Having trouble keeping up with our increasingly organic, eco-friendly world? Let me be your guide! From all-natural makeup to the best in eco-conscious jeans, I will test and review the products and treatments that are best for you and the planet.
When it comes to beauty, I have a theory that’s becoming easier and easier to live by: Just because you use all-natural, eco-friendly personal care products doesn’t mean you have to look like you do.
Take eco-conscious fashion — as it moves further away from the bulky, itchy, acorn-colored sweaters and unflattering hemp pants of the ’70s (at least that’s what they look like in the pictures), so does natural beauty. My decision to place only toxic-free products on my skin — the body’s biggest organ, remember? — does not mean that I’ve also decided to let my dark under-eye circles and the occasional pimple hang out for the world to see.
I like makeup. I like it so much that, like millions of other women, I use it every day — with the exception of those lazy, rainy Sundays when I stay home in my pajamas organizing my closet and watching reruns of “Iron Chef.” But my makeup use wasn’t born from the Tammy Faye Baker school of cosmetology. Oh, no. The cosmetics I use serve the sole purpose of sparking one question in the minds of the people who pass me on the street: “Could she possibly wake up looking like that?” The answer, of course, is no. I wake up puffy and bleary-eyed — that’s why I wear makeup.
The key is: I wear makeup to look like I’m not wearing makeup. I try to create an aura of born-with-it beauty that’s pretty much impossible to achieve after the age of 30. And most of the time it works. A couple of strategic dabs of under-eye concealer knock out the dark half- moons that greet me even after a solid eight hours of sleep. A few gentle swipes of a peachy blush prevent me from looking like a redheaded zombie — we carrottops can be so pasty — and a bit of mascara completes the look.
Though I was aware that both drugstore cosmetic brands and their luxury counterparts often contain suspected toxins like parabens and petroleums, I was at first hesitant to ditch my makeup standbys. I knew all about natural deodorant, toothpaste and moisturizer, but was unsure of what to expect in the world of natural cosmetics. Would I find vials of crushed flower petals mixed with the sap of a young tree? Fresh mud combined with a few drops of river water? Well, I was pleasantly surprised. There are many quality options available today to maintain your glowing natural beauty — and none involve rubbing your cheeks against a rose bush or spreading pomegranate seeds on your lips (which may not be a bad idea for a little elegant lip color). But like any new makeup item, be prepared for some trial-and-error as you search for the brand and product that feels best for you.
My natural beauty favorites: I was expecting sap or mud, but Bare Escentuals skipped the messy stuff and instead has been making mineral-based, 100% natural — free from preservatives, fillers or binders — makeup since 1976. I turn to Bare Escentuals for their blush options (the Blush Trio, $36, features a color for “morning,” “beauty” and “dusk,” though I’m still trying to figure out my “beauty” hour — definitely not 4 p.m.) and a wide range (10 options!) of eye colors.
I’m a sucker for packaging, and Cargo Cosmetics has always caught my eye with its sleek, minimalist design. Now that I can actually plant the package that contains my favorite tube of Cargo lipstick, I’m digging it (no pun intended) even more. The company’s PlantLove line includes 15 different lipstick shades ($20 each; $2 from each purchase goes to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital), each housed in a corn-based, compostable tube packaged in a “flower-power” box that produces wildflowers when planted. As for the lipstick itself? Each of the sheer shades — from pink neutrals to red Hollywood glam — contain zero mineral oils or petroleum products.
Suki Kramer has already enticed me with her line of all-natural skin cleansers and moisturizers, and now she’s my go-to girl for natural makeup. Suki Color features a small but carefully crafted line of cosmetics that use nontoxic ingredients and emphasize long-lasting beauty. The prices are luxurious, but Suki’s Rich Pigment Mascara (.2 fl. oz, $31.50) is the only all-natural lash enhancer I’ve found that actually does its job with gusto. And it comes in traditional black and copper brown for those who like to go a little lighter. If you’re going to splurge on Suki, don’t miss her Pure Cream Stain (.5 fl. oz, $36.50), a powerful little pot of color that moves seamlessly from cheeks to lips, and her Liquid Formula Concealer (.5 fl. oz, $38.50), which covers even the most dramatic dark circles.
Marisa Belger is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience covering health and wellness. She was a founding editor of Lime.com, a multiplatform media company specializing in health, wellness and sustainable living. Marisa also collaborated with Josh Dorfman on “The Lazy Environmentalist” (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang), a comprehensive guide to easy, stylish green living.