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Hundreds of lip gloss brands are available on the market, but finding one with clean ingredients is not easy. Many contain known carcinogens, phthalates, parabens, petroleum products, or other toxic chemicals that can irritate your lips and cause more severe health issues over time.
Lip glosses are the perfect touch-up for any outfit and can instantly glam up anything from a simple tee to an elegant gown. While they moisturize and add shine to your pout, they can also be chock full of chemicals and unpronounceable ingredients that do nothing but harm. So how does one go about finding a natural alternative?
If you like to wear lip gloss (and who doesn't?), it can be frustrating to look through the labels and find many that don't live up to your standards.
Fortunately, you don't need to spend hours searching for an alternative. We've researched them thoroughly so you can spend more time enjoying your lip gloss than reading labels.
Ingredients To Avoid
We looked at the ingredients of more than 25 of the most popular conventional lip glosses, and we found that the vast majority of these products contain at least one ingredient we consider harmful to your health. Here's a partial list:
Artificial Flavors - Some lip glosses use artificial flavors to have a pleasant taste. While artificial flavors aren't a significant concern, they still use a lot of chemicals to create the taste. These chemicals are not necessarily safe for your body, especially when you're absorbing them through the lips.
Parabens - Parabens are used to stop the growth of microbes in products. Because lip gloss is a frequently-used cosmetic, it has a high risk of growing harmful bacteria if there aren't any preservatives present in the product. However, parabens are considered dangerous chemicals because they can mimic estrogen in the body and disrupt hormone levels.
Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Homosalate - These chemicals are sunscreen agents that help protect your lips from the sun. However, recent studies have shown that these chemicals readily absorb into the bloodstream, and we don't currently understand what effect this may have on the body.
Artificial Fragrances (Fragrance, Parfum, Aroma) - Artificial fragrances are common chemicals that help make your lip gloss smell like strawberries or sweet tarts. However, they often use phthalates to create the scent. Besides phthalates, artificial fragrances can contain a mystery soup of other chemicals that brands legally do not need to identify.
Artificial Colors - Artificial colors are another common ingredient in cheap and mass-produced lip glosses. Certain artificial colorings are made from petrochemicals and are linked to organ system toxicity, endocrine disruption, toxicity to our environment, and more. Examples of toxic artificial colorings to avoid begin with FD&C and CI.
Cyclotetrasiloxane - This chemical is a silicone-based ingredient that helps the lip gloss have a smooth texture. While it is considered safe in small doses, the Canadian government declared it potentially toxic in 2009. It is potentially harmful, endocrine-disrupting, and damaging to our aquatic organisms.
Retinyl Palmitate - Retinyl palmitate is an antioxidant and vitamin A source used in many lip glosses. While it may have some antioxidant properties, recent studies have shown that this chemical can accelerate the development of skin tumors and lesions when used on the lips.
BHT - BHT has been shown to cause skin irritation and organ system toxicity in animal studies. While it is used as a preservative in some lip glosses, other natural alternatives can be used instead.
Better Ingredient Alternatives In Clean Lip Glosses
Luckily, if you're looking for a truly clean lip gloss that doesn't contain any artificial ingredients or chemicals, we've got good news.
You can find natural products available, and they will provide you with all of the nourishment and protection your lips need without causing damage to your health in the process.
Good ingredients to look for include:
Beeswax - Beeswax has been shown to moisturize and protect the lips while keeping them soft and pliable. It also helps lock moisture into the lips rather than wear it away with time.
Cocoa Butter - Cocoa butter is another ingredient that can help keep your lips moist and protected from the sun. It locks in moisture and helps form a barrier that protects the lips from dryness.
Coconut Oil - Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties, it can help lock in moisture and stimulate circulation to the lips for healthy and luscious lips.
Honey - Honey is a natural antibacterial agent, and it can provide nourishment and hydration to the lips. It's also an antioxidant that can protect against free radical damage too.
Mango Butter - Mango butter is another wonderful ingredient for lip glosses because it provides moisture and protection from harmful environmental factors while also acting as an emollient.
Shea Butter - Shea butter has been shown to help heal chapped lips, improve lip elasticity, and protect against the sun.
Castor Oil - Castor oil is rich in antioxidants that can help hydrate and restore luster to your lips. It's also an antibacterial agent that helps heal infections on the lips.
Xylitol - Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as an alternative sweetener in many lip products. It's been shown to have antioxidant properties and help prevent tooth decay.
Essential Oils - Many different essential oils can be used as natural flavors, scents, or moisturizers in clean lip glosses. For example, citrus oils such as orange and grapefruit not only add a nice scent to the product but can also provide anti-inflammatory benefits for your lips.
The Best Natural Lip Glosses: Ranked By Ingredients
We researched the internet, online stores, and social media for the most popular natural lip glosses.
Each ingredient in every product was researched and analyzed for safety based on available public research. Where possible, sources for information are included.
