Is clean skincare just another vague marketing term used to scare consumers and promote sales? What does it really mean to be a clean skincare brand? Please keep reading to learn about what it means to be a clean skincare brand and to discover 10 bomb clean skincare brands that should be on your radar this year!
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What is Clean Skincare?
Similarly to labels like natural, organic, or sustainable, there is no clear-cut definition of what it means to be a Clean Skincare brand. However, beloved beauty retailer, Sephora, is a pioneer in the Clean Beauty movement. Therefore, I typically follow the innovative retailer’s standards of what it means to be a Clean Skincare brand. According to Sephora’s Clean Beauty Hub, a Clean skincare brand:
All brands with this seal qualify as Sephora Clean and are formulated without these ingredients and more: parabens, sulfates SLS and SLES, phthalates, mineral oils, formaldehydes, formaldehyde-releasing agents, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan, and triclocarban.
Clean Skincare is available at a wide variety of retailers, including Credo Beauty, Sephora, Ulta, and Thrive Market. Even mass retailers such as Target, Walmart, and Amazon sell some clean skincare brands.
However, Sephora is the only retailer with a clean beauty seal and standards. Brands that are not sold at Sephora may require additional investigation to determine whether they are actually clean.
10 Bomb Clean Skincare Brands That Should be on Your Radar in 2020
Not all of the clean skincare brands featured on this list are sold at Sephora. Some of the brands included in this roundup are indie beauty brands. Nevertheless, the brands included in this list emphasize using clean ingredients and transparency when it comes to discussing their clean skincare formulations.
1 | Farmacy Beauty (Indie & Cruelty-Free)
Farmacy is a skincare brand that I longed to try long before I knew what ‘clean beauty‘ meant. However, I always shied away from purchasing any products due to the higher price tags. In 2020, I felt overjoyed to finally get my hands on the Daily Greens Moisturizer and Green Clean Cleansing Balm.
Also, I love that Farmacy isn’t afraid to emphasize their science-driven approach to clean skincare. Within the clean beauty community, there is a lot of demonization of synthetic ingredients or highly scientific approaches to beauty. Therefore, I find Farmacy’s approach to combining the best of science with the best of nature to be so refreshing.
a few famous Farmacy favorites (Photo Credit: Farmacy Beauty Instagram)
2 | Glow Recipe (Indie & Cruelty-Free)
Without a doubt, Glow Recipe is one of the hottest clean skincare brands on the market. This naturals-driven, K-beauty inspired brand is all about providing Western consumers with clean skincare inspired by Korean trends.
The brand’s iconic, fruit-themed products and packaging are some of the most photo-worthy on the market. Moreover, the brand’s products have sold out across retailers like Sephora multiple times. P.S. I featured a Glow Recipe product within my $1,000 Dream Sephora Haul – any guesses on what product?
When it comes to packaging, Herbivore Botanicals knows how to create luxurious products with a bit of fun and whimsy. The brand’s iconic glass packaging and pastel colors are an Instagrammer’s dream.
Also, the brand’s approach to skincare is to provide clean, non-toxic skincare derived from natural ingredients as opposed to synthetics. Also, Herbivore is 100% Cruelty-Free and Vegan. In addition to its skincare products, Herbivore sells a range of self-care and body-care items that will help users to de-stress and pamper themselves.
A Herbivore Shelfie (Photo Credit: Herbivore Botanicals Instagram)
4 | Krave Beauty (Indie, Cruelty-Free & Vegan)
Founded by beauty influencer, Liah Yoo, Krave Beauty provides user-friendly, stress-free skincare that promises to help maintain skin health. Also, Krave places a huge emphasis on product development transparency as well as sustainability.
Krave Beauty is the most affordable clean skincare brand included in this roundup. I look forward to the day when I see this brand carried in Sephora or Ulta. I literally want to try every product in the range.
