Everything You Need to Know About the Pigments in Your Clean Makeup Products

The key is to get traditional color payoff, without traditional formulations.

It’s become quite clear in recent years that more and more consumers want the option of purchasing makeup products that have been formulated without potentially harmful ingredients — and retailers are listening up.

Sephora, for example offers a green seal for products that are made without over 50 controversial ingredients, while Credo Beauty only sells brands, both skincare and cosmetic, that deem themselves as clean. But long before these makeup products can reach shelves, it’s up to founders to figure out how to give consumers vibrant color payoff, all without the use of ingredients like carbon black or petroleum found in many traditional formulas.

“Color cosmetics are arguably the hardest products we create for this very reason,” Lindsay Dahl, senior vice president of social mission at Beautycounter shares with InStyle.”We are constantly working with our team to try different colorants, source new raw materials, all the while considering safety and sourcing issues that may arise.”

Yet, both Beautycounter and Róen Beauty have nailed how to make makeup products that are clean, and offer the color payoff consumers crave by using ingredients like mica and zinc stearate, which are both considered to be low risk when it comes to toxicity, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Here, an interview with Dahl and Beautycounter chief artistic officer Christy Coleman, as well as Róen Beauty CEO Tiffany Thurston Scott to answer all your questions about sourcing clean pigments.

Why Is It Important for Brands to Source Clean Pigments?

“The higher the pigment, the higher chance there is for heavy metal contamination, so it’s really important to go beyond just the Never List [Beautycounter’s list of over 1,800 potentially harmful ingredients that they do not use],” says Dahl. “We believe screening makeup for heavy metals is a practice that every beauty brand should be doing, but is not widely practiced, even among the ‘clean’ beauty industry. We screen each colorant for 23 health and environmental endpoints, in addition to testing raw materials and finished goods for heavy metals.”

As for Scott, it’s personal.

When she was in her early 20s, she shares that she became “obsessed” with understanding where her food came from in order to know exactly what she was putting into her body. This is why it became so important for her to source clean ingredients for her line.

“It was a natural transition for me to focus not only on what I was putting in my body but what I was putting on my body,” she says. “This led me to look into ingredients in my cosmetic and skincare products which was an eye-opener as to the toxic chemicals that are so prevalent.”

Is It Difficult to Find Clean Pigments That Offer Traditional Color Payoff?

Leaders from both brands admit that it was a challenge. However, after working with the right chemists, they were able to find ingredients that offered the best of both worlds.

“All of our products spend at least a year in development, which is why we have a small curated selection of products,” Scott says of Róen. “It’s important to me that we don’t launch anything that I’m not completely proud of and know is clean and high performing.”

Are There Certain Colors That Are Harder to Source Than Others?

According to Coleman, blues, greens, some rich browns, as well as certain glitters can pose a challenge.

“[They] have historically been harder to formulate safely given the high levels of heavy metals,” she explains. “In terms of mica, which gives a shimmery effect, particle size plays an important role. I have found it challenging sourcing a finer particle size which gives more of a subtle sheen, as opposed to larger particle sizes that produce a more glitter effect.”

Does Going Clean Come at a Steep Cost?

The long and short answer is yes, however, Scott believes that a clean bill of health is always worth the investment.

“[Health and glamour] can coexist and complement each other,” she says. “I think that as the clean beauty industry grows and evolves, the ingredients will become increasingly more economical as the demand continues to heighten.”

Dahl also notes that it’s not just about the money.

“We have audited 100% of our mica supply chain — a safe ingredient commonly used in makeup — that has human rights and labor concerns, like child labor,” she shares. “Taking on this important sourcing work comes at a cost, but we care about making sure people are protected all along our supply chain.”

The brand also uses some of their products to give back to areas that have been affected by labor exploitation. For example, ten percent of each purchase from the Golden Hour All-In-One Palette goes towards communities impacted by mica mining in India.

How Can You Ensure Ingredients Are Sourced Ethically?

