The Ultimate Guide to Clean Beauty Products
Clean beauty products are becoming more and more popular every day…and it’s easy to see why.
Not only do they provide most — if not all — the benefits of their more toxic counterparts, but they also make #momlife So. Much. Easier.
By reducing the number of products you have to use. By making your skin look younger and more vibrant without all the fuss. By making you like you got a full 8 hours of sleep without just covering it all up with fancy chemicals.
But, most importantly, by drastically cutting back on how long it takes us to get ready.
Because I don’t have an hour to get ready every day. I’m lucky if I get 5 minutes alone. And I’m sure you can relate to that.
And I can walk out the door now with only running a brush through my hair most days because my skin looks amazing. And it’s all thanks to the clean beauty products I keep in my regular rotation.
So today I want to let you know what products I’m currently using to show up looking fresh-faced and refreshed every single day, as well as some other clean beauty products that I’m excited to try out along with you!
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What Are Clean Beauty Products?
Before we dive in, though, I want to clarify the different terms companies can use to market their products…and which ones you should pay attention to.
Clean Beauty Products
Clean beauty products can be one of two things, depending on who you’re talking to.
For the vast majority, their understanding is that a clean beauty product will contain no toxic chemicals. In other words, it’s made from all-natural ingredients.
And there are plenty of companies that make their clean beauty products with this standard in mind.
But, in the beauty world, a clean beauty product typically means that it’s free from any toxins or questionable ingredients like parabens and sulfates.
This doesn’t mean that it’s free of synthetic ingredients…only the dangerous ones.
Because something like Hyaluronic Acid has been proven to be completely safe, but it’s still a synthetic ingredient.
So the first thing you need to decide when going clean is how far you want to go.
Do you want to remove all the chemicals? Or just the toxic ones?
For example, I love Kate Somerville products, and they’re all safe. There are none of the dangerous chemicals that I’m going to list for you here in a second. But they do have some synthetic ingredients.
Because of that, I don’t consider them clean products.
So, for the sake of this article, I’m only going to list clean beauty products that are free of any chemicals. But start checking the labels of the products you have in your vanity and decide for yourself where you want that “clean” line to be.
Non-Toxic Beauty Products
Non-toxic beauty products are similar to clean products, then, in the sense that no toxic chemicals can be found on the ingredient list.
Just keep in mind that non-toxic beauty products are concerned with the toxic ingredients that affect the human body — like phthalates, coal tar, and formaldehyde — not the ingredients or packaging that affect the environment.
Vegan Beauty Products
A vegan beauty product is a product that is made without any animal-derived ingredients, such as honey, beeswax, and lanolin, which are common in a lot of beauty products. And, since clean products remove the toxic chemicals, they’re typically replaced with animal-derived ingredients unless it’s also a vegan beauty product.
So it’s up to you to decide whether you want a clean beauty product or a clean, vegan beauty product.
And a lot of people automatically think that vegan products are clean, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Yes, most companies that create vegan products also care about toxins and the environment, so they’re usually clean, green, and cruelty-free, as well.
But the only standard to be vegan is the absence of animal-derived ingredients. So, if a product is made out of a bunch of toxic ingredients, but is free of any animal-derived ingredients, it’s technically still vegan.
So you always want to make sure you read the label.
Cruelty-Free Beauty Products
Cruelty-free beauty products, then, means that none of the products were tested on animals.
And again, a cruelty-free beauty brand may also be vegan, clean, green, or even organic.
But all that cruelty-free means is that they didn’t test anything on any animals, so again, check those labels.
Natural Beauty Products
Now, natural beauty products can be a little more confusing. Primarily because the term “natural beauty” isn’t regulated in any way.
Generally, a natural beauty product means that it was created out of products found in nature.
But, a product that only contains 1 or 2 natural products could legally be marketed as a natural beauty product and still contain toxic chemicals.
Also, people typically think that something marked as a natural beauty product is also a clean beauty product, but there’s again a lot of grey area here.
So it’s always best to read the label for yourself to see whether it’s clean, vegan, cruelty-free, green, or whatever else you’re looking for.
