Are Clean Beauty Products Better for your Skin? 7 Derms and Estheticians Weigh In
These doctors have voiced how important clean skin care is, but the recommendations they make (about thoer own skincare lines) are WAY OFF BASE! Many of these products include toxic ingredients such as butylene glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, etc. Even products labeled natural or even organic contains these 3 ingredients which wreak havoc on the skin. Every skincare product they recommend (which they sell) are devoid of toxic ingredients. The last one list doesn’t give an igredient list on their pages that sell the product!
Scan almost any clean beauty retailer’s “About” page — Detox Market, Credo, Follain, Beautycounter — and you’ll notice two keywords: health and safety. That’s because the movement’s overarching mission is to eliminate chemicals ,known to be toxic to the human body from personal care products, including suspected cancer-causing agents (formaldehyde releasers, parabens) and hormone disruptors (phthalates, pesticides). While that’s no doubt a win for overall wellness, it does leave one critical question unanswered: Is clean beauty better for your skin? These seven dermatologists, cosmetic chemists, and renowned aestheticians think so.
“From my unique vantage point as a facialist for the past 25 years, having treated over 25,000 faces, I have seen how the proliferation of harsh ingredients — including dimethicone, fragrance, colorants, and sulfates — compromise the skin’s lipid barrier, thereby sensitizing the skin,” Angela Caglia, a celebrity aesthetician who works with Barbra Streisand and Minnie Driver, tells The Zoe Report. The integrity of the skin barrier is also a sticking point for cosmetic scientist Dr. Shuting Hu, Ph.D., who works with clean beauty brand Acaderma. “I personally believe in using clean ingredients as it is the very best way to prevent skin irritation and skin barrier damages, both of which are better for skin health,” Dr. Hu tells TZR. “Not only is it my belief, it is also scientifically proven.”
There’s a catch, though: Terms like “clean,” “natural,” “green,” and “non-toxic” aren’t regulated by the FDA — so, in theory, any brand can market any ingredient as clean (although the threat of callout culture tends to keep companies in line). “We really need a good working definition for ‘clean’ and ‘non-toxic,’” Marie Veronique Nadeau, a chemist and founder of her namesake skincare line, tells The Zoe Report. She personally considers an ingredient clean when it has “a track record for safety and efficacy” via scientific studies — and that goes for both naturals and synthetics. “It just makes more sense to use ingredients that are safe in your own opinion,” she says.
Ahead, seven skincare experts explain why they believe clean beauty is the healthiest choice for your skin — and reveal the natural and non-toxic products they swear by.
Dr. Nava Greenfield, Board-Certified Dermatologist
You need to be just as careful about what you put on your skin as what you eat and drink,” Dr. Nava Greenfield, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, tells TZR. “Numerous studies have confirmed that products used topically on the skin penetrate into the bloodstream and affect your body.” She suggests cross-checking your products with the Environmental Working Group’s toxicity database to pinpoint any potentially harmful ingredients.
Marie Veronique Nadeau, Chemist & Brand Founder
“Absolutely, ‘clean’ and ‘non-toxic’ ingredients are better for the health of the skin,” Nadeau says. When it comes to formulating her own products, Nadeau adds a third descriptor to the list: active. “It’s not enough that it won’t harm you — people also need to be asking, ‘Is it active? Is it going to be doing something for my skin?’”
To this end, she recommends incorporating clean versions of vitamin C and vitamin B3 — aka, niacinamide — into your routine. “You need vitamin C to build collagen, and it also does any number of other cool things like limit hyperpigmentation and provide UV protection,” Nadeau says. “Vitamin B3 protects mitochondrial DNA from free radical damage. This is about as close as we’re going to get to slowing the aging process in the skin, so it’s a must-have for anyone interested in keeping skin healthy and youthful-looking.”
Britta Plug, Aesthetician & Brand Founder
“I avoid processed food and chemicals — I feel my best that way — and I apply the same reasoning to my skincare,” Britta Plug, a holistic aesthetician and co-founder of Wildling, tells The Zoe Report. According to Plug (and science), harsh chemicals can negatively impact the skin’s microbiome and disrupt its inherent functions. “Natural products are much more likely to support the skin’s innate intelligence, and support all of its functions, flora, and barrier system,” she says.
