Best Ethical Beauty Products of 2018 - Top Makeup Picks

2018 was my first proper year blogging here on The ecoLogical, and I tried a LOT of ethical beauty products - makeup, skincare, bath and body treatments, haircare, aromatherapy, perfume... Covering all things cruelty free, vegan, all natural, organic, and zero waste, if you name it, I bet I tried an option for it last year.  And while there were a handful of duds and a sea of effective but not memorable green goodies I got to test, there were also a lot of amazing formulas I was able to use that really stood out to me -- so narrowing it down to the very best was incredibly difficult!

However, you eco-lovelies have expressed an interest in what I thought were the best of the best in beauty in 2018, so I have tried my hardest to choose just one for every category -- yikes!  I've decided that every week in January I will share with you my choices for best in show, starting with my top picks for makeup.

Unfortunately, I have not included anything I am currently working through since I haven't been able to fully assess those, nor was I able to consider the handful of amazing products I ordered or was lucky enough to win towards the latter part of the year (I'm looking specifically at you Earthwise Beauty!).  I'm sure those will make it into full reviews or posts later in 2019 though, so don't you fret if you were hoping to get more of an insight on what I think of all those!

But let me get to the good stuff you are here for -- my top picks for ethical beauty products last year!!  This week's highlight will be on ...


You might have noticed I do not do as much content related to makeup here on The ecoLogical.  That's not because I don't like makeup -- I actually do!  It's just that I don't wear too much of it on a regular basis, and while I own more lipsticks than I like to admit, I am not super talented at applying or styling looks, plus I just never can remember to put much else on other than some mascara.  Anyone relate?

Remember my Full Face with Inika Makeup post??  That's my only ever makeup attempt here on the blog!  My technique has gotten better over the last few months, but there are still some things I just don't use often (or at all in some cases!).  I have never in my life used a brow product, nor do I ever bother with primers, falsies, or lip plumpers (because OUCH).  I hardly ever touch foundation, and I can count the number of times I have contoured (twice!).  But there a handful of items I use fairly regularly, and I also have some amazing goodies that I reserve for special occasions.

I have tried so much makeup in the last twelve months, but if something doesn't excite me or absolutely stun me, I just won't remember to use it.  So my top makeup picks are the things that kept me coming back for more -- the things I loved so much and thought were so brilliant that I didn't have to think twice about using them.  The green goodies that even with my shoddy memory I managed to think 'oh wait, I didn't put any lipstick on!' because they were so darn good.  That's how you know the following products are truly some of the best!

Eyeshadow (Single Matte): Benecos Natural Eyeshadow Matt
To be totally honest I hardly ever opt for a matte eyeshadow, as I find they make my lid look creased and aren't as exciting to me.  However, I really fell hard for Benecos singles after receiving one in an edit of Full of Kindness.  The eyeshadow is soft, workable, subtle, and helps illuminate and define any makeup look.  There are not a ton of shades available, but the ones they offer are all really wearable which I appreciate -- I mean it's not often I go out with electric yellow or 80's style neon eyes!  And the best part of these shadows?  They are all vegan under a fiver!

Eyeshadow (Single Satin): PHB Pressed Eyeshadow
These vegan friendly single pressed powders offer the perfect in-between for those wanting a subtle glow but do not want the glittery effect most shimmer shadows give.  I love that the packaging is primarily free from plastic, and the range of colour options there are is really impressive.  Plus, PHB is so affordable that you won't break bank collecting a few to put together a really blendable look.  This is one of my most used eyeshadows this year, and I can't recommend them enough!

Eyeshadow (Single Shimmer): Zao Pearly Eye Shadow // RMS Swift Shadows
Okay, okay, I know I cheated already and picked two 'best' single shimmer eyeshadows, but hear me out.  The Zao Pearly Eye Shadow and the RMS Swift Shadows offer very different options for a shimmer shadow, the first being much 'chunkier' in the reflective look it gives, and the RMS providing a more subtle shine.  Additionally, Zao offers a much more colourful array of shades, whereas the Swift Shadows tend to be more neutral or muted tones.  Depending on what you are after, you may prefer one over the other, but I find you can never go wrong with either of these vegan beauties!

