organic makeup for kids

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Going With Organic Makeup for Your Kids


It’s Monday morning and you’re busy trying to get all the kids ready for school. You’re about to head out the door and your 11-year-old daughter comes out of her room, your mascara on her lashes and lip gloss applied. Shut the front door…literally. She can’t already be ready to start wearing makeup, can she?

Makeup is a staple product in most women’s lives. From foundation to mascara to lipstick, most women use more than one of these products daily, and have been since a young age. Nowadays, with the major shift in social media and instant access to today’s trends and beauty standards, I can see how girls can get either excited to dress up and wear makeup or head to other end of the spectrum and feel the social pressure to wear makeup at an earlier age. With new trends developing and a more widespread selection of products, I think it is important to take a good look at organic makeup as a potential option for your preteens to use for when she’s ready.

First T​​​​hings First, How Old is Old Enough?

As a mom, there are so many other things to worry about for your child, and when is it acceptable for them to wear makeup is a question that gets swept under the rug at times. When she is little, it’s cute to see her mimic you and smear makeup all over, to try and be just like you. As she gets older, there can be a lot of controversy around wearing makeup, the attention it brings, and the reasoning behind wearing it. So, when is it okay for her to wear makeup? 

small kid makeup

When it comes to finding a definitive answer to this question, the results are truly up in the air. The answer can be subjective to parenting decisions, societal norms, and a girl’s reasoning for it. It is important to pin down the “why” behind it. Perhaps look at when and why you chose to start wearing makeup, and move forward from there.

Refinery29 actually surveyed 24 women to ask them when they started wearing makeup and their reasoning behind it. The majority of them reported between the ages of 11 and 15 with the most common age being 13 and 15. Most of the women said that their reasoning for wearing it was to cover up acne and blemishes, which I think is something most of us can relate to (thanks a lot puberty). 

 When asked if there was a right age, the general consensus was “no” and that it is about experimenting, self-expression, and finding your own sense of style. One answer that stood out is to embrace the beauty that you have naturally and appreciate that perfect skin before trying to cover it up. With such easy access to the internet and skewed beauty standards, just make sure your preteen knows they are beautiful with or without makeup, and that their desire for makeup is not for the wrong reasons.

Going Organic is All the Rage, but What is Organic Makeup For Kids?

When I was a young girl, the industry trends were significantly different. Today, the options for makeup brands are endless and the knowledge regarding the substances within products is readily available.

There are many products on the shelves packed full of harmful substances that we never choose to think twice about putting on our skin, but would we be okay with our children doing so? What is truly best for young children when they first start applying makeup? Let’s talk about organic makeup for kids and what constitutes a product being organic.
Organic makeup for kids, in itself, is different than what categorizes as natural makeup for kids, but more often than not, they get put in the same category. If you’ve heard anything about the clean makeup movement, then you probably have seen the words “organic” and “natural” associated with it.

The FDA actually does not have a specific definition for “organic”, but rather it is regulated through the USDA under the National Organic Program. If a cosmetic product is labeled as “organic” it still has to comply with regulations under the USDA and the FDA under the safety requirements for cosmetic products.

According to Pharmaca, organic makeup for kids is considered to be derived from ingredients free of chemicals, pesticides, or any type of artificial fertilizers, much like the organic food on the shelves. On the other hand, natural makeup has no regulations for use of the word.

 Although many believe it be the same as organic, natural products can actually contain chemicals or, of course, be grown without a certified organic standard. A natural product is usually 50-70% chemical-free compared to the 95-100% chemical-free organic standards. In short, be wary of natural versus organic makeup for kids when picking out the right product.

cute girl makes makeup

The Benefits of Organic Makeup for Kids

There are a lot of benefits to using organic makeup for kids based on information gathered by The Eco Guide. Because of the nature of regulations for organic products for kids, they typically don’t contain substances that lead to harsh allergic or chemical reactions. These harsh substances that you’ve probably seen companies advertise against include products such as parabens, sulfates, aluminum, and even artificial fragrances. For those with sensitive skin or risk of high allergic reactions, organic makeup is an excellent alternative.

Organic cosmetics and skincare products use vegetable oils and a variety of essential oils to replace certain harmful chemicals. These oils are preferable due to their moisturizing characteristics. They also contain vitamins such as Vitamin E and fatty acids.

