Our editors have independently selected the items featured in this article because we think they’re worth knowing about. Shop TODAY has affiliate relationships so we may get a small share of the revenue if you buy something through our links.
If there’s one phrase that’s taken the skin care world by storm over the past few years, it’s “clean beauty.” With increased attention to what we put on our skin, we had to get the scoop on what to look for when it comes to shopping for clean beauty products.
TODAY's resident style expert Bobbie Thomas stopped by the show to talk about the trend. She touched on the topic last year, and as consumers have become more and more savvy about skincare, more retailers are answering the call with their take on clean.
She noted that most clean beauty brands focus on safety rather than source. While products embrace both natural and man-made ingredients, they aim to exclude substances proven to be harmful. Remember, just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe (think lead and mercury) and synthetic isn’t always a bad thing, either.
Ahead, she's highlighted some of the most popular places to find clean beauty options.
By the way we reached out to the Personal Care Products Council who told us “While we believe our products are one of the safest categories the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates, we support modernizing the Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act to ensure FDA has the appropriate authority and resources to regulate cosmetic products in the 21st century.“
Credo is constantly exploring the world of clean beauty, to stock their digital shelves with the best, most innovative brands and products. They carry more than 115 brands that use safe, sustainable ethically-sourced ingredients, whose products must meet the standards of their “dirty list” of harmful ingredients. Interesting fact: 90 percent of the brands they carry have a female founder or CEO! The brand is also offering free shipping for TODAY readers if you order before midnight on Feb. 6 with the code: TODAY.
- Beuti Skincare Beauty Sleep Elixir, $65, Credo Beauty
- Type A Deodorant, $10, Credo Beauty
- Suntegrity 5-in-1 tinted sunscreen, $45, Credo Beauty
- Saint Jane Luxury CBD Serum, $125, Credo Beauty
- Goop exfoliating instant facial, $42, Credo Beauty
- Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara, $28, Credo Beauty
- Kosas Lipstick, $28, Credo Beauty
For years, Sephora’s online store has included a “what it is formulated without” section for each product, to help inform their customers about the ingredients. And in 2018 Sephora launched its own clean initiative called Clean at Sephora, a catchall digital space for shoppers to find clean skin care, beauty, hair and fragrance products. It also includes their own “seal” which indicates that a product is free of sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates, mineral oils and more.
Thomas called out Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma serum as a hero product from the clean beauty brand and beloved by customers with nearly 800 five-star reviews on Sephora. Here are more of her clean beauty picks from the retailer:
- Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, $80, Sephora
- Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm, $22, Sephora
- Youth To The People Superfood Skin Reset Antioxidant Mask, $44, Sephora
- Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask, $24, Sephora
- Kopari Coconut Deodorant, $11, Sephora
- Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-exfoliating Shampoo, $42, Sephora
Stuff We Love
With a clean beauty initiative in the works for 2020, Target is taking steps to make clean personal care and beauty products easier to find online with a dedicated Natural Personal Care section, which outlines that all the products within it are made without priority chemicals like parabens, phthalates, and formaldehyde. It also means that generic ingredients like fragrance must be natural or have their sub-ingredients listed.
New to shelves is C’est Moi, a new clean beauty brand specifically for teens and tweens. It’s made with gentle and effective ingredients for sensitive and congested skin, and is EWG verified and hypoallergenic. Here are more of her favorite clean beauty picks from the retailer:
- C’est Moi 3-Step Gentle Skincare Set, $27, Target
- Herbal Essences Birch Bark Extract Shampoo, $6, Target
- Herbal Essences Honey and Vitamin B Moisture Shampoo, $6, Target
- Aveeno Scalp Soothing Fresh Greens Shampoo, $7, Target
- Acure Brightening Cleansing Gel, $10, Target
CVS is working to remove majorly toxic ingredients that are commonly found in mainstream beauty products (including parabens, phthalates, and common formaldehyde donors) from its various in-house brands by end of 2019. They are reporting an 83 percent completion so far and expect to be on target. They also sell a variety of affordable clean and organic brands like Promise Organic, EOS and Burt’s Bees.
- Promise Organic Nourishing Coconut Milk Face Cleanser, $8, CVS
- EOS Organic Sweet Mint Lip Balm, $5, CVS
- Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Facial Cleansing Oil, $17, CVS
Beautycounter is the largest clean beauty brand in the U.S., with categories that span skin care, hair, body, cosmetics, sun, and kids and most recently, men. They’ve banned more than 1,500 questionable and harmful ingredients from their products, many of which you can learn about via their "The Never List." Not only do they make clean products, but they also advocate for them. Each year, Beautycounter brings a team to Washington to lobby for more regulation in personal care products.
- Kids Super Duper Clean Body Wash, $18, Beautycounter
- Baby Bundle Collection, $54, Beautycounter
- Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Mist, $36, Beautycounter
- Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion $49, Beautycounter
- Nourishing Cream Cleanser, $29, Beautycounter
- Tint Skin Hydrating Foundation, $42, Beautycounter
- Counterman Smoothing Shave Cream, $20, Beautycounter
- Counterman Oil-Free Face Lotion, $32, Beautycounter
Follain is a highly-curated site offering a variety of clean beauty brands (including their own in-house line) that meet their rigorous five-step approval process. They have a constantly updated list of restricted ingredients, and offer a skin quiz to help you find the most effective products for your particular skin type. The site’s founder Tara Foley started Follain in 2013 after the concept won a national retail business plan competition during her MBA program. Here are some of Thomas' clean beauty picks from the site:
- Follain Refillable Soap, $24, Follain
- Naturopathica Cleansers, $18 & up, Follain
- One Love Organics Cleansing Oil & Makeup Remover, $42, Follain
- Indie Lee COQ-10 toner $34, Follain
- Osea Sea Serum, $88, Follain
- Tata Harper green clarifying mask, $68, Follain
- Ursa Major Golden Hour Recovery Cream, $48, Follain
- RMS Beauty Buriti Cream Bronzer, $28, Follain
- Ere Perez Oat Milk Foundation, $35, Follain
- Ere Perez Beetroot Cheek & Lip Stain $25, Follain
This app lets you search through a database of more than one million personal care products and cosmetics to find out if they contain harmful or potentially toxic ingredients. You can search by brand or product name, and you can even scan the product's bar code on your phone. Products are assigned ratings from green (best) to yellow (questionable) and red (probably harmful).
So there you have it! These are just a few places to look if you're trying to be a little more mindful about makeup.
Shop TODAY takes care to recommend our favorite items chosen by trusted experts and editors, as well as inform our readers of great deals, customer favorites, and newsworthy products from around the web. For more on our process, click here.