On a mission to find half-decent organic make-up
The search for great organics
ORGANIC MAKE-UP. Such a cuddly sounding topic. So full of thorns. Not sure if I’d have waded in if I’d known from the start. Elitist rubbish is one view. We need parabens and certain other chemicals to stop our cosmetics getting manky and giving us infections.
The riposte: ‘why overload the skin with yet more chemicals? There are natural preservatives in certain plants. We don’t need a cocktail from the lab to protect us.’
I’m paraphrasing. Both sides of the debate tend to get heated and both have unearthed evidence to back them up. Parabens and phthalates have been linked with endocrine disturbances and cancers, according to the antichemicals lobby. Discredited studies, say the pro-chemical lot.
And so it goes on. The problem is that while there are clear guidelines as to what constitutes organic food – few or no pesticides – things aren’t as clear-cut in the beauty industry. The word ‘natural’ gets bandied around as a catch-all cover, but it’s almost meaningless on its own because natural ingredients are often chemically modified to make them work in a desired way. Also, there are plenty of natural poisons.
There’s another issue – and I bring this to the table with a heavy heart. Quite a few organic make-up products aren’t as good as the conventional ones… yet. But they are improving all the time.
I’ve spent months trying out organic eyeshadows, mascaras, lipsticks and so on, not because there are so many to get through, but because it takes time to find ones that I’d happily swap my more conventional make-up for.
Occasionally, I’d come across one that brought actual joy into my makeup routine (The Organic Pharmacy’s coffret), only to learn that it was about to be discontinued. Oh well. Its eyeliner and shimmery blush (still going: £19 each at theorganicpharmacy.com), are excellent.
If you like intense pigment and some glamorous packaging, then Kjaer Weis cream eyeshadows (£32, net-a-porter. com) are for you. They take a bit of blending, but patience is rewarded with subtle, deep colour.
My eye favourites, though, are Dr Hauschka eyeshadows. Not as soft or as shimmery and buttery as Nars – the gold standard in eye make-up – but a more than decent stand-in. There are three palettes, containing four colours and three different textures, including iridescents (£27, drhauschka.com). Easy to use, with mineral pigments and medicinal plant extracts such as tea and silk to nourish the fragile area around the eyes, they are also free from synthetic fragrances, preservatives, mineral oils, silicone and are not tested on animals.
Mascaras, meanwhile, are trickier. Most of the organic ones aren’t bad, but not as good as Eyeko’s upmarket range and they probably won’t give you the same volume (thank you, fibre) as Maybelline. We must wait.
Lipstick is where it seems most sensible to go organic if you can, given how much of the stuff you ingest. Vegan brand Axiology has nice textures and some really bold shades (£25, naturisimo.com). I also like Organic Pharmacy’s lip balm glosses (£25, theorganicpharmacy.com); hydrating and with lovely colours – but not much longevity.
The hardest quest has been finding a liquid foundation or tinted moisturiser that I could love. A lot simply do not cut it. Although Dr Hauschka Illuminating Fluid (£25, drhauschka.com) isn’t tinted and doesn’t provide much in the way of cover, it is flawless when it comes to texture and imparting a (subtle) gleam.
Five stars from me – and I’ve got rid of all my other bases. And I can’t speak more highly than that.