Sustainable and toxin-free living

Sustainable and toxin-free living


The Most Affordable Clean and Nontoxic Skincare Brands

Image credit: Farmacy Beauty
This post contains some affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, EcoCult receives a small percentage of the sale price. If this post is helpful to you, then check out: To Dye For: How Toxic Fashion is Making Us Sick — And How We Can Fight Back, by EcoCult founder Alden Wicker.

With all the pollution, stress, and blue light we’re exposed to these days, a solid skincare routine has never been more important. 

But there’s a problem: many skincare options on the market are stuffed with toxic chemicals from carcinogens to endocrine disruptors, and some of them can reach your bloodstream through your face. Despite the pleas of many advocates around the world, however, brands continue to use chemicals like these to make their products last longer, to prevent mildew from growing on them after months of use, and to mask chemical odors

In fact, you can expect to find chemicals you know are dangerous in mainstream skincare: think formaldehyde, parabens, and phthalates. But those aren’t the only chemicals you should be on the lookout for. Artificial fragrances can cause sensitization that lasts for life, such as contact dermatitis. PFOA, a “forever chemical” that’s been heavily linked to cancer, has been found in several anti-aging products from well-known brands. It’s disturbing, but this isn’t an exhaustive list.

It’s pretty obvious, too, that the same chemicals in skincare that make us sick are also extremely toxic to the environment. Many of the cheap skincare products on drugstore shelves include reef-killing chemical sunscreens and artificially-fragranced moisturizers. 

So, how do we find products that are good for the environment, our wallets, and our skin? Whether you’re on the hunt for a cleanser, moisturizer, or sunscreen, there are a few things to look out for. 

What to look for in clean and nontoxic skincare brands:

Natural and non-toxic ingredients. Read the ingredients list carefully. Go for brands that use natural, plant, and mineral-based ingredients. Stay away from toxins like parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates, and sulfates. These are harmful to us, the environment, and the people making them, and many have been linked to cancer. Skincare products that include a long list of botanicals (flower names that you can recognize) are often the cleanest, but keep an eye out for sneaky preservatives, which show up under the names quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, bromopol and glyoxal.

Sustainable packaging. Buy from brands that are using either recyclable or biodegradable packaging made from natural or recycled materials. Non-plastic containers, like glass, won’t leach plasticizers and endocrine disruptors into your products. Choose reusable/refillable containers where you can. Less is definitely more when it comes to packaging. 

Cruelty-free. Choose brands that don’t test their products on animals. Opt for vegan products where possible. 

Third-party certifications. The beauty and skincare industry unfortunately has a lot of greenwashing. Don’t take claims like “organic”, “natural”, and “eco-friendly” at face value. Look for certifications like Leaping Bunny and USDA Certified Organic. Overall certifications like B Corporation are a plus too.  

Fair labor. As always, make sure you make sure the brand is following fair labor practices. Go for local brands that provide information about their workers, or look out for labels like Fair Trade and SA8000.

Transparency. Choose brands that prioritize transparency in their supply chains. Do they tell you where and how they sourced their ingredients, and how your skincare products were made? 

 

To help you find the best skincare products for your skin, sensitive or not, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite non-toxic and affordable skincare brands.

 

Blissoma

What we love: Designed with plant science and powered by solar energy, Blissoma’s skincare line is derivative of earthy, botanical oils and fragrant herbs. Using all-natural ingredients, the brand curates systems for different skin types to make choosing the right products simple and easy. It even offers trial sets that are intended to last about two weeks to allow you to test smaller versions of products before committing to the full sizes. 

Our Review: Teri absolutely loved the products in the trial skincare set, which included a moisturizer, serum, toner, cleanser, and mask. Each product had a designated order in which it was best to be used, and she noticed that her sensitive, dry skin improved in glow and elasticity well within the first week. Each product smelled just like its botanical ingredients, emitting a floral musk that dissipated throughout the day. 

Price range: $4 to $75

 

EcoRoots

What we love: Launched as a zero-waste brand from the start, EcoRoots runs in favor of natural ingredients extracted from plants, from product to packaging. It offers a curated selection of skincare, including serums, cleansers, toners, and a few body products perfect for replacing your everyday moisturizer and shave cream. You can find affordable skincare bundles and individual items at affordable prices.

Our Review: Teri tried out the brand’s rose water toner, baking soda-free deodorant, lip balms, lotion bar, and hyaluronic serum to test every aspect of the brand’s skincare line, and loved every product. While the rose water toner smells lightly of roses and soaks right into dry skin, the hyaluronic serum provides a lightweight moisturizing barrier and makes an excellent base for makeup. The lotion bar gives off a tropical, natural scent while hydrating well beyond the day, and the lip balms are just as moisturizing and conditioning. EcoRoots’ baking soda-free deodorant really shined —it lasts all day long, prevents odors, and is surprisingly soft and silky.

Price range: $9 to $65

 

Activist Skincare

What we love: Activist Skincare is a brand centered around the idea of prioritizing high-quality, natural ingredients while omitting a long list of harmful chemicals commonly found in skincare products including phthalates, parabens, lanolin, and artificial fragrances, to name a few. Using non-irritating ingredients, this brand formulates cleansing serums, balms, serums, and SPFs designed for sensitive skin.  