Products are ranked from best to worst with an internal score based on the ingredient rankings.
Below is our list of natural lip gloss ratings. They're rated on this scale:
– These products are the best of the best. They contain great ingredients, are non-toxic and are often the best choice for our environment.
– These products are typically quite good, but don’t go above and beyond like our best choices.
– These products are typically okay, but have some issues that make us unable to give them a “Good” rating. Often times they contain ingredients or materials that are questionable.
– These products typically have toxic ingredients or issues that make them dangerous or unsuitable to use. These products should typically be avoided.
Natural Lip Glosses Rated: Best
Only one lip gloss we analyzed deserved a best rating for its ingredients list. It was the only lip gloss that contained zero ingredients on our iffy or bad lists and comes highly recommended.
The Glaze #1 Lip Oil from Innbeauty Project has a great list of ingredients with none on our list of ingredients to avoid. It comes in a total of 5 shades.
They aren’t transparent about the exact formula of the flavor, but the brand claims it’s natural. All in all, this is a clean lip gloss that we can recommend and the only one with 100% good ingredients, making it the best lip gloss we analyzed.
Natural Lip Glosses Rated: Good
Any of these lip glosses are a safe choice. The main reason why most of these missed a rating of best is that they use titanium dioxide as a natural coloring agent. Truthfully, this generally isn't a big concern, but since one of the natural lip glosses we analyzed didn't have this ingredient, it deserves a higher ranking.
W3LL PEOPLE’s HydroLip Gloss comes in 6 shades and has a great clean list of ingredients you can feel safe using. For this reason, we can recommend it.
We’ve rated several Pacifica products well on Better Goods, and their Vegan Collagen Lip Plumping Gloss is no exception. With a clean list of ingredients, we can recommend this natural lip gloss to any clean beauty fan.
Suntegrity’s lip gloss comes in 10 shades and has a SPF of 25 for sun protection on the lips—something that many people overlook. With a clean list of ingredients and a wide array of shades, we recommend this clean lip gloss.
This clear lip gloss
The Elixer Glosses from Vapour (which comes in 5 shades) have an excellent clean list of ingredients and easily meets our standards. Recommended.
Kjaer Weis’s lip glosses come in a wide range of 9 shades and have clean ingredients you can feel safe using. The fragrance is made from a blend of essential oils, and the inclusion of carmine makes this a non-vegan lip gloss product.
This clean lip gloss from Kosas meets our standard in terms of clean and safe ingredients. It comes in a total of 8 shades, each of which met our clean beauty standards.
Natural Lip Glosses Rated: Iffy
We don't recommend these lip glosses. The primary reason a lip gloss received a rating of iffy is its use of synthetic dyes linked to potential negative health impacts.
Westman Atelier’s Squeaky Clean Liquid Lip Balm comes in 6 shades and has a relatively clean list of ingredients. While the ingredients list shows fragrance, the brand claims that its natural fragrance. They do use some synthetic dyes, and for this reason, we can’t recommend these glosses over those that don’t.
This lip gloss from ITEM Beauty has both undisclosed artificial fragrance, and Yellow 5 (CI 19140), an artificial dye that has been linked to negative health effects.
Merit’s tinted lip oils use many artificial colorings that we recommend avoiding. Because many of the lip glosses we reviewed had better ingredients, we cannot recommend these.
Because these lip glosses from Ilia use several controversial synthetic dyes, we can’t recommend them over those that don’t.
Minori’s lip glosses have a relatively clean list of ingredients, but do use some artificial colorings we would prefer to avoid. For this reason, we can’t recommend them over other glosses that use all-natural dyes.
Tower 28 Beauty
Tower 28’s lip glosses come in a wide range of 12 shades. However, all of the shades use controversial synthetic dyes and as such, we can’t recommend them over lip glosses that don’t use these ingredients.
Natural Lip Glosses Rated: Bad
We strongly recommend avoiding these lip glosses. They contain several ingredients we recommend avoiding.
elf’s lip glosses are nowhere close to clean beauty, which likely isn’t a surprise to anyone. Because they use several ingredients on our Avoid list, we cannot recommend this product.
This lip gloss from Physician’s Formula has several ingredients on our Avoid list, including BHT and octinoxate. For this reason, we can’t recommend it.
Jones Road’s Cool Gloss comes in a total of 9 shades, but they use several synthetic dyes that we recommend avoiding. Do note that carmine—a natural dye derived from insects—is used in some of the formulations, making them non-vegan.
Because lip gloss is a product that you inevitably end up eating, it's essential to make sure the lip gloss we use is clean and natural.
For a quick recommendation, check out the only lip gloss that received a best rating: the Glaze #1 Lip Oil from Innabeauty Project. It's the only natural lip gloss we reviewed that didn't have a single questionable ingredient. It comes in five shades and is relatively inexpensive, making it an excellent choice for a clean and natural lip gloss.