Her go-to products, naturally, come from her own line. “I’m obsessed with the sweet fern in our Empress Tonic,” Plug says. “It’s amazing for kickstarting detoxification by stimulating lymphatic flow, and it’s also great for skin irritations.” After spritzing with the Tonic, she reaches for Wildling’s Empress Oil. “The balm of gilead in the oil is pure magic for stimulating circulation and reducing fine lines and breakouts,” the aesthetician explains. “It also smells like a dreamy forest.”
Dr. Hu is passionate about clean skincare — but emphasizes that clean doesn’t always mean natural. “Plenty of natural ingredients are irritating, and not all natural materials are made equally,” she says. “Some high quality synthesized ingredients are also clean, like vitamin C.”
In her work with Acaderma, Dr. Hu defines “clean” as any ingredient that minimizes irritation to the skin while maintaining efficacy. Her favorite? “Seh-Haw EXTM,” a brand-exclusive form of African kinkeliba extract that moisturizes dehydrated skin and boosts the barrier. “We spent two years optimizing the extraction and purification process of Seh-Haw EXTM to make sure no organic solvents were used in the whole process, and that there were no causes of pollution to the environment,” she says.
“Through a process of trial and error in my treatment room, I’ve discovered which ingredients work and which ingredients make skin more susceptible to external aging factors,” Caglia says. (Considering her clients include age-defying celebs like Helena Christensen, I totally trust her.)
“One ingredient, in particular, that I’ve discovered helps with maintaining homeostasis is the organically-grown Limnanthes alba flower, indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, from which meadowfoam seed oil is derived through a unique cold pressing process,” she shares. “The reason why I love it is that it’s similar in molecular structure to our own sebum, which means it’s able to deeply penetrate the skin’s surface to deliver high levels of essential fatty acids and antioxidants where they’re needed most.” It can be found throughout the aesthetician’s namesake skincare line.
Athena Hewett, Aesthetician & Brand Founder
“Like much of the population, I have sensitive skin,” Athena Hewett, an aesthetician and founder of skincare brand Monastery, tells The Zoe Report. When she discovered that even hypoallergenic ingredients were irritating her skin, she decided to launch her own company — where she’s redefined “non-toxic” as “100 percent natural.”
“Take propylene glycol, for example — this chemical is used to make polyester, is considered non-toxic, and is found in nearly all of the skincare products out today,” she says. “I am highly allergic to this ingredient as are many of my clients, but most of them have no idea that this is what has been wrong with their skin. When someone lays on my table and I notice dermatitis, I can almost guarantee that they are putting propylene glycol on their skin in some form or another. Sadly, this ingredient is just one of many.” Hewett now looks to naturals for safe — and sensitivity-friendly — skincare solutions. “I love watching what raspberry seed oil does to the skin,” she says. “It makes up our Gold Oil, and it immediately soothes and reduces redness.”
Sarah Akram, Aesthetician
“I am a believer in integrative skincare, meaning just like what you put inside of your body, what you put on its surface can make a big difference in how you look and feel,” Sarah Akram, a Washington D.C.-based aesthetician and the founder of her namesake skincare boutique, tells TZR. “Just like you’d drink a cold pressed juice for optimum nutrient intake, you should take a similar approach to your skincare routine and overall skin health.”
She suggests looking for products packed with pure, natural ingredients (i.e., not “naturally-derived” — which is basically a synonym for “synthetic”). The facialists’ top pick? The Antioxidant Defence Creme by Environ. “This moisturizer is loaded with antioxidants like vitamin C and E to strengthen skin cells and fight free radicals,” Akram says. “Antioxidants are so important in the fight against premature aging, they actually work with your SPF to protect and correct the effects of harmful UV rays.” And, of course, they’re abundant in nature.
Double cleansing is a method of cleansing your face twice: First, with an oil-based cleanser and again with a water-based cleanser. It can help remove stubborn, pore-clogging and acne-causing impurities that can remain on the skin even after washing your face once. Otherwise you are mixing make-up with dirt and dust (or other environmental impurities) and then rinsing. But you can’t get the skin clean with that method, you are simply rubbing in the dirt. It’s like trying to clean dishes with dirty water.
The benefit of double cleansing is that the first cleanser will break down any makeup, remove dirt and excess oils from the day and clean your skin. The second cleanser will address your particular skin type or concern and should have ingredients to hydrate, smooth or exfoliate and treat acne. Doing both steps will assure that any treatment and moisturizing is not done in vain.
