Organic Makeup: What You Need to Know

Aly Walansky

organic makeup

For some, organic makeup is a dream come true. It’s essentially natural, with naturally derived ingredients, and healthier because it’s typically free of irritating ingredients and additives like preservatives, parabens, chemical dyes, fragrance and oil. That makes it great for sensitive, acne-prone and damaged skin types, as well as any of us who have rosacea or eczema. There are many women who experience irritation, rashes and other reactions when they use department or drug store makeup. Often, when they finally turn to organic makeup, it’s the first time they’re able to wear cosmetics. It sounds like a win-win option, right? Well, maybe. Below is what you need to know about organic makeup, for better or for worse.

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Fewer surprises.
Although there are no formal laws about what can be labeled organic or even natural, some private groups have formed to try to police the industry and research ingredients in products. “The idea behind organic makeup is that it uses naturally sourced, chemically unaltered ingredients. This should theoretically make it easier to read labels and know what you are putting on your skin, and easier to track potential health consequences,” says Dr. Jessica Krant, MD, MPH, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Art of Dermatology in New York City, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

You are supporting the natural health movement.
Buying organic makeup and food helps the industry make money. This will help those who want to develop truly natural, safe products. But, it also lures the less honest companies that may choose to label products as “organic” or “natural” when they contain a few natural ingredients, but may also contain traditional chemicals. There is no way around this but to read labels carefully and try to do your own research.

Your makeup might not work as well.
Traditional chemical ingredients in cosmetics have been developed over the years to give us the textures we crave and the colors we want. Lightness with coverage, brightness without staining and solid reliability with easy removal have all come from chemical alterations. “Organic products are often not as cosmetically elegant in industry parlance,” says Dr. Krant.

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Your makeup might not last as long.
Though there are “natural” preservatives that help keep makeup blended and creamy smooth without separating and getting lumpy, they just do not work as well as the traditional chemical preservatives we have all learned to be wary of.

You are more likely to get infections.
The same chemical preservatives that keep makeup mixed and of the right consistency are the ones that also prevent bacteria and fungi from setting up shop in our makeup containers. “Organic preservatives work, but they aren’t proven to be quite as reliable, so if you use organic products, be prepared to toss out the old and buy new makeup more frequently to prevent a dangerous infection, especially around the eyes,” says Dr. Krant.

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