Walking through the aisle of your favorite beauty store, there are thousands of products screaming at you that they will cure your acne, they are 100% organic, and they are vegan and cruelty-free. You are overwhelmed with who to believe when all these products are telling you the same thing. It may seem crazy to spend so much money to help take care of your skin when, in reality, it is made to take care of itself. Though your skin can fight breakout and oils on its own, it needs some help sometimes. Your skin has a natural barrier that helps it repair itself. Things like makeup can break down that barrier. Skincare can also help balance the natural PH of your skin, break down oils from makeup and touching your face, and even prevent signs of aging. Not having a good skin care regimen, whatever that be, can cause build up of oils and dirt and cause breakouts.
Not only will clean beauty help your skin, but it will help Mother Nature as well. Unfortunately, a lot of these companies are stating this just for show and they do not benefit your skin at all. This is called “greenwashing.” In fact, according to “Your ‘Clean’ Cosmetics” by Euronews, “[beauty] products might actually contain as little as one percent of organic ingredients. Common ingredients like parabens, phthalates, and irritants might make up the other 99 percent whilst still masquerading as ‘organic.’” Labels are so misleading and it is important that we understand what goes on our skin. The skin is our largest organ and if it is not taken care of it can have issues such as dermatitis, eczema, and your skin may even age faster.
The only sign that a product is truly “clean” is the ingredients list. Another thing to look for is certifications like Leaping Bunny for cruelty-free products, Vegan Certified, or USDA Organic. It is a long process determining whether a product is “clean” or not but it’s worth it. Basically, to put clean beauty in a nutshell, it is defined as a product that does not harm the human body or contain toxic ingredients.
In order to start your “clean” skin journey, you have to take a deep dive in but I am here to help. The first place to start your journey is to find products that work for you and benefit your skin. This is the hardest step, but I went through and found some great products for beginners or for those looking for something new. It is important to do your own research but finding products that work for others is a great way as well. It is key to find products that work for your skin type and won’t harm it in the long run. You are not limited to the list below, it is just key to do research on every product you use.
The Drunk Elephant
This brand has become very popular recently and they are one of the true “clean beauty” brands. They have recyclable packaging, they are cruelty-free (they do not test on animals), and they are paraben free.
Carmela Williams (‘22) swears by the Drunk Elephant “D-Bronzi” drops. “I use this product every morning with my moisturizer. I add just two drops of it.” These bronzing drops give a tan glow to your skin and are “anti-pollution.” This means that the bottle is completely recyclable. This particular product does have a hefty list of ingredients, so I looked it over and the list explains what each ingredient does which is a good sign. When a brand takes the time to list what each ingredient does, it shows that they care what they put into their products.
If you are looking for products with just a few ingredients, the brand offers that as well. Williams spoke about why she continues to use the product: “I continue to use it because I know it’s good for my skin and, yes, it is expensive, but it is worth the price knowing the outcome of the product.” Besides giving your skin a tan glow this product has elements such as Vitamin F that replenishes the skin’s natural barrier as I spoke about before. The product also contains antioxidants that protect the skin from pollution from the environment.
The Drunk Elephant is committed to removing the “Suspicious 6” from their products, which they believe to be the root cause of skin breakouts and reactions. The “Suspicious 6” have been identified as:
- Essential oils
- Drying alcohols
- Chemical sunscreens
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
These chemicals and substances can be very harmful to one’s skin and health by breaking down your skin’s natural barrier and its natural PH. True clean beauty products don’t consist of harmful chemicals and preservatives, keeping your skin safe. Using products with preservatives can lead to contact dermatitis, skin irritation, and hives. Keeping your skincare clean will help your future body and skin to stay healthy.
Working to reduce their carbon footprint, Cocokind is vegan and cruelty-free. On the back of all of their packages, they offer the sustainability facts of each product, from the number of carbon emissions used to make each product to how to recycle the package itself. They also provide all of the ingredients within their products in large print on the back to add transparency to their brand.
UNH student Anna Sourdif discovered Cocokind when an influencer she followed posted about their natural products. “I trusted them and was in the market for a new skincare routine, so I gave it a shot.” Sourdif uses a variety of products. Her routine consists of Cocokind’s Raspberry Vinegar Toner, Sea Grape Caviar Spray, and Probiotic Acne Serum. Sourdif raves about their products: “I genuinely love their products so much, and I also love that you can ship the bottles back to the company when you’re done.” Cocokind is devoted to being a sustainable brand, so not only do they label their products, but they also allow customers to ship back their empty product bottles so they can be reused. As of now, I have not heard of any other brands doing anything like this. Hopefully, this will pave the way for more sustainable skincare.
Similar to Cocokind, Vivanaturals is a brand that takes pride in being sustainable and “clean.” Beginning in 2011, Viva Naturals has offered products ranging from dietary supplements to beauty products. All of their products are ethically and sustainably sourced and are free from additives and preservatives.
One customer, Emily Walsh (‘24), uses Viva Naturals Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. This product has many uses from being used on skin, hair, and in the kitchen. Though Walsh uses it in her nighttime skin routine, “I put coconut oil on my skin as soon as I get out of the shower like lotion [and] put it on my hair about once a month.” This specific coconut oil is USDA certified organic, Keto certified, Paleo certified, gluten-free, BPA free, and non-GMO. All of these certifications mean that the product is classified as a clean beauty product and can be trusted on your skin. It even has dietary certifications because coconut oil can be used for cooking, your skin, and your hair.
Walsh is in love with her coconut oil and recommends it to everyone. “I would definitely recommend it for others because of how universal it is. There are hundreds of recipes for mixing it for things like turmeric or egg whites to make hair masks.” Walsh brings up a great point about the product being universal. When using products like coconut oil and aloe vera, they are coming straight from nature and can be used on skin or consumed. This is a great way to help your skin and your gut.
All the products and brands above are great options for clean beauty. Though, there may be some popular products sitting on your shelf that are not. Here are a few common brands that are not actually clean beauty:
- Mario Badescu
These products contain hydrocortisone and triamcinolone acetonide, which are steroids. These chemicals are very harmful to the skin and can cause reactions such as steroid withdrawal and contact dermatitis.
- St. Ives
The scrubs from this brand contain harmful exfoliants that are rough on the skin, causing irritation and long term skin effects such as skin not being able to rejuvenate.
This product is NOT cruelty-free and can cause breakouts, itching, and soreness. It also contains petroleum jelly which is known to cause skin irritation, as well.
This brand is NOT cruelty-free or vegan and some products contain synthetics, fragrances, and parabens.
Products that value animals and organic ingredients mean that they also value you and your healthy skin. Some brands, like the ones featured above, don’t take the extra step to make their products beneficial to their customers and the world around them. Using clean beauty products will not only help your skin but can contribute to helping the world around you become a better place. Any product is a good place to start throwing away your Neutrogena makeup wipes and using a cleanser from Cocokind is a small but mighty step forward. There are thousands of brands switching to clean beauty so there are endless possibilities, and you are not just limited to the brands above. Doing research on what goes on your skin and in your body is the best way to make sure it is safe and clean. Read the labels and research words you don’t know, and become an expert on your products. Just remember, clean beauty means a clean and healthy life.
Here are some resources to do some of your own research: