Inspiration from Meghan

Unpacking My Makeup: What I Use and Love


I recently posed a question in the UnDiet Life Facebook group about what you’d like to see more of here on the blog and the answer was clear: Natural home and beauty care. And so I thought I’d start right here with my make-up bag, as this is one of the things that comes up a lot.

In The UnDiet Cookbook, I offer a full chapter of edible beauty care recipes, but I don’t get into making makeup. That’s a whole other beast that I have yet to tackle. I have done a lot of research, and though I rarely ever wear make-up beyond my Living Libations Maiden Fern Blushing Balm, I do put it on for special occasions, filming, photo shoots and that sort of thing.

Living Libations Blushing Balm

Even still, I keep it pretty simple.

Your Makeup Matters

Talc, titanium dioxide, lead, mica, carbon black, and dozens of others are just some of the toxic chemicals found in everyday cosmetic and beauty care products. Though once thought harmless in the relatively small amounts that we use them, they are far from it. What is rarely taken into account when testing for safety is the cumulative effect of all the chemicals that are present when we combine all of the products that we use.

Given that we have very little control over our chemical exposure out in the world, it makes it all the more important that we pay attention to the stuff we can control, and make-up is most certainly one of those areas.

Zuzu Lip Gloss

Detoxing Your Makeup

  1. Use less of it. Of the products you have, what do you actually want to keep using? Are there extra steps, or extra unnecessary products?
  2. Use less often. Reserve makeup for going out or special occasions. Maybe your daily makeup could be as simple as a lip balm and mascara? Or just a lip gloss (Who’s with me on hating to remove mascara?)
  3. Replace with better products. When you use up what you have, replace with chemical-free options.
  4. Do some research. Cosmetic products have ingredient labels, too. Look up what’s in the products you use and see what story those ingredients tell.

To help you along in your research, I decided to unpack my makeup bag and share what I am currently using and loving.

Meghan Telpner's Makeup Kit

Face Powder: Gabriel Cosmetics
Colour- Medium Beige
I didn’t know my face was medium beige in colour, but apparently it is. I’ve been using this product for ten years. It’s super light, doesn’t make my face feel sweaty or itchy and comes off easily. I primarily wear this for filming to avoid the shiny nose syndrome. Normally, I leave the skin of my face bare naked and breathing. This is sort of the opposite of a catch-22. (I don’t know what that would be called) But the less make-up you wear on your face, the healthier your skin will be, and then you would actually need to wear less face makeup. Get it?

Eye Shadow: Zuii Organic
Colour- ‘Rich Gold’
This is a very clean eyeshadow and the colour is the only colour of eyeshadow I’ve ever worn. When I had my make-up done for my grade 12 formal, this was the colour the woman at Mac applied and so it has always been my go-to. #goldeyeshadowsince1998! Who’s with me?

Blush: Zuzu Luxe
Colour: Haze
Zuzu is a division of Gabriel Cosmetics and if there was only one item of make-up I was allowed to wear to a party, it would be blush. I’d probably beg to have two so I could wear mascara as well, but I love a natural rosy cheek. When I haven’t just worked out, been out in the sun, playing in the cold or in the sauna and my cheeks need some help in the rosy glow department, this is my blush of choice.

100% Pure Mascara

Mascara: 100% Pure
Colour: Black
I LOVE this mascara to bits and pieces. You will start to notice a theme here, where if a makeup product doesn’t make me itchy and swollen, than we become lovers for life. This mascara has a fruit-pigment base and doesn’t smudge super easily. Any mascara that doesn’t smudge is a winner for me, as I tend to laugh until I weep often and I would permanently look like I was doing the walk of shame (Don’t look that up if you don’t know what I mean. It’s fine).  The bonus with this product is that it washes off easily with a little light massage with water and a gentle rubbing with coconut oil.

Eyeliner: Gabriel Cosmetics
Colour: Black
I only wear eyeliner when filming, and I am grateful that when we film, you can’t see my eyes close up. I am the absolute worst at applying this stuff and each eye is always uneven and I look a little like I just escaped a bar brawl (or an aforementioned walk of shame). This one is easy to apply, does the job of defining my eyes and that’s that. If I never wore it ever again, I’d be okay with that.

Lipstick: Ilia Beauty
Colour: Arabian Nights (but of course!)
I am not great with lipstick. It’s always just a little bit not fully on my lips, but I try. I love this natural lipstick- it’s certified organic, gluten-free and it’s a Canadian-based company. The colour goes on evenly, offering a little colour, a little gloss and stays on well.