It truly comes down to founders doing their homework, says Scott, who makes sure that the labs and suppliers she works with prioritize protecting the environment. But she’s transparent about the fact she, and the industry as a whole, can still do a better job.

“Our suppliers adhere to strict ethical guidelines in terms of sourcing materials to how the products are manufactured,” she explains. “For instance, our labs are part of the Responsible Mica Initiative that ensures our mica ethically sourced. We can always improve in this area and will always strive to continually improve wherever we can.”

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Gwyneth Paltrow’s Makeup Artist Georgie Eisdell on Why She Swears By Clean Beauty Products

Aside from being some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sophie Turner, and Thandie Newton all have one major thing in common: makeup artist Georgie Eisdell.

Originally hailing from Australia, the now Los Angeles-based beauty expert is one of the most sought-after makeup artists in the industry, known for creating stunning looks for the red carpet, all while keeping her clients’ skin looking flawless.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #23 series on my blog.

Her secret weapon? Clean beauty products.

“I threw myself into the world of clean beauty [when] one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with breast cancer about six years ago now,” Eisdell tells InStyle. “When she was preparing for treatment, I wanted to make sure she had everything she needed to keep her skin looking and feeling great and to have some options for her for when she wanted to wear makeup.”

Plus, working with Paltrow on a regular basis has given Eisdell the opportunity to do a deep dive into the science around clean formulations. “Being around the team at Goop has made me a lot more aware of what we can and should be looking at when it comes to beauty,” she says. “I have had quite the education and I am grateful for it.”

While there’s definitely a misconception that clean makeup doesn’t offer the same results as traditional formulas, Eisdell wants to make it clear that in this day and age, that notion is quite simply a load of crap.

The makeup artist says she notices little to no difference when it comes to color payoff, blendability, and coverage when she compares clean and traditional formulas, which is exactly why she feels confident using them on stars for red carpets (during the pre-COVID days), or on set.

And even though the FDA has yet to officially offer regulations around what is considered to be “clean,” Eisdell personally feels more comfortable using formulas from clean brands on both her clients, and herself.

Source: GOOP

“Your skin is the largest organ in your body, so for me, it is important to know I am using skincare that isn’t penetrating into my skin with endocrine disruptors,” she explains. “I try my best to avoid powders that contain talc, a cancer-causing mineral, and lipsticks and glosses that don’t have lead or other toxic heavy metals in it.”

@georgieeisdell on Instagram

“I love Goop’s Enriching Face Oil and Revitalizing Daily Moisturizer, and I am obsessed with the GoopGlow Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator,” she gushes. “I also love to use brighter cheek colors on her. Jillian Dempsey’s Cheek and Lip Tints are my faves — I love Poppy or Scarlet. For mascara, I like to use Saie’s Mascara 101. With lips, I mix it up with brands like Beautycounter, Ilia, and Saie.”

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8 Makeup Artists on How to Make Their Favourite Products Multi-Purpose

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #12 series on my blog.

Daniel Martin

Makeup artist Daniel Martin is a fan of using liquid lipstick not only for the lips, but also as a cheek stain. His favorite product for this hack? Honest Beauty’s Liquid Lipstick in Goddess.

“I love using this liquid lipstick on the face, as well as lips, to add a hint of a continuous flush on the apples of the cheek to bronzed skin,” he shares. “Jessica Alba taught me this trick!”

Kate Lee

Makeup expert Kate Lee swears by using facial oil as a moisturizer, hair treatment, and body scent. Her go-to is Chanel’s Huile de Jasmin Revitalizing Facial Oil.

“During this time of uncertainty, my focus is mainly on the wellness of mind and spirit,” says Lee. “I find that I am more nurturing and minimal in my daily routine and I am taking a break from makeup. I have found that now, more than ever, my olfactory senses really influence my mood. I use Chanel Huile de Jasmin on my face and décolletage daily and using what’s left on my hands, I run it through my hair.”

