Natural VS Mainstream Cosmetics

Well, I’ve written about personal care products in my past two articles, so it’s time I wrote about cosmetics, you know, lipstick, eyeshadow etc. You go into a shop and, if you’re not used to buying cosmetics that are eco-friendly and cruelty-free, then it’s going to be a minefield! Many aren’t well labelled and if they’re not, it’s best to steer clear.

If you didn’t read my August article, I’ll repeat here about animal testing. Yes, it’s banned in the UK for cosmetics and personal care products, but loads of companies get round this by saying that they can’t sell their products in the (obviously very lucrative) Chinese market unless they’re tested. An ethical company just won’t sell their products in China – and this happens but not as often as you’d think. It’s a really deceptive behaviour but of course, these big, multi-nationals are only interested in one thing – money.

How can you find out how ethical (for both animals and the planet) your cosmetics are? Well, the first thing of course is not to buy loads in the first place (remember reduce, reuse, recycle?). You tend to find out what palette of colours suits your skin tone etc. quite early on, so most of us then stick with that. Once you get older, your skin tone does change but it’s a gradual process anyway. As for eyeshadows and lipsticks, the same applies really. If you do need to buy something new, then what I do if I’m not sure about a product, is look it up online, where I can check out the ingredients. Having said that, I just completely avoid the big mainstream companies, because they’re neither eco-friendly nor cruelty-free. Having said that, the link below is brilliant because Ethical Consumer magazine have rated various companies on:

  • environment,
  • people,
  • animals,
  • politics

It’s an interesting (and quite surprising in some instances) read and will help you navigate your way through finding products that truly do have a lower carbon/cruelty free footprint.

Generally speaking, remember that natural cosmetics will have more natural ingredients in them (that much is common sense really!) and natural cosmetic companies are, in any case, usually more aware of the importance of being ethical etc. They also tend to use unrefined ingredients rather than lots of chemicals (this does mean that their shelf life will be shorter, however). You’ll find that the colours are more natural in appearance, so you won’t get any fluorescent colours! Synthetic products’ shelf life is about 2-4 years, whereas for natural cosmetics, it will be about 1 and a half years.

Remember also that just because something says that it’s natural doesn’t mean that it is! You really do need to wise-up and not fall for the marketing!

Unlike personal care products, there are fewer people making their own cosmetics, but you can do it. To dip your toe in the water, here’s a recipe for you to try (which I found on a great site called

Homemade Eyeshadow

For the base:
Arrowroot Powder*
Shea Butter
And a combination of any of the following:
Cocoa Powder
Dried Beetroot Powder

1. Start by placing 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. in a small bowl. The more arrowroot powder you use the lighter and more subtle the colour of your homemade eyeshadow will be. You can always add more, so start with less.
2. Add your other spices/powders and mix thoroughly until you get the colour you want.
3. Once you have a well-mixed colour, add in 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. of shea butter. Use the back of a small spoon to “cream” the butter in with the powder against the side of the bowl until you have a soft, creamy powder. (It really will still look mostly like a powder.) The shea butter will help keep this homemade eyeshadow on your lids and provide a nice moisturizing kick.

Some Colour Options

Pale Pink:
1/2 tsp. arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp. dried beet powder
1/8 tsp. cocoa powder
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. shea butter
1/2 tsp. arrowroot powder
3/4 tsp. allspice
3/4 tsp. dried beet powder
1/4 tsp. cocoa powder
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. shea butter
Light Brown:
1/2 tsp. arrowroot
3/4 – 1 tsp. cocoa powder
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. shea butter
Golden Brown:
1/2 tsp. arrowroot powder
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. shea butter

N.B. you can buy dried beetroot which is recommended unless you have a dehydrator!

To use: use your finger tip or a small brush. Tap off any excess and gently wipe as you would other eyeshadow.

Please let me know if you have a go at this recipe and how you get on!

Sharon Duggan is an Accredited Climate Change Teacher, she also set up and leads both the Cranleigh Climate Action Group and Cranleigh Plant Share (both on Facebook). She also writes on her Facebook page:

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