Organic Beauty Product
Organic beauty products are also a little more difficult to understand.
Because first of all, the USDA only certifies agriculture. So, for a product to be certified organic by the USDA, it has to be made from organic agricultural products.
So theoretically, an organic beauty product would be made from USDA certified organic ingredients.
But there are private companies that give their own organic stamp based on their own internal standards.
So it’s always best to do your research, see what their standards are, and what ingredients they use in their products.
Green Beauty Products
And finally, green beauty products are more concerned about the impact the product has on the environment than the ingredients themselves.
So this comes down to the production waste, packaging, and how the products affect the natural habitats they’ll be used in (for example, a sunscreen that doesn’t hurt the reef).
But again, there’s going to be some crossover because a company that is concerned about saving the environment will likely be concerned about the toxins we’re putting in (or on) our bodies, too. So, most green companies will also sell clean beauty products.
Toxic Chemicals to Avoid
So as you can see, a lot of these labels can be used interchangeably or without much oversight, so it’s always good to check the labels for yourself.
But where to start? Well, it depends on where you live.
Europe has banned around 1,400 chemicals from use, which means that you won’t see any toxic chemicals in products on the shelves in their stores. You shouldn’t technically be able to order anything to be delivered to an area where those ingredients are banned, either, but we all know how the internet works.
On the other hand, the United States has only banned 11. So what we can get over here is a lot less restricted, meaning we need to do more research on our end. (And the chemicals they have banned aren’t even on the list I’m giving you below…they’re common sense chemicals that nobody should come into contact with in their day-to-day lives. So I’m omitting them from the list for the sole reason that you’re likely to never see them on a beauty product label anyway.)
Here’s a list of ingredients you should look for on beauty product labels. Any of these chemicals should be a red flag and an indication that the product isn’t clean or toxin-free:
- Synthetic Fragrances
- Aluminum Compounds
- Propylene Glycol
- Chemical Filters
- Mineral Oil
- Triclosan or Triclocarban
- Artificial Color
My Clean Beauty Product Picks
Now I want to share some of my personal favorites with you. These are all clean beauty products that I use every day and absolutely love.
Just keep in mind that this list is likely to change. I absolutely love discovering new products in beauty boxes, so I do switch out my regular products from time to time when I find something new.
Clean Face Wash: Intelligent Nutrients Refining Micro Polish
The Intelligent Nutrients Refining Micro Polish is one of the best face washes I’ve ever used.
Certified organic, vegan, and completely toxin-free, it leaves my skin soooo smooth, it evens my complexion, and it leaves my face glowing.
It’s gentle enough to use 3-4 times a week. But, since it does exfoliate with plant-based jojoba beads, make sure you don’t use it on any active breakouts.
I absolutely love my Billie Razor subscription. I get razors shipped to me every month. They cost a lot less than the ones I used to get at Target. They work better and last longer.
The best part? All of their products have top ratings by the Environment Working Group (EWG), meaning they’re as safe as they can get.
Body Oil: New York Biology Anti-Cellulite Massage Oil
For some quick skin nourishment, I always go for the New York Biology Anti-Cellulite Massage Oil.
It definitely makes my skin firmer, smells amazing, and keeps my skin super hydrated without feeling sticky.
Skin Serum: Clean Skin Club Vitamin C Brightening Booster
My top clean beauty pick for a skin serum that actually works is the Clean Skin Club Vitamin C Brightening Booster.
A mix of pineapple, watermelon, and green tea extracts provides powerful anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Most days this serum alone gives me enough moisture that I don’t need anything else.
Plus, it smells amazing!
Moisturizer: Pure Heals Propolis 80 Sleeping Mask
My go-to clean beauty night moisturizer is currently the Pure Heals Propolis 80 Sleeping Mask.
On the days that my skin is extra dry (hello winter skin), I can use this in the morning, too.
At first, I thought this would be way too heavy to wear during the day, but it really isn’t. I just use a little less in the morning after I wash my face and I’m literally glowing all day long.
But it heals inflammation and hydrates your skin like crazy…without leaving a sticky or oily residue. The propolis extract actually helps balance the natural oils that your skin produces.
