Beauty,  Clean Beauty,  Clean Lifestyle,  Clean Skincare,  Makeup

What I learned during a year of using exclusively Clean Beauty

I started #cleanstreak at the end of January 2019 after a major makeup and skincare declutter. For those of you just tuning in, post-declutter I made a goal to only repurchase, pursue and use clean skincare, makeup and haircare products. Side Note: I did continue to use and finish up any viable not-so-clean things I already had <<wastage benefits no one>>, but once I started accumulating amazing, effective clean beauty products, I didn’t find myself missing what I used before (for the most part…I’m getting there).

I’ll start off by saying that the beauty industry has changed a lot since I started watching YouTube beauty gurus back in 2008. It’s gone from the occasional new makeup launches and barely any references to skincare to seemingly daily new releases and a huge emphasis on skincare and “it” ingredients. I honestly didn’t even think about skincare until I hit my late 20s, so I’ve changed a lot in this past decade+, too. I went from someone who just loved watching videos about makeup as a guilty pleasure to someone who actually wore it, daily. My reasons for starting #cleanstreak involved more than just cleaning up ingredients, it was also for cleaning up habits and my overall beauty consumer mindset. Over the course of last year, I slowly started losing interest in the latest mainstream makeup launch and my skincare and beauty purchases became less frequent. I’m still makeup and skincare crazy (and probably own more of both than the average 30-something woman), but I’m a lot more thoughtful about what I purchase now. It would’ve been hard to break my past cycle without making the #cleanstreak commitment.

Anyhow, the reason I am writing this post is mostly because I’ve come across a lot of scientific claims stating that words like “clean”, “nontoxic” and “green” are just there for marketing purpose and that products with “toxic” ingredients in beauty and skincare may not be as bad as they are being portrayed to be. Outlets that I turned to as reference guides like EWC and ThinkDirty, may not be as scientifically based as I had originally thought and some go as far as saying they are using fear-mongering tactics to vilify ingredients. At first, I was angry, in defense of my new lifestyle, which slowly changed to anger over having been duped…but then, after a couple weeks of thinking this all over and really listening to both sides of the argument, I decided that I don’t really have any regrets for the changes I’ve made and while I may not be strictly on the #cleanstreak wagon moving forward, I will be a more conscious and mindful consumer because of it.

Things I’ve Learned:

