Here are the top-performing natural makeup products you’ll find in the kits of makeup artists.
As many of us become more conscious of what we’re putting in our bodies (green juice! gluten-free alternatives!) and what we’re putting our bodies through (SoulCycle! Barre class!), we’re also becoming more aware of what we’re putting on our bodies. While the performance of natural makeup used to pale in comparison to products from our favorite makeup counters, there are many natural makeup brands creating products that are richly pigmented, apply beautifully, and wear as well as their more synthetic competitors. You may already be using some of them and don’t even know they’re all-natural.
But before we get into our favorites, let’s get one thing straight: “Natural” doesn’t automatically mean a product is better or safer for you, as the FDA has nebulous criteria on just what constitutes a natural product (“natural” isn’t regulated for cosmetics, so it can be used purely as a marketing term). “There is no real definition of ‘natural’ in the U.S. beauty industry,” says cosmetic chemist Ginger King. “As long as the bulk of your material is natural, you can say ‘natural-based.’ There is no regulation. The true naturals have seals like COSMOS Natural or Ecocert — European organizations that allow up to 5 percent synthetics.”
The FDA does not have a definition for the term “organic,” either, as it is not defined by either the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act or the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, which they use as guidelines. “‘Organic’ usually means USDA-certified food grades. There are limited numbers of products you can make to be classified as organic green,” King says.
Ingredients aside, one of the benefits of using natural products is that many, if not all, ingredients are ethically sourced and cruelty-free. As consumers, it’s never been more important to prioritize what we want in our makeup, and our money talks. These days there’s a clean option to switch out every product in your makeup routine, so it’s never been easier to avoid controversial ingredients. But we also wanted to help you sort out your options. The following products have received high marks from professional makeup artists — who have seen and used it all — so you can start cleaning up your cosmetics bag.
100% Pure Beauty has a full collection of skin care, makeup, hair, and body products, all made with natural ingredients. The brand is serious about the way it sources its ingredients, too, using a strict methodology to determine and confirm that its products contain no synthetic ingredients. In the past, I’ve been a big fan of its Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream, and I love that its foundations are available in a wide range of shades.
Makeup artist Benjamin Puckey is a big fan of the brand’s lipsticks, telling us “100% Pure Cocoa Butter Matte Lipsticks come in such beautiful, bold, matte shades that you forget you’re working with a natural brand.
He calls out the shade Sonora Red as one that “really packs a punch.”
Did you know that Bite Beauty is natural and organic? I always forget. These luxe lipsticks are made with 12 different oils, as well as while pearl, silk, red wine, and organic butters; the result is a lipstick that’s incredibly creamy and hydrating, long-wearing and even has benefits from antioxidants for a product that’s actually good for your lips.
“No one does the range of bold color options in the right creamy/waxy base the way Bite does,” makeup artist Katey Denno explains. “They also make a lot of corresponding lip liners, which, until they filled it, had been a big hole in the marketplace.”
Those little chrome swivel compacts you’ve been seeing all over Instagram are from the luxe beauty brand whose name may give you pause to pronounce (it’s kigh-er why-ss). Natural and organic ingredients meet luxury beauty with quality cream and powder formulas housed in the brand’s signature, luxurious, chrome packaging. A bonus, those compacts are refillable, which means sustainable. The whole collection aims for beautiful, glowy makeup that lets your skin shine through. My personal favorites are the cream blushes, which are so dense and richly pigmented you just need a tap or two to blend out with fingers. The cream highlighters are also breathtakingly natural-looking.
Puckey is partial to Kjaer Weis’s lip products. “The lip gloss comes in a gorgeous selection of sheer shades, of which the nudes Cherish and Affinity are my favorites. I also really like the Kjaer Weis lip liners.”
One of the innovators of the now popular and chic swivel compact, Lilah B. is all about creating simple, multipurpose beauty products with clean formulas. Without gluten, sulfates, or parabens, and packed with aloe and botanicals, these products take to skin beautifully, feel luxurious and nourishing, and look amazing on your face and on your vanity.
Ilia Beauty is focused on creating clean, pure products with organic bio-active botanicals that nourish skin as they wear. From lipstick to eye shadow and multiple base products, Ilia’s products give you a luxurious feel, look, and wear, while being some of the cleanest makeup you can use.
Puckey is a huge fan of the brand, spotlighting many of its products. “I love how smooth the Fade Into You Powder feels and how it really disappears on the skin. The Illuminators come in three shades that work for a variety of skin tones. I like that it comes in a stick form for easy application.
“I love the Beauty Essential Shadow Palette in Prima, which has four great, neutral, everyday shades, including my favorite beige shade, and the Satin Cream Lip Crayons have a semi-matte finish and are all super easy to apply,” he adds, calling out the deep, burgundy shade 99 Balloons as a favorite.
