More and more people are realizing that their hormone problems, their skin problems, etc. may be at least in part related to what they’re putting onto their face every single day.

“Clean” beauty is becoming a lot more mainstream, so you may already be aware of the fact that many conventional makeup brands commonly contain problematic chemicals that can potentially lead to or exacerbate health issues like endocrine disruption, increased skin sensitivity, diminished ovarian reserves, and even cancer.

The goods, though, is two-fold:

  • switching to safer makeup is one thing you can actually control when it comes to reducing toxic exposures
  • there are plenty of brands to choose from that offer safer, high-performing products.

And I’m here to help with recommendations for better brands. πŸ™‚

This guide contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase (though not all links are affiliate!). As always, we only make recommendations that are genuine. Featured Image Credit: RMS Beauty

Distinguishing Between “Natural,” “Organic,” and “Clean” Cosmetics

The terms “natural,” “organic,” “non-toxic,” and “clean” are frequently used interchangeably, but they actually have slight differences that you might want to be aware of:

  • Natural cosmetics contain only natural ingredients.
  • Organic cosmetics primarily consist of certified organic ingredients, although not all ingredients can be certified organic (ie: those sourced from the earth rather than grown and harvested).
    • Any products labeled as “100% organic” must be made up of only organically produced natural ingredients and processes (besides water and salt). But many makeup brands use a mix of natural and organic ingredients.
  • “Non-toxic” and “clean” cosmetics are broader terms. While they can include natural and organic brands, they may also contain safe synthetic ingredients.

In general though, “clean” makeup is free from these toxic ingredients. Most non-toxic cosmetic brands have a relatively long list of ingredients that are banned from their products, but the ones listed here are the main/worse ones.

There isn’t necessarily a “better” or “worse” option when it comes to choosing between “100% natural” makeup versus brands that use safe synthetics. It ultimately just depends on your priorities and preferences.

That’s why I’ve split up my makeup recommendations into two separate guides. The one you’re reading lists the “clean” brands that use safe synthetics, whereas this one lists the ones that are totally natural/organic. So you can choose!

My Picks for Non-Toxic Makeup Brands (that are affordable & perform well)

Alright, these are my favorite non-toxic makeup brands that prioritize safe ingredients AND high-performing results.

[Some of the brands below do use synthetic dyes as well as phenoxyethanol (a preservative). I personally don’t have a huge problem with these ingredients, but some people choose to avoid them (you can read more right here). So, I’ve notated which brands use them so you can decide for yourself.]

1. Ilia

best clean makeup brands Ilia

What makes it different: I think they have one of the largest collections of clean makeup. Plus, they’ve gained a large customer base, so there are a lot of reviews to back up the performance.

Although they also sell regular skincare, their makeup is meant to double as skincare too, actively working to benefit the skin with each wear. They use ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and plant-based squalane in many of their products for balanced, hydrated skin.

*Uses phenoxyethanol and some D&C colors

2. RMS Beauty

rms beauty clean makeup

What makes it different: Similar to Ilia, they also have a huge collection with a ton of reviews

Like the other brands listed here, RMS products are never tested on animals and are formulated to uphold their clean standards. There are over 2,700 ingredients that RMS prohibits from their makeup to preserve the safety of their products.

Plus, you can book a consult to get free makeup advice from their artists, which is fun!

*Uses some D&C colors

3. 100% Pure

best clean make up brands 100% Pure

What makes it different: They use a lot of plant-based ingredients.

Many of 100% Pure’s products are formulated from mineral, plant, and/or marine vegetation that has undergone only natural chemical changes (during a natural process such as distillation, cold pressing, or fermentation).

They have a lot to choose from—not just makeup but also skincare and haircare, too.

4. Honest

What makes it different: One of the most affordable & accessible non-toxic cosmetics brands (available at Target!)

