Beauty, Skin

Shopping at Sephora: Looking for Natural Products



I recently went into a place that used to make my heart stop and my wallet weep. I’m talking about Sephora. Before going natural, I’d grab a little basket and happily toss products in without giving ingredients and chemicals a second thought.

I trusted the safety of the cosmetics.  I knew makeup and skincare and haircare all had chemicals in them but didn’t realize the toxicity of those synthetics and fragrances. Keep in mind that if a product claims to be natural and organic, it doesn’t mean there is an absence of toxic ingredients.


It wasn’t  until recently that I learned about ingredients in makeup, as I’ve written about before. Today, knowing what I know, shopping was a completely different experience. Let’s take a look at the natural products that Sephora offers.

KORRES boasts the NATURAL label but looking at the ingredients, I put every cream and  lotion back on the shelf. Filled with chemicals, this was not a product line I was interested in putting on my skin.

BEFORE YOU BUY: “Blatantly dishonest claims; several products contain irritating ingredients, including volatile fragrance chemicals; the foundation primer contains potent irritants;  some of the plant extracts are from endangered species of plants.” {source} Yikes. I’ll pass.

TARTE is one of the brands I used to gravitate to. I was under the impression that they were one of the more healthy brands. If you ask the girls working at Sephora to point you in the direction of natural makeup, they will lead you right to Tarte followed by Korres and Josie Maran. Now, I like these products and have had great luck with many of them. But if you want to be natural and avoid toxins, you will want to pay close attention to the ingredients.

BEFORE YOU BUY:  Ingredients include the following toxic chemicals:  isododecane, imidazolidinyl urea, butylene glycol, parabens, PEG/PPG-18/18 dimethicone, aluminum starch octenylsuccinate. {source}

JOSIE MARAN  I admit to loving her powder and foundation (review coming soon) and this brand is probably one of the better ones you will find at Sephora. Argan Oil is in almost everything here which is Josie’s gimmick. Not completely natural, although I wish she would go this route and even add some nice certified organic ingredients. Her beach hair spray contains Dimethicone but I tested it quickly and found it made my hair wavier without frizz. Since I am staying away from all Dimethicone products, I did not buy it. But I liked it.

BEFORE YOU BUY: There are plenty of synthetic ingredients present, including silicones and a synthetic film-forming agent. Those are not bad for skin, but it just shows that you can’t trust the company’s claims. {source}

FRESH This brand offers products that smell amazing and the packaging looks  pretty and natural. It is not natural.

BEFORE YOU BUY: Fresh scores in the HIGH HAZARD zone according to the ewg. Unfortunately these products contain parabens, fragrance, and other skin irritants. Click here for more info. I stay away from parabens for this reason: “Parabens are chemical preservatives that have been identified as estrogenic and disruptive of normal hormone function. Estrogenic chemicals mimic the function of the naturally occurring hormone estrogen, and exposure to external estrogens has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer.” {source} And that is a risk I cannot afford to take.

BARE ESCENTUALS/bareMinerals I’ve been using Bare Escenturals for years. I did not immediately jump on the Bare Minerals bandwagon back when it was the first powder to bust on the scene with powder foundation, back when it called itself the  “healthiest, purest makeup in the world.” There are some products from this company I like a lot including the whole Buxom lip line which unfortunately contains toxins and is rated as High Hazard on Skin Deep.

BEFORE YOU BUY: According to some older reports on Skin Deep, bareMinerals was considered low on the hazard scale. On Beautypedia, they report that bareMinerals/Bare Escentuals contains “bismuth oxychloride, a major ingredient in the powder formulations, can cause skin irritation, while the other minerals can be drying (Source: Regarding bismuth oxychloride, it is interesting to note that bismuth (a metallic element) seldom occurs in nature. Instead, it is a by-product of copper and lead refining, or is manufactured synthetically. Chemically, it’s similar to arsenic, a fact you won’t see in any advertising for bareMinerals.”

LAVANILA Here’s a brand that is actually natural and scores low on the hazard scale via Skin Deep. FINALLY. You can use this line of products with a clear conscience. I use their Vanilla fragrance oil, body lotions and shower/shave gel which all smell fantastic.

BEFORE YOU BUY: Some products do score a rating of a 4 which equals a moderate hazard as far as toxins go but this is from an older report. I do love the deodorant and think its one of the best natural ones on the market however  people may be concerned over some corn by-product  ingredients.

 ORIGINS I remember when this brand was introduced and even back then I was excited for what I thought was natural beauty. Its not natural so don’t be fooled by the green on the labels and boasting of using plant based ingredients.

BEFORE YOU BUY: Many of the products contain ingredients known to be harmful and irritating, they also use synthetic ingredients. Plant ingredients that are used show no proven benefit for skin according to Beautypedia. According to Skin Deep, products contain BHT which can cause  Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity.