Lip balm: Living Libations
Maiden Fern Blushing Balm
But seriously, if I only had one product, it would be this one. I’ve been known to wear this on my lips and my cheeks. In a base of jojoba with sea buckthorn, rose otto, neroli, cinnamon and so many more beautiful pure essential oils, this is where your lip balm actually deserves to be licked (or kissed!) off and everyone will be healthier for it! This is on me at all times.

Lip gloss: Zuzu Luxe
Colour: Crystal
I love a good lip gloss that is sticky enough to stay on but not so sticky that your hair and food gets stuck to it.

Brushes: Pure Anada
The hairs of the brushes are synthetic and cruelty free. The handles are bamboo and they’re relatively inexpensive. I’m obviously no make-up expert, but these brushes do the trick. They’re also very easy to clean with just a little soap and warm water.

Do you have any brands or specific product you swear by? Post your favourites below!

44 responses to “Unpacking My Makeup: What I Use and Love”

  1. Rebecca says:

    Thank you thank you for this post! I’ve been combing through make-up companies like it’s my job trying to find as natural-as-possible-but-still-make-up-products. I’ve recently been trying 100% Pure but was bummed when I realized my new BB cream has titanium dioxide. Still, slowly but surely I’m removing as many chemicals as possible from daily use. Thanks for the constant upbeat inspiration and this post in particular. I’m ready to tackle house cleaning products next!

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Thanks for the feedback. And yes- house cleaning products are an important one. Seventh Generation and Nature Clean are typically my go-to brands.

  2. Mai Mai says:

    I also have been trying slowly to convert to more natural products so I love hearing about new brands to try!
    Utterly confused about titanium dioxide & mica being listed in with lead as chemicals to avoid! I always thought these were natural minerals. In reading the ingredients of some of your suggestions, these both come up frequently sooo… Is it more that these aren’t in the same category as lead in terms of toxicity? Should we just generally be avoiding these materials (& therefore makeup)?

  3. Sarah says:

    I have heard about this 100% pure mascara! Mascara is basically all I ever wear, unless its a special occasion. I heard you could get it at the big carrot, so I thought that is what I bought. But from your picture, I realize mine is not that, but in fact Pure Anada. Do you buy your mascara in Toronto, and if so, where?

  4. Agnes says:

    My face is tan what is the right blush and lipstick color that match me also eye shadow color..

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Hi Agnes, I’m no make-up expert! Your best bet is likely to consult with a professional on this or perhaps look at some youtube videos.

  5. Nicola Gosse says:

    I’ve been struggling on and off for years with flair up’s too sensitivities/allergies??. The culprit is yet to be discovered.
    My symptoms range from irritated eyes too, burning sensation on my face, upper airway coughing to the point of using mega doses of my steroid inhailers, nasal sprays, ventolin, antihistamines etc. Then, it slowly settles again.
    Recently went to my Doctor due to another flair up; she feel’s it’s environmental but I’m certain it’s makeup related. Our skin is our largest organ for absorption; makes sense to me (as a Cancer nurse) that anything absorbed transdermally ie: skin, around our eyes etc….can and will affect us systemically or locally due to post nasal drip etc.
    I thought I had narrowed it down to Carmine; as hides in many cosmetic and food products under many different names. It’s even in some vegan products. So, I decided to try Gabriel and ZuZu products as carmine free, vegan, gluten free etc etc but my symptoms escalated to the point of scary. The only thing I feel may be the cause is the “Mica” as first ingredient in all Organic products.
    I googled Mica; symptoms related to mica are burning skin, reddness and coughing. Basically ground up minerals small enough to enter skin pores like tiny shards of glass….great. So Organic can also have it’s side effects.
    I’m totally at my wits end with this. Not only scary but really not sure what’s going on anymore.
    Does anyone have any suggestions?? Any mica, carmine free products out there? Anyone else suffering from this type of reaction?
    Thank you,

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      That must be such a challenge. I wish I had a brand to recommend. Hopefully someone in the community can help.

  6. Staci says:

    Have you looked at beauty counter products?

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Are you referring to makeup being sold at department stores, or is this a particular brand?

      • Megan says:

        I am also curious to hear how you feel about Beauty Counter products. It is a new-to-Canada natural beauty line.

