Did you know the average lipstick-wearing woman eats seven pounds of lipstick in her lifetime? Gross, right? If you’ve never thought about clean beauty before, that single fact might cause you to reconsider. We hear the phrase “clean beauty” thrown around a lot these days. It might bring to mind more natural, eco-friendly products purchased at health food stores, recyclable packaging, or concocting your own beauty products from ingredients in your kitchen. But the importance of clean beauty and non-toxic makeup runs much deeper.
Your skin is your largest organ, and it absorbs whatever you put on it. If it’s full of chemicals, hormone-disruptors, and shady ingredients that have never been tested for safety, then those ingredients are finding their way into your body and affecting your health. Let’s talk about why clean beauty matters, what it means, and how you can protect yourself with a few simple makeup swaps.
Why should you care about clean beauty?
The personal care industry, which includes makeup, is worth $90 billion. It includes the endless aisles of haircare, skincare, and makeup we see in drugstores, department stores, and online. This monstrous industry is governed by a 1938 law that is less than two pages in length. Since that law was introduced over 80 years ago, more than 100,000 ingredients have been introduced into the products on the shelves. The vast majority of these ingredients have never been tested for human safety. Yikes!
Unlike the food industry, no personal care products (the products that we are slathering onto our skin and our children’s skin everyday) are required to undergo safety testing. And if a reaction or an illness does occur, the FDA has no authority to recall any personal care products. They continue to sit on the store shelves, available for purchase.
Many of the ingredients commonly found in personal care products, including makeup, are linked to reproductive issues, PCOS, thyroid issues, certain cancers, early-onset puberty, and early-onset menopause. Not to mention, many of these ingredients are sourced irresponsibly. Pulling back the curtain on what’s actually happening in the beauty industry is shocking and disheartening. Luckily, a handful of forward-thinking companies are starting to change the game, fight for better laws, and create safe, high-performing makeup products.
What is clean beauty?
Clean beauty products are products made without the use of ingredients that are known or probable toxins. Of the hundreds of thousands of ingredients used by the personal care industry, Europe has banned the use of over 1,400. Canada has banned the use of over 600. The United States has only banned the use of 30. Some companies, like Beautycounter, set their own standards for what ingredients they will and won’t use. Beautycounter’s “Never List” contains over 1,800 questionable or harmful chemicals that they never use or that they screen for in their products.
How do you know if a product is made with safe ingredients? You can download a shortened, wallet-sized version of Beautycounter’s Never List to reference when you shop for products, or you can look up products in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database and see their safety ratings.
6 Favorite Clean Beauty Makeup Swaps
After a deep dive into environmental toxins and the personal care industry, I’ve learned that making products that are both safe and high-performing is tricky. Companies aren’t adding harmful ingredients to their products for fun – they add them because they serve a purpose in making the product perform its intended function, keep it free from bacteria, or help it last longer. I’m not a big makeup person and I have breakout-prone skin, so I want the few beauty products I purchase to be safe, functional, good for my skin, and packaged as sustainably as possible. I rounded up the top performing clean beauty products that meet my criteria.
Here are my 6 favorite clean makeup swaps that are part of my new clean beauty routine.
Tinted Moisturizer + SPF: Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer
A tinted moisturizer that provides light coverage, safe sun protection, hydration, and comes in 100% recyclable packaging? What more could I ask for! This is hands-down my favorite clean beauty product. It’s the only makeup product I use everyday. It also contains safe skincare ingredients that improve skin elasticity and firmness while you wear it.
Concealer: RMS “Un” Cover-Up Concealer
This creamy, clean concealer lets you build coverage and blends right into skin. I like to dab it under my eyes and on any red spots on my skin. The little glass jar lasts forever!
Brows: Brilliant Brow Gel
I love how brow gel gives you a polished, no-makeup look with just a couple swipes. It keeps thicker brows in place, and it gives volume to thinner brows. I use the Medium shade, but Clear is also nice.
Lashes: Think Big All-In-One Mascara
As a makeup minimalist, I save this clean mascara for special occasions. I learned that mascara is a pretty dirty industry. Most brands use carbon black as a pigment, which is a probable carcinogen. This clean version is carbon black-free and provides both length and volume.
Cheeks: Cheeky Clean Cream Blush
My favorite part about this clean blush is the packaging! It comes in a little compact with a mirror that’s made from post-consumer plastic, and the compact is refillable! When you’re ready for more, you simply order a refill of any color. The refills are both cheaper and less wasteful.
Lips: Beyond Gloss
There is nothing worse than a sticky, dehydrating lip gloss. This gloss is the exact opposite of that! It’s not sticky, and it conditions your lips like a lip balm. It comes in 14 different shades. Spice and Bare Shimmer are two of my favorites.
The clean beauty products on this list aren’t just my staple favorites. They are such fan favorites, that Beautycounter offers 5 of them as a bundle at a discount. They call it the Flawless in Five. If you’re looking to clean up your cosmetics in one sweep, I highly recommend grabbing this completely customizable bundle.
Browse more of my favorites here. Interested in clean skincare? Read this post about my favorite safe skincare products.