This method leaves the skin truly clean. The second cleanser can then gently remove the oil without stripping the skin and drying it out. While this is important at any age, it is crucial for dry or mature skin!
The products I use are ;
Nourish Organic Moisturizing Face Cleanser, Watercress & Cucumber available on Amazon
I use this at night after oil cleansing. I make my own oil cleanser using jojoba oil, sea buckthorn oil, MCT oil, squalane, with powdered seaweed and a small amount of papaya enzyme.
In the morning, since I am not removing make-up, I use my own cleanser that I make and sell. It is honey and oil based with baking soda, available here.
Skin Care – I began studying skin care in my teens. I was interested in how to treat my
teenage acne and the science of skin care. In my early twenties I read about a
company called Redken, and though their products were not available widely I
liked what they had to say about maintaining the PH of the skin and not
stripping it of it’s natural oils. At that time there was very little info on
the science of skin care, even less on how to care for our skin naturally.
Redken came out in the early 70’s with their PH balanced mild bar of soap
for your face. Their advice to help not strip our skin of it’s natural oils was
to rinse our face in the water we had washed with, as it contained oils from our
skin. This did not make sense to me, I wanted my facial skin clean, not rinsed
in washing water. SO I began studying skin care, looking for mild products that
were effective. I tried Kiss My Face soap, it was too strong, made my face tight
and dry. And even though my skin was oily it made it oilier. I tried and
couldn’t find anything I was happy with. I ended up using Clinique and Lancôme
for a while, and while they were effective I didn’t like all of the chemicals.
My sister gave e a book on making my own beauty products and I was off to the
races! I learned to make soap, I made them with olive oil and used Apple Cider
vinegar as a toner. Still just ok. Slowly more and more products were coming out
that were organic. Skin care, along with makeup, that was available in health
food stores were clean, but not very good. They were too oily, too heavy. I
discovered it when I was pregnant with my daughter, Rachel and used it
exclusively while I was pregnant. It was the first mineral make-up I ever found.
Skip forward to 1996 and my daughter Rachel was going to school to become an
esthetician. We saw the first articles about the link between breast cancer and
Parabans. Even the health food store brands had this ingredients and they began
scrambling to reformulate. I could not find a cleanser that didn’t have it. At
this point I had been using Cetaphil cleanser for a long time because it was
very mild. But it wasn’t strong enough to remove makeup well. SO I decided to
formulate a cleanser myself. For months I studied formulating (it’s not such a
stretch form being a Chef!) I started by studying ingredients. This was the
cleanser I made and I have been using it ever since. It has honey as it’s main
ingredient, with baking soda as an exfoliator, a very small amount of Dr.
Bonner’s soap, almond oil, geranium oil, evening primrose oil and water. I
still used it until last year, when it became a little strong for me, so I
reformulated it without the baking soda. I have been using Retin-A since I was
forty years old and found as I aged my skin was more sensitive and was dryer.
That Honey Cleanser is available- Honey Cleanser
About this same time mineral makeup burst on the scene and I discovered Jane
Iredale. Pricy but amazing quality. I also discovered Evan’s Garden. They are a small
Company in Clearwater, FL that makes small batch skin care and make-up. I LOVE
for Mature Skin. I have used her Crème Rose for day and Ma Juennesse for
night as moisturizers ever since!
This new blog topic is going to cover the science of skin care, with a focus
on organic products, and I mean truly natural and organic…not the stuff full of
glycerin and silicones that are out there today claiming to be all natural. I
will review and cover makeup as well as skin care products and I will share my
skin care regimen as well as the makeup I use. We will talk about why silicone
sand glycerin are horrible for our skin, and the right was to cleanse,
exfoliate, moisturize and nourish as well as how to protect our skin.
It is imperative to not just cleanse our skin with clean ingredients but to
truly nourish our skin. Of course the best thing we can do for our skin is be
healthy, active and well nourished. We will cover what foods to avoid for great
skin, how to combat the things that ages our skin, and how to care for it as we
My first blog post will be about the dangers of glycerin and silicones, how
to avoid them and the products I use that do not have them.
#skincare, #naturalskincare, #organicskincare, #JacksonvilleFL, #beyondpaleo,