So, you’ve heard everyone and their mother talking about “clean” beauty, but you have no idea where to start. From Instagram-worthy skincare routines, to clean beauty roundups in your favorite magazines, the sheer amount of new beauty products hitting the market every week can make the switch daunting. Which products are hits, and which ones are total misses? Can you *really* find a clean dupe for that product you’ve been loving for the past 10 years? The answer? Yes, but it often takes a lot of trial and error to find the good things.
I’ve done the dirty work for you and I’ve tested hundreds of clean beauty products over the years. In this post, I’ll be rounding up the top 10 clean beauty swaps you should make – now – along with a few of my favorite products in each category to show you how simple and easy making the switch to clean beauty can be!
If you are new to clean beauty and are looking for an easy place to start, then look no further than your local deodorant aisle. So many grocery stores, and even Target, have recently hopped on the clean deodorant trend, offering a variety of different products that are free from ingredients such as aluminum, parabens, phthalates, and artificial colors (to name a few). Not only are synthetic ingredients not the best for our bodies, but when used in deodorant, these ingredients have been linked to an increase in estrogen production and hormone disruption.
Luckily, more and more brands are turning onto the clean beauty trend, which makes swapping out your conventional deodorant for a clean one almost effortless!
One of the non-toxic deodorants that I love is the Kosas Chemistry AHA Serum Deodorant. It’s a roll-on, that actually works so well, and it doesn’t stain my clothes and works all day long! It comes in a fragrance-free version and a “Serene Clean” scent, and in this case, I actually do like the scented one, and that’s because it’s not overpowering at all! It’s light, smells fresh, keeps me dry and stink free!
My other go-to, is from a new-ish, small brand called Hume Supernatural. This non-toxic deodorant comes in three scents – unscented, desert bloom, and amber wood. One of the reasons why this particular deodorant is so good, is because it’s baking soda free. Many people discover that they have a sensitivity to baking soda when making the switch to non-toxic deodorant, causing itchy and burning skin. In addition, Hume goes the extra mile to keep the skin microbiome in a healthy balance by using probiotic-derived deodorizers. My personal favorite is the unscented version. If you go with either scented version, note that when you first open the cap, it might seem strong. But softens once you apply it!
The thing with deodorants to keep in mind, is that everyone is different. You may have to go through many different brands to find the right product for you – that’s just how it is! For my unique DNA, I’ve tested probably 30 non-toxic brands over the last few years, and these two are the ones that work best for me.
If you struggle with your skin being too oily, then oil cleaning may seem like a no-go. But despite being counterintuitive, oil cleansing is one of the best methods of cleansing your skin and helping to reduce blackheads, acne, and excess oils.
Oil cleansing works by nourishing your skin’s microbiome. By absorbing into the skin naturally (as opposed to a conventional cleanser which may sit on your skin), it helps to lift out impurities, eliminate dead skin cells, and generate a smoother complexion.
I have two personal favorites. One is the Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm. This is an oil-based balm that I’ve been using for about 2 years now, and I still love it as much today as I did on day 1! You rub it all over you dry, make-up covered face and rub it in. It sounds counterintuitive, I know! Then you take a warm, damp wash cloth and wipe it all off. The result? A makeup-free, clean face, that’s moist and plump and not dehydrated at all!
My second personal favorite is the Skinfix Barrier + Foaming Oil Cleanser. This product is a game changer, and I use it on days when I don’t feel like using the Farmacy balm, because sometimes you just want a traditional cleanser, you know? However, this is no ordinary cleanser. This one has evened out my skin tone and leaves my skin feeling super plump and hydrated after every wash. It’s a must!
Did you know that even face / sheet masks can include ingredients that can harm our skin? It’s unfortunate, but even products that are marketed to help heal, hydrate, and nourish our skin can actually be doing the opposite. Pay attention to the ingredient labels and not just words on the package that say “natural” or “pure.” Those terms aren’t regulated, so it’s important to do your research.
