Our Favourite Paraben-Free, Phthalate-Free, and Cruelty-Free Makeup

Discover the best cruelty-free makeup for your skin type.

This year, we’re loving our clean beauty edit: ditching parabens and phthalates, and going cruelty-free. Some ingredients are harsh on the planet. Others are harsh on your skin. And some are harsh on both! But avoiding the talcs and the glycols doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality. Some of our favourite cult products are completely clean and free of harsh chemicals.

Discover the best cosmetics free of parabens and phthalates and all the other aggravators. Here, we present our rundown of the very best in clean beauty. So, whether you’re after a mascara to transform your peepers or a foundation to airbrush your complexion, we’ve got you covered.

Inika Bold Lash - mascara brush in front of Inika product bottle. There is gold jewellery in the background- 670 x 479Inika Bold Lash - mascara brush in front of Inika product bottle. There is gold jewellery in the background- 670 x 479

What Are the Benefits of Using Clean Makeup?

Your trusty makeup routine may be serving you well in terms of aesthetics. But if you’re opting for clean beauty, you may need to make some amendments. Oxybenzone, butylene, toluene? You probably don’t recognise these ingredients, but they’re common in beauty products and can wreak havoc on both your complexion and the planet. By switching to clean beauty, you’re saying goodbye to potential aggravators.

One of the main benefits of paraben, phthalate free makeup is that you won't be subjected to all the harsh chemicals that may leave your skin dry and irritated, and speed up the appearance of signs of ageing. If you have sensitive skin, halving the ingredients lists on your products means less chance of a flare-up, as there’s literally less chance of meeting a trigger ingredient. Generally, parabens and phthalates are more likely to cause sensitivity than nourishing botanicals are.

Another benefit of cleaning up your beauty routine is that cruelty-free makeup brands are more ethical. So, you’ll instantly be kinder to animals, nature, and just about everything on our planet! If you’re ready to do your bit on a daily basis, consider making some switches to your makeup.

Eye Of Horus Sacred Earth Bronzing Palette - open palette on display next to earrings and leopard print headband - 670 x 479Eye Of Horus Sacred Earth Bronzing Palette - open palette on display next to earrings and leopard print headband - 670 x 479

What Are the Ingredients to Look Out For?

Deciphering ingredients lists is an absolute minefield. But don’t worry: we’ve sat down and decoded them for you! You can thank us later. Our Clean Beauty category is free of all of the following ingredients. You’ll sleep easy at night, knowing that your skin is in a much happier place.

Chromium: Chromium is a heavy metal and a green pigment that’s often found in eye makeup, nail polish, and hair colourants. Currently, there are no limits as to how much chromium can be included in beauty products, even though research suggests it could be pretty toxic to your skin.

Phthalate: Phthalates are absolutely everywhere, from your food packaging to your household cleaners and—wait for it—your cosmetics! Phthalates are chemicals that help make plastic flexible, and they’ve been linked to some scary health issues. For peace of mind, phthalate-free cosmetics are the way forward.

Talc: Avoiding baby powder? Really? Yes! The safety of talc has been an ongoing conversation. This ‘harmless’ ingredient has been linked to cancer and asbestos poisoning. We now know that talc can leave your skin feeling dry and clogged, and generally just isn’t great for your skin. Talc is commonly found in powder products to give them that silky texture. But there are tons of perfectly good talc-free powder makeup and talc-free makeup brands that deliver all the goods without the complaints.

Toluene: Toluene is one of the lesser-known evils but definitely one to avoid. It’s a toxic chemical often found in nail products to help create smooth, easy-to-apply formulas. But toluene can give you headaches, cracked skin, and dizziness as well as more long-term effects such as respiratory problems. Not worth it.

Oxybenzone: Wearing a daily sunscreen? Kudos to you for protecting your skin! But sadly, it isn’t all good news: a lot of sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzone, which was named ‘allergen of the year’ in 2014 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. If you have sensitive skin, we recommend choosing a different sunblock.

Diethanolamine: Diethanolamine. Rolls right of your tongue, doesn’t it? Commonly seen as ‘DEA’, which is a bit easier to manage, this ingredient is found in shampoos and skincare. DEA helps create that luscious lathering sensation, which makes you feel squeaky clean! But it’s a highly hazardous ingredient that’s been linked to multiple types of cancer. Again, avoid.

