A bottle representing pink colored non-toxic lipgloss with eco-friendly packaging materials such as glass tube and metal top displayed on wet black surface.
February 26, 2024
 in 
Beauty

Ditch The Conventional and Hydrate Your Lips with These Eco-Friendly and Non-Toxic Lip Glosses

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lump. Hydrated. Smooth. That’s the effect most of us want when we swipe on a layer of lip gloss, but what about lead, parabens, and phthalates? There are some nasty ingredients hidden in some of the most popular lip products – ingredients that, if you’re not paying attention, can cause skin irritation and health issues.

We’re here to talk about all of that, including which ingredients to avoid and what the best non-toxic lip gloss options are. We’ve got 16 gorgeous brands ready for you, broken down by their efficacy and sustainability stats. It’s not just ingredients we’re worried about, but whether brands are making the effort to use more eco-friendly packaging and avoid animal testing.

If you want the “goss” on all the best clean lip glosses, look no further …

Table of  Contents

Why Should You Choose Non-Toxic Over Conventional Lip Gloss?

1 in 4 Americans are breathing unhealthy, polluted air thanks to climate change issues. Millions in the country are drinking water contaminated with “forever” chemicals. With all that going on, it’s easy to assume that lip gloss is the least of our problems.

In many ways, it is, but if you’re putting a product on your body every day (and even ingesting small amounts), wouldn’t you rather it not have known harmful ingredients in it? That’s really what choosing non-toxic lip gloss products over conventional options comes down to. It’s also worth noting that much of the pollution issues we see are down to chemicals used in the production of things like cosmetics getting into public waterways, etc.

Choosing brands that are saying no to harmful ingredients means that you’re investing in your own health, and supporting a more sustainable, safe future for all. Lip gloss isn’t a big deal but massive cosmetic corporations using known carcinogenic ingredients that then accumulate in our bodies and water systems – that’s major. 

A list of Ingredients to Avoid in Lip Gloss 

Cosmetic laboratory with various chemicals that are used in cosmetics in beakers, test tubes and erlenmeyers.

There are thousands of cosmetic ingredients in use with varying levels of toxicity and proven negative effects. The EU has a banned list of about 1300 cosmetic ingredients, many of which the FDA controversially still allows, such as Formaldehyde. Projects like EWG’s Skin Deep are on a mission to identify and categorize as many ingredients as possible according to how hazardous they are. It’s especially important when most women apply approximately 168 different chemicals every day.

All this is to say that the world of cosmetics ingredients is a vast one and we definitely won’t be able to cover all the ones to watch out for. Instead, we’re going to focus on 6 of the most common ingredients and types of chemicals in lip gloss products and why they’re worth avoiding:

  • Heavy Metals: This includes ingredients such as arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium, aluminum, chromium, and titanium dioxide which appear frequently in lip glosses as part of color pigments. Though these ingredients are allowed by the FDA in small quantities, the issue posed by something like lead is the risks associated with cumulative exposure. As you use it over time, lead collects in the body and can be particularly dangerous for reproductive health, neurotoxicity, and even heart-related diseases. Titanium dioxide is toxic when ingested – not something any of us want on our lips then. It’s been shown to be a potential carcinogen and may even harm our DNA.
  • Microplastics: If you’ve used lip gloss with “exfoliating beads”, they may have been made from microplastics. While many brands have switched over to silica, as it’s safer, microplastics are still a major problem in many lip products. One of the biggest culprits? Glitter. All that sparkle just isn’t worth it when you consider the damage it may be doing. Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Nylon, Polymethyl methacrylate, and Polyethylene (PE) are all ingredients to watch out for in this regard. Micro-plastics like these are getting into our water systems and oceans with early research suggesting that it may be harming both marine health and our own.
  • Synthetic Fragrance: The scariest part about fragrances is that according to FDA standards, cosmetic companies don’t need to disclose the exact ingredients in their proprietary formulas. What this means in practice is that the word “fragrance” on a lip gloss label could be hiding various chemicals, many of which the EWG has flagged as being dangerous allergens and related to immunotoxicity. 
  • Phthalates: One of the big ingredients that gets hidden in your lip gloss fragrances is phthalates. They’re used to make the scent last longer, but they’re also associated with allergies and inflammation.
  • Petroleum Based: Besides often containing heavy metals, many synthetic colorants in cosmetics are also produced from coal tar or petroleum. It’s why the EWG has marked them as a hazardous ingredient, with their major point of concern being that they may be carcinogenic. Another common lip gloss ingredient that’s made from refined petroleum? Mineral oils.

What Does Eco-Friendly Lip Gloss Mean? 

Clean lip glosses and eco-friendly lip gloss products sometimes overlap, and sometimes don’t. It’s pretty confusing but the gist of it is that even when a lip gloss is made with sustainable packaging or ethically sourced ingredients, those ingredients may still include some that are more harmful.

Generally, however, the “deal” with an eco-friendly lip gloss is that the brand behind it tries to limit the negative environmental impact of that product, from how it’s made, to how it’s delivered and disposed of.

How to Determine Whether Your Lip Gloss is Eco-Friendly

With so many cosmetic brands using words like “sustainable” and “eco-friendly” simply to create marketing buzz, it’s worth being skeptical when picking out your next lip gloss. Here are our best tips on staying ahead of the greenwashing:

The Basics of What Eco-Friendly Lip Gloss Is:

When we’re looking at anything, be it lip gloss, mascara, or Winter boots, we tend to judge the eco-friendliness of a product on 4 main areas:

  1. Ingredients/ materials used to create the product itself: In the case of a lip gloss, this may translate to organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, such as ethically sourced shea butter. We’d argue that the most eco-friendly lip gloss also avoids harmful ingredients such as microplastics and petroleum-derived colorants as they’re a problem for the health of both people and the planet.
  1. Production: How is your clean lip gloss made? Are there any efforts to cut water wastage or carbon emissions? Those are the kinds of questions worth asking to determine if the production side of a lip gloss is as eco-friendly as the label might claim.
  1. Packaging: The cosmetics industry has a well-documented waste problem. This is down to many things – people buying more than they need, returned cosmetics going into the trash, and of course, packaging. A truly eco-friendly, non-toxic lip gloss should be thoughtfully packaged in material that is recycled, recyclable, or reusable. The same applies to shipping materials.

What do the Certifications Mean on My Eco-Friendly “Clean” Lip Gloss?

Other ways to help determine if your lip gloss is as clean and eco-friendly as it appears, is to pay attention to the certifications it has. Here are some of the most significant:

  • Certified Cruelty-Free: Caring for the environment includes animal care. Try, whenever possible, to stick to brands that avoid animal testing.
  • EWG Certified: This is a big one in the world of clean lip gloss brands but it has an environmental factor to it as well since many of the ingredients that the organization has on its “no” list are also damaging to the environment.
  • Clean at Sephora: We’ve included this here because the “clean at Sephora” label is a classic example of when to be skeptical of pretty, green stickers on a product. The company is currently embroiled in a class action lawsuit regarding misleading claims about their “clean” beauty products. Though they have a long list of ingredients their products are meant to avoid to fit the criteria, how well-regulated things are is less certain.

Certifications can be a great way to confirm the sustainability attributes of your favorite clean lip gloss but as new ones pop up, it’s always worth checking out their reputation online. We’d also argue that the best certification is simply this: a lip gloss that you can use until the last drop. That’s what keeps excess waste out of landfills and helps keep our planet healthier too.

16 Non-Toxic and Eco-Friendly Lip Gloss Brands We Recommend

Ok, let’s get glossed. Here are 16 of our favorite eco-friendly and non-toxic lip gloss brands:

1. Tower28

Non-toxic and fragrance free colorless lip gloss by Tower 28.

National Eczema Association-approved and incredible, clean formulas? Tower28 is a dream come true for anyone with ultra-sensitive skin looking for a safe lip gloss.

The Gloss: ShineOn Lip Jelly

The Effect: According to a review from NYMag, it’s the perfect “non-sticky”, tinted gloss for a “juicy, high-impact glaze” that’s also moisturizing. 