  7. Karen Stewart says:

    I am chemical sensitive, thank goodness for Melaleuca products, makeup, shampoos, cleaning products, tooth paste, everything you nneed for your home. I know since I’ve been using the products I feel so much better.

  8. renay says:

    100% Pure is one of the cleanest foundations I’ve found and it’s easy to read all the ingredients of each product on their site (they literally use fruits and vegetables for color!). Their cream to powder foundation does NOT have titanium dioxide in it, which is still in most natural makeups out there and is still up for debate as to its toxicity. They aren’t cheap (especially for shipping to Canada) but I can attest to never being disappointed in what I’ve bought from them, and I have super sensitive, acne prone and skin.

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Great tip! I also know the Detox Market carries that line here in Canada. I don’t know if the pricing would be different than buying directly but you might want to check that out.

  9. Pauline says:

    What about sunscreen? What brand?

  10. Michelle says:

    Would like to know your thoughts on Workd Organic products

  11. Oresta Korbutiak says:

    Great post. I also wanted to add Afterglow Cosmetics to your list. Afterglow is a certified gluten-free cosmetic line. Gluten-derived ingredients are commonly used in cosmetics as a binder to help ingredients stick together and as an emollient in the form of gluten derived oils. Those with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance find that sometimes even minor contact with cosmetics (especially lipstick which often contains gluten) can trigger discomfort or a reaction.

  12. Rachelle Seguin says:

    I just discovered your sighr and am enjoying the education, particularly about cosmetics. However almost none of your links work, especially those to living libations.

  13. Emily Roach says:

    I can’t wait to order the mascara. I switched all of my makeup to Beautycounter last year, but their mascara tends to give me that lovely raccoon eye look. The best change I made was starting to use a face oil everyday. It makes my skin feel so healthy I never have to reach for any cover up or foundation. Less is more!

  14. Annie Valente says:

    Hi Meghan! I love it when people show off what they use! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Deanne says:

    Hi Meghan. I went to look up Ilia based on your recommendation and they state that they are now an LA based company. I would prefer trying Canadian products, just based on the US exchange alone. What do you recommend if I want to buy Canadian makeup products?

  16. Yvonne Rahui says:

    Hi Meghan…I went to an Arbor ne Party today & have been pleased to come across your site tonight!Great reading & very helpful.
    I live in can I purchase Living !ibation products please?
    Thank you.

  17. Tanya Willis says:

    Love your suggestions. When I started to detox my life about 10 years ago, one of my first steps was skin care. >> I made the switch 10 years ago to Living Libations and also started using Beauty Counter about 2 years ago. Happy knowing I’m geeding my skin with love!

  18. Natalie says:

    I was interested to know which product you use for sunscreen. I clicked on your link ‘I like this product a lot’ but it doesn’t work. Can you please repost?

  19. Meghan says:

    You should look into Young Living sunscreen. They just launched an SPF 50 and I believe it is entirely plant based and free of yucky toxins. I also use their non-toxic makeup line, Savvy Minerals. It has changed my life!

  20. Eva says:

    Thank you very much for sharing this list. Please keep this type of content coming. It is great to know what has worked for you. Truly natural products are often harder to find and to test or sample… all the research and trial and error takes up so much time and money.

  21. Camila Quaglio says:

    I am using Omiana and Juice Beauty, what do you think about them? Great post!

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      I’m glad you found this post helpful! I’m not familiar with those brands so I can’t comment on them.

  22. Julie says:

    I’m using mostly Beautycounter makeup…and love it! I also am a huge fan of 100% Pure and just picked up a new mascara yesterday!!
    Have you tried anything from Beautycounter? Thoughts?

  23. Joan Farmer says:

    I’m confused. The listings of the ingredients for these lipstick and gloss products say they may contain mica and titanium dioxide. Meghan says those ingredients are toxic. Are they safe to use or not?

  24. Frances says:

    Do you recommend any resources (books or websites) that go over chemicals used in products and their overall safety (or possible negative correlations)?

  25. Sara says:

    Yes I am also very curious as what your thought are on BeautyCounter? I was told by a rep that they’re the only company that does batch testing before and after distributing (therefore catching chemicals that can leach during bottling process) and most natural or organic products that are labeled paraben or phalate free actually contain it because it gets tainted during distributing. That blew my mind.

  26. Jen says:

    I love Elate cosmetics. Canadian company and their mascara is incredible.

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