What Is Clean Beauty? And Why You Should Make The Switch

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January 1, 2022

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There are more than 80,000 estimated chemicals on the market today, and very little contain quality safety data when it comes to the chemicals that are allowed to be used on our skin. Learn how you can make the switch to clean beauty to eliminate unnecessary toxins in your life no matter what your budget may be!

woman holding flower in her hands

 What Is “Clean Beauty”

Clean beauty has become much more popular over the past 5 or so years, with more brands choosing to take a stand to remove known harmful chemicals from their skincare products. Because our beauty industry is not regulated it is up to individual brands to decide for the most part which they choose to put in their skincare and beauty products. Unfortunately, with the increased interest in clean beauty, this also means that some brands are “green washing” their products by choosing packaging and marketing terms that make the consumer think they are making a healthier choose when really they aren’t.

For this reason it is important to really do your own research as a consumer when it comes to the clean beauty brands you choose to support, or shop at brands like my personal favorite Follain who only carry clean beauty brands that they have vetted with their strict public health standards.

Why Switch To Clean Beauty For Your Skincare?

Even as a public health focused dietitian, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really took the time to take a hard look at my skincare products during one of these spring cleaning sprees, and realized that I had a lot of work to do.

What started out with a question I had as to why some of the eye makeup products I was using literally were making my eyes cry from irritation, turned into an epic journey into understanding our current personal beauty and skincare products industry.

What I found left me feeling horrified and angry at the corrupt industry that has allowed toxic ingredients into the personal products we use on our own bodies, on our children, and throughout important life periods like pregnancy here in the United States.

So in my mind there is one very simple reason to start cleaning up your skincare routine, and make the switch to clean beauty products and it is this:

There are more than 80,000 estimated chemicals on the market today, and very little contain quality safety data when it comes to the chemicals that are allowed to be used on our skin.

Additionally, the FDA does not regulate personal care products, and there are more than 1300 currently being used in the United States marketplace, that have otherwise been banned for use in the European Union.

Hormone Disrupting Chemicals Shouldn’t Be In Our Skincare Products

Many of the chemicals that are found in our personal care products today have been known to cause harmful effects on our bodies, and can negatively impact our endocrine system (which regulates our hormones), and lead to other more serious health conditions. 

Because our endocrine system is so sensitive to both physical and environment factors, it can easily be impacted by chemicals that are able to mimic hormones like estrogen in the body, and can lead to a variety of hormonal disfunction and increased risk for disease.

If that isn’t reason enough to switch to clean beauty products, I honestly do not know what it.

marble bathroom ledge with clean beauty products

How To Switch To Safe and Clean Beauty Products

At this point you are probably wondering — well where do I start? How do I know if a company truly is non-toxic? What resources can I use to start making these changes? Don’t worry I’ve gotcha covered. 

I truly believe that every person, on every budget can take steps to reduce the amount they are being exposed to harmful toxins, and it just starts with a little education. There are so many wonderful free resources, and generally affordable companies out there that are doing things right, it just is about knowing what to look for. 

Also, it’s important to not get overwhelmed when you decide to make a change in your personal care products to reduce your chemical exposure. It does not need to happen over night, and small changes over time really do have the potential to make a large impact.

01: Avoid The Biggest Offenders

Not all “toxic” ingredients are created equal, and while some ingredients may not be 100% clean, that doesn’t mean that all ingredients are equally harmful.

To get started I always recommend beginning with the four big offenders:

  • Parabens: Commonly found in haircare and skincare products that act as a preservative to inhibit spoilage. Known to cause endocrine disruption, which can increase risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity.
  • Phalates: A group of chemicals that are used to increase the flexibility of plastic and are used in many cosmetic and skincare products. Known endocrine disruptor commonly found in hair products and synthetic fragrances.
  • Chemical Sunscreens: Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients like Oxybenzone, which are damaging to our coral reefs, and have been found to cause endocrine disruption and possible cell damage and mutation.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): Known to trigger allergies, cause skin irritation, contact dermatitis, and is used in many skin and haircare products to create a lather.