I looked on the Origins website but they do not include a list of ingredients for each product. What they do include are the plants and fruits that go into the makeup and skincare, but all the toxins and chemicals are missing. I’m really on the fence with this brand! I know its not totally natural and definitely not organic.

Check for companies who are cruelty free.

Since I’ve gone the natural route and made up my mind to never turn back, shopping for makeup, skincare and haircare is not as…fun?  I carefully read labels on everything and whoever is shopping with me is subjected to my rants about toxins. I skip over almost all the brands, knowing that they contain the very ingredients that may be hazardous to my health.

If you ask a sales associate for help, like I mentioned, they will lead you to brands that on the outside look innocent enough but dig around and you will probably find some undesirable ingredients in the products. Either do your research before you go or shop at Whole Foods and other health food stores (still check labels) or stay home and shop online.


14 thoughts on “Shopping at Sephora: Looking for Natural Products

  1. Great article. Please note that Whole Foods carries many, many brands of vitamins that have a whole laundry list of additives not necessary to its manufacture. Not just their own brand but numerous others! I emailed them once about it and their reply was rather indifferent. Andrew Lessman (on the shopping channel but also online) is one manufacturer who doesn’t include additives to his vitamin supplements.

  2. Thats why we have to read all labels and start learning about whats acceptable and whats
    not. I dont think I ever considered that vitamins can have fillers too.

  3. So many great new cruelty free toxin/bad chemical free cosmetics are available now through online shops such as Spirit Beauty Lounge and Beauty Sage and the Detox Market to name just a few. I am a big fan of Ilia lipstick, RMS Beauty, Priti nail polish, Sheswai nail polish, Vamp a NY tuberose perfume, all of the incredible Living Libations skin care/teeth products and Nadine Artemis’ heavenly Petal perfumes, Soapwalla deodorant. You see where I’m going. Yes, Whole Foods does carry some great lines, but I suggest looking further afield, too. Reading labels and articles about what exactly is in commercial make-up, skin care and perfumes is a great way to empower ourselves.

  4. Thanks for the suggestions, Im going to check them all out! Im researching and looking and trying to find lots of clean, natural beauty products.
    Ive never heard of Detox Market! Im off to go look.

  5. Great post. I went through this and came out a seasoned pro. Now, I hand make an amazing, completely natural line! Truly pure, raw from the earth and very effective- Please check it out @

    Thanks for sharing! Nice work!

  6. Hello. I was wondering what your thoughts are on the Melaluca brand? My sister just recently got introduced to everything Melaluca, their face wash, make up, cleaning products, deodorant, etc. She raves that its completely organic and green. I haven’t done my own research yet, but was wondering if you have any insight?

  7. Hi Melissa,

    I did some research and here’s what I found, “It contains ingredient that are not natural including…Melaleuca Tinted Moisturizer: water, phenyl trimethrcone, oat kernel extract, DI-PPG-3 myristyl ether adipate, glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, cyclopentasiloxane, polyethylene, PEG/PPG-20/15 dimethicone, butylene glycol, potassium cetyl phosphate, hydrogenated palm glycerides, polymethylsilsesquioxane, polyester-7, neopentyl glycol diheptanoate, C20-22 alcohols, pentylene glycol, caprylic/capric triglyceride, salicornia herbacea extract, tetrapeptide- 21, glycerin, caprlyl glycol, 1,2 hexanediol, polysorbate 80, lecithin, carnosine, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, ethylhexylglycerine, xanthan gum, disodium EDTA, tocopherol acetate, aminomethyl propanol, tremella fuciformis sporocarp extract, simethicone, titanium dioxide (C177891), iron oxides (C177492,C177491, C177499).”

  8. I agree! I love MV Organics and have found that shopping online is the way to go until Sephora etc. includes clean, green beauty products!

  9. Sephora used to be my happy place too. Bare Minerals has Bismuth-free High Shine Eyecolor (the ones in the little vials w/ a wand applicator) – and Bite Beauty has a lip primer and a lip scrub that say they’re all natural. I haven’t found many natural lip primers. Along with Lavanila, a few other reasons to still go to Sephora.

  10. Love this post. I’m also in the process of cleaning out my home and beauty closet of harmful chemicals. Thanks for the info!

  11. awesome post, Cindy! I fell into all the traps you’re talking about here. I still love Tarte and occasionally I’ll try products from Fresh and Josie Maran, but for the most part, I try to avoid them now. It’s such a shame their products aren’t more green/truly natural given they have a prime niche in Sephora and other places. They could really do some good with that influence so I hope they will upgrade their product formulas to reflect better ingredients. That would be awesome. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

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