Have you ever gotten a major breakout from a product meant to eliminate breakouts altogether? You convince yourself it’s normal and part of the ‘purging process.’ You reluctantly keep using it in the hope it will replenish your skin eventually. All the while, your skin gets redder and drier with each use. Finally, you give up, and the product gets buried in your bathroom drawer beneath other not-so-promising products.
In reality, this reaction should not be the norm. Instead of purging, your skin probably reacted to the toxic, unregulated ingredients within the mysterious liquid. Not so fun fact — the cosmetics industry isn’t regulated, at least not to the level it should be in the U.S. It’s actually one of the least regulated industries, and its policies under the Food and Drug Administration haven’t been updated since 1938. If you’ve already swapped out your liquid detergent for a non-toxic one, do your skin another favor by detoxifying your skincare routine. Here’s how to switch to clean beauty.
What is clean beauty?
Clean beauty is synonymous with non-toxic beauty. It is a term for cosmetics, skincare, and haircare that are free from harmful chemicals. These include pesky ingredients like parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances.
Clean beauty, on the other hand, is not outright synonymous with natural beauty. Natural beauty derives all its ingredients from nature and is always natural or organic. While clean beauty is free of harmful chemicals and ingredients, it is not always natural. Synthetic ingredients may be used.
How to make the initial swap
You don’t have to go overboard and throw out everything in your bathroom just yet. The most sustainable option here is to use what you have left or donate any unopened bottles to someone in need — though use your best judgment here on some of the harsher products.
For example, once your moisturizer is running low, upgrade it to a non-toxic, clean beauty alternative. Keep doing this until your bathroom is stocked with health and skin-friendly goodies. To practice sustainable living, clean out your empty containers and reuse or properly recycle them.
Check labels and avoid these dangerous ingredients
Some brands will try to trick with clever marketing (hello, greenwashing), but if they use these ingredients, toss them to the side:
- Fragrances: You’ll see this written as fragrance, parfum, or perfume. This is a secret way to enclose hundreds, maybe even thousands, of ingredients into one simple word. Many of these are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors toxic to male and female reproductive systems, according to the EWG.
- Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS): This is a foaming agent that is commonly found in face wash, shampoos, and even toothpaste. It is a known skin irritant and is often contaminated with potent carcinogens, nitrosamines, and 1,4-Dioxane.
- Parabens: This endocrine disruptor can be found in the vast majority of all beauty and skincare products sold in the U.S. This ingredient can cause skin cancer and reproductive health. It’s a big one to avoid, so brands will proudly display it when their product is paraben free. Note: Just because it’s paraben-free doesn’t mean it is clean beauty. Always read the label or research before purchasing.
- Heavy metals: No list would be complete without mentioning the most widely known toxins. Lead, mercury, arsenic, and other heavy metals are known neurotoxins linked to learning disabilities, fertility issues, disrupted hormones, and respiratory issues. In particular, mercury can also cause kidney damage, skin rashes and discoloration, and disrupt the skin’s resistance to infections.
Where to look for products
Fortunately, we’re slowly slipping into a world where clean beauty will become the norm. Your local Ulta Beauty or Sephora store will display shelf labels that indicate whether a product is deemed clean beauty, vegan, natural, and so forth. When in doubt, conduct your own research or ask a sales associate.
These stores are just a starting point when it comes to buying clean beauty. Vendors on Etsy and companies such as Well People and Ilia (available at Sephora too) are also game-changers for non-toxic, organic beauty supplies.
5 products to switch for clean beauty
To help you switch to clean beauty, here are five categories you can easily swap out. Get ready to amplify your skincare routine!
If you didn’t already know, you should be wearing sunscreen daily to prevent skin cancer and premature aging. That’s why it’s one product you should swap for beauty clean immediately. Unfortunately, most store-brand sunscreens are toxic to both humans and marine life. The key ingredients to avoid here are Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. Instead, look for products that use non-nano zinc oxide as the active ingredient.
Let’s stop ingesting some of these dirty ingredients — clean, natural lip products are the way to go! Burt’s Bees is a safe option available in stores around the globe. They don’t only sell lip balm but tints and lipsticks, too. Otherwise, check out Facetheory or any of the other clean beauty brands we’ve mentioned.
It seems everyone is switching to aluminum-free deodorant these days and we’re thrilled! Aluminum-based deodorants may increase the risk of breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. Plus, they block your pores and disrupt your natural microbiome, while natural deodorant allows your armpits to breathe but still eliminate odor.
Let's stop ingesting some of these dirty ingredients — clean, natural lip products are the way to go! Burt’s Bees is a safe option available in stores around the globe. They don’t only sell lip balm but tints and lipsticks, too. Otherwise, check out Facetheory, Merit, or any of the other clean beauty brands we’ve mentioned.
Shampoo and conditioner
Reinvent your entire shower session! Avoid ingredients like sulfates, silicones, phthalate, and parabens when it comes to shampoo and conditioner. We also recommend upgrading your soap while you’re at it. Your skin is your largest organ, after all!
Looking for more ways to detoxify your life? Check out our guide to an eco-friendly laundry room.