We’ve put together this list of organic lipsticks because simply put: lipstick is iconic. From the classic red lip to the romanticized scenes of people carefully applying it in movies. Lipstick is more than just makeup. It’s a whole mood!
Unfortunately, conventional makeup brands don’t really account for the fact that some of the ingredients they use to help us add that pop of color or to complete our look are actually toxic or potentially harmful to us. Even though it goes right on our lips and we practically eat as the day goes on. I mean… we all know the taste of lipstick for a reason…
Though this might feel like common sense to some of us, it is not. Even with higher-end brands who charge premium prices for their luxury goods. So here’s a list of our favorite brands for some of the best organic lipstick options that slay — minus the harmful ingredients!
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Why consider switching to organic lipstick?
Though this is slowly changing in some cases, conventional cosmetics and personal care products are still riddled with all sorts of stuff I don’t want on my skin. In fact, when we apply things to our skin, it is absorbed and joins the bloodstream.
Products like foundation tend to contain harsh and/or toxic compounds like parabens, BHA and BHT, ethanolamines, sodium laureth sulfate, retinol, lead, and heavy metals. Best to reach for some of our favorite organic & natural foundation brands here too.
When it comes to lipstick, a joint effort between the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found lead and other toxic metals in a surprising number of lipsticks. Out of all the products tested, 61% of them contained lead, which is well documented as being harmful to humans.
A good rule of thumb from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is to read labels and avoid cosmetics containing the following ingredients:
- Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3 idol)
- Coal Tar
- Untreated or mildly treated mineral oils
- Ethylene oxide
- Cadmium and its compounds
- Arsenic and Crystalline silica (or quartz).
Astonishingly, in the US, the FDA has no say over personal care products. That’s why it can feel truly insane when inspecting some of the ingredients used in the 100s of products lining the shelves at our favorite drug stores or makeup stores. The responsibility is essentially all on the consumer to know better and to make better choices.
In the EU, the use of coal tar, benzene, ethylene oxide, chromium, cadmium, and arsenic is prohibited. The use of formaldehyde is restricted in the EU and banned in Japan.
In Canada, formaldehyde, coal tar dye, benzene, ethylene oxide, chromium, and cadmium, and its compounds, arsenic and its compounds are prohibited or restricted. For more details see the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist.
Some might argue that many of the harmful ingredients included in our cosmetics are there to extend their shelf life. Things like antimicrobials, antifungals, and preservatives are the reason why that long-forgotten tube of chapstick can sit at the bottom of your purse for ages and be recovered while looking intact. I for one would be happy with a shorter shelf life if it means safer products.
When shopping for natural and organic lipsticks consider the following criteria:
With all of this gloomy stuff out of the way let’s have a look at our clean beauty criteria for a list of what else we look out for when it comes to safer lipstick and cleaner beauty products in general.
1. Is it local?
Here we look at where products come from and how far they travel to get to us. Since things can literally come from all the way across the planet (with a hefty carbon footprint), we want to choose products that come from brands located nearest us. Where possible, products that are made using ingredients that are sourced locally or nearest to their place of fabrication are also best.
2. Is it made of natural ingredients?
We always favor natural ingredients that will not go on to harm us or the planet once we are finished with them.
3. Is it certified organic?
In this instance, in particular, we want to try to reach for brands that are certified organic. This is just a way of verifying that brands are doing what they say they are doing. It can be expensive to be certified organic so some brands might not have certifications to back up their claims. In those cases, we look for other sustainable practices that might speak to their ethics.
4. Is it vegan?
For those who are vegan, we also check whether brands use any ingredients that are derived from animals. Whether it's honey, beeswax, milk, or cochineal (aka carmines) we’ve got your back.
5. Palm oil-free?
Palm oil is not terrible in and of itself (though it may clog your pores in some instances like in face wash). The thing is that palm oil is still largely sourced unsustainably where entire forests are being destroyed to meet global demand. That’s why we check for it. Where it is present we look for certifications that speak to ethical sourcing practices.
6. Are the ingredients sustainably sourced?
Again, we want to make sure that all of the ingredients in the things we use are sustainably sourced and that no undue harm is caused to people or to the planet. Some brands go the extra mile to offer information about where all of their ingredients come from and we love them all the more for it.
