So, you've heard everyone talking about "clean" beauty, and as appealing as it sounds, you still have no idea where to start. The sheer number of new beauty products hitting the shelves weekly only makes the switch more daunting. And most importantly, can you really find a clean dupe for a product you use daily that has since been deemed "toxic" by your favorite skincare guru?
The answer is yes. However, because it often takes a lot of trial and error to find good quality products, it's always a good idea to start slowly and swap out one product at a time. That’s why, in this article, we'll give you the five best and most affordable clean beauty swaps to help you start your journey to a more sustainable skincare routine.
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Swap for magnesium oil.
Ever wonder why you still experience body odor after using standard deodorant? Good ol' deodorant might feel like our savior during hot weather, but it definitely comes at the cost of, well, not smelling so pleasant, to say the least. This is because standard, aluminum-based deodorants cause an imbalance of the bacteria living on your skin, and when this happens, other smellier strains of bacteria are allowed to thrive and multiply, which then leads to more body odor that can become noticeable even as soon as a few hours after applying it.
This is why you should consider opting for an alternative that's better and less irritating, and won't upset the ecosystem of organisms living on your skin. And what better option to go for than magnesium oil? Magnesium oil is known for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve sleep quality, but it also does a fantastic job at keeping body odor at bay. In fact, some minor studies have suggested that people who are deficient in magnesium also tend to have stronger body odor than those who aren't.
Additionally, applying magnesium oil to your armpits won't upset the delicate balance of organisms living on your skin, and it's also non-irritating and gentle enough for people with sensitive skin. Another plus is that you can make magnesium oil yourself and mix it with other gentle oils to soothe and soften the skin and enjoy a pleasant scent, no matter how much you sweat.
Product To Try: Greenway Biotech – Magnesium Oil Spray ($23)
2. Makeup Wipes
Swap for an oil-based cleanser.
Not only are makeup wipes terrible for the environment, but they're also so bad for your skin that using them shouldn't even cross your mind, let alone be part of your daily skincare routine.
First of all, most makeup wipes contain harsh ingredients like alcohol and fragrance that can strip the skin of its natural oils and lead to dryness, irritation, allergic reactions, and even breakouts. And if that's not enough to convince you to ditch them, then consider the fact that makeup wipes are also terrible at actually removing all of your makeup. Sure, they might do a decent job at removing lightweight foundation and powder, but they definitely won't remove all traces of waterproof mascara or long-wearing lipstick unless you do quite a bit of rubbing, which, in case you didn't guess, is also terrible for your skin and can lead to irritation, burning, and even microscopic tearing.
Most makeup wipes contain harsh ingredients that can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause irritation.
Your skin will definitely thank you if you swap out the wipes for a gentler makeup removal option, such as a cleansing oil. Cleansing oils, unlike makeup wipes, are great at breaking down all types of makeup, including waterproof formulas, and they're also much gentler on the skin since they don't contain drying alcohol. There are also many fragrance-free options available. Furthermore, cleansing oils don't require heavy rubbing, pulling, and tugging and are less likely to cause irritation, redness, and skin sensitivity.
If you want to minimize waste even further, you can always use oils such as olive or coconut oil to remove your makeup; however, make sure to thoroughly rinse them off the skin once all makeup is broken down, as leaving them on for too long can actually end up clogging your pores and triggering breakouts.
Product To Try: Biossance – Squalane + Antioxidant Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil ($30)
3. Fragrant Face and Body Washes
Swap for fragrance-free face and body washes.
Besides drying alcohol, another common skincare ingredient that's known for its irritating and sensitizing effects is fragrance. In fact, studies have shown that even those who don't have sensitive skin can still experience negative effects from using fragranced products, such as dryness, redness, itchiness, and allergic reactions, as well as inflammatory conditions such as contact dermatitis. Even more seriously, doctors like Dr. Carrie Jones, who specializes in functional medicine and hormones, have called out fragrances as endocrine disruptors and contributing factors to chronic diseases. With this in mind, it's always best to avoid using fragranced products, especially on the face, as the facial skin is thinner and more reactive than other areas of the body.
And while some people might think that using a gentle and mild face wash is enough to avoid any irritation, that's unfortunately not the case. Many still contain fragrance, which is why it's always a good idea to check the ingredient list before purchasing any skincare product.
Product To Try: CeraVe – Foaming Facial Cleanser with Ceramides & Hyaluronic Acid ($16)
4. Face and Body Scrubs
Swap for chemical exfoliants and dry brushes.
While scrubs might make your skin feel soft, clean, and supple, they are yet another component that can actually do more harm than good, especially if you're using them daily. Physical exfoliants, such as scrubs, work by mechanically removing dead skin cells from the skin's surface through harsh components like walnut shells, apricot kernels, sugar, and salt. Not only can this type of exfoliation be irritating and sensitizing to the skin, but it can also lead to micro-tears, redness, and inflammation. And, of course, let's not forget that many scrubs contain microplastics and these tiny plastic particles end up in our bodies, as well as pollute our waterways and harm marine life when they inevitably find their way into the ocean.
Many scrubs contain microplastics which end up in our bodies, as well as pollute our waterways.
So, if you're looking for a more sustainable and skin-friendly option, consider using chemical exfoliants instead. Although they might sound scary, chemical exfoliants use ingredients such as enzymes and acids naturally found in fruits, the barks of trees, and plants, that work by dissolving the proteins that are holding dead skin cells together, thus encouraging them to shed naturally and reveal brighter and smoother skin underneath. Not only are they much gentler on the skin than scrubs, but they're also more effective at getting rid of dead skin cells and other impurities without causing any irritation or inflammation.
Additionally, if you’re looking for an option to replace your body scrub with, you can't go wrong with a classic dry brush. Dry brushing is a form of manual exfoliation that involves using a stiff bristled brush to brush away dead skin cells and impurities from the skin's surface and provides the added bonus of lymphatic drainage. All you need is a good dry brush and a few minutes of your time, and your skin will feel softer, smoother, and healthier in no time.
Products To Try: Kitsch – Exfoliating Body Dry Brush ($14); Paula's Choice – Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant ($30)
5. Chemical Sunscreen
Swap for a mineral sunscreen.
Another great way to make your beauty routine more sustainable and skin-friendly is to ditch your chemical sunscreen in favor of a mineral one. Unlike chemical sunscreens, which rely on ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene to protect the skin from the sun, mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to physically block the sun's harmful rays. Not only are these ingredients much gentler on the skin, but they're also more effective at protecting against both UVA and UVB rays.
And of course, let's not forget that many chemical sunscreens are loaded with somewhat controversial ingredients. Scientific research has not yet clearly explained the potential effect these components have on the environment, especially marine life. So, if you're looking for a gentler, more sustainable, and skin-friendly sunscreen option, definitely consider switching to a mineral sunscreen instead.
Product To Try: Kinship – Self Reflect Rose Sunscreen ($26)
Making the switch to clean beauty doesn't have to be expensive, time-consuming, or stressful. There are plenty of easy and affordable swaps you can make in your beauty routine that will not only be better for your skin but also gentler on the environment.
So, next time you're shopping for beauty products, be sure to keep these swaps in mind and make the switch to clean beauty today. Your skin will thank you for it!
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