What is Organic Makeup?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Cornstarch, which is often used to make organic makeup.
Cornstarch, which is often used to make organic makeup.
Cornstarch, which is often used to make organic makeup.

Organic makeup has several possible definitions. It can be made from plant materials only, or from substances derived from plant materials. Makeup labeled as organic may also mean that it is made from organic or naturally occurring compounds, including minerals. The term implies that all materials in the makeup are certified organic, meaning they have not been exposed to pesticides. Unless a makeup actually claims to be "certified organic" makeup, it may contain pesticides.

Organic makeup is usually made of plant materials, or substances derived from plant materials.
Organic makeup is usually made of plant materials, or substances derived from plant materials.
Organic makeup is usually made of plant materials, or substances derived from plant materials.

Organic cosmetics derived from plants and minerals can work very well. For instance, the principle ingredient in the popular makeup Bare Minerals or Bare Esscentuals is cornstarch. It would be a mistake to assume that organic makeup is necessarily better for one than chemically produced makeup. Plants can contain powerful toxins and carcinogens that are just as detrimental to the skin and body as lab produced chemicals. Minerals can also have a high degree of toxicity, and organic cosmetics of the past, like the white powder used by geishas which caused lead poisoning, can be harmful.

In the U.S., "certified organic" products cannot include genetically modified ingredients.
In the U.S., "certified organic" products cannot include genetically modified ingredients.
In the U.S., "certified organic" products cannot include genetically modified ingredients.

Even if when organic makeup is certified, then plant materials or minerals may still be unsafe. The best idea is to make sure that makeup does not contain known toxins or carcinogens. This can often be hard to decipher on labels because they use so many long, complicated words in listing ingredients.

A few chemicals to look for and avoid in organic makeup include the following:

  • Sodium laurel sulfate, which can cause mild to moderate skin irritation and allergy,
  • Paraben, which is often used as a makeup preserver and contains estrogen
  • Hydrosols, which contain water that is often not purified and may have high levels of chemicals.

    It may be hard to always avoid such chemicals: virtually every shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste contains sodium laurel sulfate. But people often pay top dollar for organic makeup and should know upfront whether the product is really different or safer than lab produced chemicals. They should also be aware that this cosmetic is not necessarily free of contaminants or pesticides, and to look for makeup labeled "certified organic."

  • Tricia Christensen
    Tricia Christensen

    Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

    Tricia Christensen
    Tricia Christensen

    Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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    Discussion Comments

    seafoam

    Yes, sodium laurel sulfate can lead to dry, irritated skin, and can cause allergies. More importantly, it is also considered a carcinogen.

    I've definitely started to protect myself and my family by using organic products in the past few years. Yes, they are more expensive but I try and save money in other areas.

    SarahG

    That's a good tip to look for the word, "certified" when buying organic makeup. I always feel as though I'm being tricked when trying to decipher what's actually in the product.

    anon151840

    I was very concerned when I heard of an episode of Dr. Phil that discussed paraben being found in cancerous breast tumors. I have been reading labels and it a lot of ingredients are not all listed or it has paraben in it. I really recommend using Arbonne products. They have shampoos, makeup, lotions,soaps and so much more, and a wonderful baby care line that includes shampoo, lotion, sunscreen, diaper cream, and body oil. I have a friend who sells it and I have been using it for years! -Christy in Wisconsin

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      • Cornstarch, which is often used to make organic makeup.
        Cornstarch, which is often used to make organic makeup.
      • Organic makeup is usually made of plant materials, or substances derived from plant materials.
        Organic makeup is usually made of plant materials, or substances derived from plant materials.
      • In the U.S., "certified organic" products cannot include genetically modified ingredients.
        In the U.S., "certified organic" products cannot include genetically modified ingredients.