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Ingredients to Avoid in Eyeshadow
There’s a number of potentially and even outright harmful ingredients that lurk inside mainstream eyeshadow products.
It’s important to switch to a non toxic eyeshadow because powder products, especially loose powders, release particles into the air that can enter our eyes and lungs.
When choosing an eyeshadow, make sure to be aware of certain ingredients that may cause irritation, allergies or other adverse reactions.
Individual sensitivities vary from person to person, but here are some common ingredients that you should avoid in eyeshadow products:
Parabens: Parabens can affect estrogen levels and have been linked to certain types of breast cancer.
Fragrance: Eyeshadows with added fragrances may cause irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin or fragrance allergies. There’s no need for an eyeshadow to have fragrance.
Talc: Talc is a common ingredient in powder eyeshadows because of its moisture-absorbing properties, but there are ongoing concerns about its potential to be contaminated with asbestos. Asbestos has been linked to cancer and other health risks.
Phthalates: These are chemicals often used to improve the texture and staying power of cosmetics but raise many potential health concerns. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, and exposure to phthalates has been linked to breast cancer, developmental issues, decreased fertility and asthma.
Bismuth Oxychloride: This ingredient is sometimes found in shimmery eyeshadows. Some people may be sensitive to it, causing irritation or itching.
Alcohol: High concentrations of alcohol can be drying and may cause irritation, especially for individuals with dry or sensitive skin.
Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-releasing Agents: These preservatives can cause irritation and may be allergenic to some individuals.
Carmine: Carmine is derived from insects and used to add red or pink hues to eyeshadows. Vegan or cruelty-free consumers may choose to avoid products containing carmine.
Propylene Glycol: This ingredient may cause irritation especially for those with sensitive skin.
Mineral Oil: Mineral oil a heavily processed petroleum product that goes by many names including: paraffinum liquidum, petrolatum, paraffin, petrolatum jelly, ozokerite, ceresin, polyisobutilene, synthetic wax, cera microcristallina, hydrogenated polyisobutene, methylsilanol, isododecane, isohexadecane, silicone quaternium. Besides being a petroleum byproduct that does nothing to improve the delicate eye skin it can also clog pores.
Best Clean Eyeshadow Palettes
These non-toxic eyeshadow palettes are talc free, super pigmented and long-wearing.
Whether you’re looking for cool tones, warm tones, shimmer, matte, technicolor, there is a palette for you!
Sadly, some of my longtime favorites from Athr Beauty, Ere Perez and PYT Beauty were discontinued last year, but there’s plenty of amazing options to choose from.
Honest Beauty Get It Together Eyeshadow Palette (Best for a Smokey Eye)
Honest Beauty’s talc-free eyeshadow palette offers amazing value and performance if you love a smoky eye. It’s completely free of talc, mineral oil, parabens, paraffins, silicones and petrolatum.
Plus, this palette lasts FOREVER and has ten matte and shimmer shades, including browns, blacks, one pale shimmer shade, a mauve shade and an off white shade. Since most of the shades are very dark, I wouldn’t recommend this palette for someone looking for a subtle eye makeup look.
Their eyeshadows are very pigmented with great color payoff and stay put throughout the day. The fallout is minimal and the shades are relatively easy to blend though you definitely want to use a light hand with the darkest shades. As a smokey eye gal, I’ve purchased Honest Beauty’s palette twice already and found the quality to be consistent over the years.
Ingredients: 4/5: Honest Beauty uses both natural and safe synthetics in their makeup.
Application 4/5: This goes on well and blends easily, but be careful about using too much product with the darker shades.
Performance 4/5: The fallout is minimal and longevity is good.
Pigmentation 5/5: The color payoff is excellent.
ILIA The Necessary Eyeshadow Palette (Most Pigmented!)