On the go with Krave Beauty (Photo Credit: Krave Beauty Instagram)
5 | REN Clean Skincare (Indie & Cruelty-Free)
Within the clean skincare community, Ren is truly one of the most under-hyped brands. Known for their gentle formulas that help to reduce inflammation and redness, Ren creates science-driven clean formulas without any frills. Additionally, the brand aims to release products that are more environmentally sustainable.
Known for their blend of Japanese and American aesthetics, as well as their blend of Eastern and Western formulations Tatcha Beauty is a clean, luxurious favorite for many skincare and beauty lovers. Personally, I have yet to try a Tatcha product that I have not liked – read my in-depth review on the Tatcha Silk Canvas Primer.
Tata Harper is easily the most boujee brand on this list, but as a Bostonian, I am always interested to try brands based in New England. Founded in 2010, Tata Harper is one of the OG clean skincare brands to hit the market. I love the brand’s mission to provide luxury skincare with natural, non-toxic ingredients.
Although I am not classified as visually impaired, I have extremely bad eyesight that has caused various scares and issues throughout my life. As such, the brand’s mission really speaks to me. My favorite product from the brand is the Sleeping Mask.
Victorialand Beauty Mini Trio & jade roller (Victorialand Beauty Instagram)
10 | Youth to the People
Compared to some of the other clean skincare brands included in this roundup, Youth to the People has one of the most gender-neutral and inclusive brand messages. Across the board, Youth to the People create a ton of hyped up products such as the Superfood Antioxident Cleanser, the Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask with Vitamin C, and the Yerba Mate Resurfacing + Exfoliating Energy Facial with Enzymes.
Youth to the People’s Best Selling Superfood Cleanser (Photo Credit: Youth to the People Instagram)
Things to Keep in Mind When Buying Clean Skincare
When it comes to clean beauty, it can be really tempting to want to try a ton of clean skincare brands all at once. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when buying clean beauty:
Clean Skincare Expires Quicker | Most clean beauty brands are free from preservatives that often extend the lifespan of your products. As a result, the expiration dates require close monitoring. For example, I owned clean skincare products that grew mold before they hit their expiry date.
Clean Skincare Does Not Mean Sustainable | Many clean makeup brands care about sustainable beauty. However, not all products are sustainable. For example, clean skincare brands typically use plastic packaging – some of which cannot even be recycled!
Clean Skincare does Not Mean Vegan | Similar to the above point, many clean skincare brands are Cruelty-Free or Vegan. However, being “clean” does not equate to being Vegan.
Clean Makeup May Not Be Better Quality | In addition to preserving products, many ”dirty” skincare ingredients enhance product performance. Therefore, some clean skincare brands may not perform the same as traditional brands. Without preservatives, unstable active ingredients may lose their effectiveness more quickly than similar products from traditional brands.
Clean Skincare Is Expensive | Clean Skincare brands are often priced on the higher end of the price spectrum – particularly brands that have a strong focus on sustainability. Even clean brands at the drugstore tend to skew on the higher end of the “affordable” price spectrum.
Clean Skincare Can Still Be Scented | According to Sephora’s Clean Beauty standards, synthetic fragrances are still permissible in clean skincare products. However, the scents need to be disclosed and comprise less than 1% of the formula.
10 Bomb Clean Skincare Brands That Should be on Your Radar in 2020
While I do not agree with the demonization of certain synthetic ingredients, I support the clean beauty movement that is pushing for greater transparency and accountability in the industry. In terms of my personal beauty collection, much of my skincare is from clean skincare brands.
Given that skincare is absorbed by the skin, I am all for using products that are deemed non-toxic or clean. In fact, some common skincare ingredients can actually damage the skin’s barrier over time. Therefore, I am much more conscious of the skincare that I use to maintain my skin’s overall health.
In the future, I’d love for my collection to be primarily comprised of clean skincare brands. (In all transparency, my skincare collection will never be fully clean until I find an eye cream that outperforms my beloved Bye Bye Under Eye Eye Cream from IT Cosmetics).