Joyous Blog

Simple Steps to Detox Your Makeup Bag

It’s time, friends. Open up those makeup bags, dump out the contents, and let’s get started. If you’ve been putting off detoxing your makeup for fear it will be too difficult, I’ve got your back.

Here are 3 simple steps that will have you wearing clean, green makeup in no time.

1. Take Stock

The current value of the global cosmetic industry is estimated to be $250 billion and I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly contributed more than my fair share of hard earned pennies buying the ‘latest’ and ‘greatest’ cosmetic products.

So to start, the first and most important step to greening your beauty routine is to take inventory of the products you use and to assess their ingredients. As tedious as it may seem, it’s important to familiarize yourself with ingredients and to find helpful tools to guide you along the way. Check out resources like the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetic database for ratings on specific products, and get to know the David Suzuki cosmetic chemicals “Dirty Dozen”—read Joy’s post about it here.

2. Prioritize

I’m not a fan of extremes and so when it comes to a makeup detox I never recommend trying to make it happen overnight. First, it can be extremely wasteful and environmentally unfriendly. Second, it can be very costly! And third, just like extreme diets, it often doesn’t work.

Just a note: I am focusing specifically on makeup bag contents here but the same process can be applied to body and hair care products.

Once you have taken stock of all your makeup, have a good idea of what ingredients they contain and their ratings based on the Skin Deep database, I recommend that you sort the products into three piles:

  1. Keep: Hang on to all products that are rated 2 and below (but 0 is best!).
  2. Keep for now: These are your transition products. They may contain some toxic ingredients, but you aren’t quite ready to part with them until they are all used up.
  3. Ditch: Toss any products that are due to expire, have high ratings on the Skin Deep database (7-10), and anything that is used on the mouth. If the statistic is true that the average woman consumes 4 lbs of lipstick in her lifetime, then that means she is also consuming countless toxic chemicals. Talk about a dirty mouth!

Before ditching anything, of course, check your city’s household hazardous waste classification and dispose responsibly.

3. Replace

This is the fun part! You may even find that some products don’t need to be replaced because they’d only found their way into your makeup bag because of gimmicky advertising.

Watch out for green-washing, do your research, and get to know local retailers. Since not all natural products are available in ‘big box stores,’ there is a strong focus on local shops and producers. Shopping local is a fantastic way to educate yourself about new products and to avoid getting duped by clever marketing.

Need recommendations? Ask me! Comment below! I am always trying a new product (or two or three) at any given time and can definitely offer advice about products and brands.
And when possible, make it yourself! Some things are better left to the professionals, but try your hand at DIY beauty recipes, you’ll be surprised at what you can do!

Beth johnson   •   November 16, 2014

Hey! Great article:) all my skin care and makeup are all natural and I love them except my eyeliner! I have yet to find a good all natural eyeliner so if anyone can recommend one it would be much appreciated!

Seanna Cohen   •   November 16, 2014

Hi Beth, Vapour Organic Beauty has a good one called, Mesmerize. Highly pigmented and smudge resistant. If you are looking for a liquid liner, 100% Pure's Fruit Pigmented Gel Eyeliners are good bet (they also have a pencil liner).

Whittney   •   November 16, 2014

I've been on the hunt for a great mascara (thickening, and stay-all-day) if you have any recommendations. Thanks!

Seanna Cohen   •   November 16, 2014

Hi Whittney, as I have been suggesting to others, RMS Beauty makes a mascara that is a mix of oil, butters, and waxes so that it does not flake and has long staying power. That said, I find even the 'Volumizing' version does not thicken as well as I would like. One that has been on my radar but I have not yet tried is Expressionist Bio Extreme Mascara by W3ll People. I've heard though that it can smudge a bit.

CK   •   November 17, 2014

I have been amazed by Red Apple Lipstick's The Lash Project mascara. It's the only natural mascara I've found that stays on all day without smudging or flaking, and thickens well (very buildable). Pricier than I'm used to but so far nothing compares!

Bryn   •   November 16, 2014

I would like a recommendation for an eye pencil as well, one that doesn't smudge/run or whittle away to nothing when sharpened. Also a mascara that gives volume but doesn't flake. Josie Maran GOGO Mascara was the best but they've discontinued it for a new flakey version. Argh!

Seanna Cohen   •   November 16, 2014

Hi Bryn, for a mascara I recommend RMS Beauty if you want to prevent flaking (in 'Volumizing'); alternatively you could try Ilia mascara or 100% Pure mascara (this tends to smudge a bit more though than the others). Happy shopping!

CK   •   November 17, 2014

I've had a great experience with ZuZu luxe liquid eyeliner. The color Taureg is a rich brown-black and it stays perfectly all day! I never used liquid before but I was tired of the raccoon eye, and this has solved the problem for me! And for mascara, I'm blown away by red apple lipstick's mascara. Incredible.

Mandy   •   November 17, 2014

Hi, I've been trying to switch to a good natural foundation and concealer that matches my skin tone and looks natural but I've been having a hard time finding the right product. What do you think about Sappho foundations and concealers? I'd appreciate any recommendations and suggestions. Eventually I am hoping to kick the habit of wearing foundation. Thank you.

Seanna Cohen   •   November 18, 2014

I've used a few different concealers and foundations, and I'm currently using Sappho! I actually really like the formulas. I find the colours are a good match for my skin and textures are really nice. I find that the foundation is fairly light and so it may be a good transition product if you are looking to stop wearing it all together. Since the concealer is a fairly thick I recommend mixing a bit of the foundation and concealer together for a more natural look. If you want to do away with foundation all together (and have had no issues with coconut oil on your face) try RMS Beauty "Un" Coverup, it's perfect for an all over light coverage.

