I've Been a Beauty Editor for 5 Years—These Natural Makeup Brands Are It

Natural makeup brands

Photo:

@jennaroseigneri

As someone who began their career in the fashion world, I’ll admit I wasn’t super familiar with the concept of clean makeup once I jumped over to the beauty side of things. However, it only took me a few weeks to learn that there was a slew of not-so-healthy (even toxic!) ingredients hiding in many of my holy grail products. That’s when I began to familiarize myself with the many natural makeup brands out there and started transitioning my makeup routine into a much healthier one.

The thing is, clean cosmetics—and clean beauty as a whole—have come a long way over the past few years. Not only are today’s top brands less “earthy-crunchy” than those of the past, but their products also work way better (in my opinion) in texture, coverage, and finish.

Over the last five years spent covering the ins and outs of beauty, I’ve become pretty obsessed with a number of clean brands, which I’m here to share with you. Ahead, meet 15 of my natural makeup favorites (and some of their best products) that’ll give your makeup drawer a serious detox. Not only do they look and feel great, but you can feel good about wearing them too.

1. Ilia

Simply put, I’m obsessed with this tinted moisturizer. It offers just enough coverage, leaves behind a gorgeous dewy glow, and it boasts ample sun protection. And because it’s from ILIA, its clean and natural formula is infused with good-for-your-skin ingredients like squalane, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid.

This mascara is one of my favorites for daytime. It naturally enhances your lashes, leaving them long and defined without ever looking clumpy or overdone.

2. Saie

Saie is known for infusing powerful skincare ingredients into its line of natural cosmetics, and this gel-based highlighter is no exception. It’s light as air, leaving behind a dewy, fresh finish. I love wearing it on its own on days I forgo foundation, but it’s also great for mixing into your makeup to create a subtle allover glow.

This velvety bronzing balm is perfect for creating a sun-kissed glow sans sun, plus it’s infused with nourishing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, grapeseed oil, and elderberry extract. What’s not to love?

3. Tower 28

If you can’t tell by now, I’m a pretty big fan of dewy skin, and these multitasking tinted balms offer buildable color with a pretty sheen for your cheeks and lips. Tower 28 is a natural makeup brand formulated with sensitive skin in mind, so you can trust it won’t cause any irritation or breakouts.

If you love lip gloss but can't stand how sticky some formulas can be, trust me, you’ll want to try these high-shine, balm-like glosses.

4. Merit

I’ve quickly become a huge fan of Merit, the clean, minimalist makeup line from Who What Wear co-founder Katherine Power. And as someone who loves a bold brow (and is purposely growing in their unibrow for said reason), this instantly earned its place as my all-time favorite brow gel. It creates a perfectly fluffy, feathered look in just a few swipes.

I don’t use concealer on the daily, but when I haven’t gotten a full eight hours of sleep (which is often), I can count on this trusty buildable makeup stick to mask any dark circles. Also nice? The hydrating formula is free of 72 potentially acne-triggering ingredients, so you can breathe easy knowing it won’t break you out.

5. Rituel de Fille

I’ve been wearing these clean highlighters from witchy makeup brand Rituel de Fille for years, and I can’t put into words just how beautiful they are. Each shade is multidimensional, creating the most stunning, ethereal sheen wherever you dab it. And like all products from the brand, they’re 100% natural and cruelty-free, made with ethically sourced raw materials, and free from parabens, phthalates, synthetic dyes, and synthetic fragrances.

I honestly don’t wear much eye shadow these days, but when I want to create a show-stopping look, I reach for one of these. These rich, velvety shadows fall somewhere between a powder and a cream, providing serious pigment payoff with an out-of-this-world transformative finish.

6. Victoria Beckham Beauty

Trust me when I say that Victoria Beckham’s eponymous clean makeup line is worth the hype. This kajal pencil is a favorite of mine for creating a smoldering eye look. It’s creamy and blendable upon application but dries down to a smudge-proof, water-proof finish. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Bordeaux shade.

This “brick” eye shadow palette contains four pigment-rich shades that, together, create a flawless smoky eye. Not to mention, the formula is packed with sodium hyaluronate to help plump and smooth out your lids. Yes, please!

7. Kosas

On days I’m going for a no makeup-makeup look, I reach for this virtually weightless tinted face oil from clean cosmetics brand Kosas. It melts into your skin, providing barely-there, natural-looking coverage with a subtle sheen. And, like all Kosas products, it’s packed with nourishing botanicals, leaving you with a truly healthy glow.

