The Ultimate Guide To Shopping For Clean Beauty


These days it is difficult to keep up with all the very different ways in which to be clean, sustainable, and green. It takes a lot of time and energy to really dive into what alternatives are out there for our everyday things. There are books to read, articles to scan, many, many different opinions, conflicting stats, and clashing advice. It’s easy to lose track of your initial goal: trying to do the best you can to make a more positive impact. And it should also be as simple as that.

I gave up fast fashion about three years ago. After that, I have tried to slowly integrate more ethical and sustainable options into other parts of my life. From eating less meat, bringing tote bags with me when I do my weekly shop and cycling and walking as much as I can. I find that it is easier to make small lifestyle changes at a time, instead of going cold turkey. Next in line for me is a more ethical and sustainable skincare routine. For two reasons: reduce the pressure on the environment, and hopefully, to get healthier-looking skin. But again, doing the research brings many conflicting theories on what works and what does not. In the end, I think you just need to listen to your own skin. See what works for you. Take it day by day. Don’t go rogue and buy a whole new skincare line all at once. Trial and error is the way to go. And if you need some help getting started, we have gathered some of, what we believe, is the most important information to know about.


What is clean beauty?

To start off with, what actually is clean beauty? Holly McWhorter, from PLANT Apothecary, says that they are beauty products that are safe for both people and the environment. But it is also associated with transparency, meaning that customers are able to know exactly how a product is made and what is in it.


The clean beauty trend took off when we saw a rise in sensitive skin cases and linked that to the synthetic ingredients that were in our products. So people started reading labels more carefully and were shocked by some of the things they found. From lead to synthetic fragrances that can have an effect on your hormones. Nowadays 55% of women and 62% of millennials in the US read the labels of beauty products to see what ingredients are in it. Additionally, 87% of Gen Z’s and 73% of Millennials are motivated to buy skincare products that are created using methods that have the least environmental impact. So it’s pretty clear: we want to know what we are putting on our skin every day, and that the production of those products is not harming the environment.


Read labels to identify toxic ingredients

Are you ready to start reading labels? Great! Let me tell you what ingredients to look out for. One little issue: what constitutes a toxic ingredient kind of depends on where you are based in the world. In the EU, there are about 1500 ingredients that are banned from being in found in cosmetics. In the US there shockingly are only 30 ingredients that are banned, and the regulations surrounding the production of cosmetics have not changed in the last 81 years.


From all the research we have done, we found the easiest example to lead by, is the one that was created by Tiffany Masterson, founder of Drunk Elephant. The so-called ‘Suspicious Six’. They include:

  1. Essential oils
  2. Drying alcohols
  3. Silicones
  4. Chemical screens
  5. Fragrance/dyes 
  6. SLS

These are six categories of commonly used ingredients in skincare formulas that Masterson found were the most disruptive to the overall health of the skin. She believes that once you cut these ingredients from your skincare routine, your skin will be able to reset and return to its healthiest, most balanced state. Now, that sounds like something we want to get on board on.

What else?

What else can you do, besides reading the label? Download the Clean Beauty app. It will let you scan de barcode from your products and it will identify controversial ingredients, allergens and ingredients that are banned. A quick scan of the moisturiser I have been using for over a year now shows that it includes ingredients that have been shown to cause tumours in mice, that act as hormones and thus have an effect on the endocrine system, and that can have irritable effects on the eyes and respiratory tract. And that moisturiser has been advertised as a ‘clean and organic’ product. So I tossed it straight into the bin.


Another great tip is to just go straight to the source. Ask the experts. Go to a dermatologist and ask any of the questions that you have. Every skin type is different, so what works for you may very well not work for your friend. It’s also great visiting dedicated natural beauty stores or contacting brands directly. Usually, they are very willing to help you out with any of the questions you have, as they are very aware of the buzzwords like sustainable, organic, natural and ethical floating around everywhere and the confusing effect that it can have.


Some brands we love…

This list of skincare brands is truly natural, organic and cruelty-free. They use pure and earth-friendly ingredients, so they are as clean as they are effective. No need to worry about toxins or allergens here.


  1. Ren Skincare 
  2. Drunk Elephant 
  3. Alima Pure 
  4. Au Naturale 
  5. Lush 
  6. ILIA
  7. 100% Pure 
  8. PLANT Apothecary 
  9. Pretty Well Beauty 


Good luck on your journey to clean beauty and healthier skin!


Written by: Danique van Leeuwenstijn