I Detoxed My Makeup Bag & Here's How

Contributor: Courtney O'Conner
Photographer: Brittanie Schell
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Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about me: I used to be a makeup junkie – and not a natural makeup junkie. Allure was my go-to magazine and would guide me through the drugstore as I devoured their new product trends. If I was having a bad day, only a new lip gloss would make it better. Sephora was my happy place. I could not wait to wake up in the morning to make up my face and would spend a solid hour getting ready – complete with a nude lip + smokey eye. I wore so much eye liner that someone once asked me if I had gotten a black eye. That was a moment of truth for me. Maybe I had gone a bit overboard. 

Almost a decade later, my makeup look now only consists of eye liner (and a lot less of it) for very special occasions. I still LOVE makeup, don’t get me wrong, but over the years my makeup application has shifted – and simplified.

If you’re a makeup addict, like I once was, or just love adding a pop of color to your lips now and then, detoxing your makeup bag is a must. The average woman applies 12 different products with 168 unique ingredients every. single. day. And the majority of those unique ingredients are lab-made and linked to skin toxicity, allergies, infertility, hormone disruptors, and disease. Because makeup sits on your skin for 8+ hours a day, even if you don’t want to go for a minimal look, it’s essential to use products with minimal ingredients.

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Detoxing your makeup bag is possible, I promise. Here’s how I did it.

Step 1: MAKE SKINCARE A PRIORITY

Rather than focusing on adding more to my makeup bag to cover up + conceal my flaws, I started focusing on caring for my skin first. 

By switching my skincare to non-toxic, natural products and adopting a cleaner diet, my need for foundation completely disappeared. My skin texture became smoother, my skin tone more even + my breakouts diminished.  I discovered that naturally glowing, healthy skin doesn’t need heavy foundation or layers of luminizing, blushing and bronzing powders. The less face makeup I started to wear, the better my skin actually began to look and my skin could finally breathe, rather than be buried beneath harmful chemicals + cover up.

I’ve swapped out my liquid foundation, loose powder and bronzer for a simple, tinted moisturizer. I only use concealer as needed, rather than as a necessity, (plus, sleep + lots of water seriously help to keep my skin clear of acne and diminish dark circles), a little bit of blush goes a long way and lip balm is my best friend. As I focused on making my skincare products matter more than my makeup, I started to notice that I naturally needed less. 


Step 2: MULTI-PURPOSE PRODUCTS

Simply put, fewer products = less ingredients = healthier skin. The same color I apply on my cheeks, I use for my eyes. And if I want to feel really fancy, I’ll sweep some onto my lips.  Using a multi-purpose product for lips, cheeks and eyes has helped to simplify my makeup products + minimize ingredients. Several non-toxic beauty brands have gotten on board with this concept to help provide makeup lovers, and minimalists alike, with natural makeup products that have multiple benefits – without adding more to your makeup bag.

Even with only one shade, it’s easy to make it pop more on the apples of your cheeks with a more intense application or a little more sheer on your lids with less product and a lighter touch. That’s the fun with makeup, you get to play around with texture + intensity + color to create a look you love – even if it’s with only one product. 

Step 3: CLEAN UP YOUR MAKEUP

The real key in detoxing my beauty bag was by actually removing the toxic products that were in there to begin with. Easier said than done. I had come to love and depend on my drugstore, department store, and high-end salon makeup products. I guess you could say I had developed a loyalty to my go-to makeup brands – and that’s a hard bond to break. But I knew I needed to break up with my toxic makeup, shift my mindset, and make the switch to safe, clean options for the sake of my well-being – and beauty. 

As my priorities + perspectives began to shift, my overall health become more important than my perfectly lined eyes or highlighted cupid’s bow.  But the best part of detoxing my beloved makeup bag, I didn’t have to sacrifice a single thing. A rosy glow, long lashes, lasting coverage – and most importantly, my health. Using makeup with ingredients that nourish my skin instead of suffocate it, has been one of the biggest changes I’ve made for my outer (and inner) beauty.

MY MINIMAL MAKEUP BAG ESSENTIALS

  • The organic cotton makeup bag I use (from my PP Starter Kit!) is the perfect size + has the sweetest reminder on the front. Oh, and did I mention it was made by a fair-trade business based in Kolkata? Obsessed.

  • Our founder, Bethany, introduced me to her favorite concealer, RMS “Un” Cover-Up, and it was by far the best I’ve used. It not only covered my stubborn blemish, but lasted for hours and hours.

  • I was given this Beauty Counter tinted moisturizer as a gift last year and love that it has SPF 20 and feels like I don’t have anything on my face. I will typically only apply this wherever I feel like I need to calm a little redness or if I know I’ll be out in the sun.

  • The cleanest, prettiest multi-purpose product is this one I love from Elate Clean Cosmetics. Their cream blushes are buildable + blend-able to create whatever look I’m wanting that day.

  • If I was stranded on an island and could only have one makeup tool with me, if would be my eyelash curler. It instantly opens up my eye + makes me look more awake. However, I recently heard a new beauty tip from a friend – you can use a blowdryer instead of a lash curler to get the same effect!

  • Since I tend to keep my lips natural, I like to play up my lashes and a good mascara is a must for me – which took some time to find a clean formula I really loved. So I stock up on this one from W3LL People + get 2 at a time so I don’t have to worry about running out.

  • I reapply my Primally Pure Lip Balm constantly, but that’s not a bad thing because there are only 6 ingredients – and they’re all edible 

So, that’s how I did it. I downsized + detoxed my makeup bag. I’ve gone from practically owning all of Ulta, to simplifying my product selection to only a few, natural + non-toxic options.  But I didn’t do a complete overhaul overnight – it took time, intention and baby steps.

By making skincare my top priority, simplifying the products I apply + improving the quality of makeup I buy, I’m creating a positive impact in little ways, every day. I’ve minimized my toxic buildup, become more confident in my appearance + comfortable in my own skin and still genuinely enjoy getting ready in the morning (which now takes only fifteen minutes instead of a full hour!) because I’m focusing on what matters most, being free to let my natural beauty be seen. And that’s a feeling no amount of foundation, mascara, or lip gloss could ever truly give me.