Since I started using this regularly, my skin just looks so much better, meaning I can walk out the door without needing any makeup (most days…let’s be real #momlife can be rough and sleep is also a factor there).
My favorite clean deodorant is Lume.
Okay, I have to admit…the Lume Facebook ads are what drew me in. They’re absolutely hilarious.
But the product itself is definitely worth all the hype.
I was super scared to switch to a natural deodorant for the longest time because I thought they either wouldn’t work (ew) or would give me a horrible rash (ow).
But Lume actually works better than the brand I had been using for years.
Created by an OBGYN, Lume works with your body’s chemistry to remove the bacteria that cause bad smells in the first place. It’s also safe to use anywhere on your body that needs a quick refresh.
Now that I’ve been using it for a while, I don’t have to use it as often as the drug store brands because that bacteria is gone.
I absolutely love it.
Hair Dye: Overtone
And finally, what would be a list of my fav clean beauty products without my favorite clean hair dye company, Overtone?
Yes, I like to dye my hair random colors. And Overtone lets me do that without having to bleach it at first. I’m super low maintenance and would never keep up with the roots if I started permanently dying my hair again. So yeah, I’m embracing those grays 🤷♀️
But Overtone uses all-natural ingredients, so whenever I do feel like changing it up, I can do it safely…minus all the toxic chemicals you’ll usually see in hair dye.
They also have normal colors if you want to freshen up your color in a safe way. You don’t have to go purple 😉
Top Clean Beauty Brands
Now that you have the list of my favorite clean beauty products, let’s take a look at some of the top clean beauty brands that are out there today so you can find your own favorite products.
100% Pure touts their products as being clean, natural, vegan, cruelty-free, and made with naturally sourced ingredients.
And they actually tell you right on their website what they mean by natural — “An ingredient or formula composed of plant, mineral, and/or marine vegetation that undergoes chemical changes due to biological processes such as fermentation, distillation, and cold processing.”
Their best-sellers include their Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream and Vitamin C Serum.
Bite Beauty is a clean beauty brand that primarily sells lip products. They are 100% clean, vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free.
But their product does not suffer as a result. They have some of the most highly pigmented shades out there. Which is saying a lot considering they only use natural ingredients, superfoods, in particular, to create their colors.
I don’t really wear any color on my lips, but I did receive a sample of their Agave+ Weekly Lip Scrub in a subscription box once and it made my lips feel soooo heavenly. So even if you aren’t all about those bold colors, their lip care products are top-notch.
Kjaer Weis creates organic and sustainable luxury beauty products. Their company ensures that all of their ingredients are certified organic and certified natural…meaning it’s luxury that’s good for your body.
They’ve also managed to create sustainable packaging that still feels super high end.
So while they’re delivering a completely clean product, you don’t have to sacrifice any of the quality or pampering you’re used to.
Lilah B.’s entire philosophy is around making beauty simple. And simplicity is seriously one of my favorite things ever.
Their purpose is to help women obtain a finished look in the fewest number of steps possible. Which as a busy mama, I’m sure you can appreciate.
On top of that, though, all of the ingredients used in their products are good for you, so it’s a total win-win.
Ilia Beauty aims at creating clean beauty products that make your skin and complexion healthier so it shines all on its own.
And again, this is why I love clean beauty brands. Because most of them focus on using quality products to care for your skin so you really don’t need to use anything else (which saves you loads of time getting ready).
On top of that, most Ilia Beauty products contain SPF to further protect and care for your skin.
Juice Beauty brings organic products backed by powerful science to the clean beauty scene.
Focusing a lot on antioxidants and vitamin-rich ingredients, Juice Beauty engineers all of their products with a team of experts to bring you the highest quality organic skincare products on the market.
Now you don’t have to worry about whether a natural product works or not.
Kosas is also simplifying the clean beauty game, aiming to introduce you to makeup that looks as good as it feels.
Their lineup of all-natural products hydrate, soothe, brighten, and plump up your skin…all without any toxic chemicals.
It’s clean beauty for active lives.
Vapour Beauty is a clean beauty brand that brings “high-vibe color for a conscious world.”
All of their products are powered by plants and enhance and nurture your skin.
