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Clean Beauty: What You Need to Know About Brands, Plus 6 Products You’ll Want to Use

From best practices to brands to ingredients you should look for, we cover all the ins and outs of this trend

It’s not surprising that the clean beauty movement is continually on the rise. Popular on platforms including Instagram and TikTok, clean beauty brands are what people look for when they need ingredients that benefit their skin, but also the environment. It also gives consumers the chance to be more conscious about what types of skincare or beauty items they should be buying. Not sure what the trend is all about? Woman’s World turned to beauty pros in the industry for a deep dive into all things “clean” and sustainable. Keep reading to uncover the ins and outs of clean beauty, all the brands you should keep on your radar, and six products worth trying. 

What is clean beauty?

Unfortunately, there’s no universal definition for clean beauty, but Megan Cox, the founder and CEO of Genie Supply, a company focused on green beauty and sustainable solutions, says that it “generally refers to beauty products that are formulated in a way that’s safe for both human health and environmental health.” 

“This movement emphasizes transparency, ethical sourcing and sustainable practices, aiming to provide effective skincare solutions that are also environmentally friendly and socially responsible,” adds Barbara Roll, CEO of BOOM! Beauty. The goal is to avoid harmful ingredients and focus on ones that are more natural or organic. What qualifies as clean beauty varies by brand, but there are ways to ensure you’re getting the right products. 

How to find clean beauty products

Looking at ingredients for clean beauty products
Oscar Wong/ Getty

Look at beauty product ingredients to tell if it’s clean

Knowing what ingredients to look for and what to avoid is crucial when it comes to clean beauty items. It can be confusing with words like natural and organic being thrown around, but it’s all about doing your due diligence.

What to look for:

  • Natural oils like coconut or argan
  • Botanical extracts including aloe vera, chamomile, etc.
  • Essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus
  • Mineral-based ingredients — zinc oxide for sunscreen specifically

“Keep in mind that terms like non-toxic, natural and chemical-free are not regulated,” says Cox. “Chemical-free is a red flag, actually, because everything is a chemical.” She also points out that anything with an eco-cert, cosmos or organic label is a “green flag” because they’re regulated.

What to avoid:

  • Parabens
  • Sulfates
  • Synthetic fragrances
  • Formaldehyde releases

Roll says that “choosing products free from these harmful chemicals helps maintain skin health and overall well-being.” These can also cause irritation, disrupt hormone balance and clog up your pores.

Related: 3 Natural Beauty Tips for a Healthy Microbiome and Glowing Skin

Check the beauty product labels for clean signs

Besides checking the ingredient list, experts agree that you have to check the labels as well. “Certifications like USDA Organic, Ecocert, Leaping Bunny, or EWG Verified indicate a commitment to quality and safety,” explains Roll. Making sure both the packaging and the ingredients are sustainable is key. 

According to Manon Pilon, director of research development at Derme & Co and author, a cosmos certification is one of the highest indicators of a clean beauty brand or product. Pilon recently spoke on a panel during  Organic Spa’s Wellness Around the Globe” symposium in New York on Friday, May 17, and shared that cosmos will come and do a thorough audit of everything going into the product. “It’s like a license. It’s kind of a way of protection for consumers,” she told the audience.

Don’t fall for greenwashing

One of the pitfalls of clean beauty is being tricked by greenwashing, which is “unfortunately, a common marketing practice where companies may exaggerate their products as eco-friendly or clean without actually implementing less-toxic and or sustainable practices or have the minimum barrier to clean (like vegan and cruelty-free only),” says Roll. Oftentimes this practice misleads shoppers from products that are actually environmentally friendly. If you’re looking for clean beauty, you must be extra vigilant when shopping, and examine both the labels and ingredients. 

Is there a downside to clean beauty products?

Oftentimes, clean beauty products have a higher price tag than others. Gabi Day, CEO, founder and formulator at Bright Body says this could be for a few reasons. The cost of goods is the first and biggest reason. “High quality, multipurpose and safe ingredients are more expensive, and truly sustainable packaging is much more costly than traditional virgin plastic containers,” explains Day. Ethical sourcing, research and producing smaller batches of products also contribute to the higher price.

The best clean beauty products to try

“The focus of clean beauty is holistic, in that it encompasses both human and environmental health,” says Cox. Keep that in mind when looking for products, but don’t be afraid to try new brands or formulas as well.

Here are our favorite clean beauty products, from moisturizers to shampoo and sunscreen that won’t break the bank.

Best clean beauty moisturizer

Bright Body Hydrating Gel for clean beauty
Bright Body

Bright Body Hydrating Gel

According to Day, this moisturizer is water-based and “perfect for all skin types.” It comes in a mini 0.5 oz or full 2 oz size and is made to give the skin extra hydration thanks to ingredients like aloe vera, rose and hyaluronic acid.

Best clean beauty shampoo

Dr. Hauschka's clean beauty shampoo
Dr Hauschka

Dr. Hauschka Shampoo

Known to be one of the first clean beauty brands, this silicone-free shampoo will do wonders for your mane. “The especially gentle composition of neem, rosemary and quince nourishes hair right to the ends. Essential oils of lemon, bergamot and spearmint provide freshness, while protein-rich chickpea extract nourishes the hair and leaves it more manageable,” says Edwin Batista, director of education, events and field sales at Dr. Hauschka.

Best clean beauty cleanser

MadHippie clean beauty cream cleanser

Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser

Kate Luna, founder of Yung Skincare, says you can’t go wrong with the cream cleanser from Mad Hippie. “It’s a hero in protecting the skin’s natural oils and pH, it’s not too heavy for those with oily or combination skin, does a great job of removing makeup and uses high-quality oils like jojoba and shea butter.”

Best clean beauty body wash

Dr. Tusk clean beauty body wash
Dr. Tusk

Dr. Tusk Body Wash

In addition to being a great clean beauty product, Dr. Tusk body wash can also be found in grocery stores like Whole Foods or online at Amazon. “It smells absolutely heavenly and leaves the skin refreshed and moisturized,” says Luna.

Related: 8 Best Body Washes for Mature Skin That Do More Than Just Cleanse Your Body

Best clean beauty makeup

Fluency multifunctional clean beauty sticks

Fluency Multifunctioning Beauty Sticks

Nothing is better than makeup with multiple uses. These sticks are perfect for the eyes, cheeks or lips and there are many colors to choose from. Cox loves these because they “work the best and feel the best.”

Best clean beauty sunscreen

Babo Botanicals clean beauty sunscreen
Babo Botanicals

Babo Botanicals Sunscreen

Day swears by this sunscreen thanks to its quality ingredients. The lightweight formula is hydrating and made up of 24 different plant-based ingredients to help protect and nourish the skin.

Related: Should I Use a Mineral or Chemical Sunscreen? Pros Weigh In + Share the Best SPF Formulas

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