Paraben Free Drugstore Makeup Kit: Yes, It Is Possible!

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Paraben Free Drugstore Makeup Kit: Yes, It Is Possible! via

Hello. I just read your post on a makeup starter kit and it inspired me to write to you with a question of my own that I have been struggling with for a while now.

I am 14 years old and I would like to start wearing makeup. The only problem is that I am allergic to parabens, which are in almost every makeup that I can find. I cannot find any makeup or makeup companies that are completely free of parabens.

I have blond hair and light blue deep set eyes. My skin is very fair and it has a cooler undertone. I'm looking for a basic BB Cream or Foundation, Concealer, blush, eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, and any tools. I also have very oily skin and would like some type of powder or oil absorbing sheets. I'm not sure if I will be able to find any paraben free products in a drug store, but there is a CVS nearby and also a Sephora that is within driving distance. I am ok with spending a good amount of money as long as I don't react to the products.

Thank you for helping.

Parabens are a hot topic these days. While the medical community feels they're safe based upon our current level of knowledge and scientific research (Dr. Cynthia Bailey has a great post going over parabens in skin care), there are people who want to avoid them due to safety concerns. However, this weekend I received an email from a reader asking about paraben free products due to an allergy, in which case she can't really fudge it and ignore the paraben in her blush. Luckily, parabens are getting easier to avoid, even when you're shopping at the drugstore!

I've spent a few days looking for products that I recommend and building a makeup kit full of paraben free products. I looked primarily at drugstore products (as a teen I would have had to save for quite a while to shop at Sephora instead of CVS), and I looked at ingredient lists on manufacturer websites, CVS, Walgreen's,, etc. I've found some higher price alternatives that are paraben free, and while they're not in the graphic I've listed those below.

This is an epic long post (with an even bigger collage), so read more after the jump!

Paraben Free Drugstore Makeup Kit via

BB Cream or Foundation
Here's where I admit that I only looked at BB Creams, not foundations. BB Creams are considered skincare usually, so they're more likely to be paraben free and there's more than enough coverage for almost everyone.

1. Maybelline Dream Fresh BB 8-In-1 Beauty Balm Skin Perfector: This is one of my favorite BB Creams to recommend, and there's a new version of it (Maybelline Dream Pure BB Cream), which I haven't tried yet. It has 2% Salicylic Acid to fight blemishes (which isn't pregnancy friendly, hence my lack of testing) and there are some great oil absorbing ingredients as well.

2. Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream: Everyone loves this one. I fully admit I haven't used it, it doesn't match my skintone.

3. Pond's Luminous Finish BB+ Cream: This is the BB Cream I use pretty much every day.

More Expensive Options: Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream, Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream, Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 35

Concealers that are paraben free seem to be really, really hard to find. These were the only 2 drugstore options I was able to find.

4. CoverGirl TruBlend FixStick Concealer
5. Revlon ColorStay Concealer

More Expensive: Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Waterproof Concealer

6. Revlon PhotoReady PhotoReady Powder
7. Maybelline Dream Wonder Face Powder

Also Works: ELF Studio High Definition Powder

More Expensive: Smashbox HALO Hydrating Perfecting Powder, NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder, Urban Decay Naked Skin Ultra Definition Loose Finishing Powder

This looks like an ode to Maybelline! I was impressed that so many of their blushes were paraben free, while so many brands I checked had parabens in everything.

8. Maybelline Master Glaze by FaceStudio Glisten Blush Stick
9. Maybelline Master Hi-Light by FaceStudio Blush
10. Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush

11. Milani Illuminating Face Powder: I like that this product can be used as an illuminator or as a blush, just by changing the size of your brush.

Also works: Revlon PhotoReady Cream Blush

More Expensive: Too Faced Sweethearts Perfect Flush Blush, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush, Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush

Eye Shadow Primer
If you're going to wear shadow, I'm of the opinion that a primer underneath is an absolute must! It will keep your shadow in place much longer and the colors will be more vibrant.

