We hear the term “clean beauty” a lot these days, but we don’t always stop and think about the nitty-gritty of this popular category. To be considered “clean,” skin-care products must be free of ingredients like sulfates and parabens—which are now most commonly acknowledged on packaging—but also not include things like formaldehyde, phthalates and mineral oils. The latter ingredients have been linked to health risks, and are generally acknowledged by dermatologists as no-nos.
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Macrene Alexiades, M.D., Ph.D., PLLC, dermatologist at the Dermatology and Laser Surgery Center of New York, says, “There is evidence indicating that topical agents may result in local and systemic reactions and carcinogenicity from toxic exposures.” Additionally, Alexiades notes that certain ingredients may be manufactured with inhumane practices, plastic packaging may leach harmful chemicals into your skin and the environment, and animal or human byproducts may be hidden in your skin-care products. Want to shop for clean beauty without hesitation? These are the products derms really stand by.
Best Clean Skin-Care Products
Tata Harper Repairative Moisturizer
Board-certified dermatologist Geeta Yadav, M.D., loves this rich cream: “Hyaluronic acid, honey, arnica, aloe, rose water and mango seed butter leave skin feeling hydrated and looking plump and glowing—and who doesn’t want that?” she says. “The fragrance from the clinical-grade essential oils is a little off-putting to some, but I don’t mind it, especially since it is a natural, not synthetic scent.”
– 120 Available at Sephora
Ayla Sea Soak
Seeking clean and nurturing relaxation? Alexiades recommends this full-body treatment bath soak, “with pure sea salt and seaweed from the California coast that makes for a restorative experience.” Nothing but sea salt and giant kelp in this one.
– 59 Available at Ayla Beauty
Pai Middlemist Seven Cleanser
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of cleansers on the market. “This is a gentle cleanser that is great for sensitive skin,” says Yadav. “It effectively removes dirt, buildup and makeup, but its creamy formula doesn’t leave skin feeling too dry or tight. Plus, the generously sized bottle comes beautifully boxed with a bonus muslin face cloth you can use with the cleanser!”
– 59 Available at Neiman Marcus
Twenty/Twenty Beauty Get Growing Lash and Brow Serum
When it comes to products that work around the eye, it’s important to be extra-alert. Yadav loves this serum, she says, because “unlike many other lash-growth serums on the market, this one is composed only of castor, coconut and argan oils.” She also appreciates the moisturizing effect and the disposable applicators, for sanitary purposes.
– 36 BUY IT
Henné Luxury Lip Balm V2
Lip balms often overpromise on clean ingredients, but not this chic product. “It’s a very rich formula, made with only clean, organic, non-GMO ingredients that help banish chapped, cracked lips very effectively,” Yadav says. No synthetic perfumes, either, although the balm is gently scented with natural oils and butters.
– 19 Available at Credo Beauty
Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask with Vitamin C
This mask helps to hydrate, plump and brighten skin with a triple threat of vitamin C, squalane and hyaluronic acid. Simply apply to clean skin and leave on overnight to wake up to glowy skin in the morning. Easiest facial ever!
– 48 Available at Sephora
Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen
Wearing SPF every single day is dermatologists’ No. 1 trick for looking younger, but some sunscreens can have questionable ingredients. This sunscreen from Supergoop is all clean—plus, red algae reportedly protects against the damaging blue light emitted from our phones and computers.
– 34 Available at Dermstore