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Spoiler alert: When talking about natural makeup (or any kind of natural beauty product, for that matter) there is no real, enforceable definition of the word “natural.” At the end of the day, pretty much any company can slap the word on their packaging or put it in the name of their product. So that means that if you’re a beauty shopper searching for actually natural or cleaner products, you’re going to have to do a little digging to determine exactly what is—and isn’t—in any particular product, AKA actually reading the ingredient list and determining on your own what kinds of ingredients you want to avoid.
And while the term “natural” may not be enforceable by any kind of external agency or a third party, there are plenty of other certifications and designations that are and can make you feel more confident in knowing what you’re getting. But beyond all of that, the overarching good news is that while using natural makeup once meant you might have to sacrifice things such as coverage or color section, or heck, even pretty packaging, that’s definitely not the case anymore.
Ahead, the top natural makeup products worth adding to your cosmetics case.
Best Overall: W3LL People Narcissist Foundation Stick
This standout stick was recently reformulated, making it even better than before (though we’re not quite sure how that's possible). Extra creamy, it glides seamlessly across skin, melting into your complexion to deliver complete coverage, yet with enough of a glowy finish that it looks natural, never cakey. The short and sweet ingredient list touts organic oils, extracts, and waxes. And not only is the stick ideal for mess-proof application on-the-go, but it can also be easily used for a full face of foundation, or just to spot conceal certain areas. An added bonus: It’s produced using sustainable energy.
Best Budget: Physicians Formula 100% Natural Origin Organic Mascara
Generally speaking, it can be challenging to find natural makeup options that don’t come with a high price tag. Not only is this drugstore buy a steal, but it’s also a clean, natural mascara that actually works, a rarity in and of itself.
All of the ingredients are of natural origin, 70% of which are derived from organic farming. A kale, carrot and quinoa blend adds volume and boosts hydration to keep your lashes strong and supple, and the sweat-proof, water-resistant formula is also made to last up to 24 hours. The (recyclable) brush is specially made to grip every lash, making them look both longer and fuller.
We rounded up the best cruelty-free mascaras on the market today.
Best Organic: Juice Beauty USDA Organic Lip Moisturizer
If you’re going to buy just one organic beauty product, it’s worth considering making it a lip product; after all, you’re probably inadvertently ingesting some of it. Certified USDA Organic (and cruelty-free, too), this Juice Beauty balm hydrates with castor seed oil, beeswax, shea butter, and cocoa seed butter, all of which are (you guessed it) organic. The addition of organic vanilla and orange oils add a yummy scent and flavor, and hey, since it’s organic, go ahead and lick your lips to your heart’s content.
Best Kit: Beautycounter Flawless in Five
Known for their lengthy “The Never List”—which consists of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that are never used in any of their products—Beautycounter marries completely clean ingredients with high-performing, luxurious formulas. If you’re looking to completely “clean out” your makeup bag, opt for this set of six essential products. You get a hydrating foundation, concealer pen, mascara, powder blush, and lip gloss for a great price. You can pick your shade of each, and can even choose between a lengthening and volumizing mascara. It’s a great one-stop-shop for all your daily makeup necessities.
Best Mineral: Jane Iredale Circle Delete Concealer
If you’re looking to go natural, opting for mineral options is a good move. Since they don’t contain water, like many other formulas, they require fewer preservatives and chemicals. Mineral makeup has also come a long way in recent years, with textures that are softer and silkier than ever. Case in point? This dual-shade concealer.
Layer the two hues (one helps counteract under-eye discoloration, the other covers it up) to erase any signs of a late night or early morning. Avocado and sunflower seed oils keep it extra creamy, while the addition of algae extract helps detoxify skin and green tea extract delivers antioxidant protection, always a good idea for the sensitive skin around your eyes.
Best Palette: Lawless The One Eyeshadow Palette
This new beauty brand was created by Annie Lawless, the original founder of Suja Juice, who brought a similar focus on naturals and health to her cosmetics line. There’s a long list of ingredients banned from all of her products, and no ingredients used that are known to be cancer-causing or endocrine-disrupting. Still, like a true beauty lover, she focused on creating the same kind of high-end experience you’d get from luxury lines, right down to the textures, colors, and even packaging. True to its name, this just may be the one and only shadow palette you’ll ever need.
Best Multi-Purpose: RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek
Makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift set out to completely change the non-toxic makeup world when she launched her line, creating products made with raw and even food-grade ingredients. Many of them have a cult-like following, including this multi-tasker. Available in nine pink-y hues (ranging from sheer to more intense stains), the creamy pigment is equally pretty dabbed on lips for a touch of just-kissed color, or on cheeks for a healthy-looking flush. Raw mineral pigments deliver the color, while nourishing organic ingredients (think coconut oil and shea butter) give it its nourishing feel.