Eyeshadow Palette: Lily Lolo Laid Bare Eye Palette
These palettes get a lot of hate from people looking for super pigmented shades, and I will admit, when I first got mine I was surprised at how subtle the colour turns out.  But I quickly learned to love this aspect of Lily Lolo's vegan eyeshadows, and I find they are ideal for day to day and casual looks!  These are blendable, natural looking, and the perfect substitute for those looking for a clean version of Urban Decay's Naked Palette.  While the payoff isn't as intense, it is buildable so you can get a bolder eye if that is what you're hoping for.  I don't want anything crazy for the average day, and this is by far the most used palette I own because it is understated, classic, and beautiful.

Glitter: Eco Glitter Fun
I actually don't love glitter makeup -- possibly because I was covered in the real stuff 24/7 for weeks at a time while working as Arts & Crafts Director at summer camp years back.  But hand me some biodegradable glitter around Christmas time and I am bound to change my mind at least temporarily.  That's what happened when I received a mini vial of Eco Glitter Fun in my December edit of The Natural Beauty Box.  This stuff is so easy to apply, isn't adding to the plastic problem in the environment, and is so sparkly that I twinkled like fairy lights.

Eyeliner (Pencil): Inika Certified Organic Eye Pencil
You would think finding the perfect shade of black would be easy, but it took me ages to settle on one I thought was the best.  Inika's Black Caviar is fabulous, as it gives perfect definition to your eyes every time, plus the pencil itself is just a traditional one that you sharpen, meaning no excess plastic involved.  I find this vegan friendly eyeliner stays all day and doesn't smudge, making it a great option for busier days.  I do find it works best for the lash line and don't use it often for my water line -- it's gentle, but my eyes can be quite sensitive.  If you're looking for something to use for both, my best bet would be PHB which is great for allergy sufferers and those with really sensitive eye areas.

Eyeliner (Liquid): PHB 100% Pure Liquid Liner
I hardly ever opt for a liquid liner as I just don't have the patience for applying it, but on the rare occassions where I want the bolder look of a liquid product, I have to choose PHB's 100% Pure Liquid Liner.  This stuff ticks all the boxes, being safe for sensitive eyes, vegan, free from nasty ingredients, and exceptionally pigmented.  It lasts all night, gives such great definition, and is actually pretty easy to use.  Since the little wand is flexible you have a bit more lee-way in terms of application, and I find it doesn't take me 100 years to manage a cat eye.  A winner for sure!

Mascara: PHB All-in-One Mascara
I struggle to finish a full tube of mascara before it needs to be replaced, and PHB's All-in-One is the first that I not only finished, but ordered a second tube and finished that one as well!  It is my ideal in so many ways -- the perfect shade of black (not too light, not too inky), applies evenly and doesn't really clump up, lasts all day, is water resistant without being obnoxiously hard to remove, is safe for vegans, doesn't irritate the eyes, and makes my lashes look more prominent.  Full marks for this one!

Lip Balm: Lilfox Miami Gelsomino Jasmine Luxury Lip Butter
I actually have a few favourite lip balms for the year, but the one that really tops my list is from Lilfox Miami.  It smells INCREDIBLE, with luscious jasmine working to ease any built up tension while also soothing the skin.  I find this vegan friendly balm works to soften my lips and sort out any dry spots or irritation pretty much overnight, and if you apply in the evenings it even doubles as a sort of sleep aid.  This is definitely on the pricier side of things, but for me it is 100% worth it!

Lip Serum: Okoko Cosmetiques Secret du Dragon Moisturizing Renewal Lip Serum
Like I said in my initial review of this product, I have never before seen a lip product even remotely like this, and I have to say this is a real gem and brilliant addition to my skincare routine.  From the stunning shade of sapphire blue to the subtly sweet scent, the first impressions set you up for the eco-luxe experience you are going to have using this artisan creation from Okoko Cosmetiques.  The vegan serum is not sticky or oily, and it is the perfect base for lipsticks or heavier balms.  I can't think of a better product to win Best Lip Serum of 2018.