ILIA’s eyeshadow palette is the most pigmented and high performance clean eyeshadow palette on the market. Out of all the non toxic eyeshadow palettes I’ve tried, ILIA’s is the closest clean beauty dupe to the Urban Decay Naked Palette and offers the best performance that’s on par with mainstream makeup brands. It goes on magnetic, blends so easily and feels velvety. The shades are richly pigmented so a little goes a long way, especially with the darker shades.
Ingredients: 4/5: ILIA uses both natural and safe synthetics in their makeup.
Application 5/5: They go on so magnetically and blend easily.
Performance 5/5: This palette performs as well as mainstream makeup brands.
Pigmentation 5/5: This palette has the best color payoff out of all clean eyeshadow palettes.
Well People Power Palette Eyeshadow (Budget friendly!)
Well People’s talc-free eyeshadow palette is another one of my top picks and recommendations if you’re looking for an affordable option that offers high performance and color payoff.
There’s two shimmer shades and 3 matte shades and the performance is very similar to Honest Beauty’s but Well People’s does feel a little more velvety. The darker shades aren’t as deep either so they’re more buildable.
Its downsides for me are that it has fewer shades than other clean eyeshadow palettes (but still decent at five shades). I consider Well People $22 eyeshadow palette a budget-friendly dupe to ILIA’s $40 eyeshadow palette.
Ingredients: 4/5: Well People uses both natural and safe synthetics in their makeup.
Application 4/5: There is some fallout, especially with the lighter shades, but I find it to be minimal.
Performance 4/5: The texture is velvety and the shades are blendable and buildable.
Pigmentation 4/5: These are well pigmented but not as pigmented as ILIA.
100% Pure’s makeup palettes are actually a face palette with three eyeshadow shades, one blush shade and one luminizer shade.
The problem with these is they’re perpetually unavailable and marked as sold out on their site, so you can never get your hands on them anymore!
They have four different types of palettes and the one I have showing in the photo is now called the Berry Naked Palette, which is the only one currently available in their Amazon store.
Its downside is that there are only three eyeshadow shades so unless you’re also in the market for a blush and luminizer, this palette may not be the most economical choice for you.
All the eyeshadows shades are neither a true matte nor a true shimmer and have more of a subtly metallic looking finish. I find the texture to be buttery and creamy with decent pigment power and longevity though not the best.
Ingredients 5/5: 100% natural and pure ingredients
Application 4/5: These are super buttery but have quite a bit of fallout.
Performance 4/5: Has decent longevity but not the best.
Pigmentation 4/5: Good pigment power but not the best
Pacifica Mineral Eyeshadow Palette (Budget Friendly!)
Pacifica’s Cocoa Nude Eyeshadow Palette is a fantastic talc-free option for those looking for tons of shade options, affordability and high performance.
They’re also the only clean beauty brand that offers a technicolor eyeshadow palette. Their eyeshadows are so versatile, super buttery and go on velvety, more so than Honest Beauty’s. But one thing to be aware of is all the shades are matte.
It has 10 shades that are all super wearable and blendable, from soft pastels to warm nudes and cool browns to super deep browns. I experience very little fallout with Pacifica eyeshadows.
The downside to having so many shades is that there’s less product for each, so your favorite shades are going to run out faster.
Ingredients 4/5: Pacifica uses both natural and synthetic ingredients.
Application 4/5: This offers magnetic velvety application with minimal fallout and blends so easily.
Performance 5/5: This has great staying power and lasts throughout the entire day.
Pigmentation 5/5: It’s very pigmented with excellent color payoff.
Lily Lolo All Natural Pressed Eye Palette (best for sensitive eyes)
Lily Lolo is another affordable clean eyeshadow palette option that’s all natural and talc free. This palette is great for sensitive eyes because it’s oil free, gluten free and fragrance free and there’s no fillers, petroleum based chemicals, artificial dyes or bismuth oxychloride.
Their palette has a wide variety of eight shades that can be combined to create different looks, but the downside is that they’re not nearly as pigmented or go on as magnetic as other clean eyeshadow palettes.
