Elsie’s Tried & True Clean Cosmetics Buys

Hello friends!! I recently shared my tried & true non-toxic skincare buys and today I am back with a post alllll about cosmetics!

When I first starting swapping to clean beauty, the results were extremely disappointing. It took me more than a year to find a foundation I was happy with and out of everything I bought at first, there is only one item that made it into my permanent rotation.

For this reason, I am really excited to share the things with you that I now purchase over and over! Before I begin, I will say … one of my BIGGEST tips when beginning to swap to green beauty is to try before you buy. If you can find local places to try on clean products, it is worth it.

And if not, try to stick mainly with shops that have a generous exchange policy … it can save you a bundle!

Concealer and Foundation.

I am so passionate about these items because it took me a while to find something that, to me, compared with conventional products in terms of performance. I am a HUGE fan of Jane Iredale Smooth Affair Primer and Glow Time BB Cream.

It is by far the best coverage I have found and is not too oily. I use a beauty blender to apply mine—it lasts a long time because I use way less. I don’t know if it is the beauty blender or just the formula. But, I just repurchased it for the first time and it lasted me quite a while—longer than foundation normally lasts for me.

I also like Crunchi primer and foundations, and recommend them.

For concealer, I use RMS “Un” Cover-Up. I only use it on my under eye circles around my nose and if I have any kind of blemish going on. It’s great and gets the job done with very minimal product and it lasts a very long time. I’ve already had mine more than a year and it’s going strong.

Lip Products.

Obviously, I am passionate about lip products! This is my favorite lip oil/gloss.

I will say lip products are one of the most fun natural beauty products to shop! I have a pretty big lipstick collection, but I will try to narrow it down for you here! Keep in mind I pretty much exclusively wear neutral lip color. I love bold lips, just not on me!

A few of my favorites: ILIA Color Block Lipstick in “Amberlight,” Bite Beauty Lipstick in “Chai” and “Verbena,” 100% Pure in “Plume Pink,” Ere Perez Cacao Lip Color in “Hoopla.”


I keep it very natural with eye shadows. I really only use these few palettes on repeat. A lot of days i don’t wear anything but a little highlight on my brow bone.

I love Jane Iredale, Ere Perez and Lily Lolo palettes.

Eyeliner + Brows. 

I can’t quit my Kat Von D tattoo liner. It’s not the cleanest product in my beauty cabinet (if anyone from the brand is reading this, please, please, please switch to a paraben-free formula), but I love that it is cruelty free and the performance is a 10 out of 10!

I also like Pat McGrath liquid liner.

For my brows, I have microblading, so I don’t need a lot of brow product. A lot of days I don’t do anything to my brows.

But I intentionally got them very light/natural so that I don’t look weird without makeup on and, like, BROWS. So when I do a full face of makeup and I want to add more, I use a little Ecobrow with a brow pencil.

*If you live in Nashville, I see Olivia Weir for my brows and she is incredible!


Trying to find a “more natural” nail polish was one of the first things that pulled me into clean beauty. I now use 10-free formulas almost exclusively and occasionally I will get a 3-free gel manicure for a trip or a special occasion.

The two best brands (by a LOT!) are Aila, which is also based in Nashville and we frequently collaborate with and Habit. I love both these brands so much and tell all my friends to try them!


I loveeee my cheek products and may occasionally wear WAY too much of it if I’m being honest! A few of my go-tos are Antonym blush in peach, Crunchi bronzer, ILIA Multistick in “Cheek to Cheek” and Ere Perez Carrot Color Pot in “Healthy.” Love love love!

And the only highlighter I really need is RMS living luminizer. I really like the pot format because it lasts forever and is very easy to apply. I hope this has been helpful as a starting point! To be totally honest, there are a LOT more amazing brands and products that I could put in here, but I tried to keep it somewhat minimal so it wasn’t too overwhelming for someone who is just getting into clean beauty.

But I could go on ALL DAY, so if you have more questions, ask away. 🙂 xx! Elsie

P.S. Check out my clean winter skincare routine for the colder months!

