A clean skincare brand, for me, is one that cares about the ingredients it uses or avoids using because of the health effects it has on the consumer as well as the environment. The EU bans over 1,600 ingredients in cosmetics while the US bans under 20. So legally, US companies do not have a lot of restrictions when formulating their products, so I look for brands who go above and beyond what is required of them, because that makes me feel like what I am putting on my skin (our largest organ) will minimize as many harmful side effects as possible.
What harmful side effects are we talking about?
- Carcinogenic – something that is capable of causing cancer. No further explanation needed.
- Endocrine Disruptor – something that mimics, blocks or interferes with the body’s hormones, which are part of our endocrine system (growth, fertility, reproduction). We talk widely about this in food we consume, but not enough about it in skincare products.
- Allergic reaction – While even “natural” ingredients can cause an allergic reaction, the risks are greatly reduced when being mindful of the ingredients we are putting on our skin. Reactions can range from a mild rash to swelling, hives and even wheezing and anaphylaxis.
Here are a few ingredients that the EU bans that can be found in US products:
- Formaldehyde – Mostly known by its common name, formaldehyde is a carcinogen. It can be found in body wash and makeup products to prolong shelf life and prevent bacterial contamination. Can be disguised on an ingredient list as formalin or methylene glycol.
- Hydroquinone – a skin lightener, which I have used before but then stopped due to the risks. Products containing hydroquinone can no longer be sold over the counter due to its increased risk of cancer and allergic reactions.
- Lead and other heavy metals – Can be found in many skincare products as an intentional colorant ingredient or as a contaminate. High exposure to heavy metals has been linked to toxicity in the reproductive, immune and nervous system. Several metals can act like estrogen in breast cancer cells.
- Parabens – an endocrine disruptor, found in lotions, shampoos and cleansers as a preservative and to prevent microbe growth. Avoid ingredients ending in “paraben” or shop for products that are labeled “paraben-free”.
- Petroleum Derivatives – used as a moisturizer and is safe when properly refined. Unfortunately, if it is not highly refined, it may include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are carcinogenic.
- Phthalates – considered a plasticizer, making plastics more durable, and is an endocrine disruptor. It can be found in soaps, shampoos, hairsprays and cosmetics such as lipstick. Look for ingredients ending in “phthalate” such as dibutylphthalate (DBP), dimethylphthalate (DMP), and diethylphthalate (DEP).
Label-reading can sometimes be confusing and tiresome, so I usually run products through the Environmental Working Group app or the Yuka app. I will admit that not everything I use is free of the above ingredients, but I’ve tried to slowly incorporate more and more clean brands into my skincare regimen.
Here are some of my favorites that I now use on a regular basis:
Originally known for their sunscreen products, Supergoop now offers more than just traditional sunscreen. Made without oxybenzone and parabens plus more than 1300 other ingredients on their “no” list, Supergoop is EU compliant and reef-safe. My gateway Supergoop product is the PLAY Everyday Lotion SPF 50 with Sunflower Extract in the large pump container. My family has easy access to apply as needed and we were able to use it safely during our excursions in Puerto Rico because it is reef-safe. I also use their CC Screen 100% Mineral CC Cream SPF 50 on a regular basis as my foundation.
Supergoop Referral Coupon: $10 OFF $65 OR MORE
I didn’t find Thrive Causemetics, Thrive Causemetics found me! They chose my breast cancer non-profit, the Step Sisters, as one of their Giving Partners a few years ago. When you purchase a product from Thrive, they donate a product to one of their Giving Partners. The Step Sisters include the donated products from Thrive Causemetics in our patient care bags that we distribute to local breast cancer patients. Since our care bags go to those who are already immune-compromised and fighting cancer, it is important for us to make sure products we include are non-toxic and gentle. And Thrive Causemetic products are just that. All products are free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrance, and latex. They are also cruelty-free and vegan. My favorite products are the Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara (hands down best mascara ever) and Infinity Waterproof Eyeliner.
Thrive Causemetics Referral Coupon: $10 OFF $50 or MORE
If you’ve been following for a while, it will be no secret to you that Beautycounter is on my list. I love it so much that after a year of being a consumer, I became a Brand Advocate to support my habit. But don’t be turned off by the fact that it’s considered a MLM/network marketing company. For me, it’s no different than me telling you about Supergoop or Thrive Causemetics and advertising my referral code. Each purchase does earn me a little commission, just as a referral code would earn me a product credit (I am not making a living on this, trust me, haha). But back to the real reason Beautycounter is on my list. All ingredients and packaging are thoughtfully chosen with over 2,800 ingredients on the “NEVER LIST”. And all products are “EWG verified”, which means they are free from Environmental Working Group’s chemicals of concern and meets their strictest standards. Not to mention, the skincare products work. They have been a game-changer for my mature, dry skin. My gateway product is the Counter+ Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm, and a few of my other favorites are the All Bright C Serum (game-changer), Reflect Effect Overnight Resurfacing Peel (also a game-changer) and Countermatch Refresh Foaming Cleanser, just to name a few.
Beautycounter Coupon Code: Shop HERE and use code CLEANFORALL20 for 20% off your first purchase.
The last brand I want to mention is Primally Pure. Primally Pure uses ingredients that are organically-sourced, derived from nature. Just looking at the ingredient list on their website you can see just how simple and toxic-free their products are. Almost everyone in my family uses their deodorant (charcoal for the guys, lavendar for the girls…that would be me!). I also have on hand the Everything Spray (natural toner, soothes after shaving, underarm refresher), and Everything Balm (my latest eczema and dry hands balm).
Primally Pure Referral Code: $10 OFF FIRST $50+ PURCHASE
There are so many more non-toxic brands out there to try, but these are the 4 brands you can currently find me using for skincare products. I hope this helps you take a step towards making the change to clean skincare.