The skinny micro-tip on this brow pencil is great for creating fullness, especially if you’re dealing with a few bald spots from over-plucking (like me). Plus, its formula boasts castor oil and panthenol to help revive your brows and boost future growth. 

 

8. Kjaer Weis

Sure, $48 may sound steep for a lipstick, but this creamy, hydrating formula from sustainable, certified-organic brand Kjaer Weis is super luxurious. It’s available in a range of pigment-packed shades and infused with nourishing oils to keep your pout in tiptop condition. Plus, the case is refillable, making it all the more sustainable; refills will only run you $30.

The brand offers a collection of lip pencils to accompany its lipsticks, which are also refillable and infused with nourishing organic coconut oil and carnauba wax.

9. Bite Beauty

I’ve been a fan of Bite Beauty for years, so I was super excited when I heard they were going clean, vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free back in 2020. These lipstick-lip stain hybrids are one of my favorites—they’re super bold and last for hours, yet never leave your lips feeling dry or sticky.

I’ve tested a lot of liquid eyeliners in my day, and this may be the first one I’ve used to the very last drop. It glides on smooth with bold, rich pigment and truly stays put all day long.

10. Axiology

These planet-friendly and vegan crayons from Axiology are perfect for popping in your purse or packing away for travel. Available in an array of flattering shades, they can be used to add buildable color anywhere on the face, from your lids to your lips. The paper packaging is also super sustainable: It’s not only recyclable, but it’s repurposed from litter gathered by local women in Bali employed by the brand.

Yup, Axiology also offers a variety highlighting crayons that are just as multifunctional as the original Balmies. And like the original formula, they're infused with kokum butter and coconut oil to create a silky, buttery texture. I personally love dabbing the Champagne shade on the tip of my nose and cupid’s bow for added glow.

11. RMS Beauty

When I want to add a bit of grown-up glimmer to any of my makeup—be it foundation, eye shadow, or lipstick—I love mixing in this cult-favorite multitasking cream from RMS Beauty, a clean beauty brand with raw, organic ingredients at the root of all its formulas. This one is infused with nourishing coconut oil to keep your skin soft and smooth.

Perfect for travel, this cheek palette contains three buttery-soft powders to complete any look: a universally flattering pink blush, a sun-kissed bronzer, and a luminous highlighter. Each clean formula is infused with antioxidant-rich buriti oil, barrier-strengthening vitamin E, oil-controlling rosemary leaf, and moisture-boosting squalane.

12. Milk Makeup

When I want a dramatic lash, I reach for this volumizing mascara from Milk Makeup, which, like all products from the brand, is clean, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and 100% vegan. It’s formulated with heart-shaped fibers that lock onto the lashes to create serious fullness, while pure pigments create a bold, eye-opening finish. Plus, it's infused with hemp-derived cannabis seed oil to condition and nourish.

I love this high-shine gloss for creating a lacquer-like finish. It contains vegan collagen to moisturize and smooth out the lips, while Sichuan pepper and a special plumping complex help give your lips a fuller appearance. While it doesn’t come with the intense sting of traditional lip plumpers, this one does slightly tingle.

13. Freck Beauty

Yes, I did hop on the faux-freckles train, and this product is the key to achieving long-lasting, natural-looking freckles with ease. Plus, like all of Freck Beauty’s products, it’s only formulated with the cleanest ingredients, so you can feel good about adding a few dots and spots wherever you see fit.

I’m also a major fan of the brand’s Cheekslime, which, despite its name, is not slimy in the slightest. This lip and cheek tint provides buildable color and a matte finish anywhere you use it, and it’s infused with plant collagen for added good-for-your-skin benefits.

14. J.Hannah

J.Hannah may be known for its minimalist fine jewelry, but its non-toxic and cruelty-free nail polish collection is just as beautiful. It’s only available in a tight edit of shades, but it’s hard to not fall in love with all of them. The clean formulation is eight-free in addition to being free from gluten and any animal-derived ingredients. Plus, the packaging is ridiculously chic.

15. Zoya

If you’re looking for a wider color range, Zoya is another great clean nail polish option. Its 10-free, breathable, vegan-friendly, and super long-wearing formula is available in a whopping 400 different shades.

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