You’ve heard of EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen? How about one for better beauty choices? I pulled a dozen top Bestsellers, evaluated safety ratings and have 15 swaps to suggest! This Safer Swaps for Clean Cosmetics and Better Beauty is an update from the 2017 post here.
Why do we need to Switch to Safer?
Unfortunately, most personal care items (including skincare and makeup) contain chemicals which have not been evaluated for safety. Worse – they are currently unable to be regulated or recalled by the government. In fact, companies have different formulas for North America vs. the EU because the EU is more strict.
In cosmetics alone, the EU has banned or restricted more than 1,300 chemicals while the US has outlawed or curbed just 11. It’s possible to find formaldehyde, a known carcinogen banned in EU-sold cosmetics, in US hair-straightening treatments and nail polish. [source]
The EU law bans 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects. In comparison, the U.S. FDA has only banned or restricted 11 chemicals from cosmetics.
Does that mean we should stop using makeup, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, sunscreens? No! But it does mean we must look for better versions to not compromise our health. Companies know consumers have become more aware, with green and clean categories’ growth out-performing their standard formulas. What do we find this does? A lot of greenwashing. As a consumer, this makes it nearly impossible for you to know what’s best to use! And, we can’t forget the other important question: Can safer products work? Yes! And below I’m sharing my top picks for performance!
Don’t miss the end of the post where I tell you how you can save money and better your health by switching, too!
Another Toxin to Avoid
I also want to encourage you to consider something else that’s toxic. The beauty standard ideals, especially as a result from photoshopped images in magazines and social media and the constant filters used to distort faces. I challenge you to think of makeup as a way to be creative, rather than comparative – of yourself or others.
Because, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. Just as you are. You don’t NEED makeup. It’s supposed to be FUN!
I’ve shared before about how much I’ve loved finding a safer skincare & cleaner cosmetics company, and, after years of playing with their products, I can see my face changing. Admittedly I’m quite often “tempted” to distort photos or consult with a professional about medical aesthetic procedures that might enhance a youthful appearance. And then I remember what my kid told me, “DON’T. YOU. DARE! I love your wrinkles, you earned them! Every smile, every worry, it’s the story of your face that I love looking at.”
Just a reminder that you are perfectly imperfect as you are. If you want to enhance something about yourself for YOU, great. I know myself well enough to know that mine is rooted is comparison, which is certainly the thief of my joy when I allow it!
Love this? —–> Swap It for this Non-Toxic Better Beauty Favorite!
Dirty 1; Clean 1
Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm –> Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm
While marketed as a “green clean” item, this is an EWG 3 (medium risk); the alternative is Verified on EWG (the safest possible)
Dirty 2; Clean 2 & 3
Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream Plumping & Hydrating Moisturizer –> Countertime Antioxidant Soft Cream (day) and Countertime Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream (night)
Also marketed as “green clean” this moisturizer is an EWG 5 (medium risk); alternatively, try the award-winning Countertime line’s day and night protect step moisturizers
Dirty 3; Clean 4 or 5
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Exfoliating Toning Solution –> All Bright Triple Acid AHA Toner or Overnight Resurfacing Peel
Made wildly popular on TikTok, this toner acts similar to a tretinoin but is an EWG 4 (medium risk) – swap it for either of the Glycolic Acid products. The AHA Toner includes Niacinamide, Salicylic Acid and Kombucha clinically proven to improve the appearance of pores and skin brightness. The Peel is a proprietary multi-acid leave-on AHA/BHA complex that improves skin texture and boosts clarity without irritation or over-drying with botanically derived lactic acid, arginine and essential fatty acids that help smooth and soothe skin to reveal a brighter, healthier looking, renewed complexion (100% agreed skin felt and looked smoother, 97% reported that skin felt resurfaced). Both are clinically proven to boost skin radiance and improve skin texture.
Dirty 4; Clean 6 or 7
The INKEY List Retinol Anti-Aging Serum –> All Bright C Serum or Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum
Another TikTok favorite, this Best of Beauty winner is an EWG 5 (medium risk), trade it for another award-winner that uses Retinatural Complex (Bakuchiol, Swiss Alpine Rose, and Peptides) for scientifically-backed clinically proven similar to tretinoin (100% said skin texture felt smoother, 97% agreed the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles was reduced and 97% experienced brighter, more radiant-looking firmer skin)
Dirty 5; Clean 8 & 9
Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Face Primer –> Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer with SPF with All Bright Brightening Facial Oil
If you want a dewy glow, Charlotte Tilbury is sure to come up in your search – but most products are medium to high-risk, like this EWG 5; instead, try Dew Skin with a few drops of Brightening Facial Oil added for skin that is nourished and refreshed to a true lit-from-within glow. With use over time, Dew Skin is clinically proven to help skin feel firmer and look more luminous with a radiance-boosting blend of black currant seed oil, peony root extract, and vitamin C.
Dirty 6; Clean 10
Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist –> Glow First Priming Serum
While this application will be different (under makeup instead of sprayed on top), this primer is a safer alternative than the EWG 6 (medium risk) Mist. And, is a serum that uses Microdroplet Technology, a.k.a., ~4,000 encapsulated jojoba ester bubbles suspended in the formula designed to burst upon application, our innovative primer hydrates skin for an instantly plumper-looking and smooth appearance. Clinically proven to increase skin’s luminosity & radiance, reduce the appearance of dark spots, improve skin texture and foundation wear for 12 hours (100% said skin feels prepped for even foundation + makeup application, experienced hydrated, nourished, plumper-looking skin, and softer and smoother-feeling skin).
