Talc-free and eco-friendly eyeshadow palette with nine neutral colors including metallics presented on pink surface and plant leaf.
March 25, 2024

Why Eco-Friendly and Talc-Free Shadow Palettes? 10 Options That Will Stay On

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great eyeshadow palette should set you up for success no matter the makeup look you’re trying to achieve. Great shades, a crease-free formula, and lasting color are all big musts for a palette to work well, but what about how it’s impacting the planet?

Wasteful packaging and nasty ingredients in cosmetics are a huge problem for the environment and sometimes, for your health too. That’s why we’ve put together a full guide on eco-friendly eye shadow palettes that are talc and cruelty-free. If you’re worried that going the eco route will mean that the shadows don’t work as well, think again. We’ve got all the best recommendations to ensure that you’re blended to perfection, even as you take better care of the planet.

Table of  Contents

What is Talc?

A bottle of talc powder shown on white surface with the powder spilling onto the surface.

Talc is one of the most commonly found ingredients in powdered cosmetics. Most eyeshadows, bronzers, and setting powders use it for its water and oil-absorbing properties and for how soft it is. It’s actually the softest mineral ever recorded and is mostly made up of a hydrous magnesium silicate but can include a small amount of aluminum silicate as well.

It’s a highly milled, processed ingredient that make-up products have been using for decades. Only in the last decade or so have we seen big brands start to phase the ingredient out. Some of this, as the creator of makeup brand Cover FX explains here, is because of how chalky talc can be but many are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential health risks associated with it too.

Why Should You Switch to Talc-free Eyeshadow?

Switching to talc-free eyeshadow has benefits for both you and the planet. Let’s take a closer look: 

Talc Might Be a Health Risk

One of the biggest scandals around the use of talc occurred in 2016 when Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million in a massive class action lawsuit that linked their talcum powder to cases of ovarian cancer. That lawsuit opened a significant amount of investigation into the controversial ingredient, especially when some talc-containing cosmetics were found to be contaminated with asbestos.

It's widely accepted these days that the biggest risk with talc is that it may be carcinogenic, and research is still being done to determine how high the risk is, and which uses it relates to. What we do know is that inhaling talc isn’t great for your lungs or respiratory system and that it can be quite irritating on sensitive skin.

The Negative Environmental Impact of Talc

Talc is a mined mineral that mostly comes from open pits which, if you know anything about mining, are pretty awful for the planet. The creation of these mines usually involves masses of carbon emissions and the wide-scale destruction of natural habitats – most of which can’t ever be undone. There are also major issues with unethical practices in these mines that have led to further pollution and health issues with the miners themselves.

All in all, the mining and usage of talc comes with a string of issues. Switching to a talc-free eyeshadow might seem like a small thing, but it’s an important way to ensure that your hard-earned money doesn’t go toward this damaging industry, or to exposing you to a possible carcinogen.

What is Eco-Friendly Eyeshadow?

Picking out an eco-friendly eyeshadow is about a lot more than just talc. Here are 5 key factors to look out for, and what to avoid, next time you’re in the market for a clean eyeshadow palette that’s kinder to the planet:

1. Ingredients to Avoid

We’ve already mentioned talc, but here are 4 other ingredients to stay away from if you want your eyeshadow palette to be safer for you and the environment:

  • Parabens: Not only have parabens been found in fish and surface waters where they’ve been linked to coral damage, but they’re also a possible carcinogenic and endocrine disruptor.
  • Micro-Plastics: Most of the glitter in eyeshadow products are made from dyed micro-plastics that aren’t biodegradable and are adding to water pollution issues.
  • Silicones: Silicones not only accumulate on our skin and can be irritating as a result, but they also collect in our ecosystems and are very energy-intensive to produce.
  • Phthalates: A common cosmetic preservative, this possible endocrine disruptor and skin irritant is yet another risky ingredient known to contaminate our waterways.

2. Ethical Sourcing

Another side of ingredients to consider is ethical sourcing, especially in more natural products. Organic and sustainably grown ingredients help ensure that fewer agrochemicals are used and in turn, less damage done to the environment.

3. The Best Packaging 

The most eco-friendly eyeshadow palette should always include some consideration for packaging waste. This means using:

  • Minimal packaging to limit waste. Big, gorgeous palettes might be fun to use but they’re just going to end up in a landfill.
  • Recycled materials. We love seeing brands that give post-consumer plastic a new life.
  • Material that is recyclable, reusable, or better yet, refillable. The end stage of a palette’s packaging should always be considered, and clear instructions provided on how to recycle, etc.

