Clean beauty brand ILIA was founded by Sasha whose brother suffered from asthma and severe allergies as a child. Their mother helped him recover through an organic food co-op to give him access to clean nutrition, and he went on to become an Olympic athlete after being told by doctors he could never compete in sports. As Sasha moved into a career in fashion and beauty branding, she realized she didn’t have clean ingredients in products she was putting on her body every day. ILIA was born as a beauty brand that cares about health.
This means health of our home planet as well as skincare, so ILIA’s products are now a uniquely clean offering that is also ultra-sustainable. ILIA runs a recycling program that instructs customers on how to dispose of their product packaging in recycling bins. The ILIA multi-stick palette is a favorite product of mine that I tried after developing worsening allergies and joint problems related to a connective tissue disorder and an immune disorder called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, where your sensitive cell structure from fragile collagen makes your allergic reactions hair trigger.
I mention this because many people like me are finally getting the right diagnosis after MCAS was discovered about 10 years ago to be different than another similar condition. COVID and climate change-worsened air pollution and seasonal pollen are provoking people who are prone to MCAS to have flareups, so many individuals are now looking for cleaner personal care products and reducing chemical load in their beauty routine.
Clean beauty with natural ingredients
Many people have sensitivities to ingredients in beauty products that aren’t true allergies. If you’re not sure why you keep reacting to personal care products, it can be quite a journey to figure out what works for you and what “clean” makeup really means. I hope that this review gives you a few pointers to help make it simpler.
ILIA focuses on clean, natural ingredients like coconut oil or avocado oil that serve as a base for mineral pigments. One thing you can look for when selecting clean beauty products is a line that avoids artificial dyes (Red 40 etc.) and uses iron pigments instead, with mica for shimmer. These ingredients are clean, and they even avoid sensitivities to natural mineral pigments like bismuth that might be clean, but can be harsh on the skin.
Look for a simple list of ingredients, too, maybe six to 20 ingredients long at most. Over time, I learned that my skin loves shea butter, but if you have nut allergies, you might prefer castor oil — which is a bit firmer, but helps you avoid shea nuts, almonds and so on. Some brands use vegetable and fruit powder pigments to color their products in addition to iron pigments.
I’m excited about this because even though I’m sensitive to high-histamine natural ingredients (tomatoes, strawberries, common food allergens because they are inflammatory) I can usually patch together a beauty routine using a variety of options from these plant-based ingredients. These are often very nourishing for your skin in place of artificial moisturizers containing mineral oils and ethylene plastics (yes, plastics).
ILIA’s abundant beauty products
ILIA’s multi-stick palette is a great example of their product line. It’s both convenient to have lip and cheek cream products and highlighter, bronzer and cream shimmer eye shadow all in one compact that is easy to open, plus you can pop the used insert out of your compact when it’s empty and recycle the compact shell at home. I find myself feeling silly for buying individual full-size beauty products now, because I don’t need much more than ILIA’s dewy SPF 40 Skin Tint moisturizing foundation serum, a bit of their concealer and some mascara. The palette has everything else I need.
ILIA knows that saving the planet has a lot to do with saving the rainforests, because they absorb so much carbon and balance the planet’s ecosystems. They partner with 1% For the Planet to plant trees in equatorial regions. The goal this year in 2023 is to plant one million trees by year’s end, this time in Ecuador where the rainforest is disappearing at the rate of 80,000 acres a day.
By planting new trees that can thrive in the local climate in waves, 1% For the Planet ensures that the future forests of the world remain regenerating. You can expect more great planet-saving work to come out of brands like ILIA. They were founded by people who know that our personal health does depend on the health of the planet. In addition, there is no reason to pollute ourselves by using toxic products and producing a bunch of waste that goes back in our landfills and waterways.
Choose ILIA for sensitive skin
Because of my severe allergies, which are both to chemicals and to many natural inflammatory ingredients in natural foods, I just about gave up on makeup and even shampoo over the past few years when my health condition flared. ILIA is a brand I can tolerate because they use calming skincare ingredients like jojoba and chamomile as top ingredients.
They are heavy metal-safe, too. I react to pigments, dyes and mineral shimmer like bismuth oxychloride and tin, even possibly oxalate crystals in inflammatory plants like berries and greens. Furthermore, ILIA sticks with safer iron oxides for the most part. I found that when I wasn’t putting a bunch of petroleum products on my skin or harsh enzymes or chemical peels like retinol or sulfate cleansers, my skin got much calmer and is clear for the first time in my adult life.
Ironically, I don’t need makeup anymore, but with ILIA, I just love the stuff. It has moisturizing, subtle and fun pigments, a variety of multi-purpose products and is good for the planet. If you have been looking for a clean sustainable beauty brand, check them out. From skincare and moisturizers to makeup, ILIA has something for everyone looking for clean beauty.
Images via ILIA
Editor’s Note: This review is not sponsored by ILIA. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.