The 10 Most Important Clean Beauty Swaps
Just as 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—and why—to start, along with a list of some of our all-time favorite clean beauty products.
Like many other conventional personal-care products, conventional antiperspirants and deodorants can contain endocrine disruptors, potential carcinogens, and a host of other toxins, many of them unlisted, hidden within the ingredient “fragrance” on the label. 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, and the fact that underarm skin is thin and regularly exfoliated through shaving may make it more vulnerable to absorption than skin elsewhere on the body. If you’re skeptical that clean deodorant will do it for you, try Schmidt’s. Engineered by a mother in the Pacific Northwest, it’s miraculous. The entire line is spiked with absorbent plant-derived powders, like arrowroot, and the brand’s new sensitive-skin formulas are free of baking soda (a hero ingredient in clean, nontoxic deodorants, baking soda irritates some people), with odor-discouraging magnesium as a stand-in.
Schmidt’s Jasmine Tea Sensitive Skin Deodorant Stickgoop, $11
A brilliant solution for people with a sensitivity to baking soda (most clean deodorants rely on it), this jasmine-tea-scented deodorant smells incredible—and, most importantly, really works. The coconut-oil-and-shea butter-infused stick glides on smoothly, plant-based powders absorb wetness, the certified-vegan formula contains no aluminum or other potential toxins, and it’s absolutely baking-soda-free.
CLEAN SUN PROTECTION:
The most potent anti-ager in existence, bar none, is sunblock. And ironically, chemical sunscreens are among the most powerful skin irritants in the beauty industry, so the daily sunscreen many people put on first thing every morning may actually work against them. Then there’s the fact that many chemical sunscreens degrade in sunlight after two hours, so slathering it on before work means you may not be protected by lunchtime. Add to that the potential endocrine disruptors and other toxins in standard formulas and you start to realize what a terrible choice chemical sunscreens are.
Mineral sunblock, on the other hand, calms skin as opposed to irritating it, and lasts until you wash or sweat it off. The only trade-off—that it can take longer to rub in—is now practically nonexistent, as clean cosmetic companies have made clean sunblock formulas much more blendable. The all-mineral daily SPF 18 from Ursa Major sinks in instantly and lightly moisturizes as it does—absolutely fantastic.
Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense Lotion with SPF 18goop, $54
This lightweight, ultrahydrating, all-mineral SPF 18 blends in so beautifully it’s truly unbelievable. Unscented and infused with skin-supporting vitamins, it leaves skin radiantly smooth. It provides year-round, broad-spectrum protection and just feels incredible.
What’s most amazing about the assumption many people make about clean, organic skin care—that it’s less powerful—is that the opposite is often the case. Instead of fillers and texturizers, clean skin care often has higher percentages of the active ingredients it’s made with.
Instant Facial from goop by Juice Beauty, for example, uses all five alpha hydroxy acids plus salicylic acid together to exfoliate, smooth, soften, and brighten skin, so the formula is more powerful (leave it for a few seconds and you’ll feel it!) than others that might incorporate a single acid or perhaps two different ones. The instant glow you get is by now legendary; goop by Juice Beauty Instant Facial helps practically any other skin care you put on after sink in more easily, so it’s a brilliant way to go clean and supercharge your skin care 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; 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 percent total organic content.
Made with a petroleum-combustion by-product 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 and powerful botanical ingredients make clean mascara now at least as good as the conventional versions, without the typical toxins. For wide-awake, super defined, fluttery, glossy-black lashes, Juice Beauty is wildly impressive.
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 rival 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 ultrasmooth and glides right on. 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.
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, ultrahydrating texture, not to mention long wear. The miracle-working Kosås lip color delivers on all counts.
Kosås Weightless Lip Colorgoop, $24
These hydrating, everyday-wearable lipsticks are made with organic oils and botanical extracts (antioxidant green tea, rose hip, grape-seed, and 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 complement and brighten your complexion.
CLEAN SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER:
Hair products are among the most toxin-loaded in the beauty industry: Powerful fragrances and sulfates, endocrine-disrupting preservatives, and 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 can make a big difference in your exposure levels. 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, 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 easy-to-use pumps.