4. Animals Matter Too

We’ve made a point of only including vegan and cruelty-free options in our recommended list of talc-free eyeshadow palettes. That’s because we believe that nothing is truly environmentally friendly unless it’s also considering animal welfare.

5. Less is More

One of the best ways to reduce waste and the negative impact of cosmetics on our planet is to simply buy less. Instead of amassing a giant collection of clean eyeshadow palettes that eventually just end up in the trash, the best thing is to invest in one or two that you absolutely love and that you use until you hit pan. Not only does an approach like this save you money, and help the environment in the long run, but you can have fun while getting creative with what you have.

10 Talc Free, Eco-friendly Eye Shadow Palettes That Last

If you’ve been struggling to find talc-free powder eyeshadow palettes that don’t disappear off your eyelids by the end of the day, we’re here to save you and your eye-makeup with 10 incredible options that will inspire you dive into artistic side of eco-friendly beauty. Let's get started!

1. Ilia

This YouTube creator called Ilia’s Warm Nude Palette “the perfect neutral eyeshadow palette” and she’s not alone in doing so. Ilia is one of the best clean eyeshadow brands in general but their warm nude offering is a standout thanks to wearable shades that can easily take you from an everyday look to a more smoky glam, as shown here.

Pricing: $40

Colors: Warm nudes in satin, matte, and metallic finishes.

Eye Benefits: Smooth, easy to blend, ophthalmologist-tested, and long-wearing.

Packaging: Comes in a mirror-free, mono-material compact for extra easy recycling.

Sustainability Stats:

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

2. Bare Minerals

Bare Minerals has long been a pioneer in the beauty space with their vegan, talc-free eyeshadows and powders. Our personal favorite? The Mineralist Sunlit Eyeshadow Palette. It’s proof that even with 95% naturally derived ingredients, you can still create incredible colors.

Pricing: $33

Colors: Bronze and copper shades alongside a gold-flecked green.

Eye Benefits: Super bendable, ophthalmologist-tested, has ingredients that help nourish the eye area, and is crease-proof.

Packaging: Fully recyclable and both mirror and plastic-free. 

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic formula free of talc, parabens, etc.
  • Vegan.
  • Cruelty-free.

3. Elate

Elate doesn’t sell clean eyeshadow palettes the traditional way. They offer various refillable cases that can be filled with any of their pressed eye colors which means you get to stick to the shades you actually use and replace each one individually when finished instead of having to buy a whole new palette.

Pricing: $14/ shadow and $10-$30/case

Colors: Variety of natural matte and shimmering shades.

Eye Benefits: Buildable shades with oil-absorbing properties for extra-long wear.

Packaging: Refillable palette made from recycled sugarcane pulp and individual shadows in recyclable aluminum.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic formulas free of talc etc.
  • Vegan.
  • Cruelty-free.
  • Ethical supply chain.
  • Certified B Corp.

4. 100% Pure

The Fruit Pigmented® Pretty Naked Palette regularly sells out thanks to its soft, versatile shades. It’s one of the best natural eyeshadow options out there and one of the few to use entirely natural pigments.

Pricing: $55

Colors: Soft, mostly cool-toned neutrals and shimmers.

Eye Benefits: Long-wearing, natural-looking shades with built-in skincare ingredients like Acai and Rose Petal to boost the skin.

Packaging: Recyclable.

Sustainability Stats:

5. Honest Beauty

The Get It Together Eyeshadow Palette is the perfect talc-free palette for make-up beginners and experts alike. It’s got a mix of great colors and tones that, as founder Jessica Alba shows here can be used to create easy day-to-night looks.

Pricing: $27

Colors: Warm and cool shades in mattes, satins, and shimmers that can help you create just about any look.

Eye Benefits: Blendable and long-wearing.

Packaging: Recyclable.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic formula free of talc, petrolatum, etc.
  • Vegan
  • Peta certified Animal Test-free.

6. Pacifica

The Animal Magic Eyeshadow Palette from Pacifica is the stuff of childhood dreams. It has just about every color you could wish for with fun names like “unicorn” and “dragon” and is versatile enough to take you from everyday, natural glam to festival-ready fun.