Once you know what ingredients to look for start going through all the products you use on your body and notice which ones contain the above ingredients. Then use step #2 below to prioritize which ones to swap out first if you aren’t ready to completely invest in starting fresh this very moment.

02: Switch To Clean Beauty Products That You Use The Most

For someone who is looking to clean up their skincare, but doesn’t have a big budget, I would recommend starting with the products that you use the most, and on the largest amounts of your skin.

For instance for me that meant switching:

Since I don’t typically wear a lot of makeup I first just started with switching to a clean beauty brand concealer, since that really was the one product I would use almost every day.

03: Shop At Retailers That Stock Clean Beauty Products

When it comes to shopping for clean beauty brands and products my #1 favorite place to shop is Follain.

Follain is a clean beauty store that started in Boston by the incredible founder Tara Foley. I have had the pleasure of speaking on women’s hormonal health and sustainability with Tara at Follain in the past, and can’t speak highly enough about this company and it’s mission. They are deeply committed to making clean beauty products accessible for EVERYONE and have been leaders in the clean beauty movement from day one. They also have already done all the heavy lifting and research for you, so you know that whatever you choose will have passed their strict quality and safety standards.

When I first made the switch to clean beauty, the staff at Follain was so knowledgeable about specific skin care concerns, prior products I had been using, and what switches they thought would be best for my budget, and my skin.

I honestly can say that I have never walked out of this beautiful store with a product that I regretted or didn’t work for me. They also have an incredible money-back guarantee if a product does not work for you, which means no more money wasted on skincare products that just didn’t work for you!

clean beauty store with hundreds of clean beauty skincare products on a wall shelf

Some of My Other Favorite Places To Find Clean Beauty Products

  • Clean At Sephora is a section of Sephora that is dedicated to showcasing and highlighting clean beauty brands that meet certain environmental, ethical, and health standards. I love seeing Sephora move in this direction since they are arguably the largest beauty and skincare retailer.
  • Credo Beauty one of the first clean beauty retailers to source and only stock clean beauty and skincare products. They have a huge selection of brands, and offer some really great sales a few times a year. Depending on what city you live in, they also have a number of stores where you can check out their wide selection of clean beauty and skincare products in person.
  • The Detox Market only stocks clean beauty brands that have met their safety, environmental, and quality standards. So if you want to be able to simple search and choose new clean beauty products without researching every brand then The Detox Market is a great place to shop. They also have a great rewards program and offer lots of sales throughout the year.
  • Clean At Target is an initiative at Target to carry more clean beauty and skincare brands at affordable prices. I LOVE that Target is doing this since they are such a large box store that reaches a wide range of people in many various price points.

How To Know If Your Current Skincare Products Are Healthy

If you like shopping for your skincare and beauty products at local drugstores then my best advice would be to search individual products you are interested in purchasing through one of the following apps. These apps are independent organizations with the sole purpose of making skincare, beauty, and household cleaning products health and safety information more easily available to the average consumer. 

I personally use these apps ALL THE TIME if I can’t find a brand I usually buy or am thinking about trying something new I am across while shopping.

The Environmental Working Group is an incredible environmental organization that takes on a whole bunch of issues, but is also working hard to address safety in our skincare products.

The Skin Deep Database Mobile App is also one of my favorite ways to look up information on the go. You can even use barcode scanning to check the safety of many of your skincare products.

The Think Dirty App available on apple and android devices is another great resource for quickly searching for product safety, and learning more about the safety of your current products and potential safer clean beauty, safer swaps you could make.

Want To Make The Switch And Save On Non Toxic And Clean Beauty Products?

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Meet Meg
Mom to a happy baby girl, and registered dietitian specializing in prenatal, postpartum, and infant wellness. My passion for supporting moms and babies began more than a decade ago, but nothing made me more committed to helping moms and babies thrive than going through my own pregnancy and postpartum journey.

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