Thrive Causemetics Review: Luxury or Overpriced Beauty?

Thrive Causemetics Review: Luxury or Overpriced Beauty?

| |
| |

Thrive Causemetics is one of the most popular makeup and skincare brands, and is also a charitable organization that donates money to a number of women’s health charities, such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The brand describes itself as “Luxury Beauty that Gives Back.”

But are Thrive Causemetics products really more effective than cheaper brands, or are they just priced that way? Does the brand use any unhealthy additive ingredients? How do real users rate and describe the brand's products? And why was the company sued over its charitable claims?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in three of Thrive Causemetics’ best-selling products to give our take on whether or not they’re likely to be effective: Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara, Defying Gravity Eye Lifting Cream and Buildable Blur CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 40 (sunscreen).

We’ll also feature unsponsored customer reviews, and explain why Thrive Causemetics was sued over its charitable claims.

Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara Review

Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara ingredients

The ingredients in the Brynn color of Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara are shown above.

This product is meant to lengthen lashes and improve lash quality, creating the appearance of lash extensions although it's topical.

We cannot identify clinical studies suggesting that any of these ingredients increase eyelash length, nor does Thrive Causemetics cite any on its product page at the time of updating this article.

This mascara contains two inactive ingredients we recommend avoiding for health reasons, when used in combination.

Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative that has been shown to be toxic to human cells and irritating to the eye in a clinical trial published in the Experimental Eye Research journal.

Ethylhexylglycerin is another synthetic preservative, and although we consider this ingredient to be a much better option than phenoxyethanol, we still recommend avoiding use of synthetic preservatives around the eyes, as we discussed in our review of The Ordinary lash serum (another cosmetic product containing this ingredient).

Overall, we do not currently recommend Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions and do not consider the product likely to be effective.

A YouTube creator named Sydney Nicole has a review of this mascara that includes an unboxing, a product demonstration and her thoughts on whether or not the lash extensions are effective:

Defying Gravity Eye Lifting Cream Review

Thrive Causemetics Defying Gravity Eye Lifting Cream ingredients updated

The ingredients in Thrive Causemetics Defying Gravity Eye Lifting Cream are shown above.

The brand claims this product “lifts, tightens and brightens the look of skin…while delivering line-smoothing hydration.”

This cream contains a number of research-backed ingredients for moisturizing and anti-aging.

Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil was shown in a medical review on the cosmetic effects of plant oils to have a skin barrier repair and anti-aging effect.

Bidens pilosa extract was found in a 2015 clinical trial to have an anti-aging effect in human skin, and to stimulate collagen synthesis (the core structural protein in skin).

Caffeine is a skin-protective ingredient that’s clinically proven to reduce damage from UV rays, as we documented in our review of Vibriance Super C Serum.

Meadowfoam seed oil contains two derivatives clinically shown to reduce UV damage in facial skin.

Defying Gravity Eye Lifting Cream also contains some inactive ingredients we recommend avoiding.

Phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin are the synthetic preservatives we discussed in the previous section of this article.

Sodium hydroxide is a pH balancer that’s potentially a skin irritant according to medical research.

Chlorphenesin is another synthetic preservative that was shown to be toxic to human cells in the same study cited in the previous section on phenoxyethanol’s toxicity.

Overall, we consider this cream likely to be effective for anti-aging and the reduction of wrinkles given that it contains a number of research-backed ingredients.

We don’t currently recommend this product due to the inclusion of the inactive ingredients discussed above.

A YouTube creator named Kay Forbey reviewed this eye cream in a video reviewing many Thrive Causemetics products. We’ve timestamped the below video to start at the point where she’s reviewing this cream:

Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top anti-aging eye and facial serum.

It contains hyaluronic acid which was described as a "skin-rejuvenating biomedicine" in a medical review due to its ability to reduce wrinkles and signs of facial aging.

Thrive Causemetics Sunscreen Review

Thrive Causemetics sunscreen active ingredients

The best-selling sunscreen sold by Thrive Causemetics is called Buildable Blur CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 40.

Its active ingredients are shown above, and we take issue with two of them.

Homosalate is a chemical sunscreen ingredient shown in a medical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology to be cytotoxic (toxic to living cells), genotoxic (damaging to the genetic information in cells) and to accumulate in living ecosystems, which suggests it's harmful to the environment.

Octisalate is another chemical sunscreen ingredient that may cause allergic skin reactions in some individuals, as we documented in our Tula skincare review article.

We do not recommend "chemical" sunscreens, and instead recommend "physical" sunscreens that reflect UV rays from atop the skin surface.

YOUARESUNSHINE from ClearStem is our top sunscreen pick.

It's an SPF 50+ physical sunscreen that's free of ingredients we consider to be unhealthy, and it may even have anti-aging effects. This sunscreen contains green tea extract, which is clinically shown to moisturize the skin and reduce wrinkles.

A YouTube channel called "Skynfyx" has a video with a dermatologist describing the differences between physical and chemical sunscreen:

Why Was Thrive Causemetics Sued?

Thrive Causemetics gets good PR (which has monetary value) for its charitable efforts.

Certainly, any charitable giving is better than none, but we were surprised to find that Thrive Causemetics does not appear to have any public pledge of charitable giving based on revenue or profits, given how much of the company's branding references charitable work.

The brand’s How We Give page documents donations, including a recent $100,000 donation to the University of Louisville Breonna Taylor Memorial Scholarship Fund in Nursing.

But for a brand as large as Thrive Causemetics (sales estimated at $140.8 million in 2023 by ecommerceDB), these are still relatively small figures in our opinion. It would be great to see a commitment to donating a fixed percentage of revenue or profit, which we consider to be a more transparent way for brands that are positioning themselves as charitable to conduct themselves. 

According to Truth in Advertising, Thrive Causemetics was sued in 2018 for falsely representing that the brand donates a product to a woman in need for every product sold. The brand settled the lawsuit out of court. We consider this to be a red flag about the brand’s ethics, but does not necessarily prove any wrongdoing by Thrive Causemetics. 

Thrive Causemetics is certainly doing more than most brands in regard to charitable donations. We just like to see brands that use their charitable efforts for marketing be transparent about the percentage of revenue or profits donated.

Thrive Causemetics Pros and Cons

Here are the pros and cons of Thrive Causemetics in our opinion:


  • Highly effective anti-aging cream
  • Effective sunscreen formulation
  • More charitable than most cosmetic brands


  • Questionable additives in all reviewed products
  • Expensive
  • Sunscreen has questionable active ingredients
  • Lack of transparency with charitable giving
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


We do not recommend any of the Thrive Causemetics products that we reviewed, but we do consider two of them (Defying Gravity Eye Lifting Cream and Buildable Blur CC Cream sunscreen) likely to be effective.

There are no active ingredients in Thrive Causemetics' Liquid Lash Extensions that we can find research backing to support.

All three of the products we reviewed contain questionable additive ingredients that we recommend avoiding.

Thrive Causemetics products also seem to be more expensive per-ounce than most skincare brands that we’ve reviewed to date on Illuminate Health.

This company has a commitment to ongoing charitable giving, which is a good thing, but we’d like to see a transparent commitment to a percentage of revenue or profits donated per year, especially given how much of the brand’s marketing revolves around their charitable image.