The Best Organic Foundation: Our Picks
The more you learn about cosmetics, the more you discover that there are a LOT of weird ingredients in them. In fact, you may be surprised to find that some of them contain mostly synthetic ingredients, and few, if any, natural ingredients.
This is true for a lot of types of makeup, but it’s especially true for foundations. So many foundations are jam-packed with manufactured ingredients, that when you find a foundation that’s 100% all-natural, it can feel like a treasure.
So here we’ll talk about our pick for best organic foundation. We’ll go over a quick bit of advice about organic products, discuss our top picks, and provide some helpful tips on how to pick and use organic products. We’ll start with…
A Quick Buying Tip Before We Dive In
Different companies mean different things when they say “organic.” To some makeup companies, “organic” means “this product is 100% organic, and contains only organic products,” and to some other makeup companies, “organic” means “this product includes ingredients that are 100% organic… and a whole bunch of other ingredients, that may or may not be organic.” It’s an important distinction, and one you may want to keep in mind. Some people want 100% organic products, and nothing less will do; others are fine with “mostly organic.” In our reviews below, we’ve tried to identify—wherever possible—exactly how “organic” each foundation is.
OK! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about our picks for…
Best Organic Mineral Foundations
This is a good place to start: mineral foundations. They offer a light to medium amount of coverage, they feel nice and soft upon application, and—bonus!—the ones we’re about to review are organic (or mostly organic). We like:
Organic Infused Foundation by Afterglow Cosmetics
Believe it or not, organic mineral foundations are somewhat rare. Not too many cosmetic companies make them, and they can be a pain to find. And that’s why we love Organic Infused Foundation. It’s made from 100% natural ingredients, it’s made in a range of colors from cameo to bisque to fawn to clay, and it’s designed to provide a semi-matte finish, which is what we’d hope for in a mineral foundation. Not only that, but it’s free of many of the “bad guys” we hope to avoid in other cosmetics: it’s got no parabens, no talc, no gluten, and no bismuth chloride (which creates a sort of “shiny” effect, and is common in a LOT of makeups). A great find, and one we like a lot.
Pur 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup
So, this isn’t technically a foundation, but we’ll include it anyway, because it acts as a foundation and you can use it as one: Pur 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup.
Pur is perhaps the best-known of the organic foundations we review—they’ve got a wide range of makeups, cosmetics, and skin-care products—and their 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup is one of our favorites. The “4-in-1” concept integrates all the best features of a foundation, a powder, a concealer, and a sun protectant (it’s actually blocks 93% of UVB rays, which can cause discoloration and premature aging), and it provides very good coverage in a range of colors. We should mention that this isn’t 100% organic—it’s got a few ingredients that aren’t 100% organic—but it’s cruelty-free, paraben-free, gluten-free, and cruelty-free. We’re big fans of Pur.
Best Organic Liquid Foundations
Organic mineral foundations can be difficult to find, but organic liquid foundations are much more common. We like:
Lux Liquid by BaeBlue
Remember above, when we mentioned that “organic” can mean a range of things, and that truly organic products can be really hard to find? Well, that’s why we love Lux Liquid Foundation by BaeBlu: it’s all-organic, all-natural, and all-vegan, it’s cruelty-free, and it has absolutely zero preservatives and artificial colors. That is a long list of wonderful features, and it’s kind of amazing that BaeBlue is able to create a cosmetic with all those features. It makes you wonder why the rest of makeup companies can’t do the same thing.
Oh, and on top of all of that, it’s also a fantastic foundation! BaeBlue manufactures it in nine different color schemes (vanilla, cream, latte, nutmeg, cappuccino, maple, toffee, cinnamon, and coffee), and it’s designed to provide full coverage, meaning it can make it a great option if you’ve got rosacea, blemishes, acne, etc. Nothing is perfect, but we think this is a really good bet. In fact, there are plenty of fantastic foundations on our list, but this one may get our vote for best organic foundation overall. It’s truly organic, and it works really well. Recommended.
EVXO Liquid Mineral Foundation
EVXO may have less name-recognition than some of the other foundations on our list, and that’s a shame, because we think their EVXO Liquid Mineral Foundation is very, very good. It’s a full-coverage foundation that’s organic, gluten-free, and vegan/cruelty-free. AND, it has some nice little bonuses that make it somewhat unique: it’s got chamomile (which is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties good for the skin), thyme (which some believe to be good for acne), and Vitamin E (which has been shown to have restorative properties for the skin). All good so far.
Our only complaint about EVXO is that they only make it in five different shades. That can be limiting, and if you’re one of those people who has a very unique skin tone and has a hard time finding the right foundation color, it can be difficult to find your EVXO match. But, even with that, we think it’s a great find, and most importantly, it checks off most of the “organic” boxes we look for.