Candice   •   November 17, 2014

I've switched over all my hair care and body care products to natural/organic and am now working on my make-up and nail polish. I LOVE my NARS multiple stick in Orgasm that I use as a cream blush and highlighter. Do you know of any comparable products? I haven't been able to find anything even close :-(

Seanna Cohen   •   November 18, 2014

Yes! The product line 'W3ll People' actually has a multi-stick that is a close match for Nars 'Orgasm', it's called Universalist Colorstick 8. It's slightly less sheer and golden as Nars, but worth a try!

Karen Filipcic   •   November 26, 2014

Hi Seanna! I have been a total beauty product junkie since I was a teenager and since then I have accumulated a massive stash of chemical-laden makeup, body lotions and nail polishes. Now after cleaning up my lifestyle a few years ago diet-wise I have finally felt the need to purge all of it on the outside and transition to organic brands only. Are there any places we can donate (some products are unused!) or do you just toss the product and recycle the packaging if possible. Hard to see so much money spent go down the drain! Also are there any natural black eyeliners that are waterproof or at least come in a no-sharpen necessary form that you can recommend? Love your blog as well by the way:)

Seanna Cohen   •   January 3, 2015

Hi Karen, I'm sorry I missed your comment - I'm just seeing this now. Thanks so much, I'm happy you like the blog! Recycling programs vary depending on your location, and truthfully I am still trying to figure out the best approach for me locally, however this article is very helpful For eyeliners, if you don't like the sticks you may want to try a liquid liner. 100% Pure has a few smudge- resistant versions you may want to check out. Unfortunately though, I don't know of any good self-sharpening eyeliners. Hope that helps! S.

Karen   •   November 26, 2014

Hello! Do you have any recommendations for a good eye-lid primer? I use Bare Minerals and it works, but I'd like to use a more natural brand...thanks!


Diane   •   November 27, 2014

Hello Joy, I read your recent article in the Globe & Mail with great interest. I thank you for reminding us of the enemies in cosmetics. So, what products would you recommend? I normally use daily moisturizers and SPF 30 anti-aging sunscreen for face and neck. Any suggestions? I live in the Vancouver area. Best regards.

Kate McDonald Walker   •   November 27, 2014

Hi Diane, Over here at Joyous HQ, we really like the Consonant line. They make a really great, clean SPF 30 sunscreen. You can find out where to buy their products here:

Jenessa   •   December 3, 2014

Hi! A company I really like is Saje natual wellness. Everything is 100% natural and they are a Canadian company that originated in Vancouver! They have a lot of essential oils, holistic remedy oils and skin care products. However they do not have makeup but if you are looking for a good 100% natural cleanser, moisturizer, sun screen, bug spray, healthy essential oil, etc. they are awesome!

Rosemary Schuster   •   December 15, 2014

Joy, what is your favourite concealer/foundation/powder? I am looking for a natural one that doesn't clog pores but will even out my skin tone. Thank-you.

Joy McCarthy   •   December 15, 2014

Hi Rosemary! I don't use either concealer or foundation but I do love either Gabrielle Cosmetics face powder or Eminence Sun Defense which is a face powder as well. They provide a very light mineral based coverage. You should talk to Mindy at the spa in Owen Sound and see what she recommends for you!

Kelly Harper   •   May 11, 2015

Hello Joy! In the last couple of years I've been trying my best to find the right skin care products without jumping from brand to brand and damaging my skin. I'm in my early 30's and have some acne, not a lot. Combination skin and some acne damage. I've used a aesthetician recommended brand Eminence (skin care and mineral foundation) and enjoyed the product. But have wanted a less expensive equivalent if it was even out there! I've recently in the last several months began using the brand Simple, that I have been able to purchase from my local Shoppers and online at I am just wanting your thoughts on these brands and a perhaps some simple direction on an uncomplicated approach to skin cleansing and moisturizing for me. Also, are all mineral foundations created similarly? Kind Regards, Kelly Harper

Kate McDonald Walker   •   May 11, 2015

Hi Kelly, Not all mineral foundations are created the same way. Some brands are a lot cleaner than others. Since what's available is going to depend on what stores stock in your area, your best bet is to talk to a holistically-minded esthetician, who can take a look at your skin and make recommendations. Try talking to the staff at your local health food or naturally minded beauty store. They'll probably have some good ideas on where to start. Kate - Joyous Health Team

jenn   •   August 27, 2015

Hi! I'm late to the conversation, but what about blush and lipstick?? I have tried several natural lipsticks that taste . . . kind of like crayons. Any suggestions?

Kate McDonald Walker   •   August 27, 2015

Hi Jenn, I really like Ilia, Josie Maran and Bite. (Bite being the best tasting of the three, but the others are super neutral and non-crayony). Kate - Joyous Health Team

Janet   •   December 28, 2017

Hi Joy|: Did you decide on a eyelash makeup organic product. |I'd be interest with what you came up with. I,m looking for local and blue color as well. Thanks for any recommendations!

Rachel Molenda   •   December 29, 2017

Hey Janet, Joy really likes the mascara from Pure Ananda :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

ELENA BIDOCHKA   •   April 11, 2018

What is your opinion about Nude By Nature products?

Rachel Molenda   •   April 12, 2018

Hey Elena, We're not too familiar with that brand around here. It looks like it's an Australian brand. Is it sold in Canada? Rachel - Joyous Health Team

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