Makeup has the power to dramatically transform your look from day to day, whether you’re going for 1920’s flapper or Hollywood glam. Just look at Michelle Phan on Youtube, who provides useful makeup tutorials. She has over 8.9 million followers.

Michelle Phan Makeup Youtube

Clearly, makeup is a BIG deal, and people want to learn how to apply it themselves. And why not? It’s a powerful tool to boost confidence and self-esteem, but you also want to make sure you’re using safe products and the best makeup brands. You always hear that beauty requires sacrifice, but hopefully that sacrifice isn’t your health. Whether you just dabble with makeup or your room looks like a shelf at Sephora, here’s what you should know.

What to Look Out For

Check your makeup labels for synthetic colors (i.e. carbon black), acrylates, parabens, phthalates, talc, crystalline silica, formaldehyde releasing preservatives, titanium dioxide (in loose powders), heavy metals, and BHT/BHA.

Let’s talk color additives since they’re a big component of makeup, whether it’s foundation, eyeshadow, blush, or lipstick.

2 women with colorful makeup on

The FDA must approve all colors used in cosmetics marketed in the U.S., and some additionally need batch certification. Colors derived primarily from petroleum, as opposed to mineral, plant, or animal sources, require certification.

How will you be able to recognize them on an ingredient list?

Certified colors will usually have a three part name, including a prefix (FD&C, D&C, External D&C), a color, and a number. An example would be FD&C Black No. 2 or just Black No. 2. Colors may either be straight colors or a lake, which is a straight color combined with another substance. An example of a lake might be FD&C Blue No. 1 Aluminum Lake. Products that require the color doesn’t bleed would utilize a lake. Products marketed internationally have the option to include the Color Index (Cl) number, which is used in the European Union and other countries, so you might see Yellow 5/Cl 19140. Colors that don’t require certification can be recognized by more common names like caramel, bronze powder, and mica.

Why are synthetic colors bad?

Color additives are some of the most common sources for lead due to contamination during manufacturing. The FDA conducted a study and found more than 99% of the cosmetic products tested contained less than 10 ppm lead. L’Oreal, Covergirl, Maybelline, and Revlon lipsticks contained the highest lead levels. But, don’t think if you spend bank on a tube of high-end lipstick, it’s immune from lead contamination. Even a $24 tube of Dior Addict consisted of lead.

The FDA determined that these low amounts of lead wouldn’t pose a health risk since it’s not detectable in routine blood testing. However, if you consider that lead is a proven neurotoxin, that’s a bit frightening. Lead has also been linked with reduced fertility, hormonal changes, menstrual irregularities, and delayed onset of puberty. And think about if you wear lipstick everyday. It’s estimated that you ingest 1.5 tubes of lipstick a year (gross!), so your lead intake definitely starts to add up. Medical experts agree that no amount of lead is safe.

Heavy Metals in Lipsticks

One takeaway message

In researching all these products, there’s one lesson I wanted to bring up here. I usually believe you get what you pay for. However, with personal care products and makeup, this isn’t necessarily the case. Yes, if you buy cheap drugstore brands, they’re probably going to have cheap, toxic chemicals. BUT, expensive skincare and makeup you buy at Nordstrom or Bloomingdale’s counters can have harmful ingredients as well, just packaged with a pretty pink bow. It’s important to find brands that align with your ideals. Interestingly enough, you may actually spend less money on safer products, depending on what you’re currently buying. Win-win.

Guuurl, I’m not willing to give up my makeup bag! Are there any safer alternatives?

Yes! Buy makeup from companies that are going toward the clean beauty movement. These companies ditch toxic chemicals and find innovative ways to color their products, like with fruit pigments or even tea leaves. Find a couple good companies whose makeup works for you, and stick with them. That way, you don’t have to constantly be checking labels for bad ingredients.

The Best Makeup Brands I Like

100% Pure Best Makeup Brands

100% Pure

Luminous Primer

Makeup Foundation

Makeup Blender

Liquid Eyeliner

Creamy Longlast Liner

Fruit Pigmented Ultra Lengthening Mascara

Cocoa Butter Semi-Matte Lipstick

Why I Like Them: 100% Pure is online but also has locations in California, Illinois, Washington, and Maryland. Everyone’s skin and personal preferences for makeup are different. You can go to their store to get color-matched for foundation or call in to get advice. What sets them apart is that they use fruit pigments rather than synthetic colors to dye their makeup. I visited their San Jose and Torrance location and fell in love with their product line. This is my new go-to makeup spot!

Lily Lolo Mascara

Lily Lolo Mascara Best Makeup Brands

Lily Lolo Eye Palette

Lily Lolo Eye Palette Best Makeup Brands

Why I Like Them: Lily Lolo is the original organic mineral makeup from Europe. Some of the benefits of mineral makeup are it’s long-lasting, feels weightless, looks natural, and is sun safe. Lily Lolo originated in London, but is now available in the U.S. and Canada. Every product is free from harsh chemicals, parabens, synthetic dyes, fillers, and nano-particles. Furthermore, they feature products that are eco-friendly, vegan, organic, and cruelty free.

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