So I started small… with my face wash!
Truthfully, my mission to convert some of my beauty products to more natural options is an ongoing process mainly because it’s admittedly challenging and constantly evolving. There is SO much information out there and it can almost make me feel frozen. Taking small steps to improve my beauty products over time is the best way for me to approach this goal.
There are some products I may never completely convert (mascara comes to mind because I am SO picky) but others, like facial cleansers and moisturizers are a bit easier. Unless you moisturize solely with coconut oil and cleanse your face with tea tree oil, the ingredient lists on products – even green ones – can seem scary. Many safe ingredients look like chemicals (like many essential oils) but I am starting slow and focusing on purchasing products free of parabens, sulfates, BHT and BHA, phthalates, oxybenzone and triclosan.
Why these ingredients? Here’s a brief rundown of the harm they can do:
- Parabens: Serve as a preservative and have the ability to mimic estrogen, lead to hormone imbalance and interfere with the function of your endocrine system
- Sulfates: A cleansing and foaming agent found to break down proteins which can lead to a degenerative effect on cell membranes
- BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene): Used to lighten skin, BHA and BHT are considered by the National Toxicology Program as a likely carcinogen and both are banned in Europe
- Phthalates: Plasticizing chemicals that are probable disruptors to the reproductive system (particularly in males); two phthalates (dibutyl and diethylhexyl) have been banned in Europe
- Oxybenzone: Common in sunscreen to absorb UV light, can cause skin irritation and endocrine disruption
- Triclosan: Often used in antibacterial hand soaps, deodorants and toothpaste; a possible endocrine disruptor that can harm your thyroid and reproductive hormones
Of course there are many, many other potentially harmful ingredients out there, but this is just a starting point for me and these are some of the ingredients that appear to be most common and the most harmful.
The following four facial cleansers are cleansers I’ve been using for quite a while now. I rotate through them (though I use the Amara Organics one in the shower every day) and love them all for different reasons which I have detailed below.
Natural Facial Cleansers I Love
I purchased Amara Organics Vitamin C Facial Cleanser on Amazon Prime after I received my first facial in years in the spring of this year. My aesthetician gave me a vitamin C facial and spoke at length about the benefits of vitamin C for your skin. (The brief summary: Vitamin C helps fight free-radicals and prevent sun damage to our skin. It’s necessary for collagen production and can help reduce signs of aging.) As I began to hunt for a natural cleanser with vitamin C that was made with no sulfates, parabens or dyes, I quickly stumbled upon Amara Organics and with 600+ almost 5-star reviews on Amazon, I figured I would give it a shot.
My love for this cleanser was instant. So many natural face washes I’ve tried seem to leave a film behind on my skin but this one washed clean and left my skin feeling fresh but not dry or tight. It’s my favorite cleanser of the bunch and one I’ve ordered over and over again since I first discovered it. (FYI, I also LOVE the same brand’s anti-aging moisturizer.) The only con I have for this cleanser is that it can sting a bit if I get it in my eyes, but I learned that quickly and just take extra care to avoid contact with my eyes when washing my face with this cleanser.
Beautycounter’s Nourishing Cream Cleanser is the best moisturizing cleanser I’ve found to date. Truth be told most other cleansers that claim to be deeply moisturizing do not leave my face feeling clean at all and this one is definitely an exception. The cleanser is incredibly gentle but still effective at removing makeup and dirt. It’s a wonderful cleanser to use during the colder months of the year when my skin can often feel overly dry and in desperate need of nourishment.
I completely trust the ingredients in all of Beautycounter’s products (their Tint Skin Foundation is my go-to when I need more coverage on my face), so this cleanser was actually my first foray into cleaner and safer facial cleansers. I’ve tried a pretty decent handful of Beautycounter products and loved some more than others and this product is one of my favorites. (If anyone is interested in a post highlighting the Beautycounter products I’ve loved and those I’ve found not so great, let me know. I’m not a consultant and don’t sell Beautycounter but I am happy to give an honest rundown of my thoughts if it’s of interest since I feel like so many of the Beautycounter reviews out there seem to – understandably – come from consultants.)
My Botanics Invigorating Face Scrub was an impulse buy at Target and is the most affordable of all the cleansers I’ve tried. I treat this scrub as a once-or-twice-a-week exfoliator since the scrub is a little more rough and contains contains willow bark extract to help slough away dirt and makeup to unclog pores and combat uneven skin tones. It makes my skin feel smooth and gives me a deep clean feeling I find myself craving when I wear more makeup than usual after a dinner with girlfriends or a date night out with Ryan.
This cleanser is one of the more affordable natural cleansers I’ve tried (it’s $10) and also seems to be the most gentle. It leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated and the gel formula is different than most other cleansers on the market. Perhaps my favorite part of this cleanser is the bright, slightly fruity sweet scent. It smells the most pleasant and the least earthy of the bunch.
Question of the Day
Do you use natural beauty products? If so, are there any you absolutely love and swear by?
I’d love to hear your recommendations, especially when it comes to concealer because I have yet to find a high-quality, effective natural concealer.