On top of caring for your skin, they also care about the planet, with sustainability being one of their core principles.
Au Naturale began as a clean beauty revolution when its founder was driven to find a cure for her regular skin irritations and breakouts.
Every single ingredient is scrutinized with “only those who are ethically sound, factually healthy & naturally sourced making the final cut.”
RMS Beauty aims to change the way women think about their skincare. While they, of course, value using high-quality organic ingredients, it doesn’t end there.
They also look into the chemistry behind which natural ingredients actually work as anti-aging and long-term beauty solutions.
W3ll People don’t want people wondering whether the makeup that they wear is good for them or the planet…they want them to know that they are.
That’s why they created sustainable, plant-based products “that wear well, feel great, and are always, always toxin-free.”
P/Y/T Beauty creates no-bs clean makeup. All of their products are cruelty-free and hypoallergenic, plus they use sustainable packaging to help the planet.
Plus, their branding is super fun. Hanging out on their website just makes me want to buy all. the. things.
Milk Makeup creates products that are cruelty-free, paraben-free, and 100% vegan.
I rarely wear makeup (because I’m all about that healthy skin game), but I have tried a couple of their products in the past.
My favorite was the Blur Stick, which is a matte blurring primer. It glides on super smooth and your skin seriously looks like it was airbrushed after. I didn’t even need to put foundation on after and my skin just looked amazing!
Tower 28 Beauty
California based clean beauty brand, Tower 28, lives by a simple philosophy: “We like our beauty products the way we like our beaches: clean, full of sunshine, and for everyone.”
They go beyond hypoallergenic to create clean products that nourish your skin from within, healing common skin ailments in the process.
Cocokind creates non-toxic, sustainable, cruelty-free, and affordable clean beauty products for all skin types.
They do extensive research on all ingredients to ensure they meet their strict efficacy, safety, and sustainability standards
Beautycounter is probably one of the most well-known clean beauty brands, and an ultimate guide to clean beauty products would be incomplete without it.
Beautycounter’s mission isn’t only to create healthier products, but to also make more people aware of how the ingredients that they put on their skin affects their entire well-being.
They release annual Social Missions Reports which breaks down every single thing they do to help their people and the planet, they have a list of 1,800 ingredients that they never use in any of their products, called The Never List, and they’re also advocating for stricter guidelines on the makeup and beauty industry in general.
Basically, they’re a badass clean beauty brand with a powerful social mission. Make sure you check them out and join their movement.
Oh, and their products are pretty damn amazing, too 😉
Venus & Jupiter
Venus & Jupiter uses locally sourced ingredients near their home base of Oakland, CA for all of their handmade vegan products.
Yup, you read that right.
All of their products are made fresh at the time of purchase. You even have the option for in-season fruits and vegetables to be used in your order.
Rituel De Fille
Rituel de Fille puts a fun twist on clean beauty. Created by three sisters who are “inspired by the magical side of natural ingredients, where pigment is elemental, ceremonial and powerful.”
They carefully source all materials for a clear purpose in each product, are Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free, and also never source ingredients from companies that aren’t cruelty-free.
Tata Harper is a clean beauty brand for women who refuse to risk their health for beauty.
Frustrated that she could never find products that met her impeccable standards of efficacy, quality, and purity, Tata decided to make them herself.
A natural luxury skincare line that rivals the best.
Tula Skincare uses probiotics and superfoods to “boost skin’s appearance & restore its natural balance.”
I just got their Purifying Skin Cleanser in and I can’t wait to try it out.
And last but definitely not least is Herbivore Botanicals.
Herbivore uses the power of nature to bring highly effective results. Every single ingredient in their products is an active ingredient, meaning that there are no “fillers” or anything else to make you raise an eyebrow.
All of their products contain “Natural ingredients, plant-based food-grade cold-pressed oils, steam distilled therapeutic-grade essential oils, GMO free soy wax, recyclable and reusable packaging, and many certified organic ingredients.”
Plus they just released a Coconut Milk Body Polish that literally looks good enough to eat. I can’t wait to try that one!
What are your favorite clean beauty brands? Let us know in the comments!
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