Day 171 / 365

I've never been much of a lipstick girl. I’ve always struggled to find a colour that suits me, and once I do, struggled to keep it on my lips and off my teeth.  

That said, since moving to Paris, I have been inspired by the beauty and simplification of the French female aesthetic: Veja's, jeans, a plain top and a bit of lipstick gives them all they need to confidently and comfortably take on the day. So while my accent and lack of proper verb conjugation constantly betrays me, I can at least look the part of the female Parisian with a toned down wardrobe and a slap of lipstick to match.

Before I went hunting for my perfect colour, I did a bit of research on what to look for. Alarmingly, there were more problematic points than I expected and unsurprisingly, the conventional companies I knew best were the worst of the bunch ...


I had heard about lead being found in L'oreal lipsticks, and also seen an article about Ontario-based research which analysed 49 popular makeup brands like Maybelline, Wet and Wild, L'oreal, Clinique ect.. for the presence of arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, beryllium, nickel, selenium and thallium (four of which are banned in Canada). They found all the toxins but mercury in every tested product (they tested all your drug store / department store brands)

The effects of the toxins, which can be absorbed through the skin, is a worrying roll call of health problems, including hormone disruption, cancer, neurological problems, memory loss, mood swings, reproductive and developmental disorders, kidney problems, headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea, lung damage, dermatitis and hair loss.

Buy from brands who have a full list of ingredients which are completely natural and sustainably sourced. If you don't know what one of the ingredients are, look it up on EWG or just google it to find out what it is and how it affects your health.

On top of the personal health issues, there are problems with where those chemicals we don't ingest go. Cosmetics and personal care products are hugely harmful to the environment as they wash down our sinks and into the biosphere, finding their way into our lakes, rivers, streams, and public water systems, which affect us and our ecology. This is a really important thing for VEGAN's to consider as well, as many products marked as being vegan contain the following chemicals, which actually harm animals.

On top of GMOs, parabens, phenoxyethanol, nanoparticles, silicone, PEG, perfumes, and synthetic dyes which cause harm to our own health (ie// cause CANCER), there are other ingredients to look out for. P-phenylenediamine is a coal-tar derived chemical which diminishes animal plankton, alters fish behaviour, and causes death in many aquatic species. BHA and BHT, are synthetic antioxidants found in lipstick as well, which cause death in fish and shellfish. They've also been known to cause genetic mutations in amphibians. 


Use the EWG  or google to find out where it comes from, if it biodegrades, and whether it harms you, the planet or her inhabitants during its lifecycle. If it does, find something else, there are sustainable solutions for just about every evil product these days, it's super easy to make the switch to something sustainable.  

Greenwashing doesn't hold its place solely in the fashion industry. Just like the word 'natural' means nothing in the food industry, it also means nothing in the cosmetics industry as there is no governing body overlooking the use of that word. 

As the demand for 'natural' ingredients have increased, as had the interest of big business in producing with natural ingredients. This is a big win on the surface, but in actuality, it calls for more farming and mining at a cheaper price, which means increased use of pesticides (which cause health harms to the farmer, their community, and you) and exploitation of human rights. It's hard for big business to slow down when profits require them to keep up at a speed which isn't sustainable in any definition of the word. 

Buy from smaller companies who produce with 100% natural products derived from renewable resources, sourced sustainably, and transformed by environmentally friendly processes. Only buy from companies who are kind and transparent. If you're interested in a product and the company doesn't list or can't tell you how their ingredients were sourced, if they're organic, or if they've used green processes in their production, ask them. If they can't give you a straight answer, thank them kindly, suggest the changes you'd like to see them make and move on to a consciously produced product instead. 

It is no secret that the cosmetics industry tests their products on animals, nor is it a secret that it does so with cruelty. What we know less about is the ingredients like Carmine, which is made from smushed up beetles, and other such unkind ingredients. You can read more about the animal ingredients in cosmetics on PETA's website HERE and decide what sits right with you, and what doesn't. 


LOOK for the cruelty-free symbol(s). You can click HERE to learn more about what symbols to look for and what they mean. Using products which are harmful to the planet and her inhabitants is completely avoidable. Vote with your dollar against the evils fo the cosmetics industry by supporting cosmetics which are kind!

The cosmetics industry and personal care products, including lipstick, are mostly packed in plastic. Plastic is an oil derivative which is a non-renewable resource. It also doesn't biodegrade and in many cases is very difficult to recycle. 

Buy your products in biodegradable, reusable, or recyclable packaging. 

In my hunting, I created a small list of seven brands who sell worldwide and meet my five set rule. These are brands made from sustainably sourced organic products, free of toxins, cruelty-free, and packaged consciously. If you know of any others who fit the bill, please let me know in the comments below!

[WHAT I USE] I myself bought the Neals Yard brand in Pomegranate, a choice that was based on proximity and reviews. It is a luscious, moisturising, and nourishing lipstick with subtle natural tones which compliment my skin tone but isn't bright enough to really rock my world. I also use Ilia's Wild Child lipstick, which is a much brighter colour. When these two run out I've got my eyes set on Canadian brand Elate Cosmetics and Keeping It Natural. 

** Please read up on your cosmetics using EWG, it's a great source of honest information. I've included affiliate links in this post, any revenue received from purchases will be donated to EWG as a thank you to them for sharing their knowledge! **

Photos: #1&2: Shane Woodward (which I butchered on VSCO cam) #3, me.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8