I think I'm at that age when no one really knows what the hell to do about their skin. Should I still be on the lookout for acne, or should I focus more on wrinkles? What if I get a pimple ON a wrinkle (this has happened to me plenty of times)?
How do I make dull patches bright, sun damage go away, slow down wrinkles, and how do I accomplish all this without terrifying chemicals and torturing animals?
I started questioning my all-natural skin care routine (aka witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and coconut oil) after TWO different people in one day told me my skin looked dry. Apparently my face vinaigrette wasn't doing the trick.
WHY CLEAN BEAUTY?
I set out to find products that are both EFFECTIVE and NONTOXIC, as well as companies that value fair trade, sustainability and good stewardship towards the planet and our health. So, I went hunting, and I found some really great things.
Honestly, I was planning on making this a MUCH shorter post. However, I wanted to give you more options than not, so if you are just here for my favorite picks, scroll to the bottom. There were a few products that I fell in love with, and I've marked those with a "♡"
This is a collection of products and companies that are making thoughtful products. Almost all of them happen to be female owned too - BONUS!!
Just to be clear, I was not paid by any of these companies ;) I also don't make any money if you buy any of these products.
Who is here?
1. The Skin Food Kitchen
2. Clean Beauty Collective
3. Indie Lee
4. SKINourishment (POLYN and ClimbOn)
5. Harlem Botanica
6. Land Meets Sea
7. Complex Beauty
9. Laurel & Reed
Why does it matter? What goes ONTO our skin goes INTO our body... in about 19 seconds. A good rule of thumb is "don't put anything ONTO your body that you wouldn't put INTO your body".
Just like with food, "all-natural" is great marketing, but, according to the Environmental Working Group, some products aren't so natural.
Some ingredients can be toxic to our organs, mental health, and hormones. YIKES!
Just A FEW of the toxic ingredients to look out for:
PARABENS (used for preservation) aka methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.
SYNTHETIC DYES (derived from petroleum or coal tar sources) look for a 'color + a number'.
FRAGRANCE (associated with allergies and respiratory distress)
TOLUENE (also used to dissolve paint)
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE or SLS (can cause kidney and respiratory damage)
BLEACH (enough said)
How do you know if the products you use and love now are toxic? This is a great resource for products AND ingredients: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep
WHAT ABOUT FOOD?
I have to add something about FOOD ;)
Of course, eating clean and unprocessed food is essential to skin health.
The best foods to eat for skin health:
- Lemon: try having a glass of water + FRESH squeezed lemon juice first thing in the morning for a week.
- Brazil Nuts
- Raw pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds
- Extra virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil & sesame oil
- Fatty wild fish like salmon and mackerel
- Leafy greens
What about supplements?
You can find my favorite products HERE. As always, check with you doctor first.
Ok, on to the products...
1.) The Skin Food
Free of synthetics, toxins,, and emulsifiers (emulsifiers are used to mix water and oils. Without them, you might have a few oil droplets on the top of the lotion. Who cares?!)
Biodegradable, recycled and sustainable packaging that avoids using plastic
No animal testing or cruelty.
Part of the proceeds support "the employment and training of men & women marginalized by our society".
SUPER moisture!! If you have dry skin, you will love this.
I didn't think I would use it as much in the summer, but my skin wasn't doing as well and broke out a little when I stopped, so I'm not going to mess with success. I'm back to using this every night and breakouts have gone away.
A little bit goes a long way, too, so that is a big plus.
HYALURONIC ACID: This was in just about all the products. So what the heck is it? It sounded "chemically" to me, but it isn't. It's a substance that is naturally present in the human body especially in the eyes, joints, and skin. As we age, the body manufactures less HA resulting in drier, less toned and less elastic skin.
HA binds up to 1000 times its weight in water, so it gives us continuous moisture.
My skin felt really balanced after using this. A little of the tingle that makes your skin feel clean ;)
Be careful before going into the sun after this. The vitamin C can make skin a little more sensitive the sun.
$28.00 | .07oz • Ingredients
EASY!! This is perfect for traveling. It's under eye treatment in a chapstick tube.
