Whole Home Detox: 5 Things to Know About Detoxing Your Make-Up Bag

Non-toxic make-up.  Out of all the detox projects I did in my house, this one was the most difficult to find information on.

I started this adventure armed with two things:   The Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety databaseThe Guide to Less Toxic Products and a whole bunch of internet reviews.

It’s kind of hard to believe that the cosmetic industry is getting away with all the bad things they are putting in make-up.  Cosmetics are the LEAST regulated industry under the FDA. That means you can’t trust it’s safety of your favorite mascara simply because it’s on a retailer’s shelf.

So, how do you know where to start?   What non-toxic make-up is the best?  Here are five things to know:

5 Things to Know About Detoxing Your Make Up Bag

1.) Set a Priority List: Everyone’s priority list is going to be different, so you’ll have to think about what is important to you and purchase accordingly.  I set some pretty aggressive goals: I wanted each item to have a toxicity rate at a “2” or lower at a price point of $20 or less.  Of course, it also had to be something I’d actually like and wear every day.

2.) Stay Away From Mainstream Cosmetic Brands: Almost all of them contain harmful substances.  Commonly used chemicals (preservatives in particular) in our beloved cosmetics are being linked to scary things like hormone disruptions, birth defects, respiratory disorders, and even cancer.  Makes sense when you think about the fact that our skin is our most porous organ…and that you actually ingest a good deal of the lip color you wear.

3.) Never Trust A Brand: One of the biggest things I learned is not to trust a brand name or a label.  In many cases, labels like “organic,” “natural,” “pure” and “non-toxic” are clever marketing.  A few organic ingredients in a lip gloss doesn’t mean that it is void of bunches of other toxic chemicals.  (An example of this would be Physician’s Formula’s “organic” line.)

It’s also really helpful to know that many companies, even the true non-toxic ones, have notable discrepancies in their toxicity ratings between products.   Just because a brand claims to make non-toxic products, or include “organic” ingredients doesn’t mean it’s 100% true for all of it’s products.  One company may carry a great lip gloss, while their foundation is another story.  That is why I looked into the ingredients toxicity of each and every cosmetic product I viewed, and you should too!

Warning: Do not buy any make-up from brands that make big claims to be non-toxic but do not disclose full ingredient lists.  There are some brands that will go to great lengths tell you everything they “don’t” put in their make-up, but will not release an actual list of ingredients.

4.) Ingredients to Beware Of: Here is a list of ingredients to look out for when shopping.  If a product contains any of these, do not buy it.  (These are a few of the major ones, but read this helpful article for a more thorough list ! )

  • Parabens.  This is usually a suffix tacked on the end of a really long word.  These are preservatives that have hormone-disrupting effects.
  • Petroleum.  Might also be the word “petrolatum” or “mineral oil.”  Impedes the skin from eliminating toxins.
  • Phthalates (synthetic fragrances).  This will appear as “fragrance” or “parfum” on an ingredient list.  Linked to birth defects, respiratory disorders, chronic skin reactions and a number of other health complications.
  • Lead
  • Anything you don’t understand or can’t pronounce!  (Google it and then look it up in the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database to find out what it is if you are unsure)
  • Any brand that claims to be “non toxic” or “organic” but will not list ingredients.  Lists of what they “don’t” use do not count!  That’s just marketing.

Here are some ingredients that are controversial but not quite proven to be as toxic as the ones mentioned above.  Some of them might have to be inhaled or ingested at very high levels to do any damage.  Evidence is very limited, but you’ll still get a lot of opinions and mixed reviews on these (I’m sure some of my readers have some opinions! Wink, wink.):

  • Mica
  • Talc
  • Titanium Dioxide (can be good because it is used as an SPF, so pick your poison.  Lots of opinions on this one.  Found in many of the the “non-toxic” brands, including Bare Minerals and most foundations.)
  • Silica

5.) Suggested Make-Up to Consider: Now that you are all fired up to detox your make up bag, how about some other full-line cosmetic brand recommendations to get you started?  Remember, don’t trust a brand or a label.  Set your budget and priority list and take a careful look at each product!

