My Recent Top Clean Beauty Picks!
As a beauty writer and someone who runs a business providing aesthetic concierge services and
customized routines, it’s my job to try everything out there (not that anyone has ever had to force me)! I
like to say I’ve dabbled in the world of clean beauty, but in this month’s newsletter, I wanted to highlight
some brands that are working to reduce my industry’s carbon footprint and make sustainable beauty
Clean beauty has become synonymous with non-toxic beauty but is at best an unregulated term,
still in its broadest terms it refers to products made without ingredients both shown and suspected to
be harmful to human health. Think of products that are free from synthetic ingredients/fragrances, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and other harmful chemicals. Often these formulas are cruelty-free and sustainable, and/or renewable sources as well.
Clean beauty critics are quick to poke holes in misinformation about very lengthy banned ingredient lists, but for my purposes, I’m casting a wide net, as I am not an expert in clean beauty and am merely seeking to provide some options and share my first-hand experience with my readership. I experiment with all types of beauty products while conducting my research for both companies and private clients, and to provide feedback and review products accurately and comprehensively for various brands. So even though my skincare routine is not composed of just clean beauty products, I did ensure that the ones I covered here are all luxurious, high- performing, and in many cases intoxicating – read, no need to compromise anymore when it comes to non-toxic beauty and the bounty of possibilities.
Keep reading for some of my top clean beauty picks that I’ve test-driven in recent months. For more information, you may find the following article helpful: What Is Clean Beauty, and Why Is It Important? (oprahdaily.com).
Antedotum Essential Daily Sunscreen SPF 30 – I’m an aesthetician, makeup artist, and beauty
professional that runs her own business consulting 1x1 with private clients. I’ve been in this industry
for nearly three decades and my focus and goals have shifted over time. For many of these years, I
focused a lot on complexion cosmetics when it came to myself and my clientele. However, over the
past 10+ years, I have sought to truly improve the overall health and quality of the skin, and in doing
so I personally don't need to wear foundation anymore.
Instead, I apply tinted sunscreen or a CC/BB
cream with SPF on a daily basis and then dab on concealer as needed. To that end, this lovely
product from Antedotum provides just the right amount of sheer and lightweight coverage that I
have come to love and seek out for myself and my clientele. I love the high percentage of 10% zinc oxide in a physical sunscreen, and yet the formulation goes on smoothly and without leaving a pasty/chalky appearance. I am a huge fan of the pump applicator too - it just makes dispensing so much cleaner and more efficient. The soothing & moisturizing ingredients in this all-mineral SPF add to the appeal as well - not to mention, the addition of iron oxides for blue light protection is spot on for the times we are living in/through. I do wish it came in a higher SPF than 30, but I can always sweep on an application of my Colorscience Brush-On Shield SPF 50 atop as needed.
Columbia Probiotic Concentrate - For many years I have taken probiotics and prebiotics orally due to
their many health benefits in caring for my microbiome. So naturally, I was very intrigued to learn
about and try this very unique product that combined probiotics with several other rock star anti-
aging and skin health ingredients... specifically peptides and plan stem cells.
I can report that after using this serum for once daily for several weeks, my skin definitely took on a very healthy, hydrated, and glowing appearance. I did notice that when I used it on the same day as a retinol or other active topical that encourages cellular turnover, that my skin was too stripped. I found my best results came about when I used the Probiotic Concentrate only and set aside my other chemical exfoliants. I really love a luminous appearance to my aging skin, so I really appreciate how this serum delivers on that promise!
Joanna Vargas TWILIGHT Repairing and Hydrating Serum - I have been an aesthetician for many
years and worked in the world of beauty/skincare for nearly three decades. This adds up to lots of
experience with lots of products! This dreamy nighttime serum has been a God-send for my over-
stripped and stressed-out skin this past month.
As a professional in the aesthetics industry, I’m often experimenting with numerous products, while also test-driving various procedures, in the pursuit of finding the best solutions for both me and my clientele. My exhaustive research often winds up putting my skin in the role of the test dummy, leading to over-stimulation and a compromised skin barrier. This serum's creamy texture has been a delight to apply, and I can truly tell that it both comforts and repairs my skin, as I wake up with skin that feels more hydrated and balanced every single morning. I also love the scent, which manages to be both subtle and intoxicating.
