Is Ilia Clean & Sustainable? We Investigate.

5 min reading time

Ilia Beauty was founded in 2011 by siblings Sasha Plavsic and Zacharia Ilia as one of the original brands in the clean beauty space. The brand offers a wide range of makeup and skincare and is available in Sephora locations worldwide.

But is the brand greenwashing?

When it comes to clean beauty, there are a lot of brands out there that make big promises but don’t always deliver.

We took a deep dive into Ilia to find out if they’re as clean and sustainable as they claim.

Our Methodology

At Better Goods, we rank brands on our three pillars: ingredients, sustainability, and animal welfare.

Brands are rated on the three pillars as follows.

Best  – This ranking is for the best of the best. Only exemplary brands will receive a ranking of best for any category.

Good – This ranking is for brands that are typically quite good, but don’t go above and beyond like our best choices.

Iffy – This ranking is for when we find something we find iffy. Not a good sign.

Bad – This ranking is reserved for the worst of the worst.

Ingredients (Rating: Good)

Ilia’s tagline is “Clean, skin-centric beauty.”

After looking at the ingredients used in their products, the claim does appear to ring true. Ilia’s extensive lineup of products contains ingredients that are safe to use.

Ilia’s philosophy is that of using a combination of natural and safe synthetics, which is aligned with our values at Better Goods.


Ilia appears to have reformulated several of the products to remove undisclosed fragrances around 2018. This includes the entire High Impact Lipstick line and their lipstick crayons.

Many Ilia products have fragrance, but all fragrances are disclosed and made from natural ingredients (essential oils derivatives).

Synthetic Dyes

Ilia lip products do contain some synthetic dyes. An example is FD&C Yellow No. 5, which is controversial. It’s difficult to say if such dyes in lip products are unsafe, as they’re typically used as food colorings (FD&C Yellow No.5 is used in Mountain Dew, for example.) The controversy is generally linked to the heavy consumption of the dyes in foods, not topically.

Overall, the ingredients in Ilia products are safe. The brand is transparent about its ingredients and none are blatantly ingredients that you should avoid.


Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that’s used in skincare products to prevent bacteria growth. It’s considered safe for use in small concentrations, but some people may be sensitive to it.

Ilia does use phenoxyethanol in some of its products, but not all. If you’re sensitive to this ingredient, you’ll want to check the ingredients list before purchasing.

Sustainability (Rating: Good)

Not a lot can be found regarding Ilia’s sustainability practices.

The website claims that the brand “strive(s) towards more sustainable packaging through the use of recycled aluminum, glass components, and responsibly sourced paper.” but exact details of this cannot be found online.

Recycling Program

Ilia runs a free recycling program for residents of the U.S. which allows customers to mail in up to 10 empty beauty products per month for recycling. The program’s great because users can send in products from any brand, not just Ilia products.


The majority of Ilia products are made in the United States, with the following exceptions:

  • Made in Canada: Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil
  • Made in China: All Brushes
  • Made in Italy: Blue Light Face Mist, Color Haze, Liquid Light Highlighting Serum, Liquid Powder Chromatic Eye Tint, and Limitless Lash Mascara
  • Made in Korea: Clean Line Gel Liner, Clean Line Liquid Liner

Other than this, there’s nothing particularly sustainable about Ilia. The brand does not have any initiatives to offset its carbon footprint or use sustainable materials in its packaging.

Animal Welfare (Rating: Good)


Ilia is a 100% cruelty-free brand, meaning that its products are not tested on animals at any point of the supply chain. It also means that the products aren’t available anywhere that mandatory animal testing can occur.

Not Vegan

While the brand is cruelty-free, it’s not a 100% vegan brand. While there are some vegan products in the lineup, you’ll have to look at the website (where vegan products are labeled) to ensure you don’t purchase any non-vegan items.

Brand Ratings

Our rating scale ranges from “Best” (for having the best practices) to “Bad” (for having unacceptable practices). We rated Ilia as follows.

INGREDIENTSGood – Ilia’s lineup of products is relatively clean, with some synthetic colorants (in their lip products) and phenoxyethanol being the only controversial ingredient.
SUSTAINABILITYGood – While Ilia offers a recycling program and uses recycled materials in its packaging, there’s not a lot of information on their sustainability practices.
ANIMAL WELFAREGood – The brand is cruelty-free, but not vegan.

Overall Rating: Good

Ilia is a clean beauty brand that uses safe ingredients. The brand is also transparent about the fragrance used in their products and the synthetic dyes present in some of their lip products.

However, the brand isn’t particularly sustainable, with no initiatives to offset its carbon footprint or use sustainable materials in its packaging. Ilia is a cruelty-free brand, but it’s not vegan.

Do you own any Ilia products? What are your thoughts on the brand? Let us know in the comments below!

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