7. Does the company use environmentally-conscious packaging?
As inconvenient as it can be, the packaging is a huge deal. Plastics are clogging up our waterways and oceans–and both fish and seabirds are turning up with bellies full of it. Reaching for blue beauty products or products that are more mindfully packaged is super important. That’s why, wherever possible, we go for products with environmentally-conscious packaging that can either be recycled, reused, or composted. Some brands take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of the products they make by offering take-back programs so we always look out for that too.
8. Is it inclusive?
Inclusivity is a key part of making sustainability accessible to as many people as possible. In this case, colors and tints must be suitable for all skin types.
Our Top picks for organic lipstick
One of the best options for sustainable organic lipstick, Elate is a cosmetics brand rooted in authenticity, transparency, and trust. All of the ingredients used in their products are carefully sourced, 100% vegan, and cruelty-free.
As for organic ingredients, 75% of all of the ingredients used in their products are organic though they favor fair trade over organic when they must choose between the two.
All of the packaging used is currently around 75% waste-free. Where products do contain plastics, Elate makes sure they are recyclable as they continue working toward becoming an entirely plastic-free and waste-free company.
In search of organic red lipstick or organic pink lipstick? This is a great place to start. Their products feature organic and natural ingredients like organic castor seed oil and organic jojoba seed oil though they also contain some synthetic colorants like red 7 and blue 2.
To package their lipsticks, Elate uses a recyclable plastic insert and an infinitely-recyclable aluminum wrap. They can both be disposed of in household recycling bins!
There is also a bamboo tube that can be crushed up with heavy pliers and composted. There is a sticker that does have to be thrown away in the trash but it is sourced locally as a more ethical alternative.
This year Elate launched the Reveal Lip Pencil a new low-waste, vegan, cruelty-free, multi-use pencil that enhances your natural tone! And let me just say how AMAZING these pencils are. I've got all 5 shades, the best for my skin (pale) is the Serene, I've had friends and family try them and they fall in love instantly too! They are unreal to use, they glide onto the lips so softly and with ease and are long-lasting, run don't walk to get your hands on these goodies.
To ship their orders Elate makes sure to use size-appropriate, recyclable boxes made from post-consumer material, padded with paper fill material. If you live in Victoria, BC, they invite you to pick up your order at their warehouse!
Elate also offers a Perfectly Imperfect Program where slightly damaged products that do not pass their visual quality test are sold at a discount. A great option for affordable natural organic makeup too.
Based in Wilmington, NC, River Organics offers makeup formulated to be safe and nourishing for the skin. They only use organic and natural ingredients and eco-friendly packaging. You will find concealer, highlighters, and blush as well as skincare, candles, and more!
We just had to include their lip stains in this round-up of organic lipsticks. Made from conflict-free, lab-made mica, they are 100% vegan and cruelty-free so definitely a good option for organic vegan lipstick. They also include lots of yummy certified organic ingredients like coconut oil and macadamia nut oil.
Best of all, their lip stains are completely plastic-free and packaged in eco-friendly compostable paper tubes with a biodegradable seal. To use just remove the cap, dip a brush or finger in and apply directly to the lips. Use code THEECOHUB10 for 10% off.
3. 100% PURE
100% PURE is committed to offering the healthiest products possible. Their makeup is naturally pigmented using fruits, vegetables, tea, and cocoa, and is all certified cruelty-free. Other ingredients used come from plants, minerals, and marine vegetation, processed using only fermentation, distillation, and cold processing.
Made from lots of lovely fruit extracts from cherries, pomegranates, blueberries, grapes, and more, their lipsticks certainly sound yummy enough to take a bite out of (or to accidentally ingest as the day goes on).
100% Pure makes sure to source its ingredients ethically and responsibly, and they all come together to create the plethora of lovely tints available in their Fruit pigmented Cocoa Butter Matt Lipstick. Definitely one of the best options for natural lipstick brands out there!
Ilia’s makeup is formulated with skincare in mind using ingredients that shield skin from environmental stressors. All ingredients used are carefully chosen, with no compromises.