  • Clean Beauty is a spectrum
    • There is no set definition for clean beauty nor is there a set list of good and bad ingredients. All that resources like EWG are doing is applying their self-proclaimed rules to rate products. Sephora is doing the same, with their ‘Clean @ Sephora’ designation, including those products that fall within their self-made parameters of clean.
    • Because clean beauty includes such a wide array of products, I’ve decided to relax my interpretation a bit by taking the time to actually understand why a product is being scored a certain way. A brand like Alba Botanica, which is sold at Whole Foods and Fresh Thyme, has several products that score between the Clean 0-3, but also has products that score up to a very Dirty 8 (the lower the EWG score, the better). As part of my #cleanstreak mentality last year, I discontinued using my favorite body moisturizer because it got scored a 5. This 5 was granted because of, phenoxyethanol – which is an antimicrobial preservative. Upon diving into the reason for the score, I’m better informed about the product I’m using and can make a better decision about whether to use it or not. In this case, I just purchased a new bottle and have started using it again! I still think that this falls within the realm of clean (remember, its a spectrum) and more importantly, I made a conscious and well-thought-out decision. This is the general approach that I’m going to be taking moving forward.
  • Clean makeup is just as good or better than it’s traditional counterpart
    • One of my goals with #cleanstreak was to find products as good as or better than what I was already using. And yay, I did that! I discovered amazing brands like Aether Beauty, PYT Beauty, Pacifica, Ilia, RMS Beauty…and so many more that I hadn’t heard of and probably wouldn’t have even looked at before. I would never thought to have bought makeup from Whole Foods or Fresh Thyme. Discovering new brands, indie brands, and inexpensive brands that have been around forever has sparked so much excitement and creativity in me. My purchases are no longer influencer driven, they’re something that I’ve actively researched and sought out on my own.That being said, I don’t really see myself turning back to mainstream, influencer-driven beauty. I’m enjoying exploring this niche, where the offerings just keep getting better 🙂
  • Amazing skincare doesn’t have to be expensive
    • Yep, some of my more repurchased, holy grail skincare products can be found at Whole Foods (Andalou Naturals, Derma e, Zum Beauty, American Provenance), and they don’t break the bank! Does this mean I won’t ever buy pricey skincare, of course I will, I still do (hello Tata Harper!), I have just broadened my horizons to look beyond mainstream outlets, like Sephora, to understand what types of products work best for me. The goal now is to look more for ingredients and textures that I know work for and with my skin, and less for brand names.
  • Clean, Non-toxic and Green may be marketing jargon, but Cruelty-free, Sustainably-sourced and Recyclable-packaging are a bit more concrete 
    • Every industry has their buzz words – it doesn’t mean they are always bad or misleading, but one shouldn’t blindly purchase something because it is marketed a certain way (stating the obvious here). Over the past year, I have come to understand that there are buzz words that carry a bit more weight. Cruelty-free and Recyclable packaging are no brainers. With a new “it” ingredient every few months, you can’t help but think of how the product was tested and it’s overall impact on our Earth. Supporting brands that actually care about where their ingredients come from is something I want to do. I also do look out for vegan products, an animal shouldn’t be part of my favorite lipstick. That being said, I’m not opposed to honey in my products, as long as it’s sustainably-sourced.
    • I’m also super happy that I kicked my daily makeup wipe habit. Not only is this better for my skin (less tugging and rubbing), but it’s also one less thing I’m throwing away every day! I’m trying to make smarter, waste-reducing decisions – this means less product hoarding as well. I also recycle/reuse all product containers (repurposing minis is a great way to make sure you are TSA-safe) and try to buy glass bottles when I can. I used to love the Back-to-Mac recycling program and now am super excited about the Lilah B. recycling program that extends to all beauty products, Lilah B. or otherwise!
  • Fragrance and I don’t get along
    • I’ve known for years that my body is sensitive to fragrance in soaps and feminine products, but I never considered that a spritz of perfume could ever be an issue. For years, I’ve enjoyed collecting and wearing perfumes every day. It wasn’t until I was having daily headaches last year that I considered perfume a culprit. I quit cold turkey and the headaches stopped almost immediately. I did try wearing essential oils in lieu of perfume for a bit, for the sake of habit, but it’s been several months since I felt the need to apply a scent (outside of deodorant). I’m sure I could look into the many clean options out there, but it’s not something I feel I need anymore. Bottom line: I strongly recommend taking a break from perfume if you, too, have daily headaches!!
  • When it comes to a skincare routine, less really is more
    • I know this isn’t directly related to clean skincare, but I made this realization during my #cleanstreak , so I think it applies. I went through a bout of unusual-for-my-skin acne last summer and that really prompted me to evaluate the purpose of each product in my routine. Several months later, I have figured out what works well for my skin to avoid and address the odd breakout, before it gets too bad. The end result is fewer products that all have a specific purpose. I’m sure I will add/change things here and there, but will always strive to keep it simple. I’m not a minimalist by any means, but there is a real joy in cutting things out of your routine and living with less.
  • Clean haircare isn’t my cup of tea
    • Over the past year, I’ve probably purchased shampoos and conditioners from 7-8 “clean” brands and while they all seemed amazing after the first two or three washes, I was almost always faced with flat/weighed down hair after a month of use. I would go from washing my hair once or twice a week to feeling the need to wash it every other day. There is just something about sulfates that my hair craves and I’ve had multiple talks with my hair stylist about this where she told me that not all SLS is created equal and that my hair is perfectly healthy when I do use products containing that.
    • I did enjoy R+Co’s color line – so I may repurchase that, but the rest of my clean haircare will be redirected to my kids. For those interested, I do prefer professional hair care products and have had consistently amazing results from Goldwell, Matrix Biolage, and Wella shampoos and conditioners. I like this Aveda cream as a heat protectant.
  • The Clean Beauty community is full of amazing people
    • Seriously though, I’ve met some amazingly sweet, supportive people over the past year on social media and I’m so sure this is what the beauty community from 10+ years ago started out as. Women helping women. People discovering new products together, providing awesome recommendations and giving constructive feedback. Just great open dialogue. The whole reason I started BittaFab!!! A few of my favorite clean skincare/beauty/lifestyle IGers to get you started: @thecleanbeautylover , @jamilaloves_ , @binaparekbhatt , @tooprettytopoison & @dresswellbewell , @thisorganicgirl , @katydenno . I also enjoy following clean beauty stores and brands – so much info and inspo. And to make sure I’m well-informed and aware of both sides of the argument and the scientific side of it all, I like following @theecowell , @drdrayzday , @beautywithinofficial , @labmuffinbeautyscience .

Overall, I’m so happy I went through this reset. #cleanstreak helped me to be a better consumer and curator of my makeup and skincare collection. Everything has a purpose, going far beyond hype. As I stated earlier, I’m going to be relaxing my previously stringent approach moving forward, but I’m still a clean beauty girl through and through. I may just also refer to it as mindful or conscious beauty.

What types of posts/videos would you guys like to see next? Leave me some ideas in the comments!

Cheers!

Maneesha

2 Comments

  • rkchecking

    Love the idea of “mindful beauty” or “conscious beauty,” because green/clean have become such marketing terms and like you said, there is so much more nuance to it! Awesome post!

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