One huge benefit as to why organic makeup for kids would be a good option for young tweens just getting started in makeup, is the fact that there are no endocrine disruptors. According to Cosmetic Info, endocrine disruptors are a substance found outside of the body that alters endocrine function and although it’s said to include plant-based disruptors, more often than not they refer to chemicals made by man that mimic hormone production. Some of these well-known products listed with Simply Organic Beauty include parabens, plastics, phthalates, and pesticides.

Based on information gathered by Cosmetics Info though, it is debatable as to whether these products really do have a significant effect on hormonal balances. Their research is based on the FDA’s evaluation regarding endocrine disruptors.

In contrast, Simply Organic Beauty and various other sources have reported studies linking parabens and other chemicals to an increased risk of breast cancer. Either way, organic makeup for kids can lead to less exposure to harsh substances that could alter your preteen’s hormonal balances in their formative years. Why risk it?

Organic makeup is also environmentally friendly. The Eco Guide describes organic makeup as more nutrient-dense, with a large amount of minerals and antioxidants. It is a great way to cut back on the amount of pollutants that we expose our bodies to. If going down a more eco-friendly route is important to you and your tween, keep that in mind.

The Side effects of Organic Makeup for Kids

Just like anything, there are some downfalls to using organic makeup. Some shortcomings to going organic, highlighted under The Eco Guide, include shorter shelf life, more expensive products, no preservatives, and less vibrant colors than synthetic makeup brands. Allow me to elaborate.

At first thought, no preservatives can sound like a good thing, but if your preteen isn’t going to be using up that product quickly then it can become a problem. A lack of preservatives can lead to the formation of bacteria, and you definitely don’t want them using those products at that point. 

organic makeup for kids side effects

Some products will use “natural preservatives” but they aren’t as effective as the more mainstream brands. Some common preservatives found outside of the organic world include benzoates and occasionally formaldehydes. 

The price behind organic makeup can also lead to hesitation when you are buying for your preteen. Because of the way organic makeup is made, it is a more expensive process with higher quality, non-synthetic ingredients and the saying “you get what you pay for” comes to mind. On the other hand, the more mainstream cosmetic brands can be pretty pricey as well so keep that in mind when making your final comparison.

Although it seems less significant when discussing the safety behind going organic, organic makeup is often less vibrant than the synthetic dyes. For a young girl just getting started in makeup, it may not matter or it may be frustrating as she is trying to figure out her style and experiment a little. 

 For someone with a serious passion for makeup and using it as a form of self-expression, dull eyeshadows and blushes can pale next the bright and lush pigments found in top brands such as Mac, Lancome, NARS, Dior, Too Faced, or Urban Decay.

She’s Going to Put WHAT on Her Skin?

When picking out suitable makeup for your tween, I would recommend really spending some time looking at what is actually in the product before buying them. Now that we have looked at what constitutes organic makeup, it’s a good idea to highlight what substances are considered toxic and what brands do or don’t utilize them in their cosmetics. Make sure you know what you are letting your preteen put on their skin first. 

girl bad face skin

The Eco Guide broke down a lot of ingredients that are considered harmful that are typically found in cosmetics. A few of those top substances include aluminum, benzoates, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehydes, artificial fragrances, keratolytic chemicals, parabens, paraffin, sodium laureth or lauryl sulfate, isopropyl alcohol, and propylene glycol. A lot of these products are petroleum-derived as well. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the effects of these ingredients.

  • Aluminum
    Aluminum is a pretty common product and is a metal element. Although only trace amounts of aluminum are found in cosmetics, it is said to block pores to keep sweat from being released, which is why it is found in most deodorants. When it comes to skincare though, blocking pores can lead to acne and blemishes.
  • Benzoates and Formaldehydes
    Both of these substances are used as preservatives. You may have seen benzoates listed on some of your cosmetic products, and for some it can be an irritant. It is commonly seen in sodas and other fizzy drinks.
  • Formaldehyde
    (Formalin is its liquid form) is usually associated with preserving cadavers, but was also used in cosmetic products for long-lasting effects in the past. Products you may see it in now are nail polish and nail polish removers. Either way, the EPA listed formaldehyde as a probable carcinogen which can lead to cancer.
  • Parabens, Paraffin, Propylene Glycol, Isopropyl Alcohol
    All of these ingredients above are petroleum-derived substances that you probably will recognize. Parabens are commonly used as a cheap preservative, but was listed earlier as an endocrine disruptor and have been linked to breast cancer. If the word ends in paraben, it may be something you want to avoid.
  • Paraffin
    is a wax substance that is commonly found in skin softening products, but is considered to be a pore-blocker. Propylene Glycol and Isopropyl Alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol) are common household substances with drying properties. In low doses, they are considered safe, but they definitely will dry your skin out. Keep an eye out for these ingredients.
  • Keratolytic Chemicals
    If you have ever heard of a chemical peel or a mask to get rid of dead skin cells, more than likely it involved a keratolytic agent. A few substances that fall under this category include salicylic acid, hydroxyl acids, and retinoic acids. They are fairly corrosive and will dissolve the outermost layer of the skin. As someone who has had a chemical peel, I can say they are not pleasant.
  • Dibutyl Phthalate and Artificial Fragrances
    The EPA states that dibutyl phthalate is commonly used to create soft plastics, and can be found in many cosmetic products as well. It is another substance listed as an endocrine disruptor, and is usually found in artificial fragrances.
    Be wary of products containing artificial fragrances though because The Guardian reported that they can contain anywhere from 50 to 300 undeclared chemicals. There is no state, federal, or global regulation regarding fragrance safety either.

