written by Nina Shantel, blog: RealDietHelp.com, published January 24, 2023
I have very sensitive skin, allergies and autoimmune conditions, so I’m very picky about what I put on my skin. Below is a list of my favorite clean cosmetics that meet my strict standards; they must be vegan, cruelty-free, never tested on animals, paraben-free, gluten-free, safe, and sustainable.
The cosmetics I use and recommend cannot contain over 2000 of the known toxic ingredients that are linked to cancer or hormone disruption, harmful to the environment, or irritating, such as aluminum, BHA, BHT, formaldehyde, toluene, EDTA, phthalates, triclosan and petro chemicals.
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Best CLEAN cosmetics (vegan and cruelty free)
It’s much more difficult to find non-toxic, vegan, paraben-free cosmetics that perform well and don’t smell like glue. I have very sensitive skin, so if a product makes my skin break out, or irritates it or smells bad, it doesn’t make the list.
Below are my favorite vegan beauty products I use and love:
Best CLEAN wrinkle serum
Hydrating wrinkle oil. This gentle oil from Herbivore Botanicals Prism with AHA doesn’t irritate my finicky skin, gives it a little hydration and had faded some of the fine lines around my eyes.
Best CLEAN gentle face cleanser
Caudalie’s Vinoclean almond cleansing milk is a gentle cleanser that removes makeup and excess oil, doesn’t dry out my skin, and makes my face and neck feel soft and clean.
Best priced CLEAN hand and body lotion
Hand & Body lotion. I love the smell of lemon in this gentle, creamy lotion that I apply all over my body. I even put this lotion on my face when my skin is dry. The scent is subtle and fades quickly, which I like. Avalon Organics, Refreshing Lemon Hand or Body Lotion
Best CLEAN lip balm
I prefer Dr. Bronner’s clean lip balms because they don’t dry out my lips when it wears off like Chapstick does. I also like to add this lip balm on top of dark, matte or dry lipsticks to create shine and add hydration. Rose is my favorite, but it’s usually out of stock. They all go on clear.
See the before and after I add lip balm to the short video below:
Best CLEAN creamy shimmer lipstick
Hydrating creamy lipstick. These shimmer lipsticks from Ilia are my favorite because they glide on gently and leave my lips hydrated.
The color Runaway gives my lips just the right subtle rose-pink shade with a touch of shimmer for a more natural look, good for daytime. For evening outings, I would recommend a much darker shade.
Best CLEAN eye shadow pallets
BEST Gold shimmer eye shadow pallet. These eye shadows from ATHR Beauty have five different gold shimmers, a highlighter and a few different pretty brown shades in their Desert Sunset pallet. I use a solid matte eyeshadow on my lid and add one of the shimmers over that to get the shimmer to pop.
BEST CLEAN neutral Eye Shadow pallet for everyone
BEST clean warm eyeshadow pallet: These warm eyeshadows from Ilia will compliment all skin tints. The eyeshadows are neutral enough to wear in the daytime and you can create a bolder look by brushing on more of the Hunter brick or the elegant Lineup brown shades.
The set includes six shades for less than $10 per eyeshadow. The shades include a shimmer champagne highlighter, the perfect matte nude for the lid or crease, shimmery peachy-gold, and matte light, medium and dark browns.
You can’t go wrong with this pallet; it’s perfect for the beginner makeup artist and for the person who doesn’t want to look “made-up.”
BEST Bold & Beautiful Eye Shadow pallet. This fun eye shadow pallet called “Party in the Nude” from PYT beauty is so versatile, I can go full glam or casual-natural.
I apply the turquoise eyeshadow on a brow brush over black eyeliner, and the end result is a light blue eye shadow/liner that stays put all day.
There are two pink matte eye shadows, one light and subtle, and other is bright and more noticeable. There are two pretty peach matte colors, two shades of matte brown and a highlighter. The glitter shades only add a touch of shimmer and don’t stay put. Use the glitter or shimmers from the ATHR Beauty pallet above if you want to add a lot of pigmented sparkle to your lids.
best CLEAN eye shadow primer
Eye shadow primer. This light and creamy eye shadow primer from Alima Pure dries clear and allows my eye shadow to stay on all day with minimal creasing. Some primers dry the lid or make my lids itch, but this primer doesn’t feel like I put anything on my lids, and it’s easy to remove. I apply the primer on my lids and let it dry completely. Then I apply a nude eye shadow from lid to brow, which makes the shadows stay on longer. I also apply the primer to my eyebrows because I like to fill in my brows with taupe eye shadow, which keeps the eyeshadow in place a lot longer.