Meadow foam seed oil naturally helps your skin form a barrier to lock in moisture, plumps skin cells, reduces skin inflammation and fends of free radicals to prevent early wrinkles and saggy skin. Yes, please.
Game changer - I swear it made my under eyes look brighter and the moisture is long lasting. I will definitely be buying more of this. I put this on every night, and even in the morning some days.
Frankincense is something I have been using to repair sun damage, and I would add some geranium oil to help with fine lines and acne.
This product has BOTH of those guys, and ALSO rosehip, Hyaluronic acid, lavender, carrot seed oil (prevents environmental toxins and pollution from accelerating skin aging., and cypress (prevents acne and improves appearance of oily skin).
BOOM! SUPERFOOD for your face :)
Serums seem to be everywhere right now. I think of them like supplements for your skin. Deep penetrating moisture, help with acne, etc. Serums are skin medicine.
2.) Clean Beauty Collective
(New York, NY)
Vegan / cruelty free / ozone friendly
Recyclable & eco-conscious packaging
They work with partners who use manufacturing practices that reduce carbon footprint, as well as responsibly sourced and sustainable ingredients.
To further support the farmers, CLEAN RESERVE funds a program that provides safe drinking water to the community.
CLEAN -RESERVE- | Avant Garden Collection | Scent: white fig & bourbon ♡
$150 | 3.4oz • Ingredients
This product has LASTING POWER!! Finally, a natural perfume that I can still smell hours later.
This has been my favorite fragrance in a long time. It has all the sophistication and complexity of the most toxic brands ;) I've gotten tired of all-natural perfumes basically just smelling like essential oils. This has a scent all its own.
The bottle is also way bigger than I was expecting. Even in the photos I took, for some reason it just seems to photograph as smaller. One tip - be careful when you lift the top of the box off, I almost dropped the whole thing.
3.) Indie Lee
(South Salem, NY)
The website is a great resource for learning more about natural skin care with an entire database of ingredients. The founder was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, which launched her on her mission to clean up beauty products.
Large and small (airplane friendly) sizes of products.
A lot of double duty products. The cleanser doubles as an exfoliating mask and the body soak works in a bath to ease tense muscles or as a body scrub.
$48 | .5oz | Ingredients
The texture of this is lighter, so perfect for under makeup (clean makeup post coming... sometime soon).
Packed with antioxidants, chamomile to calm puffiness, and arnica to refresh under eyes. This leaves skin looking smoother, brighter and firmer without a lot of heaviness.
BRIGHTENING CLEANSER ♡ (far right)
$10 | 1oz • $34 | 4.2oz • Ingredients
Delicious strawberry scent (from Strawberry Seed Oil)!!!!! YUM!!!!
Also, you can leave this on for five minutes, and it doubles as an exfoliating mask if you leave it on for 5 minutes before rising.
I really liked this cleanser. It left my skin feeling clean but never dry, and the smell is out of this world.
$10 | 1oz • $34 | 4.2oz • Ingredients
I remember back in high school, we were all supposed to use toners to singe the acne right off of our faces. The toners in 2019 seem to be more about NOURISHMENT not sizzling.
This alcohol-free toner hydrates and balances your skin's pH level. It protects skin from pollution and other environmental junk with sage, Aloe, and antioxidants like CoQ-10. I'm taking this with me next time I fly for sure! It's also great after a workout as a skin refresher.
$14 | .34oz • $34 | 1oz • Ingredients
I had no idea what Squalane oil was when I started this post, and now I'm seeing it everywhere. Apparently, it used to be derived from shark liver, but Indie Lee's is from olives and sugar cane. It's an oil that occurs naturally in our cells, but diminishes with age. It still feels counterintuitive to me to rub oil on my face (I know it's good, but it still feels so bad), but this stuff does NOT clog pores (apparently, that's what non-comedogenic means).
This is a major tool against anti-aging properties, and contains anti-inflammatory benefits to help with skin conditions such as acne and eczema. It also defends against environmental stressors and dehydration.
Pssst... you can get these last three products to try in their Discovery Kit.
4.) SKINourishment Inc / POLYN (Austin, TX)
Vegetarian / gluten free / nonGMO & never tested on animals (certified by PETA).