“The hair holds scent very well and to be gently followed by the scent of Jasmin feels very nurturing,” she continues. “In place of wearing perfume, I’ve been mixing a few drops of Huile de Jasmin into my favorite clean, fragrance-free body lotion by Nécessaire.”

Nikki DeRoest

obbi Brown artist-in-residence Nikki DeRoest likes to apply contour stick to not only add dimesion to cheekbones, but also to the eyes, forehead, and jawline. Her weapon of choice is Westman Atelier’s Face Trace Contour Stick.

“I like to use this stick first in the obvious spot, where it’s intended for use: in the hollows of my cheeks,” she shares. “I start at my ear and swipe inwards, stopping halfway on my cheek. This product is so easy to use and can easily be blended out with fingers or any type of semi-firm brush. While I’m at it, and quickly multi-tasking with my makeup, I also love to swipe a bit just above the crease of my eye on my outer brow bone, on the hollow of my temples and the other edges of my forehead, and of course, along my jawline and under my chin. It glides so easily, and just by using that one product, I feel like I am able to give my skin such great, yet subtle, dimension.”

Emily Cheng

As a makeup artist to stars like Laura Harrier, Yara Shadidi, and Ella Mai, Emily Cheng has more than a few tricks up her sleeve. But using mascara for both the eyelashes and as an eyeliner is one of her best kept secrets. She uses Too Faced Better Than Sex to make the eyes pop.

“When I was in Paris a few months ago, my personal liquid liner had run out and I was in a rush, so I used my Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara with an angled brush and it worked perfectly,” she reveals. “The consistency was like a gel liner, and I felt like it stayed on even longer than my usual waterproof liquid liner.”

Deja Smith

Emmy Award-nominated makeup artist Deja Smith uses paw paw cream as a lip balm, hand salve, and as a highlighter. Her go-to choice is Lucas’ Paw Paw Ointment.

“I use this little tube for everything, from keeping my lips moisturized to soothing my sandpaper dry hands after disinfecting the house and washing them,” she explains. “It’s even the best no makeup, makeup highlighter for Zoom calls with that special someone. I dab a little on my lips and use the residual to add a luminescent pop to the arch of my brow and cheekbones. This ointment is effective and my quarantine must-have.”

Sarah Tanno

Lady Gaga’s go-to makeup artist Sarah Tanno loves using Haus Laboratories Glam Attack in Angel Baby on the lips, as an eyeshadow, as well as a highlighter.

“This is a liquid shimmer powder. It goes on as a liquid and dries as a powder,” Tanno says. “I used the applicator to apply all over my eyelids. I tapped a small amount on the apples of my cheeks and blended it up to high points of my cheeks for a healthy-looking highlight. Lastly, I added a touch to the center of my lips to add a pop of shimmer. One product equals a full makeup look in under five minutes!”

Daniel Chinchilla

KVD Vegan Beauty’s Cat Eye Ambassador Daniel Chinchilla uses the same liquid eyeliner for the eyes and to create faux freckles: KVD Vegan Beauty Tattoo Eyeliner in Mad Max Brown.

“Tattoo Liner can give you a flawless cat eye, but also, freckles! Because of Tattoo Liner’s super fine brush tip, it’s super easy to give yourself the sharpest cat eye you’ve ever had,” he shares. “And while you’re at it, gently press the tip of the Tattoo Liner onto your cheeks and nose for some super subtle freckles. One of the best things is that it is waterproof and you won’t have to worry about any smudging.”

Christy Coleman

Makeup artist and chief artistic officer at Beautycounter Christy Coleman says you can use your bar soap as a body or hand wash, as well as a brow gel. She recommends Beautycounter’s Citrus Mimosa Body Bar.

“The soap helps to thicken the brow and make them stay in place,” she says. “First, fill your brow in with a pencil, then using the spoolie side of an eyebrow brush or pencil, go back over them with soap.”

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