Chemicals to Avoid in Skincare
Are Parabens and Phthalates Harmful?
I’d love to get an unbiased review on Beautycounter products! The only reviews I’ve ever seen are from consultants so it’s so hard to pick out who’s being honest and who’s just trying to sell. I totally get why they may be pricier than other brands but it also makes it harder to make the switch from things I’m using to Beautycounter without knowing how the products really are.
I can send you samples of Beautycounter products if you’d like, just email me at LindsayB727@yahoo.com!
When I was pregnant, I changed pretty much every aspect of my beauty routine and have kept it that way since. I am big on tarte when it comes to make up. Their stuff is mostly mineral based and works really well for me 🙂
Jennifer Eaton says
I use Young Living’s skin care line and love it. Their orange blossom cleanser and ART toner are my favorites. I also love to add frankincense essential oil (or melrose or purification – if my skin is breaking out) to their lotions. AND they just came out with a line of non-toxic, mineral based (no talc, bismuth, etc) makeup. I’m excited to try it!!
Hi! Young Living’s mineral make up is AMAZING!!!!! I love it and it is worth every pretty penny!!
Agree on the Beautycounter review, I would love to hear an honest review. I really want to branch to a few of their items, but I am so hesitant to spend that kind of money without trying them first. I wish they sold sample sizes!
For the past few years, I have mainly been using Burt’s Bees for skincare. I have also tried a couple of their new makeup items and like them as well.
I can send you samples of Beautycounter products if you’d like, just email me at LindsayB727@yahoo.com! It is an investment so you should totally make sure you love it before you buy! There is also a 60 day no questions asked return policy so you can always order and return if you don’t love it. Look around at Beautycounter.com/lindsaylewis and email me with any questions!
Kim from MN says
Such a great post! And hi! Happy Tuesday!
My biggest natural beauty tip: test small spots of skin (like the wrist) with natural beauty products. Because there are lots of perfectly natural things on this earth that are also irritating to the skin. Example, I can’t remember what ingredient it was, but it was uber natural (like some kind of tree), however, that kind of tree happens to irritate human skin (all human skin). So the point is, just like birds eat berries that are poisonous to humans, there are lots of natural things that are irritating to human skin. So check out, “Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter without me” – it’s a book, and I think she now has a website. But she tests all products and writes reviews. A lot of her reviews talk about some of the natural ingredients in some products and how those things can be irritating.
Perfect example of the above: I used a physician’s formula all ORGANIC powder once, and immediately broke out in hives and a rash. :/ So…..do a test spot on your skin and save yourself some some skin woes, even when the product is natural and phlalate free etc.!
I’ve been dabbling in green beauty for awhile now and have learned SO MUCH along the way. And I love hearing what others are liking! Some favorites I’ve found…
Concealer: Beautycounter or Well People
Skincare: Andalou Naturals
Blush: Mineral Fusion
Bronzer: Alima Pure
Highlighter: RMS Magic Luminizer
Lip Tint: Beautycounter Lip Sheer
All this to say, personal care items can be…well…so personal! I’m thankful a lot of companies stand behind their products and have excellent return policies on items you don’t love (e.g. Sephora now carries RMS Brand, Whole Foods offers some of the items above and will accept returns on any product you don’t love). Definitely look into the Detox Market online as well–they have a very reasonably priced program that allows you to sample products.
For a natural exfoliant that still leaves my skin feeling very moisturized, I LOVE Lush’s Angels on Bare Skin. It is a little hard to lather, but my skin feels amazing after I use it. If there is a store near you, I highly recommend grabbing a sample and trying it out.
I’m still in search of the perfect daily cleanser. I have a clarisonic and because that does most of the work, I usually buy whatever Philosophy or Aveeno product I can grab on sale.
If you want to sample any of Beautycounter’s cleansers let me know and I can send you a sample! LindsayB727@yahoo.com
If you love the Nourishing Cream Cleanser, I’d highly recommend checking out the Beautycounter Rejuvenating Face Cleanser. I like it a lot better than the Nourishing Cream Cleanser, and it lasts a lot longer too! (I know it costs a little more upfront.)
Good morning! I’ve been really liking Acure Organics facial oils and moisturizers. Especially the Sensitive Facial Cream!
Kendra Clements says
I remember when I first got pregnant with my daughter (just a couple months younger than Chase!) I began doing the same research! It’s funny when you are responsible for another life how quickly you change some of your habits! ? I came across Arbonne and haven’t looked back since. They have a very strict ingredients policy (follow European standards) and have over 400 products! It has made “shopping” for personal care products (and nutrition!) so easy for me! And it’s all purchased online so i don’t have to go to the store! I would love to send you some samples if you are interested in trying products beyond facial cleanser! 🙂
Amanda Cherry says
ahh me too! Love Arbonne so much and one of the reasons is because I don’t have check their labels because I know they are safe and they work.
Laura Goodwin says
Try Keys brand, they make a great sunscreen and other skincare. I use their eye cream as well. 100% Pure makes body lotions and also Poofy Organics has some nice skin care products!
I would also love an unbiased Beautycounter review!