Dirty 7; Clean 11
Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray –> Countercontrol Matte Effect Gel Cream (Oil-free)
While this application will be different (under makeup instead of sprayed on top), this will do a better job of prevent makeup from slipping; paired with the below setting powder, performance will be better than this high-risk spray (EWG 7). With a signature SkinBalance Complex, the formula helps purify skin while preserving ideal moisture levels for a refreshed, comfortable complexion.
Dirty 8; Clean 12
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer –> Skin Twin Creamy Concealer
Don’t @ me for coming after your NARS. Before I switched to safer it was my ride-or-die, too. But, at a medium risk (EWG 4) and a product I wear daily, I’d like to introduce you to the clean concealer for show stopping skin—an award-winning formula with 20 shades of lightweight, silky-smooth coverage.
The creamy longwearing product is buildable for seamless coverage, and improved skin with time. It immediately diffuses imperfections and reduces signs of fatigue for a brighter-looking complexion, while powerhouse ingredients like knotgrass extract help improve the look of skin over time for a firmer, smoother appearance. (100% said it concealed the appearance of under-eye circles, dark spots, and imperfections and skin instantly looked smooth and perfected with an all-day weightless feel that blended seamlessly for undetectable coverage and did not crease or settle into fine lines. 100% said complexion looked perfected all day) Plus, this product is formulated with responsibly-sourced palm.
Dirty 9; Clean 13
Charlotte Tillbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder –> Mattify Skin Finishing Powder
I talk about the dangers of inhaling powders in this article if you’d like to learn more. Since doing that research I have avoided all powders that haven’t been tested for safety. Since this setting powder is an EWG 6 (medium risk), try the alternative! The smooth and translucent finishing powder blends invisibly to set makeup and absorb shine for a natural, even finish and no white residue. It’s a seamless 1:1 swap for me!
Dirty 10 & 11; Clean 14
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer or Charlotte Tillbury Lip Lustre Lip Gloss, Pillow Talk –> Beyond Gloss in Bare Shimmer or Quartz
These are two of the highest risk items on the list, and unfortunately they are on your lips – where we will inevitably ingest them, increasing our risk even more (details and sources here). Instead, try the award-winning Beyond Gloss that provides next-level hine with the BeyondShine Filter Effect, a unique light-bending technology that captures a rainbow of colors and filters them for multidimensional luster and an ultra-glossy look. And, best of all – the BeyondSmooth Conditioning Complex helps to lock in moisture to leave lips looking and feeling soft and smooth. With responsibly sourced vanilla, jojoba seed oil, and vitamin E, expect a ultra-cushiony wear that stays put without the sticky feel.
and a bonus… I used to be obsessed with Fresh’s Sugar Lip Balms and am SO excited about these new Clean Swipe Hyaluronic Lip Balms in a variety of colors! 100% of people had long-lasting hydration; yes, please!
Dirty 12; Clean 15
Too Faced Better Than Sex Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara –> Think Big All-in-One Mascara
Think Big, not Dirty! Too Face’s popular formula is a medium risk (EWG 4) mascara. And, you’d need a primer with use. Instead, try the all-in-one Think Big mascara for award-winning, clinically proven results. The benefits? Clean and effective: The carbon black-free formula delivers bold color and instant volume, lift, and fullness. Precise, effortless application: A soft, molded brush dispenses the perfect amount of formula and defines each lash from root to tip with ease. Lash-care conditioners: Tripeptide technology strengthens for clinically proven stronger, longer, and fuller-looking lashes. (93% experienced fuller, thicker lashes and visibly longer, defined, and separated lashes; after four weeks 97% experienced fuller and healthier-looking lashes.)
Best Deals with Sets of the Above
- Best in Clean Heroes
contains 5 of the above Clean 15: Beyond Gloss, All Bright C Serum, Countertime Radiance Serum, Overnight Resurfacing Peel, and Countermatch Intense Moisture Serum
- Countertime Deluxe Mini Set
contains 3 of the above Clean 15 and the other 2 are two of my all-time favorites, too!
- Clean Dreams Set
contains 2 of the above Clean 15 with a silky eye pillow: Countertime Supreme Cream and Overnight Resurfacing Peel
- Good Glitz Duo,
includes talc-free eyeshadow tested for heavy metals with high payoff paired with a mini Beyond Gloss
- Flawless in Five
always 20% off bundled as a set of 6 for a five-minute-face
Want to save more? Add Band of Beauty loyalty perks. Like Prime for better beauty – NOT Columbia House! You’re not locked into purchases, won’t ever get anything you don’t order and won’t be automatically renewed. You will get 2 free Welcome Gift added to your cart with a purchase over $50, including one of the Clean 15 favorites. And, free shipping on qualifying orders as well as 10% back as product credit on each order while an active member. Learn more here.
Want free samples? Let’s be e-mail friends and I’ll send you what you want to try!
If this post is helpful, please pin or share it!
You can keep up each week on Instagram and our newsletters:
Never want to miss a post, sale, or deal? Join my Healthy Inside & Out e-mail list for more info on non-toxic living and safer skincare!
Want more info on our Real Life? Healthy recipes, parenting tips, and general lifestyle stuff goes out in our Real Everything newsletter, join here.