The Best Natural Makeup Brands and Products

Over the last couple of years, an increased interest in natural and organic skincare has inspired a total overhaul of the skin category. It’s rare to see a new product line come to market that’s not marketed as clean, and when one does eke through, consumers aren’t afraid to raise their concerns. Slower to change has been the makeup sector, which is certainly seeing growth in terms of natural formulations but not at the same rate as skincare. As a makeup lover, I can’t help but wonder why that is.

With so much chatter about all the potentially harmful ingredients out there, why are so many of us so slow to make the transition to natural makeup? Well as a Black person, I’ll just go ahead and say that the shade offerings in the early days of natural makeup were anything but inclusive. And that has not been the only hurdle. “The number one excuse I’ve heard for continuing to use makeup products that have harmful chemicals is that it’s impossible to get the high performance in clean cosmetics,” says Roen co-founder and CEO Tiffany Thurston. “This was probably truer in the past, but I believe this notion has been debunked.” 

According to Connie Au, cosmetic chemist and Vesca Beauty product development specialist, it’s time to wake up. “While most testing has been completed in studies on other species or cell cultures, some ingredients have been known, in some cases, to cause cancer as a result of impurities found in them,” she explains. “Other risks that have been indicated for certain ingredients include, but are not limited to, endocrine disruption that can manifest as disease, organ toxicity in the body, lead or heavy-metal poisoning, bioaccumulation in other species, and allergic and irritant reactions on the skin.” Uh…yikes.

The more I learn about the world of clean beauty, the more I’m inspired to up the number of healthier, more natural products in my routine. To help us all wade through the murky waters of ingredient labels, I asked Thurston and Au to lend their expertise about the most toxic ingredients found in makeup formulas. Ahead, get their intel on which makeup products are the dirtiest, and explore all the picks from the best natural makeup brands to replace them with.