisturize, and apply sunscreen with one product. However, like other moisturizers, these products usually contain parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, and petroleum byproducts.
Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20 is free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates and is oil-free, so won’t clog your pores. It has mineral pigments that do seem to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It’s not the absolute healthiest moisturizer you can find, and it has sunscreen (there are some good arguments against wearing sunscreen everyday), but overall it’s a reasonably good option.
In order to cheaply achieve the texture and staying-power needed for an effective concealer, most products contain a long list of synthetic petroleum-based ingredients linked to a range of health concerns, including skin irritation. Given that concealer is usually applied to sensitive areas of the skin, it’s especially important to use a product that a) doesn’t irritate the skin more, and b) doesn’t cause internal harm when absorbed through the damaged skin.
Overall, Mineral Fusion is a great brand for healthy cosmetics. All of their products are free of parabens, SLS, phthalates, artificial colors and synthetic fragrances. And they work well and are affordable.
The Mineral Fusion Concealer Duo is useful for everything from blemishes to undereye circles. It’s free from harmful artificial ingredients, and full of healthy ingredients that improve skin condition. Not only can it conceal a pimple without irritating it, but it kind of makes it better!
Each shade comes in two tones for custom blending. The product can be a little dry on its own, but if you use a slightly damp applicator and apply it on top of well moisturized skin, it’s fine.
If you like powdered blush, try Bare Minerals Ready Blush. It’s formulated without parabens, phthalates, sulfates, synthetic fragrances and dyes, etc. and comes in a handy compact with a brush.
For a creamy version, Mineral Fusion 3-in-1 Color Stick works great as a blush. It’s also formulated without parabens, phthalates, talc, artificial colors, or fragrance (of course).
A 2009 study by the FDA found lead in all samples of lipsticks tested. It’s not purposefully added as an ingredient, but rather finds its way into lipstick via contaminated pigments. Regardless of how it gets there, lead is a known neurotoxin and has been linked to miscarriages and infertility. The FDA doesn’t think lipstick is applied in high enough concentrations to warrant concern, but it’s still probably not the best idea to regularly put this on your lips and ingest it.
If you do wear lipstick every now and then, Mineral Fusion Lipstick is vegan, gluten-free, and made without parabens, phthalates, or artificial colors and fragrances. It’s also formulated with antioxidants and vitamins to protect and hydrate lips.
If you don’t want a full-out lipstick, try Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer which is colorful but less intense.
Nail polish is one of the most toxic beauty products around. And if that scares you and inspires you to toss your nail polish stash, be careful–the EPA classifies nail polish as household hazardous waste, and asks that you dispose of it at a hazardous waste site (yup, find one in your community if you have a strong conscience).
Fortunately, more and more companies are producing “five-free” nail polish–formulations without the five most toxic nail polish ingredients (formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde resin, and camphor, if you’re interested).
Most nail polish removers are made of acetone, a harsh solvent that’s “needed” to remove the crazy ingredients in nail polish. But it’s also very drying to your nails/skin, and bad to inhale.
Fortunately, most five-free nail polishes are water-based, which means they can be easily removed with less-harsh nail polish removers. Karma Naturals soy nail polish remover isn’t harmful to your health and works really well. It also removes conventional nail polish.
If you’d still like to spray yourself with pretty smells, look for a perfume handcrafted with plant extracts, distilled flower essences, or essential oils. They can be a little more expensive than their synthetic counterparts, but you can rest easy knowing that you’re not dousing yourself in respiratory irritants and neurotoxins.
Aveda Chakra Balancing Body Mist is naturally derived from pure essential oils. Each of the seven scents is formulated to balance one of the seven root chakras (energy points) in Ayurvedic healing.
GiveScent is another healthy brand, formulated without alcohol, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates or sulfates. A portion of proceeds goes to support women’s organizations worldwide.
You’ve probably heard about the issue with aluminum in conventional antiperspirants, but if you haven’t you can learn more in this post–which also has a super easy recipe to make your own quality stick deodorant!
For a store-bought version, try Green Tidings All Natural Deodorant. It comes in Lavender or Unscented and contains anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, arrowroot powder, and magnesium oil. The fragrance comes purely from essential oil.