Makeup Goes Green
Makeup Goes Green

Green lipstick probably isn’t going to be spring’s newest look. But green makeup – as in ecologically sustainable, earth-friendly makeup – is definitely in. More than a passing trend, it’s a movement toward ethical and eco-friendly products that beautify your face without damaging the environment.

Unfortunately, life after L’Oreal can get a little complicated. With so many products labeled ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ or ‘eco-friendly,’ it’s hard to know where to begin. These are a few of the labels you’re likely to see, what they mean, and how you can use them to make better decisions that benefit both you and the Earth.



Organic crops are produced without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or genetic modification. But beware of products that claim to be organic: unless that claim is USDA Certified Organic, the glossy ‘organic’ lipstick you’re tempted by could contain as few as one organic ingredient. The green and white USDA label guarantee that the ingredients in your product are 95% organic.


Cruelty-free/ Vegetarian/ Vegan

For many people, being green also includes being kind to the other animals that share the planet with us. Cruelty-free products (look for the Leaping Bunny or PETA symbol) are developed without being tested on animals. Vegetarian cosmetics may contain ingredients like beeswax, honey, or milk; vegan cosmetics contain no animal products at all. Watch out for ingredients like stearic acid (usually derived from cow or sheep fat), oleyl alcohol (inedible beef fat), and carmine (a red dye made from crushed beetles and frequently found even in ‘natural’ lipsticks).


Biodegradable/ Minimal Packaging

When in doubt, go for the makeup with the most eco-friendly packaging – recyclable, recycled, minimal, or biodegradable. Cargo Cosmetics pioneered the biodegradable lipstick: PlantLove Botanical Lipstick is not only made with eco-friendly ingredients, but it also comes in a biodegradable corn-based tube.


Finally, here a few things to avoid on your next makeup shopping spree:

  • Things you can’t pronounce. Synthetic chemicals tend to have long, complicated names. Natural ingredients don’t. For example, Burt’s Bees’ Beeswax lip balm contains beeswax, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, peppermint oil, vitamin E, lanolin, comfrey root extract, and rosemary leaf oil. Many synthetic ingredients, including parabens (preservatives), sodium Laureth/ lauryl sulfate (foaming agent), and phthalates (binders) range from mildly toxic to potentially carcinogenic.

  • Petroleum/ petrochemical ingredients. Not only are fossil fuels a non-renewable resource, but they also don’t absorb into your skin. Choose a plant-based oil instead, such as jojoba, coconut, or sunflower oil.

  • The labels ‘pure’ and ‘all-natural’ – unless the ingredients and a USDA organic tag back it up! These labels are not regulated.


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