Liquid Mineral Foundation by Shimarz
This is another one that has a lot of things going for it: Liquid Mineral Foundation. It’s 100% all-natural, 90% organic (which isn’t perfect, but still pretty good), vegan, and gluten free. It’s made with non-GMO ingredients (a nice touch that sets it apart from some other organic foundations), it’s non-toxic, and it has no chemical sulfates, dyes, or petrochemicals. It’s made in a wide range of colors (porcelain, bisque, nude, bamboo, cork, almond, sandalwood, caramel, and chestnut) so the product offering can match a wide range of skin colors, and it’s offers medium-to-full coverage. If you’re looking for something that’s not “too much,” this can be a good option.
The Best Organic Foundations Overall: Our “In Every Color” Picks
Our final picks are manufactured in a wide range of colors, so if you’re concerned about matching your organic foundation to your skin tone and skin texture, the following two foundations may be a good match for you:
Vapour Organic Beauty Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation
Vapour is a member of the Organic Trade Association, and their Soft Focus Foundation has a long list of positives: according to the Vapour website, their Soft Focus foundation is cruelty-free, certified vegan, chemical free, 70% organic (again, not perfect, but pretty good), and it’s gentle enough to be used on sensitive skin.
This stands out because it offers medium coverage, but it’s also non-comedogenic—meaning that it’s designed to not include some of the ingredients that have been known to cause acne (so if you’re worried about clogged pores, this can be a good option). There aren’t too many medium-coverage options that are also non comedogenic, so this is something of a find. And, by the way—non comedogenic products can be a great option if you suffer from acne, but they can be a good option even if you don’t. It never hurts to stay away from some of the ingredients that cause acne!
It’s manufactured in 11 different colors, ranging from very light to very dark, so there are plenty of tone options to choose from. That’s another bonus, and it makes Vapour a very good option, in our estimation!
Au Naturale Zero Gravity C2P Foundation
Last but most certainly not least, Au Naturale Zero Gravity Foundation. There’s so much to love about this product:
It’s a stick, which for an organic foundation, makes it a rare find. If you love stick products—which we do; they’re great to carry around and stash in a bag / backpack / satchel / whatever/—and you love organic options, there’s not usually much to choose from;
It’s manufactured in 15 different color tones. That’s a lot of color options, and we think that’s fantastic. When you decide to use organic products, very often you sacrifice your options and have a smaller range of products to choose from, so having 15 color schemes to choose from is a really wonderful. If only all organic products were manufactured in as many options!
It’s got some wonderful ingredients, like meadowfoam seed oil, lavender oil, candelilla wax, and mineral pigments, so you get all the performance of a “regular” foundation in an all-natural formula; and, finally…
It’s 100% natural. According to the Au Naturale website, the Zero Gravity C2P Foundation is cruelty-free, vegan, contains no animal bi-products, and includes no synthetic preservatives, fillers, or toxins.
If you’re looking for a high-end organic foundation manufactured in a wide range of colors, Zero Gravity can be a great option.
And… there you have it! Our favorite organic foundations. Hopefully there’s something you’ll like among the products we’ve reviewed. In the rest of the post, we'll address some of the most common concerns about organic foundation: what you should know in order to pick the foundation that’s right for you, usage tips specific to organic (and not “regular”) foundations, and why organic products can be a great choice. We’ll start at the beginning:
Tips for Selecting a Foundation
Foundation would seem pretty simple: for many makeup wearers, it’s the go-to product to cover blemishes and create a distinct, consistent color on which to apply other makeups. Its purpose is pretty simple. But like most every other makeup product, it’s not always obvious how to choose one (and they're not always as easy as drugstore foundations, which are designed to be easy to select). Here are some pointers.
Find the Right Color for Your Skin Tone
Matching your skin tone is much harder than many of us care to admit, and most brands have “color finders” that can help—but very often, they’re specific to their products only, so they can be somewhat limiting. If you’re not using a color finder, you can usually find something that matches your skin tone, and that should be your ultimate goal: ideally, you’ll want something that’s as close as possible to your natural skin color, so that you can’t see the line between skin with foundation on it and skin without foundation on it.
In other words, the best organic foundation for you will make it look like you’re not wearing any foundation at all, and it will blend seamlessly even into those areas that aren’t covered in makeup (like the skin underneath your chin and your neck—which are areas to watch out for!).