Sustainability Stats:

  • Vegan and cruelty-free.
  • Clean – free of fragrance and various other irritants.
  • Compliant with California Prop 65 and EU Cosmetic Regulations.

2. Haus Labs

PHD Hybrid lip oil set in sustainable packaging by Haus Labs.

Lady Gaga’s makeup brand is making one of the best, non-toxic lip oil products and it even has vegan collagen in it for an extra boost.

The Gloss: PHD Hybrid Lip Oil

The Effect: Sheer, tinted shine that online reviewers have praised for bringing out their “natural lip tone”.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Fragrance-free, clean formula.
  • Cruelty-free.
  • Vegan.
  • Recyclable packaging.

3. Merit

Award winning colorless lipgloss by Merit made with clean formulation and eco-friendly packaging.

Merit has become one of the leaders of the minimalist makeup trend so it’s no surprise that they’ve got a great, natural, non-toxic lip oil …

The Gloss: Tinted Lip Oil

The Effect: Moisturized, healthy lips with a high-shine, buildable finish. Many reviews highlight how “lightweight” it is.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Clean and EU-compliant.
  • Vegan.
  • Leaping Bunny-Certified.
  • Reusable and recyclable packaging.

4. Milk

Clear, non-toxic and eco-friendly lip gloss and lip plumper by Milk.

It can be tricky to find an effective non-toxic lip plumper, but Milk Makeup has made it happen with yet another clean product that lives up to the hype.

The Gloss: Electric Glossy Lip Plumper

The Effect: Full, smooth, hydrated lips.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Clean – fragrance and paraben-free.
  • Cruelty-free.
  • Reduced packaging and recycled/ recyclable materials.

5. Lauren Brooke

Cruelty-free lip gloss made with organic ingredients by Lauren Brooke.

This organic cosmetic brand makes one of the best natural-looking lip gloss products on the market. It’s also one of the best organic lip gloss options we’ve found.

The Gloss: Botanical Lip Gloss

The Effect: Soft, nourished lips with many reviewers praising how long-lasting it is.

Sustainability Stats:

  • EU certified and Cert Clean certified.
  • 93% organic botanical ingredients.
  • Cruelty-free.

6. Beauty Counter

EWG-verified and award winning lip gloss known as beyond gloss by Beauty Counter.

Finding a high-performing lip gloss without titanium dioxide or other nasty ingredients is tricky, but Beauty Counter manages to deliver clean formulas with incredible wear and color payoff.

The Gloss: Beyond Gloss

The Effect: High-impact shine with a cushiony color. Many have commented on the lovely, creamy texture.

Sustainability Stats:

  • EWG-verified.
  • Responsibly sourced ingredients.

7. Toups & Co Organics

An assortment of Toups & Co Organics certified organic lip glosses lined up against white background.

Regularly hailed as one of the best organic lip gloss options, Toups & Co Organics is known for chemical-free formulas and “barely-there” makeup.

The Gloss: Organic Lip Gloss

The Effect: Provides a nourishing, tinted shine with the perfect, non-sticky texture.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Certified organic ingredients.

8. 100% Pure

Cruelty-free Fruit Pigmented lip gloss by 100% Pure for sensitive skin.

Besides Tower28, this brand is home to one of the best lip glosses for sensitive skin.

The Gloss: Fruit Pigmented® Lip Gloss

The Effect: Smooth, sheer tint made from real fruit pigments.

Sustainability Stats:

9. Ilia

The Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil made with clean organic and cruelty-free ingredients by Ilia.

According to Allure, Ilia has managed to bring the very best of the clean gloss and lip oil worlds together for a near-perfect product.

The Gloss: Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil

The Effect: Hyaluronic acid makes this product super moisturizing and plumping, leaving a natural, non-sticky finish.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Clean, organic ingredients.
  • Leaping Bunny Certified cruelty-free.
  • Part of the 1% for the Planet initiative.

10. Ere Perez

Clean and cruelty-free lip gloss by Ere Perez in Mango Lip Honey Color.

Don’t let anyone tell you that clean lip gloss brands can’t deliver a juicy pout. Ere Perez’s barely-there glosses are beloved online for their gorgeous effect. 