Pricing: $24

Colors: 28 matte, reflective, shimmer eyeshadows ranging from natural, warm shades to show-stopping jewel tones.

Eye Benefits: Blendable and long-wearing.

Packaging: Mirror-free and recyclable.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic formula free of talc, parabens, etc.
  • Vegan.
  • Cruelty-free.

7. Hourglass Cosmetics

We’ve got another refillable clean eyeshadow palette option for you! It’s on the pricier side but for fans of the brand, the Hourglass Cosmetics’ curator eyeshadow product is a great way to build your own, perfect, talc-free palette.  

Pricing: $29/eyeshadow and $11-$18/palette.

Colors: A wide variety of mattes, shimmers, and satins.

Eye Benefits: Blendable, pigmented, and formulated to not dry or irritate the eyelid.

Packaging: The palette and eyeshadow pans are made from recycled and recyclable materials.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic formula free of talc, synthetic fragrances, etc.
  • Vegan.
  • Cruelty-free.

8. Sappho

Looking for a natural eyeshadow dupe for your favorite formulas? Sappho is the make-up artist-approved brand showing everyone that replacing your conventional palettes for cleaner versions won’t mean that you miss out on any of the good stuff. Their refillable palettes are eco-friendly and highly effective.

Pricing: $13/eyeshadow and $11-$18/palette.

Colors: A range of both natural and bold shades in satins, mattes, and shimmers.

Eye Benefits: Rich, blendable pigments suitable for all skin types.

Packaging: Refillable palettes and plastic-free eyeshadow pans.

Sustainability Stats:

  • 70% organic ingredients.
  • Vegan.
  • Cruelty-free.

9. Well People

The Power Palette Eyeshadow from Well People comes in a variety of neutral color combinations designed to be used until you hit pan. There are no weird shades and no shocking glitters – we love how simple and user-friendly these palettes are.

Pricing: $22

Colors: The palette comes in 4 different combinations, all of which cover quite neutral shades in a mix of mattes and shimmers.

Eye Benefits: The shadows are long-lasting but thanks to Jojoba and grapeseed oil, are still super nourishing on the lids.

Packaging: Recyclable.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic, plant-powered formulas free of parabens, talc, etc.
  • EWG verified.
  • PETA and Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty-free.
  • Vegan.

10. Lawless

The Little One Talc-Free Eyeshadow Palette is a bestseller of the brand and it’s easy to see why. If you only have one clean eyeshadow palette – let it be this one. It has everything you need in one place.

Pricing: $27

Colors: Classic warm neutrals with a black and white shadow included so that you can lighten or deepen shades as needed.

Eye Benefits: Long-wearing with skin-softening ingredients like olive oil and calendula flower.

Packaging: Recyclable.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic, formula free of parabens, talc, etc.
  • Cruelty-free.
  • Vegan.

Blending Eco-Consciousness and Eye Shadows

Switching to a talc-free eyeshadow palette is one of those things that just makes sense. Not only does it help limit your exposure to a possible carcinogenic and skin-irritant, but it also means taking a stand against a mining industry that is seriously damaging to the planet. As a bonus, it’s an ingredient that we swear you won’t even miss. Eyeshadows perform just as well without it, if not better because they’re less chalky, and you get to blend great makeup with a dash of eco-consciousness. It’s a true win-win.

FAQs About Talc-Free Eyeshadow

What is the safest eyeshadow to use?

The safest eyeshadow to use is something with a clean, talc-free formula free of any known irritants for your skin. It’s always important to consider what your particular skin needs are in this regard. For example, if you’re sensitive to gluten or fragrances, make sure to stick to products that skip those out.

What can be used instead of eyeshadow?

Instead of an eyeshadow, you can sometimes use a powdered blush or even lipstick on your eyes. We’d recommend checking if the product is eye-safe first though and perhaps even doing a small patch test on yourself to be sure.

Does Bare Minerals eye shadow have talc in it?

No, Bare Minerals eye shadow does not have talc in it. The brand has taken a pretty powerful stance against the use of talc in cosmetics in general. We hope to see more brands follow in their footsteps!

Does Sephora eyeshadow have talc in it?

Sephora eyeshadow does not use talc and instead uses one of its common replacements, silica. Sephora also has plenty of other talc-free eyeshadow options on their website including our favorite from Ilia.