    That can make anyone think twice about not only their beauty products, but even scented candles, soaps, and sprays. If you’ve ever walked into a candle or body spray shop, you might understand how overwhelming the fragrance can be. I usually leave there with a headache so imagine letting your tween wear that on their skin all day.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
    If you’ve used laundry detergent, toothpaste, shave creams, styling gel, or mascara then you’ve used sodium lauryl sulfate. It is the chemical that causes products to lather up and clean. It is well known as a skin and eye irritant, and Dropps highlights its counterpart, sodium laureth sulfate, as a safer alternative, derived from sodium lauryl sulfate.

These are just a few of the chemical products found in cosmetics that can act as either an irritant or a harmful substance, but there is a plethora of chemicals that get used that aren’t discussed. If you find something that you don’t recognize, it is easy to just plug it into a search engine and see what exactly it is and what it’s used for.

According to May Lindstrom in a recent interview with Elle, our skin absorbs what we put on it and a good rule of thumb is to treat it just as you would your diet because essentially your body takes it in. Although it is debatable, many sources say that your body absorbs up to 5 pounds of the product put on your skin into the bloodstream over a year. For young girls, don’t let that product be something that is harmful to her in her formative years.

Hot Brands That Are and ARENT Good for Your Tween

red lipstick

There are many companies that prey upon people by using good marketing techniques, and that’s why it is important to know what is in your cosmetics before you let your preteen use them. What they say is natural and safe isn’t always the case. Let’s look at some brands that are commonly considered a safer, more natural alternative and evaluate what type of makeup is actually good for your tween.

Popular Tween Makeups

makeup for tweens

The amount of makeup products geared towards tweens and teens is honestly overwhelming, with their bright fun packaging or massive starter kits. Best Products highlighted some popular brands attracting attention such as Shany, Glossier, LA Girl, Elf, Covergirl, Maybelline, NYX, Pacifica, Loreal, and Milani. These brands are more affordable options that tend to provide in bulk or can be bought off the shelf of your local drugstore.

Whether your preteen needs these products or should put them on their skin is another question entirely.

If you decide to go with a clean, organic approach, many of these products wouldn’t fall in that category. Companies like Shany and Elf offer great makeup products at a significantly reduced price that pride themselves on being hypoallergenic and free of parabens, talc, and other toxic ingredients.

Some refer to these brands as a more natural option based on their advertising, but that is a hit or miss. If you head to Shany Cosmetics website and browse through the ingredients on some of their products, such as foundations and contour kits, you’ll find dimethicone, talc, and propylparabens listed.

Clean Makeup Brands for Kids

One new push towards safe, non-toxic makeup brands is the use of the Clean Seal through Sephora. Clean at Sephora are products formulated without parabens, sulfates, formaldehydes, phthalates, and many other products that we have discussed here.

Some products listed under Sephora’s Clean Seal are relatively mainstream brands such as Tarte, Cover Fx, and Josie Maran. Although Tarte had many products listed under the Clean Seal, it also carries products under the brand that don’t fall under that realm.

Another place to find clean cosmetics is The Detox Market. Some relatively popular brands that are considered clean cosmetics include RMS Beauty, Lily Lolo, Ilia, Kosas, and Kjaer Weis. Beauty blogger Allana Davison did a nice review of some of these clean cosmetic brands from Sephora and The Detox Market regarding ease of application and effectiveness. Be sure to check out her Part 2 portion as well.

