Tana Amen’s Favorite Clean Beauty Cosmetic Products

In recent years, I’ve been on a mission to go totally non-toxic with my beauty routine from head to toe—or, you could say, from shampoo to pedicure polish. Especially considering my health history (including overcoming cancer and a hysterectomy), it’s very important to find products that help me not only look great in my 50s, but feel great about what I am putting on my body.

I recently shared a list of my favorite non-toxic personal care products, and today I’d like to reveal some of my favorite clean beauty products in the cosmetics category. As a reminder, it’s crucial to choose the right non-toxic brands, because harmful ingredients have been linked to numerous health concerns:

  • Cosmetics with parabens are associated with hormonal issues.
  • Fragrances in cosmetics (phthalates) decrease brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a substance that helps neurons grow, and cause hormone disruption.
  • Lead (found in lipsticks, for example) is a neurotoxin that damages the brain’s hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.

Not so pretty, right? Luckily, there has been a growing demand for clean beauty products, and now there are more options than ever for those of us who want to enhance our looks without the negative side effects.

Tana Amen’s Favorite List of Clean Beauty Products

Tana Amen's Clean Beauty Products | BrainMD

When I’m looking for beauty products that aren’t harmful to my health, I use an app called Think Dirty to check up on a product’s safety. Here’s a quick cheat sheet with some of my favorite clean cosmetics:

 1. Non-toxic Mascara and Eye Liner

I fell in love with the 100% Pure brand a few years ago, after seeing what amazing ratings it has on Think Dirty. One of my favorite products is the 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Ultra Lengthening Mascara, a water-resistant formula that doesn’t flake or smudge. It lengthens and strengthens lashes with natural conditioners like wheat protein and provitamin B5. And its pigments come from natural ingredients like black tea, berries, and cocoa, rather than coal tar, Teflon, and other toxic petrochemicals. The mascara is available in a range of colors: Black Tea, Blueberry, Blackberry, and Dark Chocolate.

To complete your eye look, reach for 100% Pure Creamy Long Last Liner in silver, brown, and black hues. These are pencil options, but Long Last Liquid Eye Liners in Black Tea, Blackberry, and Dark Chocolate will satisfy liquid eye liner fans. Finally, for brows that wow, Long Last Brows is a natural gel that shapes and fills in your eyebrows with the brand’s signature ingredients, like cocoa and black tea. The gel creates natural-looking color and texture, but it also promotes healthier eyebrows with ingredients like biotin and provitamin B5. And, if you want to grow lusher-looking brows, you can also try the 100% Pure Green Tea Fiber Brow Builder.

 2. Non-toxic Concealer and Foundation

Foundation is one of those products available in a range of application methods—cream, stick, liquid, and powder—and each has its advantages. To meet any preference, here are a few great ones that are also certified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for their clean ingredients:

If a stick is your pick, try W3ll People Narcissist Foundation Sticks. This plant-powered company avoids using synthetic fillers, sulfates, preservatives, and fragrances in its products. Parabens, avobenzone, oxybenzone, GMOs, phthalates, sulfates, phenoxyethanol, dimethicone, petrolatum, PEG, propylene glycol, mineral oil, talc, nanoparticles, and thousands of other potentially toxic ingredients are all forbidden. Coordinate your foundation with the brand’s Bio Correct Concealer, which offers 20 shades to suit any skin tone—while nourishing with pomegranate, olive, and sunflower seed oils.

Is liquid foundation more your style? I recommend Beautycounter Skin Twin Featherweight Foundation. This product has won numerous awards from beauty editors for its lightweight and long-wearing formula. It also contains responsibly sourced palm and hyaluronic acid to help plump the skin and deliver added hydration.

Finally, a great powder foundation is BareMinerals Original Matte Loose Mineral Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15. It’s made with just 7 clean and vegan ingredients, without any unnecessary additives, binders, fillers, or talc. It’s formulated without parabens, formaldehyde, gluten, synthetic fragrance, PEGs, and many more damaging components. Plus, it’s lightweight and offers a matte finish you can customize from sheer to full coverage, without clogging pores. And I love that it has SPF—just make sure you apply sunscreen underneath, too.

 3. Non-toxic Blush, Bronzer, and Face Powder

Jane Iredale Glow Time Bronzer Stick, in shades like Scorch, Sizzle, and Blaze, offers a no-shimmer, creamy finish when you need a natural-looking sun-kissed glow. I also love using bronzer to contour and sculpt the face, and this cosmetic features skin-healthy ingredients, like hydrating jojoba seed and coconut oils. If you want to add a pearly shimmer, try a swipe of Jane Iredale Glow Time Highlighter Stick, packaged in the same easy-to-apply stick format.

Honest Beauty Creme Cheek + Lip Color is EWG-certified and does double-duty by providing color for both cheeks and lips. Shades run the gamut, from deep red Plum Berry and soft Peony Pink to coral, lilac, and peach hues. One thin application offers a barely-there flush, but this product can also be built up in layers for a more noticeable pop of color. As a bonus, the packaging is sustainable, made with environmentally friendly, 100% recycled, pre- and post-consumer waste materials.

Finally, for setting face makeup and eliminating any excess shine on the skin, finish with a great powder. I like the talc-free formula of RMS Beauty UnPowder. I prefer a translucent (untinted) shade, but you can also select one that matches your skin tone, from fair to deep. It creates a natural finish while smoothing the appearance of pores and helping your makeup last longer.

 4. Non-toxic Eye Shadow

Eye shadow is a staple in most women’s makeup collections, but its application around the delicate eye area means that it’s crucial to choose a safe formula. I (and many beauty experts) love Ilia Liquid Powder Eye Tint, available in 16 matte and pearly shimmer shades. It offers a luxurious cream-to-powder formula that dries to a smooth finish without smudging. Plus, this lightweight, water-based shadow can be applied lightly for a soft wash of color or built up in layers for bolder, more concentrated results. It’s free of silicone, gluten, and fragrance.

 5. Non-toxic Lipstick, Lip Gloss, and Lip Liner

Rejuva Minerals Pur’ Lips lipstick is made with more than 60% organic ingredients. It offers a moisturizing formula and sheer to medium coverage, and it’s EWG-certified and rated “Clean” by the Think Dirty app. It’s also free of parabens, soy, GMOs, and gluten. All 5 shades are colored with minerals and botanicals, like crushed red rose petals, instead of harmful FD&C dyes or carmine. Meanwhile, lip gloss lovers will appreciate Rejuva Minerals Tinted Lip Moisture, available in two flattering colors.

For the perfect pout, outline with a lip liner like Fitglow Beauty Vegan Lip Liner. I love this vegan pencil because its opposite side includes a blending brush, helping to eliminate any harsh lines. Plus, the formula helps hydrate and plump lips while providing long-lasting wear.

Beauty From the Inside Out

Something is wrong with the picture if we’re supposedly beautifying ourselves on the outside while harming our bodies on the inside. That’s why beauty products, including cosmetics, deserve a closer look.

What kinds of products are populating your shelves? Do yourself a favor: Scan your current supply, cross-referencing with reputable organizations like Think Dirty and the EWG’s Skin Deep database, and switch out anything that’s potentially toxic with safer formulas. Purchasing non-toxic products allows us to vote with our dollars. The more we demand—and buy—safer beauty products, the more manufacturers will prioritize making formulas that are both effective and safe.

Tana Amen, BSN, RN