The next thing you’ll want to do is…
Determine Your Coverage Level
There are, generally speaking, four levels of coverage:
“Sheer” coverage is very transparent. Because sheer foundation is so see-through, it’s not used for coverage—instead, it’s mostly used to even out your skin tone;
“Light” coverage contains a little bit more pigment than sheer foundation, and does a decent job of coverage. Some freckles, blemishes, and beauty marks may still appear through light foundation, and it, too, is mostly used for evening out skin tones;
“Medium” coverage ups the ante a bit, and starts to provide some serious masking properties. Medium foundations are difficult to see through, and can usually cover light blemishes and marks; and finally
“Full” coverage, which has a high level of pigment in the cosmetic, is usually the strongest type of foundation. It's designed to cover freckles, even out texture issues, and conceal various marks. It’s not at all see-through, and it can feel kind of heavy—and because it’s so thick, it can cause skin irritation or acne in some users.
After you’ve determined your coverage level, you’ll probably want to…
Figure out the Type of Foundation You Want
There are plenty of different types of foundations, and options range from light mineral powders to liquids to whipped formulas. While there are many, many variations—we could write dozens of posts about how different types of foundations can provide coverage—here’s a general summary of the degree of coverage different types of organic foundation can provide:
Mineral makeup means light coverage. Mineral makeup tops the organic foundation list as many formulations come with organic certification. However, mineral foundation often lacks the fuller coverage option, though it’s somewhat buildable for covering up trouble spots.
Powder foundations usually mean “medium” coverage. Powder foundations offer decent coverage, and the best part (in our humble opinion) about powders is that many have oil-absorbing properties. A powder foundation can help keep oily skin looking fresh and matte.
Liquid foundation for most every need. Liquid foundations come in oil-free, oil-based, long-lasting, and waterproof formulas and give medium to heavy coverage. Most full-coverage foundations are liquid.
As far as organic foundations go, most organic foundations are liquid. It can be somewhat difficult to find a mineral or powder foundation.
Finally, after you choose your type of foundation, you’ll want to…
Select Your Method of Application
Most cosmetics require a very specific application tool, but with organic foundation, you’ve got a lot of options.
We’ll start with the simplest option: your fingers. Because foundation is spreadable, you can use your fingers to apply the product, and move it over your skin as you see fit. It’s a very natural, and very tactile, way of applying foundation, and some people won’t apply foundation any other way.
That said, some people steer clear of applying foundation with their hands, because they feel that application via the fingers creates an oil buildup in the skin (and some people simply find it difficult to apply with their fingers, and notice streaks). For many of those foundation wearers, brushes are a good option–they come in many thicknesses and sizes, and with a full set, you’re ready to a wide range of cosmetics.
Makeup sponges and beauty blenders are also great options. Beauty blenders in particular have become popular over the last couple of years, because they’ve got a great shape (they look a little bit like colorful eggs), they apply very evenly (the foundation sits on top of the blender and is less likely to clump), and they make application fairly simple. They’re a great match for foundation.
So here’s how it plays out: for liquid and mousse foundations, a beauty blender or sponge is often the only tool you need, but you can always use your fingers if you choose (or if you find yourself stranded someplace without a beauty blender!). For mineral makeup and foundation powders, brushes are often preferable. However, it can take some trial and error before you find your perfect application tool—and you may have noticed, cosmetic preference is a very personal thing—so try and keep an eye out for what works for you.
What Do I Need to Know if I’m Using an Organic Foundation?
We’re big fans of organic products, and we use them whenever we can, but they’re still something of a “niche” product. A lot of people are new to using them, and aren’t quite sure what “organic” actually means. Here are things you’ll want to keep in mind when using an organic foundation:
Consistency & Coverage
Because organic foundations may use ingredients that non-organic formulations don’t, you can expect some texture and consistency differences between products. Consistency and coverage may also vary by brand and product line—whether organic or otherwise—so you may find that organic foundations have a range of consistencies.
Depending on the ingredients in your new organic foundation, it may either be thicker or runnier than other foundation. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be effective, so consider giving it time before you give up on a new product.
We listed the various application methods you can use to put foundation on your face, but some organic foundations come with their own guidelines for application. This, too, is usually specific to individual products, so be sure to read the labelling to see how the manufacturer suggests you apply the product.
If your product doesn’t come with a tutorial, we usually suggest opting for using a brush or beauty blender, instead of your hands. Fingers often carry a lot of bacteria that you don’t want to spread on your face, but be sure to replace brushes or beauty blenders when necessary, as those, too, can become bacteria traps.
It’s important to keep an eye on the expiration dates on your cosmetics, because out-of-date products can 1) become ineffective and look odd on your skin, and/or 2) damage your skin, and cause irritation, rashes, and allergic reactions. No fun.
And here’s some more bad news: unfortunately, most organic products will have a shorter shelf life than non-organic products, because they lack the chemical preservatives that keep them fresh. Those ingredients in regular makeup that make them last long are usually harsh, odd-sounding chemicals—not very natural.
