Beauty, The Bod
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Sarah’s Spring Beauty Clean Up

(Photo: Courtesy Sarah James)

It never fails— spring rolls around, and I’m instantly sucked into mega beauty refresh mode faster than you can say “matte coral lipstick.” There’s nothing more happy-making than clearing the fuzzy wool remnants from my closet and giving most of the deep plums and berries in my beauty cabinet a rest. And up until a few years ago, my seasonal refreshes were strictly related to things like color and texture, but now I go a little deeper.

You see, I’ve taken huge strides to rid my bathroom cabinet of anything that is unsafe for my skin, which is, ahem, a huge undertaking. Let’s just say that I’ve become very up close and personal with A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients and the EWG’s Skin Deep website. I never thought I’d know so much about Methylisothiazolinone and Polyethylene Glycol in my life, and sadly, the United States isn’t so keen on ingredient regulation, considering it hasn’t passed a federal law to regulate the ingredients in personal care products since 1938. (Yeah, when women’s daily ensembles looked like this. Its, um, been awhile.)

So, basically, I’ve become the Makeup Buzzkill Lady. Enjoying that beautiful new scarlet red lippie? Well, it’s probably killing you. Enjoy.

(Over) Dramatics aside, your lipstick most likely will not send you to an early grave, but it is important to consider what kind of chemicals you are putting on and into your body on a daily basis. I advise my friends that it’s not necessary to go balls-to-the-wall and dump all your offending cosmetics immediately (like I did, sheesh) — go ahead and use what you have until it’s time to repurchase, but when that time comes, consider looking into safer beauty brands.

sarah james bloom makeup lipstick red lips

Sarah James and those lips — wearing NARS Audacious in Annabella (Photo courtesy Sarah James)

How do you know what’s safe and what’s not? Besides, you know, spending all day reading ingredient lists and shoving your nose into a chemical reference guide? Well, ladies, that’s what I’m here for — let me point you to some of my very favorite safe beauty brands.

Beautycounter. Where do I even begin? I totally trust this line of cosmetics, skincare and haircare, but most importantly, I’m so blown away by their Tint Skin tinted moisturizer. Trust me, I’ve spent years and years trying to nail down the perfect tinted moisturizer and/or foundation for 40-plus skin, and I finally found it. PRAISE BE BEAUTYCOUNTER, THE ANGELS ARE REJOICING. Other notables are the gorgeous lip sheers (I reviewed them all here), the blush duos and the concealer pen, which is just like Touche Éclat, but less expensive. Oh! The Nourishing Cleansing Balm is amazing as well.

Tarte. One of my favorite brands, Tarte is my go-to for blush and mascara. Love the 12-hour Amazonian Clay blushes, and the Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara is an all-time favorite of mine. (What in the hell is Amazonian clay? Who cares, it makes my lashes look full. And, oh yeah, it’s safe.)

Bite Beauty. For amazing lipsticks and lip sheers, Bite Beauty reigns supreme. I recently became acquainted with their Matte Créme Lip Crayon (meaning I bought one two three), and they pack the perfect punch for spring. Looking for a bright, bold lip color for Spring? Please look no further. And the best part…you could literally eat them because they are made with food-grade ingredients plus reservatrol, which is not a bad thing for those of us over 40 who need a little antioxidant help.

There you have it. Three great brands that create lovely, safe products that actually work. This is not a buy-some-random-hippie-brand-at-Whole-Foods-and-hope-for-the-best situation, friends. Trust the lady over here with the vivid coral lip shade staring down the ingredients in your favorite foundation.

Filed under: Beauty, The Bod


Sarah James

Sarah James transported her family from California to Oklahoma last year with hopes for a simpler life, and quickly realized that a simpler life is a much, much fuller one. Sarah could talk to you for hours about capsule wardrobes, clean beauty, gluten-free eating and pretty much any of the NPR podcasts. She blogs at


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