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Looking for Green Makeup

I’ve never been a girly girl, but I decided I couldn’t hit 30 without even knowing how to wear makeup. So this week I made an appointment for a consultation at Sephora. I chose Sephora not just because they’re across the street from where I work; they also have a “natural” label for some makeup lines.

Now, natural can mean a lot of different things—or nothing. In this case, Sephora defines it as “formulated to exclude a minimum of six of these eight ingredients”:

  • GMOs (genetically modified organisms) – I really have nothing against GMOs. Humans have practiced animal husbandry for hundreds of years, and I think this is just another step further.
  • Parabens – These are endocrine disruptors, linked to breast cancer and reproductive problems.
  • Petrochemicals – Used in lip gloss and such. I try to decrease oil in the rest of my life; why not cosmetics, too?
  • Phthalates – These are also endocrine disruptors, like the BPA behind the whole plastic scare last year.
  • Sulfates – Mostly used in shampoos. Can potentially irritate skin.
  • Synthetic fragrances – Potentially can cause allergic reactions. But if you (like me) don’t usually have allergies to scents, I don’t see much of a problem with them.
  • Synthetic dyes –  Potentially made of toxic chemicals, like dioxins, and heavy metals. I’ve never really considered this before, and I’ll have to think about it more.
  • Triclosan – An antibacterial chemical usually found in soaps. Helps create antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Potentially leads to liver and thyroid problems.

Brenda post-makeup doesn't actually look all that different than Brenda pre-makeup.

I’ve started with the bareMinerals line, which includes a foundation, bronzer, mineral veil, and lip gloss. The good thing about powders like these is that they aren’t absorbed into the skin as much as liquid makeup, and the worst thing they contain is the sunscreen zinc oxide. The sun is probably worse for me than that. However, I also got Fresh chapstick (excuse me, lip treatment), which includes oxybenzone, and Blinc mascara, which does contain parabens. I feel bad about that, but since it’s my first time trying mascara, I want something won’t irritate my contacts. Maybe I’ll graduate to something better for me later on.

The most important thing (for me) is that none of these products have been tested on animals. Animal welfare was what started my environmental path years ago, and it’s still one of my top priorities.

By the way, many people recommend the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic safety database, but I’ve never found their product search very useful. It’s fine for looking up more information on particular chemicals, but in their ratings they give as much weight to perfumes that might cause an allergic reaction as to chemicals that might cause cancer. That brings down ratings and terrifies people about perfectly harmless products.

I know there’s probably makeup out there that’s more “natural” than what I’ve chosen, but I really needed the tutorial. And it was actually helpful! Afterward, putting on makeup in the morning was relatively easy, if a little more time-consuming than my normal morning ritual. I’m sure I’ll reduce it even further after I’ve played around for a few weeks, but for now I feel a little bit like I’m in middle school again.

So what do you think of my choices so far? What do you wear?


Comment from Lindsay
Time February 25, 2010 at 9:46 am

I love Tarte cheek stain – doesn’t contain any parabens, phalates, or petrochemicals and looks totally natural. It’s expensive but it will last forever. It’s worth checking out.

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time February 25, 2010 at 9:54 am

Thanks, Lindsay. I recognize the brand, because the lady at Sephora suggested some Tarte plumping lip gloss to me. (It felt too sticky for me, though; I’ll probably stick with tinted chapstick.) I’ll have to check out some of the other Tarte products.

Comment from condo blues
Time February 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm

To answer your question you left on my blog, yes bareMinerals has a mascara. I haven’t tried it so I can’t tell you what’s in it but they do have the ingredients listed on their website if you’re interested.

Comment from Lindsay
Time February 25, 2010 at 4:50 pm

psst…I also sometimes use the cheek stain on my lips too – no stickiness and it looks like I just sucked on a red popsicle. 🙂

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time February 25, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Thank you! I need all the makeup tips you have. Don’t assume I know anything (because I don’t).

Comment from Isabel
Time February 27, 2010 at 11:46 am

I visit US once a year, and I always make a mandatory stop at the local Sephora to stock up on some make up since there are not so many ‘natural’ options in my country. I became a BareMinerals user two year ago and I love it. I was also clueless about applying make up and the tutorials made it easier for me. Last November, I purchased the Bareminerals smoky eye kit in purple. Complete success! I’ve always been afraid of doing my own eye make up, and the kit and brushes made it sooo easy. I’m ready to see what else I could try this year.

Also, for the lips I use several of the Burt Bees tinted lip balms. I love that stuff.

Pingback from Friday Green Links – 3/5 « Pragmatic Environmentalism
Time March 5, 2010 at 9:35 pm

[…] my green makeup post was featured in the Carnival of the Green at the Ethical Superstore. As always, if you see […]

Comment from Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green
Time March 7, 2010 at 2:40 pm

A cheaper, better, more natural option than bareminerals is Everyday Minerals. I LOVE it and most that have used bareminerals like it better.

Honeybee Garden’s has a wonderful mascara that is safe.

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time March 7, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Thanks for the suggestions, Lisa. I’ll definitely have to try the mascara.

It seems like the only difference between bare Minerals and Everyday Minerals, in terms of being more or less “natural,” is the bismuth oxychloride in bare Minerals. And that seems perfectly fine, as long as it doesn’t irritate my skin, which it doesn’t. In fact, I think my skin looks better than it did before I started wearing makeup (which is a huge surprise for me).

But the argument that convinces me: if they work equally well and one’s cheaper, why not use it? I’ll try out Everyday Minerals when I need to replace my makeup. Thanks!

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