Organic foundations, in particular, have a shorter shelf life than their non-organic counterparts. As a general rule of thumb, liquid and cream makeup often lasts around six months, and mineral or powder-based makeup can stay good for about a year—but you should always check the label of your cosmetics to see the actual date they’ll turn. If you notice that the color, scent, or consistency of the product has changed, that may indicate the product has gone/is going bad.
Organic Vs. Non-Organic
Technically, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration does not define the word “organic.” While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates organic products, the FDA doesn’t guarantee anything with the USDA organic label. In other words, the government has strict standards when it comes to foods that are labelled as “organic,” but it doesn’t really have strict standards when it comes to makeups that are labelled as “organic.”
Not only that, but the FDA is quick to point out that organic products may not be any safer than non-organic products. Organic products can be toxic or allergenic, so—as always—buyers need to be very careful when selecting products.
Reasons You May Want to Use Organic Products
Are organic products really healthier for bodies, or better for the earth? Here are a couple of things you may want to know about organic foundations, and organic makeup in general.
There Really Are Some Bad Ingredients in Some Makeups
The Endocrine Society is a group of researchers and physicians who study diseases and health concerns related to hormones (called endocrinologists). They’re the real deal—they’re a global community consisting of 18,000 members, including 10 Nobel Prize winners in chemistry and medicine—and they released a statement about endocrine-disrupting chemicals (aka, “EKCs”) and their risk to public health. They found that chemicals called phthalates are known EKCs, that can create an increased risk of both diabetes and obesity, and—here’s the bad part—they’re found in many cosmetic products. Other groups, such as the American Chemistry Council, have said that phthalates are safe (but the American Chemistry Council is a lobbying group for phthalate manufacturers, so, sadly, it’s hard to tell what’s accurate).
But here’s what’s even worse: you may not be able to tell what cosmetic products have phthalates in them. Cosmetic companies are not required to list the phthalates included in their products, so you may not be able to tell which makeups have them and which do not. Luckily, one way you can avoid them is by avoiding products with added fragrances. According to the Huffington Post article we linked to above, the words “parfum” or “fragrance” on a product label may mean the product contains phthalates. You can look for products that get their scent from essential oils (which are naturally derived from plants) or products that say they don’t include any synthetic fragrances.
A full review of the harmful chemicals that are in makeup is bit outside the range of this post, but here’s the takeaway: organic products can be better for you. They’re not perfect, and not all organic products are truly “organic”—there are still some funky materials included in many of them—but they are very often made without some of the “seriously iffy” ingredients.
They Can Help Protect Sensitive Skin
So we just talked about how some additives can cause harm you internal harm, but a lot of those ingredients can irritate your skin, too. Harsh fragrances, preservative chemicals, and artificial dyes can cause skin reactions in people who are sensitive to those additives, and for people with common skin conditions like eczema, many mainstream products can cause flare-ups.
A good rule of thumb is to look for cosmetic products that contain very few ingredients. Organic products tend to include far fewer ingredients than “regular” makeups, and a shorter ingredient list may mean organic foundation is less likely to irritate your skin (barring any allergies to natural compounds, of course).
Beyond irritation, gentler formulations can also have other benefits. It may mean fewer breakouts for people with sensitive skin, and for some people, the lack of extra chemicals can help maintain moisture in your skin, resulting in less dryness.
Results are never guaranteed—we know we’ve said that a dozen times, but it’s true—and product usage is a learning process. With time and experience, you may be able to find which ingredients irritate your skin, and which you’re fine with.
There Are Some Environmentally Conscious Benefits
You might choose organic makeup because you’ve heard it’s better for your skin, but it may be better for the environment, too. The non-profit group Eco Guide explains that organic makeups help do away with animal experimentation, promote fair trade, and produce less toxic leftover that goes in landfills. Good to know!
Those are all wonderful reasons to go organic, but there’s another reason it can be a good idea—and as natural-lovers, this one is near and dear to our hearts: conventional makeups use a lot of products that need to be mined out of the earth, like aluminum, petroleum, and lead (and yes—those three ingredients are common in a lot of makeups!), and that mining is often done in areas that have a rich and vibrant ecosystem full of abundant plant life and animal species. Organic products tend to forego those types of ingredients, and instead get their ingredients from more renewable resources. Again, organic makeups aren’t perfect, but that can be something we feel good about.
Wrapping Up Organic Foundations
As we mentioned, a full exploration of organic cosmetics is beyond the scope of this single post, but hopefully we’ve discussed some things about organic makeup that’ll make you want to read more. Thank you for reading, and happy makeup!