Natural Lipstick That’s Pretty Great, Actually


I love lipstick, but I hate eating lead. The two shouldn't be mutually exclusive, but until recently, they were—seriously. The FDA found lead in 400 lipsticks a few years back, some at three times the levels allowed in food. Not a pleasant thought, right?

That's when some very capable hippies came to the rescue. I don't know how it happened, but I like to imagine that one day, a bunch of reasonable women in very sensible shoes climbed down from their tree forts in threatened sequoias to fix lipstick once and for all. Whoever it was (second best guess is grad students who got tired of eco-terrorism), they answered my cri de coeur and formulated lip stuff that looks lovely and has the added benefit of not poisoning me.

I've tried a ton of organic and lead-free lip colors at this point, so I wanted to share the best I've found with you, my favorite internet people!

First off, Ilia Lipstick and Lip Conditioner. I got hooked on Arabian Knights Lip Conditioner initially because it was like a glossier, more atmospheric Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick, but since then I've started using Crimson and Clover Lip Conditioner (perfect summer red) and the lipstick in Femme Fatale (vampy, but not harsh). They're gluten-free, dairy-free, made with USDA-certified organic ingredients, and really hydrating.

If you're looking for more of a pot rouge situation, also consider RMS Lip2Cheek. It's coconut oil-based, so it has a pretty transparency that makes it highly buildable and natural-looking, too. Great for tossing in your purse, and doubles as blush. One caveat: the formula is decidedly for dry skin, so if you're on the oilier end of the spectrum, you might want to look at...

Vapour Siren Lipstick, which is more matte, with a slightly harder texture for long wear. It comes in more shades than any other eco-conscious line, so if you have a signature color, it's probably the first place I'd look. This one is 70% organic and 30% mineral pigments, and some of the ingredients are wildcrafted or eco-cert as well.

Of course, you could always just make your own. It's not difficult if you have time for experimenting and access to mineral pigments. You melt down equal parts beeswax, coconut oil, and cocoa butter, then mix in mica, iron oxides, etc. for color (beetroot powder, turmeric, or cocoa powder also work). Then pour the mixture into a container, let it harden, and use whenever you want. Just don't blow up your kitchen in the process!

—Lacey Gattis

Photos by Annie Kreighbaum.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Meredith

    Love the photo treatment! I'm dying to try Ilia but I can't decide on a color. Too many choices!

  • tera

    Bite beauty has foodgrade ingredients. Great pencils!

    • Rosie

      theyre so pigmented and they have absolutely gorgeous colors. love them!

  • anonymous

    Great post!

  • Krista

    Don't forget bite beauty!! I just bought the Cashmere Liquid Lipstick and it's a billion times better than anything I already own! Long lasting, super

  • Sharon Macklin

    Just bought Ilia Lip Conditioner in Arabian Knights...and I love it!

  • Emily Trout

    Has anyone tried Beauty Counter products? I've been dying to but want a recommendation from someone who already has. They've got some nice looking lip colors.

  • Leighelena Jewelry

    The cover photo is unbelievably cute!

  • Sylvie

    Great post! Really excited to try Ilia!

  • disqus_gj2VPkTvc5

    I love Ilia! Pink Kashmir is awesome, and so is Lust For Life. I also have Desert Angel, which is a frosty matte pinky beige- not what I expected, but cool nonetheless.

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    Those all sound great!

  • Emily Trout

    Thanks so much for letting me know Kathryn! I'm definitely going to order now

    • Becky Nally

      Hi Emily! Did you end up ordering from BeautyCounter? Dying to know about it!

      • Emily Trout

        I didn't yet, Becky. But when I do, I'll try and remember to come back here and let you know. I'm planning to get a lipstick and try the face cleanser!

  • eastvillagesiren

    I agree. Beauty Brains is a most excellent site. I use Bite Beauty, Dior, NARS and RMS, so I'm "equal opportunity."

    But what got me on the Ilia site in the about section is their opening sentence, "Our skin is our largest organ, and can absorb just about anything we put to its surface." TG it's not true; we'd have an awful problem every time we stepped in the shower. When I read stuff like this, I have to laugh and move on to another brand. (Sorry, ranting a bit off topic ;)

  • CarolinaWren

    OK, I know this is off the subject, but just found your blog and could use your help...I'm 68 and have been wearing make-up for 50 years! Have tried to adjust to the changes in skin over the years to stay updated but not too over done. Could you dedicate a blog or two to older women so we don't look like "painted dolls" with bright pink cheeks, eyes bleeding liner/mascara and lips bleeding sticky redness? Thanks so much for any help you can share.

  • District Style

    Thanks for these suggestions - lipstick is always one area where I try to be as natural as possible because of lead and all the other possible things you can ingest from unnatural ones. Although it's not on here, I also really enjoy the Lavera lipsticks.

  • itsAVL

    Sasha Plavsic, founder of Ilia spent over 2 years in development and knows her ingredients. She comes from a marketing and design background.
    The thing about the new natural beauty founders, is that they are not usually 'reasonable women in very sensible shoes climbing down from their tree forts in threatened sequoias' but women who care about their health and the health of others, the environment, animal testing, and making a lipstick that doesn't dry out lips or contain possibly harmful ingredients.

    I've spent the last four years working closely with these founders and they are far from the stereotype of soap-and-twine hippies. To say they are undermines what they are doing for the market. The women I know who are changing the face of natural beauty are former lawyers, designers, editors, models, actresses and makeup artists.

  • Tara

    RMS beauty products are too oily for the face. I tried the lip to cheek and it totally broke me out. Becareful of this range if you have acne prone skin


    Great! Glad there are more natural brands popping up


Ilia Lipstick
Ilia Lip Conditioner
Clinique Almost Lipstick
RMS Lip2Cheek
Vapour Siren Lipstick