Note:  Once you know what product and shade you want, sometimes you can order these cosmetics for a few dollars cheaper at online stores like VitaCost.com. If you prefer to see product in person, check stores like you local health food store or Whole Foods.

I hope this guide will encourage you to tackle the job of finding a safe make-up!  Here are the results of my original make-up bag detox and here is an update on the items currently in my make-up bag!

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  • Kirstie

    Hi Frugal Faye! I just found your site last week and have read every post already, and just bought some of the 100% Pure make up based on your recommendation! Basically, I think you rock, thank you so much for doing all of this research and sharing it with your readers (I’m totally a fan and telling everyone I know about you).

    I found your blog through a web search for “no poo” (9 days in on my second try, hopefully I wont give up this time), and although I eat organic most of the time, make my own laundry soap, dont use chemicals in my home, planning to cloth diaper (just need to get married and have kids first…heh), I had never even thought about all those terrible chemicals that could be lurking in my make up, yuck! So thanks again for raising awareness and sharing your research :)

    • frugalfaye

      Thank you for the encouragement and for spreading the word! I am so glad you this helped you!

  • Q

    Hey! I’ve been reading this blog for about a week now and I’m really enjoying it! I’ve even started the “no-poo” process (and ugh* the beginning means a lot of french braids and buns, but i’m excited to stick with it) and i’ve just started detoxing my makeup bag… Have you ever heard of Rooted Beauty products? an “all-natural” friend mentioned them and I’m curious to see a review.

    • frugalfaye

      I have not heard of Rooted before, but I am excited to look them up! Thanks!

  • Angela Belleville

    I was looking at the 100% Pure.com and there face powder also has mica and titanium dioxide (for sunscreen) in it. Would this cause them to be removed as your #1?


    • frugalfaye

      Good question! Pure is still my #1 because of the consistently low toxicity scores on all of their items compared to other brands. It’s pretty hard to find a powder without titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide, (while not the greatest ingredient) still scores pretty low on toxicity itself.

  • J

    Maybe you just haven’t shared it with the world, although you did share two birth stories which are amazinggg, but have you tried the menstrual cup or considered posting about it?

    • frugalfaye

      I have considered it! A number of my friends use the Diva Cup…I’ve thought about it 1000 times, but honestly just been too chicken to try it! (I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to blog about it!) Have you tried one?

  • Raquel Michelow

    Hi Faye! Congratulations for your work, and a brief question: did you consider the Alima products during your detox process? Why? Txs in advance. Raquel from Chile.

  • Hannah

    Just stumbled across your blog and I’m obsessed! Thank you for sharing. Have you ever tried inika organics? And would you say that Pure cosmetics is still your number #1? Thank you.

  • JC Sterling

    Came across your blog as I have been looking for a new mascara that is organic. I have been using Covergirl at about $6-$8 for each mascara tube. I really love how natural and beautiful 100% Pure’s products look, but $25 for one tube?! I’m a college student on a budget! $25 would buy me a weeks worth of groceries and I eat an all organic vegetarian diet. I use a lot of coupons and find great sales so I just don’t think I could rationalize spending more than $10 for a tube of mascara. Even your other options you listed are all $16 or more….do you have any other blog posts with some less expensive natural options?

    • Elizabeth Flamm

      I believe Cov
      er Girl still tests on animals. If this is true, then yuck!

  • Shannon

    I am a middle class working woman.I would not classify 100% Pure as affordable. It looks to be comparable with Estee Lauder price point. Maybe I’m just cheap I’m really trying to use only natural healthy products on my skin and hair and I’ve found some great products for my hair and skin care (which aren’t cheap either) but at least give us a base kit at a discounted price.

    I appreciate the info but personally I think I’d just as soon take my chances with Bare Minerals until something more affordable (than Pure) comes along. At least it’s a price I can stomach and I know their products provide good natural looking coverage.

  • Stephanie

    Thank you so so much for you sharing your hard work and research with everyone. The toxic free makeup maybe more expensive but come everyone it’s your health what’s more important than that. Plus at least for me a tube of mascara can last from 6 months to a year. I’m also very concerned with animal testing so that included info would be great too.