Juice Beauty takes special care to ensure that their ingredients are certified organic so that no toxins, pesticides, synthetics, or fertilizers make it into its products. Starting with a base of organic botanical juice (hence the name), without any petroleum fillers or added water, each product is packed with antioxidants and concentrated skin-care benefits.
Denno is especially a fan of the Juice Boost Illuminator + Bronzer Duo. “Finely micronized shimmer particles add the perfect amount of highlight, no matter what your skin tone. [It] can be used directly on all areas you highlight: cheeks, Cupid’s bow, bridge of the nose, inner-eye corner, lid, clavicle, shoulders, or can be mixed into foundation to give an overall more glowy look,” she suggests.
“This stuff is unlike any other green beauty highlight product in that it dries completely (and quickly).”
The Lawless tagline is “Clean AF,” and the brand means it. Its liquid lipsticks are formulated without carcinogenic, toxic, hormone- or endocrine-disrupting ingredients. If people ingest up to five pounds of cosmetic chemicals every year, Lawless is trying to make sure that its products — that you put directly on your mouth and skin — are as safe as possible.
Each Kosås product is made with active botanicals and balanced with safe synthetics, giving you luxury formulas, beautiful pigments that flatter a multitude of skin tones, and they all look as good as they feel. The beautiful face duos are available in both cream and powder formulas, each including a blush and an illuminator that complement each other and boost your face’s luminosity and glow. The lipsticks are also not to be missed. Puckey tells Allure, “Kosas has a line of all-natural lipsticks in super chic black packaging. Rosewater (a dusky rose) and Thrillest (bright poppy red) are my favorites.”
I got into Vapour Beauty a while back and I still think they’re one of clean beauty’s best-kept secrets. Organic ingredients, moisturizing bases packed with antioxidants, and beautiful color come together for a clean collection that rivals some of the most luxurious brands in beauty. Many of the brand’s products — like primers, foundations, blushes, and illuminators — are available in stick form, which is a preference of mine, and the pigments are beautifully buildable.
Plus, the brand’s stick and liquid foundations are available in 12 shades, which may not be an earth-shattering amount these days, but what sets them apart is that the foundations are available in an inclusive gradient of shades, so no matter what your skin tone, you’ll be able to find a match, which many high-end brands still can’t claim.
Au Naturale was created to make skin feel as good as it does when you’re not wearing makeup at all. Using naturally- and ethically-sourced ingredients, they set out to create a replacement for every product on your vanity. Without any synthetics, animal byproducts, or harmful chemicals, Au Natural offers a surprisingly large collection of products, many available as a powder or cream, so you don’t have to sacrifice quality for clean products.
Denno loves the brand’s matte lip stain. “Filling a hole in the marketplace, this line includes mostly neutral shade options,” she explains.
“[The stain has] a satin-matte formula and comes in a lip gloss kind of tube, which makes it super easy to go on, stay on for a long while, and never bleed.”
Stemming from the founder’s own need for clean-beauty products free of toxic chemicals and metals, RMS Beauty is a line of ultra-luxurious, pared-down multitaskers that have become favorites in the industry. It’s a bit like a grown-up Glossier, with rich formulas, bright colors, and twinkling shimmers that make a welcome addition to any beauty routine, no matter how simple or complex it may be.
The line’s hero product is the Living Luminizer, a highlighter in a pot, that you tap onto the high points of your face, as you do, for a glow that is equal parts natural and ethereal. It pairs well with any product you put it on top of (or under) and wears like it’s a part of you.
12. W3LL People
Driven by the knowledge that your skin is an organ that absorbs a high percentage of what you put on it, W3LL People strives to create products that look and perform as beautifully as they feel. The expansive collection of complexion and color products has something for everyone, no matter what foundation formula you prefer. (Its Expressionist Mascara is even an Allure Best of Beauty winner.) Many of the color products are cream-based to melt onto skin for a natural look that leaves you looking healthy, flushed, and beaming.
13. P/Y/T Beauty
P/Y/T is an extremely well thought-out collection of versatile products that can be added to anyone’s routine and are made to move. Lipstick and lip gloss duos, attached tools, an inclusive shade range, and an affordable price point, P/Y/T feels like it came from the future. The line is formulated without any harsh chemicals and, of course, it’s cruelty-free. In the U.S., the FDA’s restrictions on what ingredients can and can’t be included in a beauty product are a bit lax compared to Europe, so P/Y/T actually created its line using the European Union’s much more thorough guidelines. You can rest easy knowing that these clean products are created to work with you, no matter your skin tone, budget, level of expertise, or where you find yourself in the world.