The good news is, one of the best face masks you can use on your skin is likely sitting in your pantry. Honey, particularly manuka honey, is one of the best remedies for creating that hydrated, nourished, glowing skin right from your kitchen. I just slather a thin layer of Manuka honey on clean skin, about 2-3 times each week, and let it sit on my face for about 20 minutes, then use a warm, damp towel to wipe it off.
These days I am loving Comvita’s UMF Certified Manuka Honey, which is ethically produced and sourced in New Zealand. They make the highest quality Manuka honey, and because of that, not only is it amazing for the face, it’s also super powerful for the healing of skin conditions such as acne, rashes, and even small wounds.
If a honey mask isn’t your thing, my second obsession is the Summer Fridays R + R Mask. Yes, it’s $52, but it lasts forever, and it’s absolutely amazing! It doubles as an exfoliator and a mask, leaving the skin smooth and hydrated. And it’s appropriate for all skin types. I’ve been using this for years now!
Looking for a more affordable mask that works wonders? Look no further than the Cocokind Resurfacing Sleep Mask. I use this mask once a week, and the best part is that it works its magic overnight, while you sleep. Say hello to skin as soft as a baby’s butt when you wake up in the morning!
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t want those long, voluptuous lashes we see on Instagram. But those Insta-worthy lashes can come at a cost. Many conventional mascaras contain ingredients that are not great for us, such as thimerosal (a mercury-derivative) or even formaldehyde. Gross.
Thankfully, finding a clean mascara swap isn’t too hard, and a trip into Sephora can make this process even easier. Their clean beauty labels are a great way to identify which brands avoid ingredients like the ones listed above. One brand that is new to the Sephora clean beauty lineup, but is making a big impact, is Saie. Their non-toxic mascara is full of beeswax and shea butter, and helps to give that fluttery lash-look.
The three other non-toxic mascaras worth checking out are Kosas The Big Clean Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara (it’s SO good), and Ilia Limitless Lash Lengthening Mascara, and Wander Beauty Mile High Club Mascara (this one is a little hard to get off, BUT is pretty much waterproof, which is nice).
Just like mascara, many lipsticks can be concealing ingredients that actually dry out our lips, such as heavy-metals like aluminum and lead. And since the unfortunate truth is that many of us end up unintentionally consuming a small amount of whatever we put on our lips (including lipstick)…. Well, let’s just say that we aren’t doing our endocrine system any favors.
So, it’s best to make sure that whatever we are putting on our lips is something that we would be okay consuming in small doses. Brands like Ilia help make this swap incredibly easy. Not only are their lipsticks full of hydrating oils that we can find in some foods, but they offer a wide range of colors, ensuring that you can still get that perfect red lip without the side effects.
My most favorite non-toxic lip gloss is the Tower 28 Beauty Shineon Milky Lip Jelly Gloss in Oat. It’s shiny without being overkill, adds just a hint of natural color, and unlike many other non-toxic lip glosses, this one isn’t sticky. No one likes sticky.
When people think of clean beauty, most of the time, shampoo (and conditioner!) are one of the last swaps on their mind. However, like with most beauty products (unfortunately), your hair care products can also be harboring ingredients that can strip your hair and hinder its growth- such as parabens, phthalates, and even formaldehyde.
While salon-recommended clean shampoos & conditioners can often be costly, I’ve been loving the entire Olaplex hair care line! I always get that salon-hair feeling without the stripping ingredients or the high price tag. Yes, the shampoo and conditioner are each $28, which might sound crazy, but they are super concentrated, so a little goes a long way. It’s well worth it!
And if you need a little extra conditioning love, I am loving the Dae Cactus Flower Leave-In Conditioner. The ends of my hair are always so dry, so this product is lightweight and adds so much nourishment!
Keeping on the shampoo kick, your favorite dry shampoo can also be harboring chemicals and powders that weaken the hair follicle and strip your hair of necessary oils. While we don’t necessarily love an oily hair day, we do need some of our hair’s natural oil to keep our follicles healthy, hydrated, and smoothe.