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • I am inspired to begin clean beauty and am so grateful to have all of these amazing product recommendations! I wanted to see if you have any recommendations for a powder foundation as I practically never wear liquid foundation. I don’t typically wear much makeup (powder foundation, mascara, and a little contour/blush). I’ve been using Maybelline Fit Me! Matte & Poreless Foundation Powder most frequently and have also used Urban Decay’s Ultra Definition powder foundation, enjoying both of those. I’d love any recommendations you may have 🙂

  • Elsie,

    I was looking at the ingredients on the eyeliners, and although they are better then most it seems as though there are still tons of chemicals in them. Please let me know if you find something less toxic. I have some recipes I have found to DIY natural eyeliner, so I am going to start there.


  • Elsie!
    Love this post! I have followed you since 2007. Have you heard of or tried Monat products? Check them out when you have a bit of time. My link is above for my website! I downloaded the Think Dirty app (so appreciate that info) and had so much fun using it while shopping today! I am stalking your beauty box. Very sad that I missed October! Thank you for being you! Congratulations on becoming a Mom. You were meant for the job!
    Much appreciation,

  • You would LOVE KL Polish for nail polishes. The colors are right up your ally and I believe they are either 9 or 10 free!

  • hi elsie! could you do a post (or elaborate) on microblading your brows – i would love an inside view of this as the stories i hear are so mixed .. thank you!

  • Hi, great recommendations thank you! I am trying to switch to clean beauty products, but also trying to switch to products in environmentally friendly packaging, because I look at my pile of makeup and just see plastic going to landfill when I am done 🙁 I follow some instagram accounts from australia that seem way ahead when it comes to packaging, like elatecosmetics, biomestores and neek cosmetics. Are there companies in the US using glass or bamboo packaging for instance?

    • I haven’t found a clean mascara that I loved, but I usually wear eyelash extensions or falsies (when I wear makeup) so I don’t really need it. I’ve heard good things about honest beauty mascara. xx!

      • Have you tried Fitglow’s Good Lash mascara? It’s a little on the pricey side, but I am a mascara snob and it is not only clean, but also helps lengthen your lashes overt time AND is the best mascara I’ve ever used. A good close second would be Lily Lolo’s new Big Lash mascara – if you haven’t tried that one yet either.

  • I agree with Chelsey – your recommendations plus your beauty box have been SUPER helpful to me. Looking forward to the new oui fresh lip gloss color – oui fresh lip gloss has been the first lip product I’ve ever loved, for sure. Looking forward to continuing my clean beauty journey with all of you

  • This is so helpful. I make several beauty products over on my blog because I love the absence of fillers but haven’t had any great recommendations as far as cosmetics. I’ll absolutely be trying that foundation! Natural foundations are so hard to find! The powders seem to settle into pores, even with a primer beforehand and setting powder. I’m excited to try a liquid form.

  • Hi Elsie, I always enjoy these posts. Can you recommend any kid-friendly nail polish? Do you think the ones you mentioned in this list would be ok?

  • Always love reading about your clean beauty faves; I bought the Jane Iredale primer and BB cream on your recommendations and I’m never going back! It’s seriously perfect and the chart on their website was really helpful in picking the right shade.

  • Elsie, your non-toxic beauty posts are my favorites! Your round-up posts paired with Oui Fresh boxes have been my secret weapon for navigating how to switch things over in a cost-effective way (as in, not buying junk lol).

    Thank you! PS – hope you get to make more special October memories with Nova this weekend!


  • Thanks for sharing this! Most of these products and brands are actually new to me so thank you for introducing me to some wonderful looking products. Lovely photography too! x

    Emily | www.twicethetalk.co.uk

  • Thanks for sharing! I love seeing people’s routines.
    Elsie, have you tried the BB Cream from Purlisse? It’s a little cheaper than the two you recommended (only $35) and I have been really impressed by the coverage! I first tried it in an ipsy box and I have re-purchased since. I apply with just my fingers. They even have travel sizes for $10.

  • thank you for sharing! I do have a couple questions: how do you choose concealer/foundation products online? it always feels like a gamble to me. also, do you have clean mascara recommendations?

    • I try to buy from places that accept returns OR find a local shop that carries what I need so I can try it on (the foundation I recommend here is carried at Nordstrom) xx!

  • Thank you for this post, Elsie, I really appreciate it! I love how comprehensive each section is! ❤️

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.