clean skin care

The clean beauty movement advocates for cosmetic and skincare products free of harmful ingredients that have been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption and other health issues. However, there’s no regulated definition of “clean,” and some brands have loosely defined it to mean natural, organic or nontoxic.

Here are some of the most trusted clean skin care brands we love.


Cleansing is a foundational part of any skin care routine and an essential step in achieving healthy, clean skin. It is important to remove makeup, dirt, oil and dead skin cells that accumulate throughout the day to prevent congestion and allow other skincare products to penetrate the skin properly.

It is also important to use a gentle cleanser that does not disrupt the skin’s natural barrier function, increase the skin’s pH or strip away protective oils. The best cleanser will be free of surfactants (fancy term for soaping agents) that can cause these damaging effects.

Gel cleansers are a good option for sensitive skin that tends to dry out after cleansing or for those with oily skin as they are less likely to dry out the skin or change its pH. Cream cleansers are richer and are ideal for those with dry, mature or sensitive skin as they help to hydrate the skin while they clean it.


Moisturizers are key to preventing dry skin. Dryness can occur as a result of frequent bathing, harsh soaps, certain medical conditions and colder climates. Rough, flaking skin doesn’t have to be a foregone conclusion, however.

Depending on their consistency, moisturizers are classified as light, medium or heavy. Light products are typically water-based, while medium and heavy moisturizers contain humectants and/or occlusives. Humectants help attract moisture to the skin, while occlusives — such as petrolatum (petrol jelly), silicone, lanolin and various oils — form a barrier that prevents water loss.

Daily moisturizing can reduce the appearance of wrinkles, clogged pores and redness. Moisturizers also promote healthy skin by stimulating cell turnover and encouraging new cells to grow at the surface. For best results, moisturizers should be applied to skin that is clean and free of makeup, dirt, oil and other contaminates. Moisturize twice a day, morning and evening, or as needed. Follow up with a serum or face wash that contains barrier-boosting ingredients like ceramides and peptides.


A sunscreen is a must to protect skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. It works by reflecting or absorbing both UVA and UVB rays to help prevent premature aging, dark spots, sunburn, and skin cancer.

Clean beauty doesn’t mean all-natural, but rather a philosophy that prioritizes safety and scrutinizes ingredients a bit more than regulations require, explains cosmetic chemist Victoria Fu. And it’s important to note that there’s no governing body that approves products before they hit the market, so the “clean” label is self-regulating.

This means that some brands that carry Sephora’s clean icon — including Drunk Elephant, Beautycounter, and Follain — still have many ingredients on the EWG’s dirty list. To avoid confusion, be sure to read the labels and look for “broad-spectrum.” Also, remember that spray sunscreens often don’t apply evenly; continue spraying until your skin glistens and then rub in thoroughly. Also, be careful to reapply often, especially when sweating. And be sure to use a waterproof formula if you plan on spending time in the water.


A good makeup routine can help to keep your skin clear and healthy. Look for makeup labeled oil-free, noncomedogenic or that doesn’t contain fragrance. Avoid products with ingredients that may be known to cause contact dermatitis, including methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone (MI/MCI), vitamin A derivatives, parabens, phthalates and propylene glycol.

For many beauty brands, clean means avoiding ingredients that are known or suspected to be harmful, like talc, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. But clean beauty doesn’t necessarily mean natural or organic.


Purchase clean beauty products from your local Avon Representative, Cascia Talbert here.

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