Founded by Jessica Alba, Honest Beauty uses safe, sustainable, and cruelty-free ingredients. They have a No List with over 3,500 chemicals that they never include in their products. Honest Beauty’s non-toxic makeup is high-performing to deliver an affordable confidence boost.

Celia’s review: I love Honest Beauty’s Tinted Lip Balm in blood orange. It’s the perfect flush of color for every day- subtle, fun, and fresh. The formula is creamy and more hydrating than lipstick, so it’s especially great for dryer months. They have some other gorgeous colors that I can’t wait to try!

Abbie’s review: I’ve used a lot of Honest’s products over the years. I really like their mascara (which comes with a primer on the other end), as well as their lip colors and skincare. Plus, I really appreciate the fact that you can grab it in big box stores like Target. You can check out my in-depth Honest review here.

*Uses phenoxyethanol and some D&C colors, but sparingly. (For example, as far as I can tell, phenoxyethanol is only found in their Calm & Porefect Serum.)

5. W3LL People

well people clean makeup

What makes it different: Over 100 of their products are EWG Verified.

W3LL People is an excellent option if you’re searching for affordable clean makeup brands (they’re also sold at Target!).

Celia’s take: I use the Expressionist Volumizing Mascara in brown on days that I want a more understated look. It gives me long, clump-free lashes and doesn’t flake throughout the day! This was one of the first brown mascaras that I’ve tested, and I LOVE it.

*Uses some D&C colors

6. Axiology

best clean make up brands Axiology

What makes it different: Low-waste / plastic-free!

Calling my zero-wasters! Axiology has more sustainable packaging than most—it’s 100% plastic-free. 👏🏾

They sell crayon-inspired lipsticks and multi-purpose balms made with naturally derived ingredients that deliver a rich color payoff.

This earth-friendly beauty brand is vegan and their products are never tested on animals.

Abbie’s review: I’ve been using Axiology’s “balmies” for years now. And yea, I really do put them on my eyes, cheeks, and lips in one go! I usually use the balmies (paired with mascara) when I’m not doing a full-faced makeup look, but just want something light. The main downside I’ve noticed is that the makeup tends to crease on my eyelids, leaving little red/pink lines after a few hours of wear.

7. Jones Road

jones road clean makeup

What makes it different: It was founded by professional makeup artist, Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown founded this brand with the belief that the world needs better beauty products, not more. They ban over 2,700 chemicals from their products. None of their products are tested on animals and their collection is created to be multi-functional and high-performing.

*Uses phenoxyethanol and some D&C colors

8. Juice Beauty

What makes it different: They have a lot of anti-aging skincare products, so it’s a good option if you want to get your makeup and skincare from the same place.

Juice Beauty’s “farm-to-beauty” approach to makeup means safe, cruelty-free, and sustainable products. They have an unacceptable ingredient list that specifies the harmful chemicals that they never include in their formulas.

Their makeup collection may not be as large as some of the other brands listed here, but they’ve got the essentials!

9. Tower 28 Beauty

tower 28 clean makeup

What makes it different: Very Gen Z friendly 💖

Ones of the newest kids on the clean beauty block! Tower 28 Beauty is specifically made without the use of any sensitizing irritants to be suitable for sensitive skin. They’re actually the first (and apparently the only) brand to follow the National Eczema Association’s Ingredient Guidelines.

They emphasize using calming ingredients that agree with even the most easily irritated skin types. Their products are safe, effective, cruelty-free, and vegan.

*Uses phenoxyethanol and some D&C colors

Even more non-toxic makeup brands to try

Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Here are even more brands to check out:

Or… Check out these clean beauty marketplaces!

Now, I can’t necessarily say that everything in these online stores is totally Filtery-approved, but if you’re looking for more of a one-stop-shop for clean makeup, check out the stores below. They all have a set of standards that ensure everything they sell is free from the worst toxic chemicals like phthalates and more.

About Celia

Celia is a wellness copywriter with a background in marketing and business strategy. She helps non-toxic companies grow through SEO-optimized content and emotional language that speaks directly to the reader.

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