12. Wet n Wild Fergie Eyeshadow Primer is one that I hear a lot about, but I haven't tried it myself (check out Vampy Varnish's review of Fergie Shadow Primer), though note that it is a pink shimmer, not a neutral/invisible primer.

e.l.f. Eyelid Primer and e.l.f. Natural Mineral Eyeshadow Primer are frequently talked about and I know a lot of people have luck with them, so I've mentioned them here (their $1 price tag is pretty appealing), but I haven't had a lot of luck with them. I have used Prestige Primed & Ready Eye Primer with decent results.

13. NYX Eye Shadow Base: This is my favorite drugstore primer, all 3 shades are paraben free. It covers up any visible blood vessels while it primes.

More expensive options: Too Faced Shadow Insurance (original)

Eye Shadow
I'm a pretty big snob when it comes to eye shadows. There are only a few drugstore formulations that I think are worthwhile. Unfortunately, most of them (Wet'n Wild, L'Oreal and CoverGirl) seem to have parabens. Note that parabens are sometimes in individual shades, not necessarily all shades. So, if one palette is ok, it might not translate over to the rest of the brand. I was only able to find 2 options for drugstore eye shadows, though all of the shades of the Revlon Colorstay were fine.

14. Maybelline Expert Wear Eyeshadow Palette, Nudes
15. Revlon ColorStay 16 Hour Eye Shadow

More expensive options: My favorite formulations from more expensive brands are from Too Faced, Urban Decay and Stila. These ones are fine: Too Faced Country Nashville Nudes Palette, Too Faced Boudoir Eyes Palette, Too Faced Natural Eyes Palette, Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette, Naked2 Palette and Naked3 Palette (not Naked), Stila In the Moment, In The Garden, Eye Shadow Trios, In the Know, In The Light

Eye Liner
Maybelline EyeStudio Master Smoky Mechanical Eyeshadow Pencil
Rimmel Scandal Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner

Also Works: Maybelline Master Kajal, Maybelline EyeStudio Master Drama Cream Pencil Eyeliner, L'Oreal Paris Infallible Gel Lacquer Liner, L'Oreal Paris Infallible Never Fail Eyeliner

Bigger Budget Options: Stila Smudge Stick, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil, All Nighter Eyeliner, Ink For Eyes, Too Faced Perfect Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner

Maybelline Volum' Express The Rocket Washable Mascara
L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Power Volume 24H Waterproof Mascara

More Options: Maybelline Volum' Express The Falsies Spoon Brush Washable Mascara, L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Washable Mascara, L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Excess Mascara, Maybelline The Colossal Volum' Express Mascara

More Expensive Option: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, this is my go-to mascara! Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara

There seem to be a lot of options for lips. I favor tinted balms and glossy stains for little bit of long lasting color that you can keep in a pocket and apply on the go.

20. Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter
21. Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm
22. L'Oreal Paris Colour Riche Caresse Wet Shine Stain

Also Options: Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain, L'Oreal Paris Colour Riche LeGloss Lip Gloss, L'Oreal Paris Colour Riche Extraordinaire Liquid Lipstick, L'Oreal Paris Colour Riche Le Balm

Expensive Options: YSL Vernis À Lèvres Glossy Stain, Tarte LipSurgence Matte Lip Tint, Urban Decay Naked Ultra Nourishing Lipgloss

I've gone over tools some in the past, but I recommend the eye brushes in my Makeup 101 post (yeah for ELF!), a blush brush and a powder blush. I like to use a slightly damp BeautyBlender sponge to blend my BB Cream and Concealer (pat, don't rub), and you'll need a good eyelash curler (Tweezerman is my fave). The BeautyBlender really is much better than all of the dupes in my opinion, but there are some great brushes available for less! I like Real Techniques, ELF and the special MAC and Bobbi Brown sets that you can buy during the Nordies sale (going on now!) or at the holidays.

Also: Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets These are amazing. I buy them at Target, they're cheaper there than anywhere else for some reason. They don't leave powder on your face like other blotting sheets. Stock up!

Have I forgotten anything? If you have any paraben free products that you would like to recommend, let everyone know in the comments!

Product Sent for Review Affiliate Links Bought It Myself


  1. Sweet! I've been looking for a BB Cream and heard so many great reviews on Ponds. Glad you use them! Now I'm not afraid to try it! I'm not much of a lipstick person so I would rather try Maybelline Lip Balm. Thanks for these!

  2. I'm surprised you were able to find so many paraben free products! I would love to see the drugstore carry more natural makeup options, myself.

  3. I only looked at products that I've tried and recommended (except for the Garnier BB that everyone loves, it doesn't work for me but I had a suspicion it would be paraben free). Maybelline especially seemed to have a lot of options, I bet there are quite a few more. I wonder about the Flower line at Walmart, I couldn't find any ingredients listed online, but I bet if I stood there at my local store and looked there would be a lot of options too!

  4. Thank you! Such an extensive list at a lot of different price points. I am a huge fan of Jane Iredale blotting papers, a great product for summer, it keeps me looking polished and presentable on the go and comes with a lovely case too. Wonderful. Paraben free too! Thanks again for all the information in one post!

  5. If Target is an option, they carry at least two paraben free makeup lines, Pacifica and Botanics. I like the Botanics shine away foundation. Burt's Bees has a ton of lip colors; my personal favorite is the lip shimmer in rhubarb. Shea Moisture just launched a cosmetic line available in some Targets, too.

  6. Parabens-free products aren't that easy to find!

    Do you have a review of Vain Pursuits? I'd love to read what you have to say... my girlfriends are all talking about it.

  7. thank you so much!

  8. Wow! You did a good job finding some winners!

  9. I just want to say thank you so much for providing such an extensive list with so many different price points. This is such a great starting point for anyone looking into paraben-free cosmetics who feels overwhelmed at the prospect of researching every single product. Thanks again! :) x

  10. The balm makeup is paraban free and great quality, prices are also not that expensive (at least here where I live)

  11. This post was really to highlight drugstore available products, but you're right, a lot of their products are Paraben Free. I don't usually feature that brand, I was at a trade show in Paris and their reps (including the dad of the woman that started the brand) were horrible, mean people. I won't use them any more.

  12. I'm 14 years old, and I would like to start with makeup but I really only wear mascara as of now. I am really interested in starting to wear more, but I really have no clue where I should start... Any way you could help me and maybe do a "beginners makeup" or something?! I live near a target, CVS and stuff, and a lot of other stores, a mall, etc. I really appreciate you helping me out!!! Thanks!:)))

  13. Thank you so much for this post. I have been wanting to get healthier makeups but have been afraid of the cost to do so. I now am paraben free as far as beauty products! Thank you. I also noticed while looking at the ingredient lists of many paraben free products that there are still many items that have words that I don't know what they are. I have tried completely natural products in the past and been turned off by the weird textures and smells and how my skin and hair felt stripped afterwards. What would you say the next step is closer to clean and natural, above just taking out parabens? I have a friend who sells products that she says are natural enough that my children could eat them and not be harmed at all, but they cost more than I am willing to spend.

  14. It's hard to say really. The majority of the ingredients that you can't pronounce really are ingredients that have been taken from natural sources in many cases. I'm of the opinion that simply not being able to pronounce something doesn't make it scary or dangerous. If you really wanted to remove more ingredients, I guess you could also look for organic or vegan products?

  15. BB Creams are the new thing, good coverage (Maybelline one is the only one I tried.). I love this post, thank so much!!!

  16. I know it's more expensive, but Sephora brand is almost always paraben free and so THE BALM which is in some drugstores.

  17. Not sure if this thread is still active but the Disney Princess Books are paraben free and can be found in Walgreens its be E.L.F. they come with eyeshadows, liners, blush, and gloss.

  18. Since the Ponds BB cream has been discontinued, I was wondering what BB cream you now use regularly.

    1. I have a bunch of them that I rotate through. The one I reach for most often is YSL Top Secret BB Cream. If I want a little more coverage, I'll grab one of the IT Cosmetics BB or CC Cream. A good drugstore option is the Maybelline Dream Fresh, though it is just an "ok" and not great match for my skin tone, so I don't use it often.


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