The 10 Most Important Clean Beauty Swaps
Just like it’s more important to make sure the strawberries you buy are organic than, say, the pineapples, there’s definitely a more-critical list when it comes to detoxing your beauty routine. Here, where to start—and why—along with a list of some of our all-time favorites:
DEODORANT:With most breast cancer diagnoses, patients typically get the advice to immediately stop using conventional antiperspirant and deodorant. Antiperspirant and deodorant—like many other conventional personal-care products—contain endocrine disruptors, potential carcinogens, and a host of other toxins, many of them unlisted, hidden within the ingredient “fragrance”. What’s different here is their direct contact with one of your body’s most critical detoxifying areas: your underarms. Lymph nodes and sweat glands are concentrated there for a reason. The fact that the skin there is thin there, and regularly exfoliated through shaving, may make it more vulnerable to absorption compared to skin elsewhere on the body. If you’re skeptical that clean deodorant will do it for you, try Schmidt’s. Engineered by a mom in the Pacific Northwest, it’s nothing short of miraculous.
Schmidt’s Ylang-Ylang + Calendula Deodorantgoop, $10
This will blow your mind in terms of odor and even wetness control (though it is not technically an antiperspirant). Made with plantbased powder instead of aluminum (arrowroot, baking soda) it absorbs quickly and glides on like silk (thanks to coconut oil, candellia wax, vitamin E, and shea butter). Antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal essential oils stop odors from forming in the first place, rather than trying to mask odor with fragrance; it’s completely vegan, deeply skin-soothing and wildly effective—the faint scent of ylang ylang and calendula is gorgeous.
SUN PROTECTION:The most potent anti-ager in existence, bar none, is sunblock. At the same time, though, chemical sunscreens are among the most powerful skin irritants in the beauty industry—and inflammation is one of the primary causes of aging. So the “daily” sunscreen many people on first thing every morning can actually work against them; add to that the fact that many chemical sunscreens degrade in sunlight after two hours, plus the endocrine disrupters and other toxins in standard formulas and you start to realize what a terrible choice they are. Mineral sunblock, on the other hand, calms skin as opposed to irritating it, lasts until you wash or sweat it off, and doesn’t add to your toxic load. The only tradeoff—that it can take longer to rub in—is now practically non-existent, as several clean cosmetics companies have made clean sunblock formulas much more blendable. The tint in Coola’s SPF 30 doesn’t leave color on your skin, but it blends like a dream no matter what your skin tone; we love it first thing in the morning, every day. (And we keep an extra in our makeup bag!)
Coola Unscented Matte Face Tint SPF 30goop, $36
Coola’s Matte Tint SPF 30 has the freakiest (and coolest) feel ever: It goes on like foam dust, leaving nary a trace behind. It has a very sheer universal tint and matte finish that hides imperfections and evens skin tone, too, meaning it’s kind of magic in a bottle.
EXFOLIANT:What’s kind of incredible about the assumptions many people make about clean, organic skincare—that it’s less powerful—is that they’re actually often more powerful. Instead of fillers and texturizers, clean skincare often has higher percentages of the actives they’re made with. In the case of goop’s Instant Facial, all five alpha-hydroxy acids plus salicylic acid work together to exfoliate, smooth, soften, and brighten skin, so the results are more powerful (leave it for a few seconds and you’ll see!) than most other formulas, that typically incorporate a single or perhaps two different types of acids. The instant glow you get is by-now legendary; the goop by Juice Beauty Instant Facial also optimizes practically any other skincare you put on after using it, so it’s a brilliant way to go clean and supercharge your skincare routine all at once.
goop by Juice Beauty Exfoliating Instant Facialgoop, $125
The Exfoliating Instant Facial instantly brightens and softens skin to reveal a glowing, smoother-looking complexion. Natural alpha and beta hydroxy acids sweep away dead skin cells; and plant-based cellulose beads exfoliate further, while releasing soothing vitamin B5, leaving skin supple, soft, and utterly revitalized. The Exfoliating Instant Facial is formulated with USDA-certified organic ingredients and contains approximately 86% total organic content.
MASCARA:Made with with a petroleum-combustion byproduct called coal tar, not to mention copious synthetic preservatives and plasticizers, most conventional mascara formulas are hard to imagine putting into your eyes—and yet, that’s precisely where mascara ends up. High-tech innovations with botanical ingredients like pine resin make clean mascara at least as good as the conventional version, with none of the toxins. For wide-awake, super-defined, fluttery, glossy-black lashes, Juice Beauty’s mascara is the ultimate.
Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Ultra-Natural Mascaragoop, $22
You won’t believe this mascara is as clean, natural, and organic as it is: The intense pigment, high shine, and serious volume-building capability rivals that of any conventional mascara. Plus, it leaves lashes lush, long, and feathery-soft without the toxic chemicals commonly used in conventional mascara; the formula is ultra-smooth, clump-free, and it doesn’t smudge or flake. GP’s personal tip: Smooth on one coat, wait a few seconds for it to dry, then build color and length with a second coat for a look that instantly wakes up your whole face.
LIPSTICK:You eat a large percentage of whatever you put on your lips; in the case of conventional lipsticks, you’re consuming dyes that aren’t even allowed in food: petroleum, plasticizers, and optical brighteners, along with the common cohort of endocrine-disrupting, potentially carcinogenic preservatives and “fragrances”. That said, when you want a full-on, pull-it-together lipstick, you need gorgeous, intense pigments and luxe, ultra-hydrating texture, not to mention long wear. The miracle-working Kosås lip color delivers on all counts.