Triclosan: Triclosan is used to help inhibit bacteria and fungi from growing in your beauty products and on your skin. But triclosan is bad for our oceans, as it kills off fish and algae. So, if you want a more ethical beauty routine, we recommend avoiding triclosan.

Propylene glycol: Propylene glycol is hotly debated in terms of its danger. Derived from petroleum, this ingredient is considered OK by some, whereas others think it’s best to avoid. Used to moisturise and hydrate your skin, propylene glycol is unsurprisingly found in a lot of beauty products. However, one thing we know for sure is that propylene glycol is a common allergen. So, if you’re having sensitivity, you may want to cut it out completely.

Lead: We’ve all heard the horror stories about how women poisoned themselves centuries ago with their lead makeup. Surely that’s all done with now, though … right? Nope! Believe it or not, some beauty products still contain lead. Lead-free makeup is an easy switch to make, so don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. Stay away from lead!

Alcohol, especially methanol and ethanol: Many types of alcohol are used in cosmetics, and we highly recommend shopping for only alcohol-free cosmetics going forward. Although some fatty alcohols, such as cetyl alcohol actually moisturize, others can dry out your skin, cause irritation, and literally cause your skin to self-destruct. So, if you want a youthful, hydrated, and healthy complexion, ditch the alcohol. (You can still enjoy an occasional G&T!) Find out more about alcohol-free skincare in our guide The Best Alcohol-Free Skincare for Every Skin Type

Now You Can Start Building Your Clean Beauty Makeup Routine!

Now that you know what to avoid if you want to go clean, it’s time to start restocking your beauty cabinet with some gorgeous talc-, phthalate-, lead-, and alcohol-free makeup!

Non-comedogenic Makeup Primers

Whether you’re priming your eyes, lips or face, what you use for your base is vital as it acts as your first point of contact with your skin. What you use to prep and prime is the product most easily absorbed into your skin, so it benefits you to keep it clean! Clean primer formulas tend to be non-comedogenic, mineral based, and fragrance free, so expect your skin to feel nourished and cared for. Believe me, you won’t miss out on any of the magic primers perform with these smoothing, correcting, mattifying and glow boosting options.

Start your new clean beauty routine with Youngblood Mineral Primer. It’s packed full of vitamins and minerals to nourish and protect your skin while creating the perfect makeup base. This talc-free makeup primer is also free of perfumes and chemical dyes.

Non Toxic Foundations

Want a perfected base that works as an extension of your skincare? Going natural with your foundation means you are guaranteed a non-toxic formula that contains ingredients that will nourish your skin. Browse our selection of clean foundation formulas that come in a range of different coverages, textures and finishes. Trust us, you’ll be reaping the benefits of these glorious ingredients, without the Parabens, Phthalates and Alcohol!

Prepare to dish out the heart-eye emoji for this gorgeous everyday makeup. Glow Time effortlessly gives your skin that radiant, dewy finish to take you from day to night. Blurring lines and banishing blemishes, this daily BB cream enhances your complexion no matter your skin type. It also provides sun protection without oxybenzone.

Best Cruelty Free Concealers

Swap out your old concealer with a fresh and clean, Paraben-free product that will illuminate your under eye area. These non-toxic formulas are full of ingredients designed to soothe and depuff all the right places. Correct, highlight and conceal with these ultra-blendable concealer pens and pots, that will seamlessly cover blemishes and dullness!

Cover even the darkest dark circles and the biggest of zits with Inika Natural Perfection Concealer. The lightweight yet high-coverage concealer camouflages any skin flaw without ever looking cakey or feeling heavy on the skin. Again, it can be used on all skin types!

Paraben Free Powder Foundation

Chemical free powders don't exist, but we have a great range of natural, non toxic powders to suit the cleanest palate. Playing with powders can sometimes be a dangerous game, especially when it’s something you might inadvertently inhale. Pick a powder that is going to be kind to your skin, and free of Talc and synthetic fragrances, which might overwhelm your skin and senses. With our wide selection of pressed and loose powders, it’s easy to make a clean choice with plenty of colours and finishes to suit you.

Australian brand Nude by Nature offers some seriously swoon-worthy makeup products. Even better, they’re all talc-, alcohol-, paraben-, phthalate-free cosmetics, aka completely clean! Mineral Cover Foundation can either be worn alone for lightweight but buildable coverage, or used on top of your foundation to set it in place.

Natural Face Bronzer and Highlighters

Bring out the best in your beauty routine with these gorgeous natural bronzers, blushes and highlighters. These complexion products will add definition, dimension and radiance to the skin, and definitely won’t kill your vibe, or dull your glow. Easy to blend, and full of skin-loving ingredients, making the switch to clean beauty never made more sense.

This vegan, cruelty-free, talc-free, and mica-free makeup palette is a must-have in your clean beauty collection. I mean, just look at those gorgeous shades! Perfect for travel, the palette contains a matte bronzer, ideal for contouring; two stunning blush shades; and an illuminating highlighter to transform your skin.

Talc Free Eyeshadow Palettes

It’s important that the pigments we place on our sensitive eye area are going to be gentle, as well as blendable. Our collection of eyeshadows are not only super long lasting, but also free from toxic ingredients like Chromium, Lead and Talc! Transform your eyes and explore our range of single eyeshadows and palettes that come in an exciting range of textures and finishes.

For your everyday makeup look, we can’t say enough about the Jane Iredale Daytime Palette. Containing 5 elegant shades that can be used alone or together, the palette will become a staple in your beauty routine. Perfect for those with sensitive eyes, this nourishing palette is free of nasty chemicals, which we think is particularly important when working in the delicate eye area!

Artificial Fragrance Free Mascara

As mascaras are an absolute haven for bacteria (and are designed to be ditched every 3 months), they have traditionally been packed with loads of chemicals and preservatives we don’t necessarily love. Not only can Parabens and Thimerosal damage our lashes over time, they can easily be absorbed, as we smudge and rub our mascara so often. With our selection of clean mascaras we have found a way to curb these problems, with clean ingredients that really tend to your lashes.

Mascaras are a nightmare for chemical nasties, often containing loads of parabens to create the long-lasting formulas. But Eye of Horus has proved that you just don’t need them to get enviable lashes. Instead, the brand’s Goddess Mascara is free of everything horrible yet creates the lashes of your dreams! Strengthening, lengthening, and defining your lashes, it's the perfect choice for your clean makeup bag.

Natural Eyebrow Products

Bring your brows back from the brink, and add some structure and softness, without harsh chemicals like PEG, Talc and Tar. You can easily create a stunning and defined brow look with products that use safe ingredients to supply that pigment and hold you’re after. Enhance and extend your brows with our selection of natural pomades, pencils and pigments that will help you shape and shade.

Youngblood is one of the best clean and talc-free makeup brands, and there are no nasties to be seen in the On Point Brow Defining Pencil. Effortlessly sculpting precision brows, this long-lasting pencil is completely sweatproof and smudgeproof, even in the harshest weather conditions.

Petroleum Free Lip Products

Lush lips shouldn’t come at a cost. As lip products are the easiest to ingest, it’s important that they are super safe. These clean formulas are infused with ingredients that will naturally moisturise and plump your lips, in a range of different tones and textures. Perfect your lips with our clean range of lipsticks, tints and glosses that are free from Petroleum, Oxybenzone and Fragrance.

Finish your look off with this nourishing lipstick from Nude by Nature. Available in a selection of stunning shades from rosy pinks to bold reds, these hydrating lipsticks smooth and plump your pout for completely kissability. Lips are also left protected and moisturised—wonderful!

Alcohol Free Cleansers & Toners

Take it all off with one of our clean cleansers or toners that won’t disturb or aggravate your skin. Not only will they cleanse and balance your skin, these super clean products are kind on your skin and the planet! No matter your skin type, we have a range of cleansers and toners, which are free from Diethanolamine, Alcohol and Propylene glycol, and are designed to love your skin. 

Gentle Cleansing Oil to Remove Makeup and Leave the Skin Plumped and Calm

If you’re after an oil-free and glycol-free makeup remover, we’ve got the perfect solution for you. Pure Enchantress Makeup Oil Remover from Edible Beauty effortlessly takes off the day without drying the skin or causing irritation. Whether you’re got dry, oily, or sensitive skin, it doesn’t matter. This remover will leave your skin feeling healthy, happy, and hydrated!

Gentle Cleansing Oil to Remove Makeup and Leave the Skin Plumped and Calm

Brand and product inclusions are at the sole discretion of Adore Beauty’s highly trained Customer Service team. We do not seek or accept payment from brands or individuals listed in our guides.

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