Some of the most common ingredients in makeup are also some of the most harmful to the body, causing a range of problems from skin irritation to a higher risk of birth defects. While organic, nontoxic makeup is generally more expensive than the chemical-laden variety, the quality is often superior to that of mainstream makeup and the benefits to your skin and body are priceless.

Read the Ingredients List

All makeup products contain an ingredients list. Unfortunately, they can be difficult to read and decipher because of the tiny print and long chemical names. Sometimes it’s hard to know which ingredients are natural and which are dangerous chemicals. In general, you will want to avoid any products that contain petrochemicals, propylene glycol, parabens and synthetic dyes. Each of these categories features a long list of possible ingredients, so rather than to try to memorize all the different chemical names, use the Environmental Working Group website, which contains a searchable database of 74,000 products. Each entry provides an overview of the product’s ingredients, specific dangers and an overall score for safety.

Understand Certification Labels

Finding nontoxic makeup can be confusing if you don’t understand the labels. Some products that claim to be organic are nothing of the sort; if a product simply claims to be made with organic ingredients, it doesn’t necessarily mean that other toxic ingredients aren’t included.The U.S. Department of Agriculture and various trusted private organizations have instituted the use of label seals to let consumers know that a product is organic. Look for the Certified USDA Organic seal on the label of makeup that is 95 percent to 100 percent organic. Other trustworthy seals to look for are BDIH certification and the Body Care seal found on products sold by Whole Foods.

Quality Organic Makeup Brands

Natural food stores carry a range of organic, nontoxic makeup and skincare products. Some popular brands include Lavera, a German organic and vegan cosmetics company; Juice Beauty, whose products are USDA certified organic; Afterglow Cosmetics, which are cruelty-free, organic and vegan; and Jane Ireland, which produces professional-grade mineral makeup. Buying organic makeup online is another good option, especially for items that don’t require color matching, such as mascara and lip balm.

Other Ways to Avoid Toxic Chemicals

If you’re concerned about the chemicals in your makeup, consider going green in other areas as well. Personal care products, including shampoo, conditioner, lotion and deodorant, typically contain dangerous ingredients that can cause skin conditions and health problems. Household cleaning products, especially those with which you come into direct contact such as dishwashing liquid and cleaning wipes, are harmful to the environment and your body. Organic alternatives are widely available and are just as effective as their chemical-laden counterparts.