Mineral-Based Makeups for Kids

Mineral-based makeups have made a name for themselves in the beauty industry with the shift toward synthetic-free makeup. Marie Claire discussed mineral-based makeup and listed Bare Minerals, Pur, Jane Iredale, Tarte, Cover FX, and Clarins as a few big-name brands that we commonly hear about.

They describe them as finely ground minerals like zinc, mica, and titanium dioxide mixed with pigments to provide a lighter more natural feel, free of oils, preservatives, and synthetic substances. They are popular among people who have sensitive skin and are also said to provide a UV filter. They’re promoted for SPF capabilities.

There is a lot of hype behind whether these products are safe to use though. Because these minerals are milled down to tiny particles, they are more easily inhaled during use. There is a lot of controversy behind inhaling mica or titanium dioxide and what it can do your lungs over time.

EmpowHER discusses how inhaling mineral-based makeups who utilize nanoparticles can lead to inflammation and irritation in the lungs over time. As a precaution, try to steer towards pressed powders and liquid foundations rather than loose powders if that’s a concern.

The pressing question with these big mineral-based brands such as Bare Minerals are whether they are natural and non-toxic for users. The answer, unfortunately, is not black and white.

One big downfall to Bare Minerals is that they are said to contain dimethicone in some of their products, which Puracy defines as a man-made silicone-based chemical. Although the FDA has declared it a safe skincare ingredient, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t harsh.

Byrdie lists it under the “bad silicones” category because it’s not water-soluble or biodegradable. Although, many cosmetics include it because it provides a thin layer of product to coat your skin, rather than be absorbed, and make it appear shinier and smoother.

organic makeup for kids brushes

Maybe She’s Born With It, Maybe It’s Organic Makeup For Kids

We’ve highlighted some beauty products that are popular, and some that are considered clean and natural. We have yet to dive into what categorizes as certified organic in the cosmetic world though. Harper’s Bazarr featured a few brands that we have already discussed in the clean makeup category as certified organic makeup.

Kjaer Weis is listed as a luxury makeup brand whose products are certified organic and was actually reviewed in the clean makeup video linked above. RMS Beauty is another top brand who supplies raw, organic ingredients.

Vapour Organic Beauty is a company that has not been heavily discussed, but all their products are made in a USDA organic-certified facility. They produce high performance organic products that even prominent makeup artists are using on clients.

A couple of other brands that made it to front of the pack include Kari Gran products and Fitglow beauty. Love and Lavender, a bridal blog, also mentioned Inika Organic as a certified organic makeup brand using non-toxic ingredients.

These are a few certified organic brands that have stood up as strong alternatives, but the fact is that there are not many completely organic cosmetic brands to pick from. Because the FDA has not set clear definitions regarding organic cosmetics, it can make it difficult to discern between “natural” and “organic”. You also have to decide if making the switch to certified organic cosmetics is important, or if going down the clean, natural option is more plausible for your tween.

 If going green and organic is the best option for your child, certified organic products all have to be labeled as such so check for the organic seal. Researching the company and their product ingredients, their mission, and what they promote is a good starting point.

Girl Wash Your Face – With Non-Toxic, Clean, Organic Face Wash

Keeping in line with the trend of non- toxic products, it would be a shame to skip over safe skincare cleansing products. After all, you never go to bed with a face full of makeup.

According to dermatologist Amy Wechsler, cleansers are a better choice than soaps due to their more natural PH levels that keep them from irritating the skin’s natural barrier. Some cleansers recommended by Wechsler for preteens include brands such as Countercontrol, Goldfaden, and Ursa Major. These are gentle and natural cleansers geared towards maintaining the skins natural barrier. Be sure to check each product to see which cleanser is best for each skin type.

Final Thoughts of Going out and Applying Organic Makeup

Going the organic route holds a lot of benefits because it provides a chemical-free option for your preteen to start with. These products are free of toxic ingredients such as parabens, phthalates, and strong irritants and are made with USDA-assurance that they are organic. For a young tween serious about a steady makeup routine, these can be a good avenue to start down.

If the price is an issue or your tween is just wanting to enjoy experimenting with all different types of makeup, there are plenty of more affordable clean and natural products that are still free of most harmful ingredients.

Although it’s going to take a bit of trial and error to find the perfect product, you have to start somewhere, so you and your tween get out there and have fun trying different products together.

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