Nothing synthetic, no fillers, and no alcohol. 100% Plant-based and food grade ingredients (verified by NIRC)
Created in small batches by an aromatherapist and student of Chinese medicine.
100% of our packaging is made with recycled, reusable or compostable materials. Suppliers as locally sourced as possible to avoid transportation cost and invest in the regional and national economy.
SO much LATHER!!! They say lather isn't important, but I still love it.
This removes dead skin cells and my face feels SO CLEAN after using it.
peppermint gives it a little tingle.
I swear I can feel the lather washing away all those little congested skin "bumpies"
Smells AMAZING. Nice lasting moisture.
I'm going to try and get this on the airplane as a non-liquid or gel. I mean, it's solid, right? I'll let you know how this goes ㋡
$6.95 | .5oz • Ingredients
This was a lifesaver for Anthony. He gets a dry patch of skin where his glasses hit the bridge of his nose. He used this 2x day, and the patch went away! Also, since it isn't oily/greasy, he didn't have to wait to put his glasses back on (unlike when we tried straight vitamin E oil). Makes sense because it was originally formulated for rock climbers.
5.) Harlem Botanica
(New York, NY)
NO parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, artificial dyes, propylene glycol, synthetic alcohol, animal byproducts or phthalates.
Cruelty-Free / Vegan / Organic / Unisex
One of the coolest looking bottles I've ever seen.
Every batch is handmade in their Harlem, NY shop using the highest quality ingredients from around the world.
A portion of their proceeds support The HeadStrong Project.
One of the coolest looking bottles I've ever seen!! All of the fragrances are super unique. These are herbal and spicy (again, not just your usual essential oil smells). Right up my alley. Also, the scent lasted much longer than most natural perfumes. That was actually my original reason for this post. I was SO close to turning back to toxic perfumes because I was so bored with reapplying every 5 minutes and smelling like either lavender or patchouli.
Founder Julissa Jose was a fragrance lover her whole life, but developed a severe allergy in her late 20s. UGH!!! NOOO!! So, she removed all processed fragrances and petrochemicals from her life and created Harlem Botanica :)
RINGS OF TIME: Juniper Berry, Juniper Berry, Altas Cedarwood, Himalayan Cedarwood, and Cypress.
DESERT BLOOM: Black Pepper, Rose, and Sandalwood.
SPICE OF LIFE: Red Ginger, Ginger Root, Cardamom, Clary Sage, Nutmeg and Curry Leaf.
SPROUTING CALM: Thyme, Lavender and Vetiver.
$125-$135 | 1.5oz
$10-$15 | 65mm • (Ingredient links above)
6.) Land Meets Sea
Developed by a professional perfumer (Lisa) and slow crafted in Maine.
"My method of perfumery dates back to old school formulary, which was much more simple...LMS perfumes are something very special, handcrafted with only the highest quality natural ingredients. This production method makes our perfumes something extraordinary, and not "mainstream", which I define as mass produced in a factory using cheaper, synthetic ingredients that are not sourced from nature. When I picture that image of the perfume produced in a factory by machines, it is no longer art".
(Pictured left to right: Never Settle Perfume, Skin Creme, and Cloudberry & Cinnamon Toner)
(pictured in top two photos)
$18.00 | 120ml • Ingredients
The cinnamon and mint in this give it an amazing tingle - NOT drying though.
Just a little wakeup :)
Made with gentler skin enhancing ingredients like white willow bark and fruit extracts.
Contains maple leaf extract, which is considered the new fine line reducer. It protects elastin, and keeps the skin looking smooth and full.
Removes remaining oil or dirt from the skin, closes your pores, and adjusts the pH of your skin. Good deal!! I use this morning and night.
SKIN CREAM (Cocoa & Myrrh) ♡
(pictured to the right)
$36.00 | 60ml • Ingredients
This is my top pick for moisturizer. My hands stayed soft through a lot of hand washes, which is saying A LOT for Chicago in the Spring. Also, you don't need a lot. A little dollop goes a long way. Never greasy feeling either - just velvety. It also smells like chocolate... so there's that bonus :)
I will definitely be getting more of this!