Joanna Vargas TWILIGHT Plumping and Firming Night Cream - As an aesthetician and beauty consultant, I put my skin through the wringer on a nearly constant basis, in pursuit of researching all the products and treatments best suited for both myself and my clients. I’m forever in search of nourishing night creams that deliver moisture without feeling too heavy and occlusive. This lovely formulation manages to feel both creamy and whipped, while at the same time not overly rich. The pretty pink cream smells heavenly, but not in a heady way that would be overpowering. When using this product before bed, I wake up to my skin both looking and feeling very balanced and restored - even when used in conjunction with retinol, or an AHA treatment. I can tell that the humectants are making a big difference in how my light makeup application goes on the next day, and the resulting overall finish is a very healthy one!
Kadalys Organic Pink Banana Glow Booster Serum – I’ve worked in the beauty industry for almost three decades and worn lots of hats over these years, and yet Kadalys organic and cruelty-free products are the first ones that I have ever used that incorporate bananas! Yellow, green, and pink bananas to be exact - each variety targeting specific skin types and issues. The potent bio-actives found in their formulas are ideal for addressing multiple skin concerns: firming, plumping, clarifying, smoothing, brightening, and hydrating, just to name a handful of the many benefits of this
antioxidant-packed fruit. I’ve really enjoyed incorporating this serum-oil into my nightly regimen over the last month. I had just run out of my Kiehl's Midnight Concentrate when I decided to sub in this pink oil for a spell, and I’m so glad that I did. I LOVE facial oils and I particularly favor ones that deeply hydrate, while also absorbing nicely into my skin and leaving me with a noticeable glow. That's exactly what this glow booster serum delivered to my skin - and I found that my complexion cosmetics applied more beautifully after a night of having treated my face to a few drops of this luxurious oil. I should point out that the product does have a floral and fruity (yet not banana) scent to it. This is important to note for those people who don't care for fragrant products or prefer a light clean scent. I do want to add that the scent is 100% natural, so there's no added perfume or
fragrance, but rather essences of rose petals, various berries, and apples. This is the fourth product
that I have tried from this lovely French skincare line, and I intend to use every drop.
Kadalys Organic Peeling Exfoliant - The Organic Peeling Exfoliant by KADALYS is so versatile in terms of application, I feel like anyone, and everyone could benefit from adding this into their skincare mix. I am an aesthetician and always trying out new technologies, formulations, brands, etc. And yet, I have found myself reaching for this tube of French loveliness time and again - admittedly,
I’m a sucker for a beautiful gommage. I have enjoyed the radiant results from applying it as a mask and then just rinsing it off. I have also benefited from applying it as a scrub (the jojoba beads gently slough off any dead skin) and massaging it into my skin to reveal visibly cleaner and brighter skin.
Finally, I have most enjoyed experiencing both the mechanical and chemical exfoliation results
simultaneously - my complexion appeared smoother, perked up, and incredibly soft to the touch.
This product is so gentle that I intend to start using it more frequently - likely a couple of times
weekly. Lactic acid is a milder AHA that my skin has always responded well to. The larger molecule
size doesn't penetrate as deeply and quickly as many other AHAs (think glycolic acid), so it tends to
be very well tolerated for even sensitive and reactive skin types. In short, I love this product and will
be keeping it in my skincare rotation.
Kadalys Pure Melt Cleansing Gel-in-Oil - I’ve found a new favorite cleanser! I am a makeup artist and
aesthetician and have no less than 20 cleansers within reach of my tub and sink areas at all times,
so saying that I have a new favorite is saying something special indeed! This product literally delivers
the very best of all things that I am looking for in a face wash. That's to say that it truly dissolves and
removes every trace of makeup at the end of the day while leaving my sink soft and supple and not
feeling stripped in any way.