Traditional Chapstick: Hurraw Moon Night Treatment Lip Balm
I first discovered Hurraw through Love Lula, and it was love at first application.  Each of their vegan balms is worthy of this spot, but the Moon Night Treatment is by far my favourite and I found it to be the most effective in terms of healing dry, chapped, or irritated lips.  It packs a powerful moisture punch, and smells fantastic too!  I haven't come across a better chapstick yet, and found myself repurchasing Hurraw products throughout the year -- definitely a winner.

Lipstick: Nude by Nature Moisture Shine Lipstick
I received this in a recent box swap I did, and I honestly cannot stop using it.  The formula is so creamy and smooth, it is an absolute dream to apply, and the colour lasts most of the day.  It does need some touch ups if you have a meal, but otherwise I found the staying power impressive.  While it is not vegan (beeswax), I'm totally obsessed with this product - it has renewed my love for lip products, and has got me excited about wearing makeup again.  So for that, it has to win best lipstick of 2018 for me.

Lip Crayon: Green People Instant Definition Lip Crayon
I can't actually find this on Green People's own website any longer, so I am not sure if it has been discontinued or something (fingers crossed it has not been!!), but it is available from a few retailers online so I hopefully you can still pick up this lovely lip crayon if you are on the hunt for the best.  I have two different shades, and both have beautiful rich colours and feel moisturizing without looking shiny.  They apply smoothly and last all evening, even through a glass of wine (or three - whoops!), plus, there is minimal plastic involved which is a huge plus for me!

Liquid Lipstick: Bellapierre Kiss Proof Lip Creme
This was a tough call, as I actually have not found my 'perfect' liquid lippy yet.  A lot of the all natural ones I want to try and have heard brilliant things about are difficult to get ahold of in the UK (most seem to be American brands!).  That isn't to say that my top pick for this category isn't great -- it really is, it's just not organic which would be my preference.  Bellapierre's Kiss Proof Lip Creme lipsticks have fantastic pigment, dry down matte, and last for absolute ages.  Plus there are so many colour options - I think I have about six or seven out of 18!  I've put these through my coffee tests which are rigorous (I mean, I drink a LOT of coffee) and they survived with minimal transfer.  And the ingredients are pretty clean overall too, so this is great option for those looking for a liquid lip but don't want anything toxic.

Lip Gloss: Trust Fund Beauty Lipgasm Lip Gloss
I really despised lip gloss for a long time, as I found it sticky and always caught my hair.  Then I found a few that totally changed my mind and made me rethink the whole lip gloss game.  Trust Fund Beauty is one of those brands that got me glossing again, and I really like their vegan formula as it is smooth and super moisturizing, but doesn't get tacky.  There are a few colour options (yes, they are tinted glosses!) and all give a subtle pop to your lips without taking over or being super distracting.  Even after the colour is wiped away you can feel the oils left behind on your lips that are protecting against the elements and working their magic to heal and soothe -- and that is why this one is a winner for me.  (P.S. if you want a clear lip gloss, Lily Lolo's is fab!)

Lip Tint: Akar Ruby Lip Restoration // Weleda Tinted Lip Balm
Another double win here, as these two are so different but offer equally great tint options.  Akar's organic lip butter gives a lovely natural red tint that is super subtle and super nourishing, and I couldn't stop reaching for my sample pot (which lasted for AGES by the way!).  It is a true tinted balm, and isn't sticky or overly shiny.  Weleda, on the other hand, comes in a squeezy tube and offers more substantial colour payoff in the form of a glossy vegan balm -- it's not fully pigmented, but definitely is more noticeable.  It gives a lovely fresh look and is both moisturizing and super cute.

Lip Liner: Benecos Lip Liner
I never quite understood the need for a lip liner until this year, and then I discovered that with the right one it really brings your whole lip look together (and makes applying lipstick so much easier!).  I had a few contenders for best in show for this category, but Benecos wins out for a few reasons: it is not waxy and just glides onto the lips smoothly and evenly, it has lasting power but is also easily blended in for a more natural appearance, it's vegan, and it is so inexpensive!  It's tricky to find a true quality product under a fiver, and this fits the bill.

Highlight: Vapour Trick Stick Highlighter
I love a bit of highlighter to give more natural radiance to the face, and Vapour's Trick Stick does that and more.  This helps brighten, gives a lovely glow, and can even help define your features.  The 70% organic formula is super reflective, plus it comes in a recyclable metal tube which looks and feels so luxe.  I will say that the shade 'Star' in particular is more of a sparkly highlighter, but I love it and think if you are going to go for an illuminator like this you may as well go all the way!

