On the natural-makeup continuum between “I made this in my kitchen” (often lacking scientific know-how) and “Gwyneth would love this” (often expensive) is Burt’s Bees new colour cosmetics line. Three years in development—starting from scratch was more efficient than the initial plan to purchase and reformulate an existing brand—the 38-piece core collection is crafted without parabens, phthalates, petrolatum, talc or synthetic fragrance. “We set the bar high,” says Abena Antwi, lead innovation scientist for the brand, about formulation. “We looked at traditional brands, including prestige, as benchmarks for feel, texture, colour and performance.”

The 98.9-percent-natural foundation relies on xanthan gum for the viscosity conventionally provided by carbomers (artificial thickeners) and sugar-cane squalane and meadowfoam-seed oil for the silkiness that silicone would deliver. In the 100-percent-natural pressed-powder foundation, eyeshadow and blush, bamboo powder creates a soft-focus effect and dehydrated honey boosts moisture levels. “When we were developing this line, it wasn’t just about colour for skin,” says Antwi. “It’s colour with benefits.”


Burt’s Bees Eyeshadow Palette in Blooming Desert ($15), Blush in Shy Pink ($15) 


This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.