When swapping out your dry shampoo, opt for one with minimal ingredients and a primary ingredient that you could find in your kitchen, such as tapioca starch, arrowroot powder, rice starch, or even cocoa powder for darker hair. Life In The Fast Lane Dry Shampoo is plant-based, and made with witch hazel, which alleviates scalp sensitivity, soothes the scalp, and protects against scalp damage. It also contains rice starch, which absorbs oil and sebum to give hair a lighter, cleaner appearance. And, it contains eucalyptus and lime fruit, which deodorizes and refreshes hair and scalp, while soothing scalp and supporting follicle health.
My other favorite is the Briogeo Scalp Revival Dry Shampoo, made with charcoal and biotin, which also has the added benefit of the biotin, to keep hair healthy and strong.
Ok, I know there are a million and one non-toxic moisturizers and serums on the market these days, and I am 100% sure that there are good ones. But, I want to take this opportunity to tell you that for the past 4-5 years, I have replaced ALL moisturizers and serums with ONE product: Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum. This single product has completely changed my life and I recommend it to everyone. It is pricey; yes. But, it lasts at least 6-8 months, so it pays for itself. And in fact, it’s replaced my eye cream too.
It’s an infusion of twenty-two active organic botanicals mixed with powerful essential oils. Phytonutrients and minerals help balance skin; phytoceramides, nourishing fatty acids, and antioxidants stimulate and brighten dull complexions. It sinks into the skin perfectly, leaving it super smooth and glowy! It’s must!
This product is so good, the founder told me that you don’t even need an eye cream, you simply apply some of the serum to the under eye area. That said, I still love me a good, nourishing and thick eye cream before bed. It makes me happy! My favorite eye cream is the St. Jane Beauty Bright Repair CBD Eye Cream with 10% Vitamin C. This product feels extremely luxurious on, and it contains vitamin C, collagen, and CBD to target the look of dark circles and fine lines. I’m 40 years old, you guys, give me all the vitamin C, collagen and CBD!
Another product that might be causing more harm than good on our skin is our foundation. Many foundations, including tinted moisturizers and concealers, can be full of parabens and synthetic colors that can sit on our skin and clog our pores. When it comes to protecting and preserving our skin’s microbiome, we should aim to keep our ingredients as natural as possible.
Beauty Counter’s Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer hits the mark on this one, as it serves as both a moisturizer with a safe SPF, and has very natural pigment, making it a light foundation too! It comes in 6 different colors, and while that might not sound like many, they blend so well, I’m pretty sure you will find your perfect shade. I’ve been using this product for years.
Looking for a bronzy glow? Check out Kosas The Sun Show Moisturizing Baked Bronzer! I have this in both the Light and Medium colors, and I just love them! I apply to my cheek bones, as a contour, and on my neck/decolletage.
Finally, perhaps the most unexpected swap on the list: perfume. Yes, many conventional perfumes can be full of alcohols that can irritate and/or strip our skin, harsh chemicals, and synthetic fragrances. Fragrance companies aren’t required by law in the United States to disclose their ingredients, letting larger companies get away with using ingredients that are cheaper in cost, yet more harmful to consumers.
By Rosie Jane is helping to close this gap between perfume companies and consumers. Not only do they disclose all of their ingredients, but they also aim to use cleaner ingredients as well (such as cane-sugar derived alcohol and water as a base). Their wide range of scents ensure that there’s something for everyone. Plus, they last all day. Whenever I wear one of their perfumes, people will stop me on the street and ask what I’m wearing!
While it can seem daunting to swap out your conventional beauty products for cleaner picks, luckily, it’s easier now than ever before. Give my recommendations a try, I will never steer you wrong!
Let’s hope the clean beauty trend is here to stay, so we can stay looking (and smelling!) good while we take care of our bodies and our planet. Enjoy!