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We often find ourselves reading the descriptions of products on their boxes rather than the ingredients—and even if we did read those ingredients, chances are we wouldn’t really have a big idea as to what they do or why they’re there. Rather than look up all 30+ ingredients in a tube of hand cream, wouldn’t it just be easier to be able to see a less than overwhelming list of ingredients, all of which are words you can pronounce and understand? Well LOTS of beauty brands agree. Being mindful of what you put in your body is obviously important, but so is what you put on your body. There are tons of irritants commonly found in beauty products that can negatively affect you over time, all the while you might be thinking it’s just allergies. Now before you just raid your kitchen pantry for “chemical-free” beauty products, the truth is that absolutely nothing is actually “chemical-free.” Water is a chemical. The term generally flies as a marketing term to imply “natural” or “organic” (two terms that are also non-FDA regulated) or otherwise any product that’s made with the natural-beauty philosophy in mind. We may not have a chemist on hand for comment, and you probably don’t either, so here’s a list of beauty brands that only put things you know and understand into their products.
100% Pure pretty much comes out strong, letting you know what it’s all about in the name. They offer a range of skincare, body, and hair products, as well as some nail polish, baby products, and fruit-dyed makeup. Everything they sell is toxin-free and naturally-derived. Not one to skimp on the back-end though, the 100% Pure ethos extends to the environment as well, packaging all their products in biodegradable and post-consumer materials. Everything is also cruelty-free and charitable towards animal welfare, for you vegans out there. Their offices are even 100% solar energy and electric-powered. The best part is that their formulas are really effective, possibly because a company that dedicated to nature really knows how to wield its power. You can find them at select drugstores and Target, and on their website.
(Shown: 100% Pure Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream, $22 at 100percentpure.com)
Alima Pure is based in Portland, OR and offers a whole line of makeup with a minimal concept in mind—it’s not what’s in the makeup, it’s about what isn’t. They even have a handy guide on their website that explains what every ingredient they use in their products does and what it’s for. With tons of makeup options and better yet— tons of complexion colors, there’s no excluding any skin tones.
(Shown: Radiant Finishing Powder, $22 at AlimaPure.com)
Other than slick minimalist packaging, FIG+YARROW offers great minimal products with unique formulations for “sensual enjoyment, physical radiance and overall vitality.” What you get are plant and mineral-derived ingredients that make up simple and luxurious products for skin care and body care, lip and nail care, dental hygiene, as well as home goods. What you get are wonderfully effective products with a hand-hewn and minimally-packaged feel.
(Shown: Facial Care Kit, $76 at figandyarrow.com)
Herbivore Botanicals has their “vanity decor” game on point with their brightly minimal packaging with simple symbolic aesthetic. Handmade in Seattle, WA, they made skin/body care, hair products and lip butters all with simple but sumptuous ingredients. There’s a unique element of mysticism with off-beat additions like the gemstone Tourmaline, German Blue Chamomile, and Orchid Extract. Housed in gorgeous clear white bottles and tubs, Herbivore Botanicals’ ingredients are as preciously considered as they come. You may be familiar with them from seeing them at Urban Outfitters, Birchbox, Madewell, and Free People.
(Shown: Ultimate Skincare Collection, $164 at Herbivorebotanicals.com)
Ilia might be one of those brands that you like just because they make great cosmetics that look great and wear really well. So it may be a pleasant discovery then that the whole line is based on the concept of housing organic bio-active ingredients into sleek well-design packaging. Ilia’s founder, Sasha Plavsic, has her background in design and branding but created Ilia after curiosity over the ingredients in a lipstick and the homeopathic remedies her mother would make piqued her interest enough to create an initial line of six pieces, focused in lip care. 40 new items later, Ilia is organic, naturally-derived cosmetics for the high-end luxury crowd.
(Shown: Ilia Illuminator in Sway, $34 at iliabeauty.com)
You may not soon forget a name like Meow Meow Tweet. And maybe that’s the point of the vegan all-natural beauty brand. But from what we’ve seen, it seems like they’re more about making toxic-free and safe products for the body (their aluminum-free deodorant is one of their more popular items!) with really cute illustrations on the packaging, done by one of the co-founders. Lots of their ingredients are skin-friendly essential oils that smell great and are gentle too. Oh, and not to be confused by the name, but there are no animal ingredients whatsoever.
(Shown: Facial Kit, $84 at meowmeowtweet.com)
“Osmia” refers to the sense of smell, a very involved sense in all things beauty. The whole line features products for skin, body, and lips, as well as perfume with rather brief ingredients lists, much to a conscious consumer’s relief. Osmia Organics actually goes above and beyond with the transparency of what’s in their products and packaging. Using mostly raw, organic high quality ingredients, it’s a sensory experience to use these products, other than a means for practicing hygiene.
(Shown: Rose Clay Facial Soap, $24 at osmiaorganics.com)
S.W. Basics, in a unique trade, lists their ingredients on the front of the packaging. Generally containing less than five ingredients, each product consists of ethically-sourced pure high-quality ingredients that support small farms. They’re a self-proclaimed “no-frills beauty” brand, using the least amount of ingredients possible. Created with the founder’s sensitive skin in mind, the brand became popular through word of mouth. The reason for the five-or-less ingredients? Not to cheap you out, rather, the less ingredients mean less chance of irritation and more potency.
(Shown: Hibiscus Mask, Exfoliant, Toner, $12-14 at SWBasics.com)