I would recommend this palette if you’re looking for a soft look that’s natural and subtle. Most of the shades are shimmery, so if you’re not into shimmery shadows, I would skip Lily Lolo. This is the most compact eyeshadow palette and takes up the least amount of space while packing in more shades.
Ingredients 5/5: The ingredients are 100% natural, gentle and sensitive eye friendly.
Application 3,5/5: These have a velvety texture but don’t blend as readily and there’s quite a bit of fallout.
Performance 3.5/5: They don’t offer the magnetic application that other eyeshadow palettes do and fade quicker due to less color payoff.
Pigmentation 3/5: These are very lightly pigmented compared to other eyeshadow palettes.
Mineral Fusion Eyeshadow Trio (Best Mini Palette)
If you’re looking for an affordable mini eyeshadow palette and don’t care for a ton of shade options, Mineral Fusion’s palette is my top pick! Their eyeshadows are free from gluten, parabens, talc, artificial colors, synthetic fragrance, SLS and phthalates and are hypoallergenic.
These are super pigmented and blend easily, plus they have 10 different trio palettes to choose from. They don’t feel AS velvety as some other clean beauty eyeshadows but they do go on magnetic and have great longevity.
Ingredients 4/5: The formula is great for sensitive eyes and even has pomegranate, sea kelp and aloe vera, but it includes phenoxyethanol.
Application 4/5: They’re somewhat velvety and blend easily.
Performance 4/5: Decent longevity and staying power
Pigmentation 5/5: Very pigmented, especially the deeper shades
Best Clean Eyeshadow Sticks
Clean eyeshadow sticks are lazy girl-friendly because they’re easier to apply and blend than traditional eyeshadow powder. They’re perfect for a quick and easy look and the color payoff is bolder than eyeshadows. Eyeshadow sticks are beginner friendly and great for mature skin too!
This is a 100% natural and vegan eyeshadow stick that’s ultra creamy and super pigmented.
It’s made without any synthetic preservatives, nano particles, gluten, parabens, fillers, dyes or toxins.
Instead, Au Naturale’s cream eyeshadow nourishes eyelids with meadowfoam seed oil, castor oil, jojoba oil and tapioca root starch.
These are the creamiest natural eyeshadow sticks I’ve tried and feel super moisturizing. But they may not be suitable for oily lids because of how buttery they are. I’d recommend using a setting powder to help it last longer.
Ingredients 5/5: This has the cleanest ingredients that are 100% natural and actually good for the skin around your eyes.
Application 5/5: It offers super smooth and creamy application that’s easy to blend.
Performance 4/5: May be too creamy for oily lids and lasting power may vary from person to person.
Pigmentation 5/5: These are very pigmented and buildable.
Clover Plush Pigment Stick Eyeshadow (Budget friendly)
If you’re looking for a budget friendly clean eyeshadow stick, my top pick and recommendation is the Clover Plush Pigment Stick Eyeshadow.
These jumbo-sized sticks are vegan, have a gorgeous shimmer to them, feel so creamy and have decent longevity and performance. This is a great eyeshadow stick for sensitive eyes and the ingredients are also cleaner than most other clean beauty eyeshadow sticks.
Ingredients 4/5: 68% naturally derived which is better than most other clean eyeshadow sticks and has skin nourishing butters and plant waxes.
Application 4/5: It glides on so well, feels creamy and is so easy to blend.
Performance 4/5: Has good longevity and doesn’t crease
Pigmentation 4/5: Good pigment power but not the strongest
ILIA eyeshadow sticks and find both the color payoff and performance plus the metallic finish is beautiful.
They are SO easy to glide on, feel creamy and are very blendable. I slide them across my eyelid a few times and then use my fingers to blend around the edges in just a few seconds.
Its only downside is the lack of any antioxidant-rich or nutrient-rich ingredients that can actually benefit the skin around the eyes.
Ingredients 3/5: The ingredients are mostly synthetics and do not contain any skin-beneficial ingredients.
Application 5/5: They glide on so smoothly and are a dream to blend.