Best CLEAN liquid eyeliner
Ilia is a clean cosmetics brand; their liquid liner is easy to apply, and doesn’t flake or smudge.
Easiest liquid eyeliner to apply
Ilia is not just a clean cosmetics brand, but their eyeliner is really easy to apply because the bristles aren’t flimsy and floppy like all the other liquid brushes I’ve tried. The applicator brush is firm with a little bit of give, that makes lining the lids much easier. Watch the video demonstration I did on my hand below:
Best CLEAN eyeliner pencil
This soft clean eye pencil by Tinted, glides on and has impressive staying power. Since I have deep-set hooded eyes, a pencil works better for a winged look than a liquid liner. It comes in black and brown shades. I wear black liner because it makes my eyelashes look thicker. It’s a reasonable price, currently at $20 (as of 2023).
Best CLEAN brow gel with color
I use Kosas brow gel in Taupe to keep my eyebrow hairs in place and to add a little bit of extra color to fill in any spaces. My hair is brown and I like that the Taupe shade is not too dark and not too blond, but I think I’ll try a darker shade next time to make by brows look thicker. The Taupe shade is better for those with light brown hair. It has a mascara-like wand that’s easy to use and apply.
Give this a try if you have unruly or thin brows. This brow gel would probably work even better than an eye brow pencil for a more natural look if you have barely-there eyebrow hairs.
Best CLEAN no clump mascara
There are two clean mascara’s that I like that don’t clump and add a little bit of thickness and show off my long lashes, Ilia and HAN (which stands for: Healthy, Active, Natural). HAN is my #1 favorite, with Ilia as my #2. I prefer the HAN mascara because it applies easier and has more staying powder than Ilia. HAN mascara comes in two shades: black and deep brown. I have dark hair so I use black mascaras.
Ilia’s limitless mascara is one of the few mascaras I found that hardly clumps and it doesn’t flake. It has two different sizes of combs, one short that I use for my lower lashes, and on the other side are longer combs or bristles I use to coat the upper lashes. (It’s not vegan because it contains beeswax).
Best CLEAN volumizing mascara
If you’re looking for fuller, thicker lashes, try ILia’s Fullest Volumizing mascara that clumps just the right amount to give lashes more width.
Best CLEAN makeup remover
Makeup remover. I use Evolve Micellar Water to remove all my makeup, from eye shadow, to blush, and even foundation. It’s gentle and has no scent. I like that I don’t have to bend over the sink and splash water on my face as with a cream facial cleanser to remove my make up. This micellar water doesn’t make my skin feel dry, tight or sticky like other cleansers.
I also dip a Q-tip into the product to clean up eye shadow on my outer corners to give my eyes an uplifted look.
Best CLEAN foundation stick
Foundation stick. I use W3LL foundation stick in shade 1C (I have very fair skin with blue undertones) to cover up any redness on my face or body. It’s also has a pretty subtle shimmer to it so I like to apply it down the middle of my nose and high on my cheeks for a highlighted look. I blot it with my fingers instead of with a makeup sponge so that it blends easily and flawlessly.
Best CLEAN medium coverage liquid foundation
While I rarely wear a full face of foundation, unless I’m doing a photo shoot, this medium coverage foundation with an SFP of 40 by ILIA is my favorite clean foundation so far. I primarily use this foundation on my chest and shoulders when I’m out in the sun, which prevents a sunburn and gives my skin a flawless appearance and dewy finish. I have fair skin and wear shade DIAZ ST7.
I put a few drops of foundation (it includes a dropper) onto my skin and disburse the product with a large fluffy brush to achieve a natural look. My complaints with this product is that it doesn’t include a pump, and it uses more foundation because it’s thicker than the sheer coverage foundations that I’m accustomed to.
Best CLEAN bug bite itch gel
Bug bites – stop the itch. I know this is a toner, but I use it to stop scratching and itching from mosquito bites and it works well. I pour a small amount of the GoPure hydrating toner gel onto a cotton ball and massage the product onto and around the bug bite area. I’m guessing the witch hazel and the aloe vera are what helps take the pain away. I apply two to three times a day for all-day relief.
Best CLEAN glitter nail polish
This is my favorite glitter nail polish from Ella+Mila called Pixie Dust. It lasts longer than solid colors that chip the following day. I sometimes wear just one coat for shimmer, or if I want a true glam look to showcase the glitter, I’ll apply three coats of nail polish. It has a built-in top coat so I don’t have to put on a base or clear nail polish.
Best muscle pain relief gel
Muscle pain gel. As a trainer, my clients are always asking what to do when they have sore muscles the day or two following an exercise session. This clear, odorless gel absorbs into the skin quickly and is very effective at helping sore muscle pain subside. Massage a generous amount of gel onto skin two to three times a day.
Best CLEAN cortisone cream
Itch and burning Hydrocortisone cream without toxic ingredients. This PROcure Hydrocortisone Cream with Calendula is gentle, odorless and gets rid of itching and redness. I used it on my chin when I had a painful, itching rash and the pain, redness and flaking went away quickly and never returned. I keep this product in my cabinet at all times in case I need it.
Best CLEAN lightweight hairspray
Healthy hair spray that doesn’t make me cough, sneeze and holds my hair is really difficult to find. This product from Josh Rosebrook provides a light hold. I spritz the product onto my dry hair and blow dry the spray until it’s completely dry. Sometimes I’ll apply two coats, blow drying between each application. If you are looking for a heavy hold product, this isn’t for you.
Best CLEAN hair conditioner
After years of searching for a gentle shampoo and conditioner, I found a brand I like: Bogavia. It doesn’t weight down my curls, has a pleasant gentle scent and washes out easily. My only complaint is that the stores run out of stock too frequently. Presently, I cannot find their shampoo anywhere, even from the Bogavia website.
Best CLEAN shower bar soap
Body bar soap. My skin is very sensitive. This gentle body soap has a subtle rose scent that doesn’t dry or irritate my skin. I use this in the shower.
Best CLEAN toothpaste
Dr. Bronner has some wonderfully clean products. I like the taste of the anise toothpaste, which tastes like licorice. The spearmint toothpaste is yummy too. These toothpastes gently clean teeth without foaming or whitening, or make me gag like traditional toothpastes do.
Best aluminum-free deodorant
I’ve been using Desert Essence’s Spring Fresh aluminum-free deodorant for years and love its clean scent. It is vegan, non GMO, doesn’t irritate my gentle skin, doesn’t stain my tops, and goes on smoothly. On hot days or after a workout, a second application is usually required, but that’s typical for a clean deodorant that does not contain aluminum. Another bonus is that this deodorant is affordable at around $6.00.
Desert Essence’s Spring Fresh aluminum-free deodorant doesn’t appear to be available on Amazon so I included the link to the company store below. You might also be able to find this product at natural grocery stores.
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Here’s some other cosmetics that I love that aren’t available at Amazon, but are worth mentioning and purchasing:
Best CLEAN exfoliator
The Clean Circle Konjac Facial Sponge is a gentle exfoliator and it’s a great price at just $10. I wet the sponge a few times with water, squeeze out the excess water and press the sponge into my cheeks, forehead, neck and chin in a circular motion to get rid of dead skin cells. The soft sponge, when wet, feels like a wonderful massage. Make sure to wet it thoroughly and hang it outside of your shower with the attached string it comes with, to air it out to prevent mildew. I love it so much, I bought more and gave one away as a gift.
To check out this product, click the button below:
Best CLEAN face sunscreen
I have sensitive skin that breaks out easily. I don’t like sunscreen that is thick, greasy, casts a white sheen, makes my skin shiny, or is difficult to spread; this sunscreen from Saint Jane doesn’t have any of those issues. Saint Jane’s SPF 30 sunscreen is lightweight and invisible. It feels like a light cream instead of a sunscreen, and dries clear.
My only complaints are the high cost, that it’s a small bottle and the nozzle that the product comes out of is so narrow, it takes longer to get enough product out of the bottle. It’s expensive at $38 for 1.7 fluid ounces, but if you just use it on your face, like I do, it’s worth the extra money.
Click the name of the product below to go to the company website.
best CLEAN color corrector
I finally found a clean product that will cover up blemishes and any pink spots on my skin for a flawless look by EXA. I am wearing the shade pink for fair skin in the color corrector category. It appears it’s out of stock so I included the link to another site that I purchase from that orders this fabulous product and will contact you when it’s back in stock.
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