EAU de PARFUM (Never Settle)
(pictured in top two photos)
$52.00 | 9ml • Ingredients
The NEVER SETTLE is the perfect summer weekend scent. I am going to describe this fragrance as clean linens in the summer - maybe seaside. Sandy, herbal, saline, fresh. How's that for a fragrance amateur?!
If you want one of just about everything, Lisa has a great package that lets you.
She also has a sister company for DOGS!! :) Oili Ruffo
Use code PUPPIES for 20% off your first order.
7. ) Complex Beauty
Always free of parabens, artificial fragrances, fillers, petroleum derivatives, skin-aging toxins, and carcinogens.
Cruelty free / Vegan.
They offer free samples.
Female founded, operated, and funded.
ROSE GLOW Glycolic Mask
$35 | 1.7oz • Ingredients
This mix of rosewater and glycolic acid will dissolve the dull and dead skin, and leave your face hydrated, exfoliated and with balanced pH.
Bonus: long term use can help reduce the appearance of blemishes, scars and uneven complexion..
(Mind the sun while/after using this.)
Organic / Vegan / cruelty free.
Contain no synthetic scents or ingredients.
Lots of gift boxes, travel kits, and different sizes to choose from.
Boxes are made of recycled paper, and glass bottles are refillable and reusable.
Pictured left to right: Blissful Room Boost, Serene Room Boost, Tranquility Chakra Boost, Vitality Chakra Boost
$20 | .34oz • $40 | 3.24oz • Ingredients
Blood orange, bergamot, and ylang ylang are a few of the fragrances in this spray. They are also three of my favorite fragrances, so I am a big fan! I use this spray after cleaning or whenever the room or linens/upholstery/dog smell a little stale.
Spoiler... these are coming with us in the France 2019 goodie bags.
The Serene scent goes onto my pillows and sheets every night before bed and it's SO calming. I take it with me when I travel too.
$30 | .34oz • $12 | .10oz • Ingredients
Adoratherapy is excellent with creating blends of essential oils that I haven't smelled before. The vitality blend is excellent for focus and grounding. It helps me concentrate and feel rooted.
Tranquility is perfect for right before bed (or any moment when you need a little extra relaxation). Try this right before meditating!
9.) Laurel & Reed
(Los Angeles, CA)
FULL SIZE products - YAY!
You can shop past boxes as well as individual products.
When the founder's father was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, she decided to live a more organic and healthy life., and wanted to help others do the same.
They have partnered with BadAss Beth, which provides funding and support to young woman that have been diagnosed with breast cancer, tested positive for the BRCA gene, or have a family history that leaves them more susceptible to breast cancer. They focus on providing money to fund early mammograms, BRCA testing, egg retrieval and storage after a diagnosis or before treatment, reconstructive breast surgery, and other ancillary needs not covered by insurance
I'm mentioning Laurel & Reed at the end of this post, because if you're new to clean beauty products and not sure where to start, this is a great way to try a variety of different products in one place. If you are a clean beauty pro, Laurel & Reed is perfect spot to spot new products.
This is the February box and is available HERE (you can shop past boxes). Links to ingredients of individual products below.
REVIVAL BODY CARE Grapefruit + Mint Body Scrub
4oz - $9.95
20 EAST BOTANICALS Nebula Facial Oil ♡ .25oz - $18
REVIVAL BODY CARE Rose & Vanilla + Sugar Lip Scrub
1oz - $7.95
SAHARA ROSE Luminous Clarifying Cleanser 3.4oz - $48
SELIA & CO. (Soothe) Geranium + White Tea Skin Tonic
2oz - $24
BKIND Konjac Facial Sponge (Pink Clay) $9.95
Very cool - definitely check this out. I had never tried anything like it.
Revival body scrub in front. In back from left to right: Sahara Rose, Selia & Co, Revival lip scrub, and Nebula Oil
Nebula Facial Oil
FAVORITES RECAP :
♡ CLEAN -RESERVE - Avant Garden Collection | Scent: white fig & bourbon
♡ The Skin Kitchen - Eye Creme
♡ The Skin Kitchen - Serum