I remember the first time I went to Sephora as a teenager. It felt like I had died and gone to makeup heaven. I wanted to sample every lipstick — and they seemed to have literally every lipstick. Today my taste in makeup is more discerning, and I only use safe products. Thankfully, the retailer has kept up with the trend toward ingredient scrutiny with its Clean at Sephora program. Sephora’s “clean” seal goes to makeup and skincare products made without parabens, sulfates, SLS, SLES, phthalates, mineral oils, formaldehyde, and other potentially-harmful ingredients.
While I appreciate Sephora’s effort, I was also curious how their entire collection of makeup stacks up against the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, which ranks products from 1 to 10 based on their intended use and ingredient list. So I went through all of Sephora’s highest reviewed makeup to find which gets a safe rating of 1 or 2 from EWG. As is the case with drugstore beauty, it’s always best to check each specific product from a brand in the EWG database, since ratings can range within one brand.
Note that not everything marked as “Clean at Sephora” gets a “low-hazard” rating from EWG. And some makeup not marketed as clean from Sephora still gets a safe rating from EWG. The discrepancy is because the groups use different criteria and screening processes. The list below stood out as both low hazard from EWG and high-quality according to Sephora shoppers (and me!).
AETHER BEAUTY Solstice Eyeshadow Palette: This everything palette has both shimmery and matte options. Unlike the case with other clean beauty eyeshadows, reviewers rave about the pigmentation and color payoff. On Sephora, the palette has 5 stars with over 100 reviews. The brand, Aether, is also committed to vegan and sustainable beauty.Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow+ Volumizing Eyebrow Gel: Benefit is known for their IRL “Brow Bars” where you can get a professional eyebrow tune up. This little tube will help keep everything looking neat and clean in between. It has 4.5 stars on Sephora with over 4,000 reviews. It’s long been one of my favorite products, and I was happy I didn’t have to give it up when I made the switch to clean beauty, since it gets a low-hazard rating from EWG.
RMS Beauty Living Luminizer: This highlighter is a clean beauty classic with the reviews to back up that status. The sheer finish will make you look like you’re glowing from within by reflecting light without any glitter. If you want some natural-looking pigment, try the champagne rose color.
Cover FX Pressed Mineral Foundation: When I needed to replace my beloved MAC Studio Fix compact with something safer, I turned to this mineral foundation. Cover FX was co-founded by a former MAC co-founder who wanted to create makeup that was both effective and safe.
Supergoop! CC Cream Daily Correct Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Sunscreen: For decent foundation coverage and sun protection, try this CC cream, which uses mineral sunscreen for SPF. It has a smooth finish and will last throughout the day.
Bareminerals Gen Nude Powder Blush: You can build up the right amount of color with this natural-looking blush. Wear less for a daytime look, or add some drama by applying more for a night out. Either way, it goes on smoothly and blends in nicely with the rest of your makeup.
Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture The Slim Matte Lipstick: If you want a vibrant matte lipstick that won’t dry out your lips, this is for you. After applying, you can enjoy a soft finish that will stay in place.
Aether Beauty Radiant Ruby Lip Crème: I still love a good lip gloss, and this lip creme gives you that hydrating feel without being sticky. The ingredient-conscious brand describes it as a blend between a full-color liquid lip and a wet lip gloss. I think of it as a lip gloss for grown ups.
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