The Gloss: Mango Lip Honey

The Effect: Long-lasting shine and intense hydration with a sheer tint.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Vegan.
  • Certified cruelty-free by PETA and Choose Cruelty-Free Australia.
  • GMO-free and organic ingredients.

11. Honest Beauty

Gloss-C Lip Gloss by Honest Beauty in EWG-verified formulation and sustainable tube.

We’ve got another super plumping, healthy lip gloss for you – this time from Jessica Alba’s award-winning clean beauty line.

The Gloss: Gloss-C Lip Gloss

The Effect: Smooth, plumped, and nourished lips.

Sustainability Stats:

  • EWG verified.
  • Peta certified Animal Test-free.
  • Carton is made from recyclable tree-free paper made with upcycled sugarcane.

12. Kosas

Wet Oil Lip Gloss by Kosas formulated with EU safe ingredients.

This TikTok-friendly brand lives up to the excitement around it, especially when it comes to their clean lip gloss/lip oil hybrid.

The Gloss: Wet Oil Lip Gloss

The Effect: Byrdie describes it as a “no-fuss” gloss with great hydration and a plumping effect.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Adheres to EU ingredient standards.

13. Izzy

Natural gold colored zero waste lip gloss by Izzy with refillable tube.

This is one of the most eco-friendly lip gloss options we could find. Not only does it create a beautiful shine on the lips but it’s also refillable!

The Gloss: Zero Waste Lip Gloss

The Effect: High-shine, tinted lip gloss with lasting hydration.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Ethically sourced ingredients.
  • Refillable packaging.
  • Certified carbon neutral.

14. Westman Atelier

Squeaky Clean lip gloss by Westman Atelier.

Westman Atelier is known for the signature natural glam that she does on clients such as Anne Hathaway and Gwyneth Paltrow, but she’s also making waves with her clean, safe lip gloss.

The Gloss: Squeaky Clean

The Effect: A balmy, cushioning finish that hydrates and softens the lips.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Free of PEGs, phthalates, silicones, etc.
  • No animal testing.

15. NudeStix

Vegan and Cruelty-free lip gloss by NudeStix.

One of the first clean beauty brands to go viral, NudeStix has become the go-to place for anyone wanting a natural, but elevated, make-up style.

The Gloss: Lip Glace

The Effect: Provides a natural tint and is both plumping and conditioning.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-Free
  • Free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.

16. Zerra & Co.

Natural and eco-friendly clear colored lip gloss by Zerra & Co.

Zerra & Co. may very well be making the best natural color lip gloss on the market thanks to both natural-looking tints and a fully natural oil blend in the formulation.

The Gloss: The Gloss

The Effect: Reviewers love it for its smooth, moisturizing, lightweight texture. 

Sustainability Stats:

  • Preservative-free and natural ingredients.
  • Sustainable packaging and a container return program.

Don’t Gloss Over It

Paying attention to the ingredients in your lip gloss is far from trivial. What we put on and in our bodies matters, especially because so much of it will eventually reach our waterways and surrounding environments.

Next time you’re in the market for a new, hydrating gloss, go the non-toxic or eco-friendly route if you can. You’ll still get that gorgeous pout but with just a little extra peace of mind.

Frequently Asked Questions About Non-Toxic Lip Gloss

Is lip gloss non-toxic?

The right lip gloss can be non-toxic as long as it avoids nasty ingredients like heavy metals and synthetic fragrances or tints.

Is lip gloss hazardous?

Lip gloss isn’t necessarily hazardous but it can contain slightly hazardous ingredients, such as lead, that are worth avoiding.

Is lip gloss good or bad for your lips?

Whether a lip gloss is good or bad depends on the product. Ideally, they should be great for your lips and help keep them hydrated.

Is it safe to use lip gloss everyday?

It is absolutely safe to use lip gloss everyday. FDA and EU regulations mostly ensure this but it’s still worth paying careful attention to ingredients in your products to be safe.

Is lip gloss carcinogenic?

Lip gloss itself is not carcinogenic but some do contain ingredients that are thought to be carcinogenic such as those derived from petroleum.