The journey from organic avocados to organic makeup doesn’t necessarily have to involve a thousand steps. I recently transitioned from a makeup maven to a ‘clean’ beauty aficionado – of course I use the term aficionado with a lot of humility because I’m just out here learning a little more everyday, just like everyone else. But the main thing I can attest to? That finding the right clean alternative is especially difficult and tedious because the universal definition of ‘clean beauty’ and terms like ‘natural’ or ‘sustainable’ can mean very different things.
So let’s start with: What exactly is ‘clean’ beauty?
Simply put, clean beauty products are those without any known toxins. So keep your eyes open for a long list of ingredients that you should avoid: Sulfates (SLS and SLES), parabens, formaldehydes, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan, and triclocarban.
I followed a simple rule when I started the swap: Start with products that are used daily or are leave-on (creams, sunscreens) or could possibly be ingested or exposed to extra sensitive areas (lip and eye products).
However, when it comes to detoxing your beauty routine, I find a veritable surgical strike is necessary in terms of critical items. Here’s a concise list of products you should cut out immediately.
Switching over to a non-toxic deodorant was the hardest for me especially since I workout every day and try to be active. It’s especially daunting because natural deodorants don’t claim to prevent sweating, so I always kept my trusty Vichy roll-on on standby. Since your lymph nodes and sweat glands are concentrated there, and the fact that underarm skin is thin and regularly exfoliated through shaving, it’s more vulnerable to absorption of chemicals than skin elsewhere on the body.
Currently, I’m using the Agent Nateur & Shiva Rose Holi (Rose) N4 Deodorant. It’s an exotic blend of sandalwood and rose, and the best part is that since the fragrance is so highly concentrated, you don’t need to slather it on – just a smidge will suffice. Even better, it’s stress-free since it’s created with non-GMO food-grade ingredients so it’s safe for those with even the most sensitive skin.
Excited to try: Any aluminum-free deodorant like L’occitane Citrus Verbena Stick Deodorant
I’m one of those people who ends up treating my lipstick/lip balm as an appetizer to any meal I order in a restaurant: Salivating as I wait for my Thai salad and cashew chicken. I can’t resist the berry-flavoured goodness. Can anyone else relate? While you can easily reapply your lipstick, you should know that you eat a large percentage of petroleum, plasticizers, and optical brighteners. Whether they’re endocrine-disrupting, potentially carcinogenic preservatives or not, I’m certain no one wants a shot of these harmful ingredients directly to your system. So, I recommend you start with Kjaer Weis Lipstick in Believe.
This Dutch-born New York-based makeup artist revolutionised clean makeup with her luxe packing and minimal, refillable makeup products. This makes the initial purchase a once off and then you can continue to fill the packaging with the colours they offer.
I love Believe for daily errands or a movie, it’s subtle but dials up your natural lip colour. It leaves your lips moisturised with a rich, velvet finish.
Excited to try: Kosas Weightless lip color
For a clean swap for lip balms, I’m currently using Grown Alchemist’s Watermelon lip balm. It’s fairly nourishing and, like my deodorant, I kept my Carmex lip balm in the bedside drawer just in case. I really like the Grown Alchemist lip balm but I do wake up with the product evaporated. Of course, while the products dries out, it doesn’t dehydrate dry my lips. It takes a little getting used to, if you’re accustomed to the heavy duty beeswax-infused lip balms.
Excited to try: Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm
When I discovered our chemical sunscreens have an ingredient called oxybenzone that can easily be detected in your urine, blood, and breast milk after just one application, I knew I had to find an alternative. Besides, chemical sunscreens need to be replenished every two hours in the sun, which means layering on more chemicals. Enter Soleil Toujours Sunscreen, known for their mantra that youthful and healthy skin starts with sun care.
Valerie McMurray, Founder & CEO of Soleil Toujours, wanted to revamp the way we think about sun care. I accidentally bought the sunscreen meant for the body but I quite like it. This subtly tinted lotion leaves skin with a dewy finish and a hint of shimmer while protecting, moisturising, and nourishing the skin. The natural-looking coverage evens out skin tone, and it’s lightweight enough to wear in the gym. Subtle light reflecting particles in an emollient base give the skin a beautiful natural-looking sun-kissed glow and help to blur the skin’s minor imperfections.
Excited to try: Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer, Broad Spectrum Spf 30
I usually don’t apply kohl or liners on the daily but I do like a little touch of mascara. It brightens your face and widens your eyes. Unfortunately, glam comes at a cost, since most of them are made with coal tar, copious synthetic preservatives and plasticizers. It’s no surprise that I suffered from recurring eye infections. I quickly changed to (no prizes for guessing) yet another Kjaer Weis product! But seriously, Kjaer Weis Organic Mascara is a true game-changer. The long-lasting formula glides on easily, but most importantly the wand applies just the right amount of mascara for a natural, clump free look. It’s also available in a smaller size that allows you to replenish every three months – as you should with any mascara. The only drawback is that it isn’t waterproof. I guess I’m okay with that little inconvenience for a cleaner product and healthier eyes.
Excited to try: Juice Beauty Phyoto-Pigments Ultra Natural Mascara
Restarting your beauty regime is definitely daunting but many brands do make it easier with their all-in one kits. I recently bought the Goop Discovery Kit that includes the Revitalizing Day Moisturizer, Enriching Face Oil, Replenishing Night Cream and Exfoliating Instant Facial. Out of the four, I’m definitely repurchasing the exfoliating facial and the face oil. They are perfect travel-size bottles that you can replenish if you like them well enough. Similarly, I bought the RMS Beauty Signature Set in Pop Collection. It includes a bronzer, highlighter, and two lip and cheek tints. As well as vanilla-scented lip balm.
These kits are a good way to explore and understand what you like from the brand and, of course, if they suit you without breaking your wallet or causing breakouts on your skin.
Excited to try: Drunk Elephant The Littles