As a teenager, I often found myself in a beauty Catch-22 of sorts. I was desperate to hide my inflamed and acneic skin with a sturdy layer of liquid foundation, but even as I was applying my daily makeup mask, I couldn’t shake the sense that my camouflage was making the situation worse.
Although the root of skin woes are usually more complex than the effects of our topical regimens alone, what we slather on our faces can make a difference in both the short- and long-term health of our skin. Take for example the conventional foundation I used as a teen. Most run-of-the-mill foundations are water-based, meaning that they require a slew of synthetic preservatives to make them last for several months. These preservatives probably come in the form of parabens, which can penetrate the skin and mimic estrogen; meanwhile, parabens may age the skin when exposed to UV light. Not pretty. Combine that with synthetic fragrance and skin-suffocating mineral oils and waxes, and you’ve got quite the chemical cocktail, and we haven’t even made it to eye makeup or lipstick.
When I started to address my skin issues from the inside out by cleaning up my diet and embracing veganism, I realized that I needed to detox my beauty arsenal as well. For starters, I replaced my standby liquid foundation with a natural tinted moisturizer (like Juice Beauty Stem Cellular CC Cream) and a simple mineral powder. These days, I stick to makeup staples that not only are free from dulling, irritating ingredients but also are likely to boost the health of my skin. Essentially, I seek products that rely on natural ingredients, like plant oils and extracts, to treat and protect my skin. I’m now obsessed with makeup as skincare.
Of course, as “green” and “natural” are increasingly incorporated in makeup marketese, it’s important to be a discerning consumer. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of reading the ingredients list on a product before investing in it. Often, less-than-healthy products will label themselves as “Argan-Infused!” or “Powered by Fruit Extracts!”—or something of the sort. Meanwhile, that argan oil is at the bottom of the ingredients list—under a handful of unpronounceable substances. Fortunately, for every company who greenwashes its products, another, independent and ethical company sprouts up, meaning that we have more options for healthy makeup than ever.
More good news: You can care for your skin while wearing bold, full-coverage formulas. There is an understandable misconception that makeup that doubles as skincare must be “no-makeup makeup,” i.e. sheer, subtle, and more au naturel than dramatic. While there are quite a few barely-there BB creams and tinted balms in this niche, there are also some notable exceptions.
Unless I’m holed up in my home office, I enjoy wearing bold makeup, especially a smoky eye. Also, as someone who’s prone to chronic acne scars, I am no stranger to full-coverage foundation. For a bold lip, Aromi offers a vibrant collection of handcrafted lipsticks formulated with naturally-derived vitamin E and jojoba oil to hydrate and protect lips. If you need a little more coverage than a dusting of mineral powder, 100% Pure has a great full-coverage foundation suitable for oily/problem skin. Aside from providing broad-spectrum 20 SPF protection, 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Healthy Skin Foundation is packed with beautifying nutrients, including nutrients from peach, apricot, cocoa bean, goji berry, white tea, elderberry, coffee cherry, grapefruit, and honeysuckle. Looking for a non-irritating, long-lasting mascara? Look no further than Lily Lolo Natural Mascara. Bolstered with lash-conditioning fruit wax and argan oil, it’s perfect for creating a doe-eyed look without drying out your lashes.
Now that I’ve been using makeup that’s healthy for my skin, I’ve noticed an array of beauty benefits. Most notably, my skin seems to recover more quickly from monthly breakouts, which have, in turn, calmed down quite a bit. I also feel empowered by this deeper understanding of what I put on my skin. Shopping for makeup is no longer filled with anxiety and uncertainty. Now, it’s all about self-care and investing in my health.
My favorite resources for skin-loving makeup include Petit Vour, a luxury vegan beauty subscription box, Spirit Beauty Lounge, an online, natural beauty boutique, and No More Dirty Looks, a book and blog about the shenanigans perpetrated by the cosmetic industry.
A final note on green beauty products: Many green beauty companies are independent and have been cruelty-free from the get go. No more stressing about mysterious parent companies! Additionally, many green beauty products are vegan friendly. You’ll just have to watch out for beeswax, a popular ingredient in natural cosmetics.