Our Review: Teri tried the brand’s complete skincare line. Our favorites were the Sea to Skin Cleansing Gel, Active Hydration Serum, and Calm Force Clear Skin Serum — all of which were perfect for supporting dry, sensitive skin. All of the cleansing serums were effective at removing baked-on makeup, though the mineral sunscreen is not for the acne-prone or those with sensitive skin. (Our contributor Teri broke out after just three days of use.) Warm weather may further irritate the skin, but it remains an effective option for re-applicating easily throughout the day.

Price range: $5 to $74

 

Stoic Beauty

What we love: No artificial fragrances, petroleum, or silicones: Stoic Beauty is making skincare that’s non-toxic and completely water-safe. Its products are made specifically for skin issues from rosacea and eczema to dryness and acne. You can expect ingredients like lemon oil, cucumber, and tea tree oil in carefully crafted cleansers alongside nourishing ingredients such as argan oil in moisturizers.

Our review: Stoic Beauty’s Gemini Cleansers are made for each other: they produce the cleanest feel without the drying effects of other cleansers and smell even better. Its Balancing Night Cream is both clarifying and slightly plumping, and the body butter is moisturizing, lightly fruit scented, and lightweight.

Price range: $12 to $80

 

The Organic Skin Co

What we love: Founded by Naturopath Megan Douglas, The Organic Skin Co incorporates high-quality supercritical CO2 extracts throughout its skincare line to create products that are good for the skin. By using this technology, the brand is able to salvage the delicate aspects of plants, including therapeutic terpenes and lipids that are otherwise lost in other extraction processes. These pure, potent extracts are then blended with other natural, organic ingredients to form nourishing, free-radical fighting cleansers, balms, and other daily ritual components that work to heal the skin.

Our review: Teri tested out the brand’s Clean Slate cleanser, Task Force Nine Calming cream, The Good Face Oil, and Daily Rituals moisturizer; all of which she was impressed with. She loved the consistency and clean feel of the cleanser, while the calming cream eased dryness from the summer heat. The moisturizer, which looks and smells like vanilla pudding, is one of her new favorites. And, while she doesn’t typically prefer face oils over serums, it relieved a couple of dryer spots where the sun had done some damage. 

Price range: $25 to $103

 

100% Pure

What we love: 100% Pure’s cruelty-free skincare line is made of natural ingredients that are free of toxic parabens, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances. The products are naturally pigmented using fruits, veggies, tea, and cocoa, avoiding commonly used chemical colorants and heavy-metal dyes. The products are packaged in glass, post-consumer recycled packaging, and BPA- and phthalate-free plastics. It offers a healthy line of skincare products to cater to a wide range of needs. 

Our Review: Teri has thoroughly loved the brand’s coffee bean eye cream for years, which, she says, got her through university without permanent eye bags. Anabelle tested the brand’s night treatment, night serum, face mask, and a vitamin c serum, all of which they loved for how silky and soothing the products felt on their skin. They gave bonus points for all of the products boasting a lovely scent.

Price range: $7 to $72

 

OSEA Malibu

What we love: OSEA carries a wide variety of cleansers, moisturizers, toners, masks, and more—all of which are made of non-toxic, vegan ingredients. The brand’s signature ingredient is sustainably-harvested seaweed, a superfood that is packed with minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 fats. Almost all its products are packaged in glass bottles, and it also has a recycling program in LA. 

Our Review: Alden has really enjoyed OSEA’s serums and lotions in the past, especially products for clearing acne. One friend is such a fan that she bought OSEA products to put in every bathroom for guests. It helps that the glass packaging looks nice on a bathroom counter!

Price range: $18 to $198

  

Farmacy Beauty

What we love: Farm-to-face skincare brand Farmacy Beauty sources its raw ingredients from organic, family-owned farms in Southern California and Northeast Brazil. The brand even started its own certified organic, non-GMO partnership with regenerative farms in the Hudson Hemp farm network. Its range of products is made from natural ingredients and is free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and formaldehyde. The brand offers individual skincare items and complete skincare routine sets at affordable prices.

Our Review: Having used Honey Grail for years as a dry skin remedy, Teri is a big fan of Farmacy products. She’s also quite fond of its Deep Sweep BHA toner, which is great at removing makeup and dirt, leaving the face feeling super clean and refreshed. 

Price range: $5 to $156

 

Meow Meow Tweet

What we love: Meow Meow Tweet is a Brooklyn-based, small-batch skincare company that is B-Corp Certified. Its affordable range of skincare products is made using natural, plant, and mineral-based organic ingredients, and the packaging is either compostable or recyclable. Meow Meow Tweet’s products are meant “for all bodies” — the brand doesn’t have separate lines for women and men. 

Our review: Alden loves MMT’s deodorant, which she has used for years. She used the glass containers, but if you don’t want to apply it with your fingers, the pushstick version is great, too. Teri has tried the brand’s pink rose clay facial bar and tea tree charcoal facial bar, both of which she noted left a strong, floral scent behind. Nonetheless, she loved how clean her skin felt after using them, but those with fragrance sensitivities may want to steer clear of the fragranced options.

Price range: $5 to $20

 

If this post was helpful to you, then check out: To Dye For: How Toxic Fashion is Making Us Sick — And How We Can Fight Back, by EcoCult founder Alden Wicker.

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