I switched a lot of my facial products to Beautycounter in February, and have been overall very happy. My favorite products are:
Charcoal bar – this has lasted me 10 months and I just now need to refill
Cream exfoliator – it seems gentle enough to use often (I use it every other day). Also seems to last forever!
Night cream – I didn’t really love the day cream, but I really enjoy the night cream
Dew skin tinted moisturizer – I hate a heavy feeling foundation, and use this almost daily
Concealer – I really like this as well.
Charcoal mask – I try and do this once a week. I’ve had the same container for 10 months no need to reorder yet
Matte bronzer – LOVE it!
Items I tried and didn’t love:
Mascara – I think they just changed it but I haven’t tried the new version yet
Toner pads – I started using witch hazel and like that so much more
I am also dabbling in making my own skincare stuff now which has been fun. I made a facial scrub yesterday with coffee grounds, brown sugar, raw honey, and coconut oil. Was a bit messy but my skin felt SO SMOOTH afterwards. Can’t beat the price either 🙂
Amanda Cherry says
Hey Julie- I am so glad you decided to write about this topic. It can be very overwhelming when switching brands to a better, safer, product (personal care or food/nutrition) and so a lot of people just give up. When I was pregnant with my son (who is Chase’s age. They are like 1 month a part) I started doing research on personal care products and was disgusted with what I was currently using after finding out what was in them. I have always been mindful with nutrition but never really thought about what I was putting on my skin. I began a business with Arbonne right around this time. I love their ingredient policy, vegan certified (did you know if your personal care products are not vegan certified there can be animal byproducts, along with chemicals in the. Like bat poop in mascara, like for real!). Arbonne has over 400 products and a 45 money back guarantee. I would love to send you some samples! 🙂
Suzanne @ My Life is a Mix says
I love the Acure brand sensitive skin facial cleanser and the brightening skin scrub! Both are super affordable at $10 each. I also love Elta MD for a cleaner sunscreen.
I’ve actually heard from several “green” skin care experts that Beauty Counter isn’t as clean as they claim. Obviously it’s a better choice than many skincare products but for the price I’d prefer it to be free of all toxins.
Julie, if you would like to provide a giveaway for your readers on your Beautycounter post, please let me know, I’d love to help spread the love with safer products! Email me at Lindsayb727@yahoo.com.
Or if you think your readers would be interested in attending an online facebook educational event on the regulation of the beauty industry in general as well as some of our highlighted products, let me know! There are giveaways of FULL sized products. You let me know the time and day, and I can set it all up for you and them. Beautycounter’s mission is to get safer products in the hands of everyone, even if those products aren’t Beautycounter. Its all about education and then allowing the consumers to make educated decisions. I still use products other than Beautycounter in my house even though I now educate people on the company, and that’s ok. Its all about what works for you and our family and skin type!
I use Neutrogena ultra gentle daily cleanser foaming formula, it doesn’t have any of the ingredients you listed. Although doesn’t mean the others are or are not harmful. My dermatologist recommended this product and I’ve loved it ever since!
Have you used any of The Honest Company skincare?
I would love to hear your unbiased, unsponsored opinions on Beautycounter products!!
Crystal Lynn says
I would also love to get your unbiased review on Beautycounter products! I’ve tried some but do to the cost, I have not purchased a ton. I’m gradually making the switch to safer products and would love to hear what you liked and didn’t like about the Beautycounter products you tried.
I started using beautycounter when I was pregnant and totally love their face and body washes and lotion. I have tried their make up because I’m really picky but I’d love to get your review of the products you’ve tried.
I really loved this post! I hope you consider doing similar posts for other beauty products. I sure would love to hear what you’ve incorporated in other areas!
For a few years now I’ve only opted for natural or as natural as I can get skincare (being vegan helps!). With makeup it’s harder especially in Europe so I opt for cruelty free brands minus parabens, petroleum etc. My skin’s improved so much since I’ve started using natural Korean brands (Aromatica’s a good brand). That said I have to read the ingredients so carefully. I try to avoid petroleum derived ingredients which is tricky. So many aliases and 3rd, 4th generation derived ingredients and ingredients do slip through.
As for concealer. The best cruelty free one I’ve found for oily combo skin is Kat Von D’s Lock It Concealer Creme. Tarte’s Shapetape I found to be too thick. I’ll checkout Beautycounter and see if they ship internationally!
On a different note, for that time of month, the cup’s great. Zero chemicals, reusable (you boil it to sterile it between periods) and in the long run so much cheaper. Plus less waste too!
Mary E. Nolte says
Pacifica actually has some really great mascara if you want to try to go the natural route!
Thanks so much for this post, Julie! I’ve been using CeraVe and wanting to switch to a natural brand, but my skin is SO sensitive. I’m bookmarking this page to read through all the comments. I would love a BeautyCounter review and any other skincare or beauty product reviews (soaps and shampoos are particularly overwhelming). I’ve only ventured into the 100% Pure products – and I love, love, love the body lotion – but that brand is pricey and I swear the prices keep going up. I haven’t had success with natural mascara either, so please let us know if you find one.