I'll be honest; this story has been a long time coming. I've been mulling over a nontoxic, natural conversion of my routine for years now, but, very selfishly, I've resisted taking the plunge. Not because the importance of nontoxic beauty formulas is lost on me, but because I'm extremely stubborn when it comes to my makeup application. I like what I like and am highly, no seriously, highly picky when it comes to what I'm putting on my face. I'm a makeup-product perfectionist, and I only want and expect the very best from the formulas I choose to decorate my face with. However, the natural beauty movement has been spreading like wildfire, and brands have been upping the ante in terms of their standards. So after accumulating a pile of nontoxic mascaras, foundations, highlighters, and blushes, I knew it was time for me to roll up my sleeves and play guinea pig for a while.
Natural and organic beauty products have earned kind of a lopsided reputation. They're applauded for healthier, far more pronounceable ingredient lists but often condemned for inferior durability, less-than-satisfactory finishes, and all-around poorer performance value. Not to mention they're usually pretty darn expensive. That said, while working my way through a mountain of viable options over the past few months, I've found that I've actually been impressed more often than I've been disappointed. In fact, many of the natural makeup items I tried outperformed their non-natural counterparts—an interesting plot twist that took me and my high makeup standards completely by surprise.
Just ahead, I'm revealing my holy-grail nontoxic makeup routine and the natural formulas I highly recommend if you're thinking about making the switch—keep scrolling!
Finding an amazing face primer was probably the most difficult feat during this entire process, mostly because there are only one or two face primers I've ever tried and not immediately detested. However, I've heard amazing things about this SPF-spiked formula from Supergoop! It's clear, velvety, noncomedogenic, and grips my makeup to my face like a dream. (Also, no pilling!)
I'll admit the waters around "natural," "nontoxic," and "organic" are VERY murky within the industry, but according to its website, Supergoop! is devoted to avoiding controversial, potentially harmful, or toxic ingredients whether they're from natural or synthetic sources. This isn't one of the brand's mineral-based options, but I'm absolutely obsessed with how airbrushed and smooth it makes my foundation and makeup look, and, fun fact, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (the ingredients found in mineral formulas) are actually produced synthetically in a lab. Thus, a truly all-natural susncreen does not exist, and I've been feeling really good about using this new staple within my nontoxic routine.
After I apply my primer comes foundation, another makeup product I'm notoriously picky about. I like a formula with medium to full coverage but which can be easily blended out for a diffused, luminous, and very natural-looking finish.
Not only are all of Cover FX's products 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and PETA-approved, but they're also free of parabens, fragrance, gluten, mineral oil, talc, sulfates, phthalates, coal tar, and paraffin. I love how lightweight and buildable this matte-finish foundation is. Plus, the shade range is far superior than the majority of other clean foundation options.
Not always, but I typically like to use foundations and concealers from the same brand. The shade tones and options match up perfectly, and they layer easily and make for a truly seamless makeup application. I usually opt for a concealer shade one to two shades lighter than my foundation to help brighten up my shadowy under-eyes and diffuse the look of pigmentation, and this coordinating concealer from Cover FX has been my addiction. Combined with the foundation above, it's the ultimate power couple. This concealer is crease-proof, durable (as in it promises 16 hours of non-transfer wear!), and even features skin-loving ingredients like fermented algae extract and brightening niacinamide.
I don't use a ton of powder, but my makeup wouldn't be complete (or as long-lasting as I require it to be!) without a strategic dusting under my eyes and over the areas that like to accumulate grease over the course of the day like my chin, forehead, and the bridge of my nose. Sadly, I'm still feeling slightly unsatisfied with this product category (I'm truly married to my beloved MAC and Laura Mercier formulas), but if you're dead set on adding a nontoxic setting powder to your routine, I recommend this lightweight and radiance-enhancing formula from W3LL People. It's not tinted but magically adapts to all skin tones. It reduces shine, keeps my makeup in place, and even gives a little bit of a filter-like effect for a super impressive end result.