Performance 5/5: Great lasting power and water resistant
Pigmentation 5/5: These are so pigmented and have a metallic finish.
Honeybee Gardens Instant Shadow Stick (Budget friendly)
These are the most budget friendly clean-ish eyeshadow sticks on the market with certain pros and cons.
They have decent longevity and performance but are lacking in the ingredients department with only a couple of natural ingredients.
There’s a variety of both shimmer and matte shades for everyone and the pigment power is pretty good. Honeybee Gardens’ eyeshadow stick glides on decently well but doesn’t feel as creamy as other clean eyeshadow sticks.
Ingredients 3/5: The ingredients include synthetics including some that you may avoid like phenoxyethanol and ethylhexyglycern.
Application 4/5: It glides on well but isn’t as creamy as other clean beauty eyeshadow sticks.
Performance 4/5: Has good longevity and doesn’t crease
Pigmentation 4/5: Good pigment power but not the strongest
Best Clean Liquid Eyeshadow (& Cream Eyeshadow)
If you’re looking for water-rich texture that feels hydrating and offers metallic, sparkly and multi chrome finish, check out my favorite clean liquid eyeshadow products. These have amazing color payoff and can be buildable to create the boldest looks.
Honest Beauty Eye Catcher Lid Tint (Budget friendly!)
Honest Beauty’s liquid eyeshadows are insanely pigmented and feel super hydrating. A little goes a long way with these!
These are vegan, cruelty free and formulated for sensitive eyes with gentle ingredients like rice starch and sunflower seed wax. The hands-free application using the wand is so convenient and perfect for someone lazy like me!
Ingredients 4/5: Has a mix of natural ingredients and safe synthetics
Application 5/5: It glides on so easily since it’s a liquid formula and dries quickly
Performance 5/5: It has excellent longevity and doesn’t crease.
Pigmentation 5/5: Extremely pigmented!
RMS’ cream eyeshadow is super creamy yet light and hydrating. They’re so pigmented and have a beautiful metallic finish. The ingredients are some of the cleanest among clean beauty eyeshadows and has a couple of skincare-focused ingredients like organic green tea & natural peptide quinoa extracts.
Its only downside is you have squeeze just the right amount from the tube every time when a little goes a long way! Be careful with using too much, because once you overapply it’s difficult to remove and can start creasing.
This is a great cream eyeshadow for mature eyes since they’re so much more hydrating than powder eyeshadows and won’t settle into fine lines.
Ingredients 4/5: Mostly clean ingredients with a couple synthetics
Application 4/5: This requires fingers and using just the right amount. It dries almost immediately
Performance 5/5: Has great lasting power and doesn’t crease
Pigmentation 5/5: Excellent pigment power
Exa Beauty Light Shower Color Melt
This is a versatile clean liquid eyeshadow that has a hydrating gel consistency and can be used for eyes, face, and body.
They’re very lightweight and watery and focused on adding shimmer to the lids than true pigment or color.
They ARE buildable to create bold looks but that’s not their true purpose. The ingredients are mostly clean and have additional skincare ingredients like Manketti Oil and Sea Algae Extract. I find that these are ideal for younger skin and give eyes a mesmerizing prismatic look. Since they’re so lightweight and easily blendable, you can use multiple shades to create multichromatic eyes.
Ingredients 4/5: It has mostly clean ingredients with some nutrient-rich ingredients but some people may want to avoid phenoxyethanol.
Application 4/5: Easy to apply but requires the use of fingers
Performance 4/5: Fades a little more quickly because of the lightweight water base
Pigmentation 4/5: These are focused on adding luminizing shimmer than pigment.
Andrea is a clean beauty expert from Los Angeles, California with 10 years of experience in clean beauty, natural skincare and organic living. She writes for Organic Beauty Lover using her expertise to guide readers in choosing the best clean beauty products. Andrea graduated from the University of Southern California in 2012 and has worked at multiple skincare companies, big and small. Connect with her @organicbeautylover.