Kosas Weightless Lip Colorgoop, $24
These hydrating, everyday-wearable lipsticks are made with organic oils and botanical extracts (antioxidant green tea, rosehip, grapeseed, and collagen-boosting sweet orange), plus deeply hydrating mango and shea butters. The eight universally-flattering shades are perfect everyday lip colors; depending on your style, they range from full-on dramatic to subtle and natural. No matter which one you choose, it’ll instantly compliment and brighten a natural complexion.
SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER:Hair products are among the most toxin-loaded in the beauty industry: Powerful fragrances and sulfates, endocrine-disrupting preservatives, potentially carcinogenic plasticizers and dyes are common ingredients. And not only do you work them into your scalp and end up with them all over your body in the shower, you also inhale the shower steam infused with them. Switching to clean hair products—especially those you use in the shower—makes a big difference in your exposure levels, and your hair health. Clean shampoos are markedly less stripping, since they don’t use industrial sulfates and detergents; clean conditioners rely on natural oils and butters as opposed to silicones and plasticizers (neither of which do anything to actually condition hair) to soften and moisturize hair, so the shine you get is for-real healthy hair, not simply the appearance of it. The scent of both the shampoo and conditioner from True Botanicals is the (fantastic) icing on the cake—the complex, energizing floral-citrus just smells incredible. And the sleek, chic aluminum containers have incredibly easy-to-use pumps.
True Botanicals Shampoo & Conditionergoop, $68
True Nature’s shampoo/conditioner set packages together two of goop’s favorite hair care products. Both the shampoo and conditioner smell absolutely amazing, are extremely nourishing, and completely toxin-free. The scent is a refreshing mix of lemon and orange peel oils, ylang ylang flower oil, sweet violet extract, and mimosa tenuiflora bark extract. Bonus: The subtle silver tone of the bottles makes this a stunning combination on any shower ledge.
FACE WIPES:Conventional face wipes are packed with preservatives and other chemicals to help them stay damp but fresh, so “washing” your face with them leaves a residue of potential hormone disruptors, irritants, and even carcinogens (and if the ingredient list has “fragrance” in it and doesn’t break out what’s contained within it, you can’t know what’s in the formula). Clean beauty companies approach wipes from a totally different perspective, using plant oils to retard bacterial growth as well as cleanse skin; Ursa Major’s are packaged individually, for ultimate safety (not to mention travel-friendliness).
Ursa Major Essential Face Wipesgoop, $24
The company’s miracle 4-1 Face Tonic formula is infused into each individually-wrapped bamboo-cloth face wipe—use as a pH-balancing cleanser, gentle-but-powerful exfoliant, potent skin-healer, and firming hydrator, for all skin types. The wipes smell subtly of orange, fir, and lavender—refreshing after the gym, beautiful for taking off makeup, life-changing for the breakout-prone.
SERUM:Serums, designed to be the most active and results-oriented step in any skincare routine, are again often chock full of fillers and ingredients designed to make them “feel” like they’re working (silicones, for example, are in practically every conventional serum out there, simply to make them feel smoother; they do nothing to actually treat skin). A few nights of treatment with Vintner’s Daughter—an oil-based serum that treats everything from the signs of aging to acne—converts pretty much everyone who tries it.
Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serumgoop, $185
It’s not surprising that this oil has a cult following: It’s an infusion of 22 of the world’s most active organic botanicals mixed with powerful essential oils. Anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, skin-firming phytoceramides, plus nourishing fatty acids and anti-oxidants stimulate cellular turnover, enhance elasticity, strengthen capillaries, inhibit melanin production, prevent wrinkles, and protect against free radicals. The revolutionary formula penetrates deeply, restoring moisture, clarity, smoothness, and glow to your skin.
BODY CREAM:Your skin is your largest organ by far, so the ingredients in a body cream make a tremendous difference. Covering the majority of your skin with a petroleum-based, preservative-, plasticizer-, and fragrance-infused conventional formula exposes you to everything from serious skin irritants (even “fragrance-free” lotions are typically made with masking fragrance, so just as irritating to sensitive skin) to potential carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and other toxins. A clean formula, on the other hand, infuses your skin with benefits from the botanicals it’s made with—in the case of this brilliant, supremely moisturizing, subtly scented one from Grown Alchemist, super-antioxidant rosehip, pomegranate, and grapeseed oils, to name just a few.
Grown Alchemist Intensive Body Cream: Rosa Damascena, Acai & Pomegranategoop, $31
It smells fantastic, feels incredible, and moisturizes like crazy, leaving skin deeply nourished. Antioxidants and botanical extracts increase elasticity, firmness, and softness, revitalizing skin all over. Plus the tube itself is just plain gorgeous.
LIP BALM:The lion’s share of conventional lip balms are made primarily of petroleum jelly, with potentially toxic fragrance, flavors, and texturizers added in. Since we actually consuming most of what we put on our lips, nourishing elements like the shea butter, olive oil, and grapefruit in Olio e Osso’s balm are not just the healthier option, they’re also superior.
Olio e Osso Balmgoop, $28
Supremely moisturizing, this cushy, citrusy balm conditions lips like nothing else—and it’s an amazing fix for split ends, flyaways, brows, and even beards, plus cuticles and dry spots of any sort. The stick fits the shape of your lips perfectly, so it feels especially fantastic going on.