In these pages, we often offer recipes to make your own simple, toxin-free skin- and body-care products out of the herbs you grow at home. But making more complicated cosmetics — like mascara and foundation — might be too difficult or time-consuming for many of us. Luckily, the number of companies offering natural, herb- or botanical-based and chemical-free cosmetics seems to increase every day. And while these increasing options give you easier, more widespread access to natural cosmetics, they also can increase the confusion and muddle as you search online or in your health-food store. Here are a few companies that offer high-quality, natural cosmetics that our staff has tested.
Who they are: Arbonne manufactures and distributes a complete line of pure Swiss skin care, color cosmetics, nutrition and aromatherapy products. Every product is botanically based, pH correct, hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested, never tested on animals, and formulated with no animal products or byproducts, mineral oils, dyes or chemical fragrances.
What they offer: Arbonne has an incredibly wide array of cosmetics, including foundation, concealer, powder, eye powders and pencils, mascara and lipsticks. Their colors range widely in every category, and their packaging is attractive. Plus, you know you’re doing something good for your skin when the products, such as the concealers, include natural ingredients like green tea, chamomile, ginseng, cucumber and arnica.
Any drawbacks? Like many natural cosmetics, Arbonne products can be a bit higher on the price scale than many drugstore makeup products. But their high-quality, skin-friendly products make it reasonable to spend the extra cash.
Prices: About Face Line Defiance: $26; About Face Concealer: $16; About Face Blusher: $12.50; About Face Lash Duos: $18.
Who they are: Ecco Bella was created in 1992 to protest against animal testing in the cosmetics industry. Ecco Bella uses no animal testing, and instead ensures safety by using products proven safe over time and by testing the products themselves, the company says. They use organic or ecologically grown herbs, aloe vera and cold-pressed vegetable oils.
What they offer: Ecco Bella has recently discovered a wax present on flower petals that helps lock in moisture and keep petals intact longer. They now add this delicate wax to cosmetics for products that go on smoother and create a softer finish. Ecco Bella offers a large array of cosmetic products, from lipsticks and glosses to mascaras and eye pencils. They feature a very attractive, recyclable duo compact that can be refilled with custom-shaped powders and shimmers. And lip glosses and mascaras are cleverly packaged with a small mirror on the outside, so you’re always able to touch up.
Any drawbacks? While most products have a wide range, a few, like the eyeshadows and eye pencils, are somewhat limited in color choice. Still, their varied product line is sure to include nearly everything you would need.
Prices: FlowerColor Mascara: $12.95; FlowerColor Natural Eyeshadow: $7.95; Good For You Gloss: $12.95; Natural Foundation: $18.95.
THE ORGANIC MAKE-UP COMPANY,
Who they are: This Canadian company was created to offer the next step for those interested in holistic well-being. They promise to use only pure, natural ingredients and preparation methods, to respect the environment in the manufacture of their products, to use no products that have caused the suffering of an animal, and to use certified organic ingredients as much as possible. All products have a non-beeswax alternative for vegan consumers.
What they offer: The Organic Make-Up Company offers blushing powders, concealers and foundations, eyeshadows, lipsticks and lip glosses. The products cover very well, and stay put, although they can be somewhat heavy at times. Their lip glosses, in particular, are rich and creamy and offer a great finish. And while some products, such as the blushing powders, seem to have limited color choice, they are designed to blend well with various skin tones.
Any drawbacks? Because they are a Canadian company, prices run fairly high for American consumers.
Prices: Foundation base: $20.70; Lip Gloss: $16.10; Eyeshadow Regular: $17.25; Blushing Powder: $17.25.
There’s no cosmetic for beauty like happiness.
— Maria Mitchell, first
U.S. female astronomer
Who they are: Earth’s Beauty offers pure loose powder makeup based on organic arrowroot with added natural coloring. All the company’s products are in loose powder form to eliminate the need for extra ingredients, and are specially designed for those who are sensitive or allergic to traditional cosmetics. Because the particles of arrowroot are so fine, the makeup looks light and natural, the company says.
What they offer: This company offers a wide range of colors in their eyeshadows and face powders. The products really do blend for a light, natural finish, and blend well with many skin types. The concealers are a bit heavier, more solid formula than all the others.
Any drawbacks? If you are looking for a heavier, fuller coverage, this product line may not offer what you are looking for, and they don’t offer mascaras. They do offer all-natural lip glosses and lip nectars, and for those looking for nicely blended, light makeup, these feathery formulas will be perfect.
Prices: Undereye Concealer: $12.95; Mineral Eye Liner: $10.50; Mineral Colours Original Foundation Powder: $20.95; Lip Glaze Compact: $10.95.
Who they are: A leader in natural cosmetics, Dr. Hauschka has been manufactured since 1967 by WALA-Heilmittel, a holistic pharmaceutical company in southern Germany. Founders Rudolf Hauschka and Elisabeth Sigmund hoped to elevate skin care from superficial cover-up to preventive health care by creating cosmetics using a mixture of medicinal botany, herbal cosmetics and ancient principles, according to the company.
What they offer: Designed to “work in harmony with your skin,” Dr. Hauschka offers a full line of decorative cosmetics, including lipsticks and liners; eye shadows, liners and mascaras; translucent makeups and face powders; as well as cover sticks, rouge and bronzing powders. Ingredients like rose, jojoba and beeswax, and extracts of witch hazel, carrot, hawthorn, neem and calendula give your skin a natural glow.
Any drawbacks? The somewhat pricey products are not available for purchase on Dr. Hauschka’s website, but the site offers a store locator to find a distributor near you, or you can mail-order by calling their toll-free phone number. Available on the Internet by authorized dealers.
Prices: Lipsticks: $19.95; Mascara: $22.50; Eyeshadow Duos: $27.95; Translucent Make-up: $29.95.
Who they are: This German company was founded nearly 20 years ago, along with one of Germany’s first natural products stores, because of the founder’s sensitive skin and trouble with most skin-care products. Based on all-natural, herbal ingredients, this company is dedicated to using organic ingredients, free of additives, dyes and synthetics. Their innovative formulations, such as their 100-percent mineral Sun Spray and all-natural berry-scented lip glosses have won Innovation Prizes in the Natural Cosmetics Industry.
What they offer: Lip sticks and lip glosses, loose powders, liquid foundation, mascara, eyeliners, eye shadows, tinted transparent moisturizers and more. These products all include essential oils and herbs, such as the Volume Mascara with organic jojoba oil and wild rose oil for nourishing lashes, or the Make Up Fluid Naturel with organic aloe vera and organic almond oil. Their foundations truly are light and sheer, and blend beautifully.
Any drawbacks? This company’s color sets, especially for face powders and foundations, is very limited. Their website does offer a nice guide to cool versus warm skin tones, and makeup tips, but the limitations of only two skin-color variations can be restrictive to U.S. consumers.
Prices: Make Up Fluid Naturel: $23.95; Lipstick: $20; Tinted Transparent Moisturizer: $22.95; Volume Mascara: $19.99.
Jessica Kellner is coordinating editor of The Herb Companion.