I've actually tried quite a few natural bronzers out there, but after seeing one of my favorite makeup artists, Tobi Henney, use this during one of her amazing IG tutorials, I knew I had to get my hands on this pick from Lawless. So many bronzers end up looking muddy or streaky, but this one is seriously so smooth and velvety. Both colors are stunning, and I don't plan on returning to any of my old favorites anytime soon. Blazed is my favorite.
This was tough because like bronzers, there are a lot of truly amazing natural and nontoxic blush formulas out there. RMS Beauty definitely deserves a nod, as does Kosas and Lilah B., but if your budget can bear it, you need to try these amazing sticks from makeup artist legend Gucci Westman's namesake line. The shades are punchy, bold, and beautiful; deliver the perfect amount of very blendable pigment; and melt so insanely prettily into the apples of your cheeks. I swear it actually looks better the longer you wear it. I'm highly addicted, own every shade, but favor Poppet, a juicy shade of hot pink which ends up looking remarkably natural.
There are four types of people in this world: those who hate highlighter, those who only use powder highlighter, those who only use creams or liquids, and those who like both. I personally identify as the latter, so I included a couple of different options here. Without a doubt, Ilia makes the prettiest liquid highlight I've ever laid eyes on or applied. It's glimmery and beautiful but not sparkle spackle.
The below from Lilah B. is interesting because it's kind of a hybrid between a cream and a powder, but the finish is so gorgeous (as is the luxe packaging) I had to include it. Not up for the $60 price tag? Dip your toe into the mini size, which is more affordable at $32 and will still last you ages. (A little goes a long way!)
I simply could not choose between these two, so I made the executive decision to include both. As a rule, I pretty much hate powder eye shadow, so my apologies if you're not a cream-shadow person. Creams and liquids are the only things I'll use, and both of these formulas are stellar. Rituel de Fille is great for those looking for a bit more glamour and drama, while the organic Lid Tints from makeup artist Jillian Dempsey are a little easier for everyday wear. They're also a tad less expensive, which I appreciate.
I'm a liquid-liner girl through and through, and without question, Ilia's cult-favorite pen is the formula to beat within the nontoxic makeup category. It's precise, it retains its inky-black color, and it doesn't move or smudge until you want it to (e.g., when you're taking your makeup off at night).
I'm so thrilled with the newest launch from Róen Beauty—a truly impressive brow pencil. As someone who likes to build intricate and subtle volume and shade intensity, I love this ultra-slim pencil that's perfect for adding however much definition, feathering, and shape-shifting you need. I will say, however, the shades veer a bit dark, so pick accordingly. I use the shade called Light (described as Cool Blonde), and it's almost too dark for me.
I didn't expect to be impressed by any of the nontoxic mascaras I tried simply because I'm rarely impressed by any mascaras I try. However, after just a few wiggles of this amazing wand from W3LL People, I instantly regretted my skepticism. Not only did it manage to build the inky-black length and volume crave, but it also kept my quick-to-wilt lashes curled and lifted. I'm obsessed. Oh, and it also comes in brown if that's more your game.
I pretty much love everything from Kosas, but the brand's epic lip products are, bar none, some of my favorite makeup products of all time. When anyone asks me what my favorite lipsticks are (natural or not), I can't blurt Kosas's name out fast enough. The finish isn't too shiny nor is it too matte; it's one of the few lipstick formulas that don't dry out my lips, the pigment lasts, and the colors are seriously dreamy. (Rosewater and Stardust are two of my must-haves.)
Oh, and if you haven't heard about its newest lip oil–gloss hybrids, you should to get on that. They offer the perfect punch of juicy, semi-glossy lip service.
Infused with luxe botanical and natural ingredients like lavender, fig, dandelion, and brown algae, this spray from Lilah B. is lovely, but as someone who also wants a setting spray to, you know, work, I have found this to be the best nontoxic option. Yes, it's dreamy and refreshing and all-around wonderful, but it also really does keep my makeup in place and maintain dewiness all day or night. I even like spritzing my beloved Beautyblender with it—a tip I'm convinced helps extend the life of my foundation even further.