With lots of lovely tints to choose from, Ilia makes a great, inclusive option when it comes to natural lipstick brands.
Their lipsticks are certified gluten-free and made from lovely ingredients like sunflower seed oil, cocoa seed butter, and avocado oil. They do contain some mica and may contain titanium oxide, dyes, and iron oxides.
In terms of packaging, Ilia does offer products using recycled aluminum, glass, and responsibly sourced paper but some of their products are more difficult to dispose of. Taking responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their product, Ilia offers U.S. customers the option to mail in up to 10 empty products per month to be broken down and responsibly disposed of with the help of Pact Collective. They also accept products from other brands, no problem.
The Beautycounter was founded by a concerned consumer who set out to offer clean, effective skincare and makeup products — while working to change the laws that determine what ingredients are allowed or not allowed in cosmetics.
To source ingredients, Beautycounter has built a responsible sourcing program designed to continually address high-risk ingredients like mica, palm oil, and vanilla.
For lipstick, Beautycounter’s Sheer Genius Conditioning Lipstick is available in 10 lovely everyday tints and is certified vegan. It’s made using responsibly sourced, certified organic vanilla, and a blend of botanical waxes and sustainably derived jojoba esters. No formaldehyde, phenacetin, benzene, chromium, cadmium, or other big no-nos.
For packaging, Beautycounter has developed its own packaging scorecard to help guide internal decision-making processes. Products that are packaged in plastics are free from phthalates and BPA.
While they continue to work to make all of their packaging recycled, recyclable, reused or compostable, they have launched refillable products like The Clean Deo.
Clean Faced Cosmetics (CFC) offers vegan, zero waste, eco-friendly makeup that won't harm skin or the environment. All of their products are mostly organic–now with mica-free options too.
To make their lipstick, CFC uses ingredients like organic coconut oil, organic shea butter, organic cocoa powder, and white mica (mica, titanium dioxide). They do ensure the mica used in their products is ethically sourced with documentation to boot. Some of their products do contain Red No. 40 FD&C Lake for color.
Each lipstick comes in metal tins for easy recycling. Since they are made of mostly organic ingredients, the shelf life is 6 months.
A great option for zero waste makeup and affordable organic lipstick, CFC also makes regular contributions to organizations like the Rainforest Trust, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Environmental Defense Fund, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Send in used containers for refills and a complimentary 10% discount.
Fat & The Moon wants to offer an alternative to unhealthy beauty standards that aim to tame, eliminate or fix. Instead, founder Rachel Budde created Fat & The Moon to celebrate and empower.
You will find healing balms and beautifying concoctions including cheek and lip stains. Though they are not quite the same as lipsticks you may want to check them out on the hunt for organic lipstick.
Their Beetroot Cheek + Lip Stain offers two products in one, is vegan, and is made from natural and organic ingredients like beetroot powder, sunflower oil, and beeswax. No parabens, sulfates, phthalates, or toxins here either.
It also has mild antibacterial, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties is packaged in a plastic-free tin and will ship plastic-free in recyclable packaging made from recycled material. Perfect for a pop of color (and red-wine berry tones), it should be used within 6 months of purchase.
Henné focuses on crafting beauty products that are effective using trustworthy ingredients. With a penchant for Scandinavian design, all of their products are made to be irresistible so don’t be surprised if you find yourself falling in love.
Their lipstick looks just as vibrant and nourishing as they describe. Available in several gorgeous tints, they are made from lots of lovely organic lipstick ingredients like organic coconut oil, organic castor seed oil, and organic jojoba oil.
Though they are leaping bunny certified cruelty-free they are not vegan so do be mindful of that if you are looking for organic vegan lipstick instead.
Made with care in the USA and USDA-certified organic, there are lots to love over at Henné. Find more thoughtfully crafted products for the face, hands, and lips–formulated to be as natural as possible.
A final word on organic lipstick
Though they are not all perfect, these brands make it possible to find safer, more eco-friendly options when it comes to lipstick. And I hope this list will make it easier to reach for safer products that look just as fabulous without the need for any endocrine disruptors or potential carcinogens.
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