The Lipstick That Started It All
Ilia Beauty was my “aha” moment. It was my first foray into green beauty and, to be honest, blew my mind. The color payoff and performance were just as good as the conventional products I had been using. Dare I say even better: they kept my lips feeling soft and hydrated, whereas my MAC and Nars lipsticks used to dry out my lips. It made me realize that it was possible to create a great product with safer ingredients that were mostly natural and organically derived.
Improving on Tinted Chapstick
Ilia Beauty was the brain child of Sasha Plavsic, who set out to recreate a much-loved tinted Chapstick with ingredients that were safer and actually nourished the lips long-term. Sasha was determined to use natural and organic ingredients to the extent possible, with on-trend shades that offered greater variety than the standard “cherry” stain.
Ilia first launched with six Tinted Lip Conditioners (i.e., tinted lip balms) in Vancouver, Canada, in 2011. Sasha had hoped to launch twelve shades, but her budget only allowed her to launch six. With a limited range to work with, she needed to find the most wearable shades in each color category. So she logged countless hours with makeup artists at makeup counters, asking questions like “what’s your best selling nude? And pink? Orange? Coral? Red? Berry?”, until she had narrowed down the shades she wanted to create for her first collection. The result was six Tinted Lip Conditioners in shades that pretty much everyone can wear and love.
Me wearing Tinted Lip Conditioner in Shell Shock
Why I Love the Ingredients
- Ilia uses 75% to 90% organic and natural ingredients - a higher percentage than most green beauty brands.
- The brand is refreshingly transparent about its ingredients: “We don’t claim to be 100% organic or natural but we do our best to get as close to that ideal as possible. In the end, the product has to perform and feel good to use.”
- The bulk of the ingredients consist of organic oils (castor, sunflower, sesame, rosehip, olive, jasmine and vanilla) butters (cocoa and shea) and waxes (beeswax and candelilla), which is why the lip products are so nourishing.
- Sasha explains that, “waxes help the product stay on the skin surface. Oils penetrate and nourish - sesame seed, papaya and rosehip - those three oils together are amazing. They go really deep beneath the skin’s surface and help the cells regenerate at a faster rate and will heal your lips.”
Ilia's Lip Glosses
Why I Love the Formula
- The nudes and lighter pinks are softly flattering and have a casual, insouciant cool. No other green beauty line has this many options of “your lips, but better” shades.
- The brighter pinks and deep reds are equally flattering, as are the oranges, corals and berry shades.
- The products have long wear and a creamy, no drag, application.
- Ilia’s Lipstick Crayons won the Tatler Beauty Award for “Best Lipliner” in 2014.
- The Tinted Lip Conditioners are a busy woman’s dream. One swipe gives a hint of color with lasting moisture and subtle dewiness. The color is buildable, so you can layer it on for more opaque and intense color.
- Conveniently housed in a lipstick tube instead of a pot or tin. Thank you Ilia for not making me use my finger or fumble in my purse for a lip brush to apply your lip balm (as much as I love you rms beauty…).
Tinted Lip Conditioner in Nobody's Baby
My Current Faves
- Tinted Lip Conditioner in Shell Shock: a sheer pinkish coral that’s perfect for summer’s lighter makeup looks.
- Lipstick Crayon in Come Undone: a flattering nude for when you want the focus to be on your eyes.
- Lipstick Crayon in Call Me: a fun cool pink for those days you want to be really girly.
- Lipstick in Wild Child: a light and bright red for when I want my lips to enter the room first.
- Lip Gloss in Love Buzz: a cool, multi-dimensional pink that makes me want to kiss my own lips. (Is that weird?)
Me in red (with a friend) wearing Lipstick in Wild Child
Sleek and Sustainable Packaging
The quality of the product is mirrored in its packaging. Sasha’s background is in branding and she was admittedly “obsessed with the packaging”. And it shows. This is no crunchy granola branding: it’s minimalist, of-the-moment and highly covetable. All of the cream lip products are housed in a sleek recycled aluminum case. The boxes are made of 100% recycled paper and printed using vegetable-based dyes.
Since this first collection, Ilia Beauty has expanded to include lipsticks, lip crayons, lip glosses, multi-use sticks, eye makeup, foundations, concealers, face balms and powders. Kudos to Ilia for refusing to sell in countries that test cosmetics on animals. I can’t possibly love this brand more. The fact that it all started in my husband’s home town of Vancouver is just a bonus.