While Vapour isn't widely available in the UK, you can pick this up from places like The Detox Market (a fast fav of mine!), Naturismo, or other online retailers.

Blush: Honeypie Minerals Blusher
Being so pale, it can be difficult to rationalize wearing blush since I look so flushed so easily anyways.  But Honeypie Minerals vegan mineral blusher gives a lovely rosy quality that provides a healthy looking glow without being over the top.  I find Candy Blusher the perfect shade for me, as it is feminine, understated, and gives me just a hint of colour.  Plus, this gentle lightweight powder helps absorb any excess oils and keeps skin looking luminous all day long.  What's not to love??

Powder: Dr Hauschka Compact Powder
If I am going to use any single makeup product for the complexion, it will be Dr Hauschka's Compact Powder every time.  This stuff is so velvety and it helps balance any redness and mask any imperfections I may be having with my skin.  It's so easy to use -- you just swipe the adorable cotton cushion across your face and you're sorted!  I never bother with foundation as I can never get it to sit right or I find it clogs my pores, nor do I really use any concealers often for the same reason.  But with Dr Hauschka's vegan friendly Compact Powder I can get the same finish without any of the issues.  I love that it doesn't look powdery on your face, just an even and almost airbrushed look that helps give you that little bit extra level of confidence.

Nails: Pretty Woman NYC // Pacifica 7 Free Rainbow Top Coat
I discovered Pretty Woman a few years back actually, but didn't get to try much of their nail polish range until this last summer when I went a mini Ipsy shopping spree.  I grabbed one of their special effects sets, a handful of chrome polish, plus a few creme colours as well.  And guess what?  They are all fabulous!  Clean, full coats after just one swipe, and they last well over a week with a good base and top coat protecting them.  Plus, they are all 10-free and vegan friendly!

As for the Pacifica top coat, I fell for this as soon as I saw it existed.  The formula is 7-free and transforms any creme polish into a magical holographic shade with just a single coat.  You can use it on its own as well for a more understated rainbow effect, but I like using it as a 'turn everything holo' tool instead.  This stuff is brilliant and I am so happy I found it!

Brush: Flawless
Flawless is a 100% cruelty free and vegan cosmetics company that makes PETA approved makeup brushes using synthetic fibres, sustainably sourced bamboo handles, and recycled aluminium ferrules.  And while these are not totally free from plastic (brush uses "superior grade nylon and polyester which is laser finished to provide a non-stick coating"), they are close and I absolutely adore how soft the bristles are.  Their eyeshadow brush in particular has been a favourite of mine this year, as it blends everything so well and gives flawless natural look.

And that's that!  My top picks for makeup products in 2018!  These are all the ethical beauty products I think deserve recognition as the best for the makeup category, and are the ones I keep coming back to and repurchasing because they are just so good.  Fab pigment, long lasting, high quality, wonderful ingredients, and from brands I trust and respect.  I'm really curious to see if my list is similar in 2019, and I will definitely be looking back on this post in 2020 (gosh that sounds so far away and futuristic!) to see what stays ranked at the top and what slides out from my 'favourite' list.

Do you have any products you think should have made my list?  I would love to know, as there is a chance I didn't even try them!  I would really enjoy hearing what your top makeup products of 2018 were -- who knows, maybe they will make my next Top Ethical Makeup Picks roundup!

And keep an eye out for the next installment of my Best Ethical Beauty Products of 2018 mini-series -- I still have aromatherapy, facial skincare, and body products to round up! xx


  1. I love this post because you give such a great description of every product- thank you! Pacifica is one of my faves for nail polish as well. I look forward to trying some of the other products you reviewed. Yay for ethical beauty!

  2. Oh wow those nail varnishes look amazing! Some wonderful looking colours :) I'm terrible with makeup if I'm honest so I don't have any recommendations. But I shall be looking out for these products though :)

  3. I don't wear makeup often but I love the sound of the Dr Hauschka Compact Powder, definitely something I will look out for.

  4. I very rarely where make up, and the items I do have a woefully out of date so this is a great help at selecting key items to aid me in updating my make up bag


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