True Botanicals Shampoo & Conditionergoop, $68
True Botanical’s shampoo-conditioner set packages together two of goop’s favorite hair-care products. Both the shampoo and conditioner smell absolutely amazing and are extremely nourishing. 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 the shower ledge.
Self-tanner is, depending on your skin tone, an easy way to look instantly smoother and svelter all over, not to mention less tired/wrinkled/splotchy. But conventional formulas can be rife with toxins—parabens, phthalates, fragrance, and more (self-tanner is often heavily fragranced to mask the distinct smell of DHA, the nontoxic color additive that tints the top layer of skin darker). Citrusy and light, The Organic Pharmacy Self Tan bathes skin in gorgeous, even radiance and hydrates with the purest, most nourishing jojoba, coconut, and sesame seed oils. Infused with sugar-beet-derived DHA—it’s Ecocert-approved—this formula leaves skin silky, smooth, and flawless.
The Organic Pharmacy Self Tangoop, $69
For the perfect subtle, even glow this self-tanning cream is 100 percent clean and nontoxic yet blends like a dream (streakless and soft), develops in three hours, smells faintly citrusy, and leaves skin smooth, supple, and hydrated—with a healthy, uniform tan. The formula is made with a unique Ecocert-approved DHA derived from sugar beets, and the resulting color is unbelievably balanced and natural; reapply every two days to maintain the gorgeous glow.
CLEAN FACE SERUM:
Serums, designed to be the most active and results-oriented step in any skin-care routine, are 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 using Vintner’s Daughter—an oil-based miracle serum—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 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. The revolutionary formula beautifully sinks in, leaving skin smooth and glowy.
CLEAN BODY OIL:
Rich in fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, plant oils are excellent for skin and contain none of the preservatives, emulsifiers, synthetic fragrance, or other potential endocrine disruptors and irritants common in their conventional counterparts. (Incredibly, even unscented conventional formulas often contain masking fragrances.) Pure botanical oils are beautifully cocooning in a way that water-based formulas often aren’t; they come in liquid and balm forms. Jao Goe Oil, a balm that melts cushily into an oil, is intensely hydrating and because it’s infused with antioxidant oils—jojoba, grape-seed, kukui nut—it’s incredibly reparative and softening. Smooth it absolutely anywhere—it’s addictive.
Jao Goe Oilgoop, $49
A combination of twenty-eight plant, fruit, and flower oils and butters, this multipurpose, semisolid oil smells faintly of monoi (Tahitian gardenias soaked in coconut oil) and moisturizes skin like nothing else. Lighter than a typical body butter, longer-lasting than a moisturizer, it’s made with a high percentage of jojoba oil—not technically an oil, but a polyunsaturated liquid wax, plus rose hip, hemp, meadowfoam, and rice bran oils, all of which contain omega and essential fatty acids. Antioxidant avocado, grape-seed, mango, and pumpkin-seed butters and kukui-nut oil nourish skin, while chamomile and calendula calm.
The amount of pernicious ingredients lurking in conventional makeup is dispiriting. Also dispiriting: that 1,300 chemicals are banned from cosmetics in Europe, while a mere 11 are in the US. Clean, nontoxic concealer is as miraculously complexion-enhancing as conventional concealer. RMS “Un” Cover Up is spiked with smoothing coconut and castor oils and perfectly blends into skin. (Pro tip: The Eye Polish Brush from RMS Beauty is spectacular for creamy consistencies—and concealer. If you prefer to use your fingers, gently pat it in—don’t rub! (Allow yourself a few seconds of judicious tapping, until both the concealer and whatever you’re using it to cover disappear.)
RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-Upgoop, $36
This moisturizing cover-up smooths blemishes and blends easily, leaving behind flawless skin. #00 is the lightest shade, for true Snow Whites. #11 is for paler skin tones; it has a subtle yellow base. #22 is perfect for light-medium skin tones. #33 is for great for medium skin tones; it has a slightly golden undertone. #44 is a dark tan color that can also be used for contouring or creating a tanned effect.
RMS Beauty Eye Polish Brushgoop, $36
Brilliantly designed to make applying cream eye shadow easier, this rounded, elongated brush makes a huge difference: Shadow goes on smooth and even and lasts, burnished and glowy, all day.
Related: How To Detox Your Makeup Bag