6 Clean Beauty Makeup Brands That Are the Real Deal
In the past decade, clean beauty has transitioned from a niche industry to a multi-billion dollar business. With so many brands hopping on the bandwagon—the number of clean beauty brands increased by 39 percent in 2019!—shopping for nontoxic makeup can be overwhelming. Some products don’t perform well, and the fact that the term “clean beauty” is entirely unregulated doesn’t help either—what one brand defines as clean might be completely different from another brand.
As a clean beauty enthusiast and former model who grew up in the beauty industry, I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to get excited about a new product only to discover that it doesn’t hold up, leaves your skin feeling too oily, or has little-to-no pigment. To save you from making some of the same mistakes I did, I’m sharing the best clean beauty makeup brands below. The highlighted products are the ones I use in my current daily makeup routine, so you can trust that they’re the real deal.
My Favorite Product: Power Move Creamy Matte Lip Crayons. (I currently love Negroni, a candy apple red that’s the perfect pop of color)
Why I Love It: These crayons give you a matte-ish look without drying your lips. They roll on well (especially after a good lip scrub!), and if you make a mistake in your rush to get out the door in the morning, it’s easy to fix without having to redo everything.
Bite Beauty is powered by superfoods like acai, maqui berry, mangosteen, and papaya. This means each of their vegan, gluten-free, clean beauty products is rich in antioxidants, with vivid pigments that actually last all day long. Licensed toxicologists review all ingredients and formulations not just for safety, but also for potential allergens and efficacy. As a bonus, their Lip Lab makes it a breeze to find the right color for you.
My Favorite Product: Classic Velvet Eyeshadow Palette
Why I Love It: Everyone has a favorite Beautycounter product, and this is mine. The Classic palette is the most exquisite collection of colors—they’re gorgeously vivid, with serious pigment and no talc.
Beautycounter is one of the brands that brought clean beauty to the mainstream, and they’ve also been leading the charge for more government regulation of the beauty industry to keep harmful ingredients out of personal care products. (Their Never List is a great reference guide to keep on hand—they even have a pocket-sized printable version.) A Certified B Corporation, Beautycounter is also working to reinvent makeup packaging with more sustainable options.
My Favorite Product: Clean Line Gel Liner
Why I Love It: This is hands-down the best eyeliner out there. Dusk is my go-to daytime color, but I use Twilight when I want a more dramatic look. ILIA liner is smooth when applying (so crucial for preventing wrinkles—you don’t want to be pulling and tugging that delicate skin!), making it easy to manipulate into smoky eyes or a sharp cat-eye. Pair it with their Limitless Lash Mascara, which is also one of my faves and the winner of numerous beauty awards.
ILIA combines clean makeup and natural bio-active skincare for products that do double-duty. Their commitment to sustainability includes using recycled aluminum and paper printed with vegetable-based ink for their packaging. While ILIA products are mostly made from organics, the brand also includes some safe synthetic ingredients that are carefully selected to boost efficacy.
My Favorite Product: Phyto-Pigments Last Looks Cream Blush (Seashell is my current fave)
Why I Love It: With two kids and a business to run, I need products that are effortless to apply, and this cream blush fits the bill. Dap it on, and you’re ready to go. It has a great texture and buildable glow; the moisturizing ingredients are ideal for dry skin too.
Juice Beauty gets its name from the fact that all of their products are made with a base of USDA-certified organic botanical juice, rather than water or petroleum. Many of their manufacturing facilities operate with solar and wind power, and their sustainability and eco-values extend to their packaging, which uses recycled materials and soy-based ink. Juice Beauty’s farm-to-beauty ethos is often imitated, but never duplicated—they literally have a farm in Sonoma County where they grow many of their own ingredients.
My Favorite Product: Tinted Face Oil (I use shade 7.5)
Why I Love It: This isn’t a classic foundation, but that’s a good thing. Even though it’s an oil, it feels good on—it’s not greasy or sticky, nor is it heavy or cakey like a traditional foundation. It’s easy to apply (you can use your fingertips instead of a sponge!), and it has an inclusive range of colors. Kosas’s Revealer Concealer is also worth checking out.
Kosas founder Sheena Yaitanes studied organic chemistry and fine art, and this combination of science and artistry is evident in each of their products. Natural active botanicals are the base of their formulas, so your skin can soak up hydration, vitamins, and antioxidants all day long. Kosas products have the staying power to last as long as you need them to and luxe pigments that allow you to pull off bold looks without toxins and talc—in fact, there are over 2700 ingredients that Kosas bans from its products.
My Favorite Product: Brow Butter
Why I Love It: This eyebrow gel makes it easy to nail that effortless natural brow look. The mini spoolie brush is super precise, and the liquid pomade tames your brows without making them look slicked down, crunchy, or overdone.
Saie is selective about the ingredients they use, but their products prove that clean makeup can be just as good as traditional—and still be affordable too. (Full disclosure: my friend, OG blogger Geri Hirsch is Saie’s creative director.) Saie’s team has over 60 years of combined experience working in beauty, sustainability, and product development. This industry knowledge and expertise mean they’re uniquely suited to creating products that don’t sacrifice efficacy for the sake of using clean ingredients.