The gel-in-oil formulation truly breaks down mascara, eyeliner, and all other stubborn pigments when massaged into dry skin. The wash rinses clean leaving behind skin that truly feels clean and happy! The oily texture, which I prefer in a first cleanse, turns milky when
warm water is applied and so I get the satisfaction of a second-cleanse experience, but all in one step. That's a win-win for me. The lemon water leaves my skin brighter and feeling energized after rinsing and the various organic oils noticeably nourish my skin and leave it feeling balanced and bouncy.
KOSAS Plump and Juicy Lip Booster Buttery Lip Treatment - Oh. My. Goodness. What a treat! I
absolutely LOVE this lip treatment. I have thoroughly enjoyed both wearing it solo as a comfy,
hydrating treatment, and atop a colored lipstick or gloss. I’m a makeup artist and have been for over
27yrs, still that doesn't mean that I wear makeup every single day, especially lip color. So, I really like having options for the days when I don't apply color cosmetics, but still want to smooth and
moisturize my lips.
The texture is superb, not sticky or tacky in the least. I’ve never been a fan of thick or lacquered lip glosses, preferring instead to reach for softer formulations that hydrate. I notice that my pout appears fuller and more supple when I’m regularly using this buttery treatment,
which is an added bonus. This Kosas lip product has earned a place in my purse's makeup bag, andit will be staying in regular rotation!
KOSAS Wet Lip Oil Plumping Treatment Gloss - This lip oil is brilliant! It's the best of both worlds,
beautiful shiny color, and a lovely treatment product. This is the first lip oil I’ve tried, and I can see
why women are absolutely loving these hybrid products.
The formulation manages to look both hydrating and smooth, without feeling greasy or sticky. The color range is gorgeous too. The older I get, the more dehydrated my lips tend to be and so this treatment/lip gloss is a bifunctional product that makes good sense for me. I love that with the use of just one product, my lips can look fuller and glossy pretty, all while feeling buttery comfortable. This gloss touts hydration and that's exactly the benefit I’m looking for when applying lip color. I’m a lip oil convert.
Kosterina Extra Virgin Oil Balm - Of all the Kosterina products I've tried, this is the one that I have
reached for again and again. It's a multi-use balm that I have applied in many ways - as a cuticle
softener, a lip balm, under my eyes for hydration, on dry patches, and even just all over my face on
days when I am lounging around the house sans makeup. The signature scent is so light and lovely,
and I have really enjoyed the sensorial experience of just applying it. Notes of lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary, and sandalwood are all detectable and add to the spicy herbal aroma of this beautiful Mediterranean-inspired skincare. I love the convenience and portability of the packaging - perfect for tossing into my purse, slipping into my jacket pocket, and placing it by my laptop and bedside table. I feel like this product would be very appealing to men too, as they often like products that multi-task and are easy to dispense and tote around. And this whole Greek skincare line is super affordable!
Melach 33 Luxe CBD Body Butter - I‘m a beauty junkie, aesthetician, and all-around lover of all things
self-care. And this body butter is divine for so many reasons. Foremost the texture is creamy and
leaves my skin both looking and feeling silky smooth and deeply nourished. My favorite time to
indulge in its application is immediately after stepping out of a warm Epsom salt bath; while my
pores are open and I am already unwinding, I look forward to massaging this elegant moisturizing
butter into my still-damp skin.
The formulation includes a powerhouse blend of a handful of beneficial oils such as sweet almond, pomegranate, grape seed, Vitamin E, and most notably CBD! Not only is my body cocooned in a hydrating blend of antioxidants and revitalizing/replenishing ingredients, but it simultaneously experiences a relaxing and stress-relieving sensation as any body aches are soothed and my muscle tensions melt away. I sleep like a baby on the nights that I treat myself to a full-body application of this luxurious CBD body butter.
Melach 33 Rimmon Elixir Face Oil - I LOVE this facial oil! I am an aesthetician and beauty
professional with over 27 years of industry experience, and I’m a huge fan of facial oils in general.
What stands out to me about this particular formulation is that although it has a thicker viscosity, it
manages to feel lightweight, while also quickly absorbing into my skin. I have combination skin for the most part, and so I seek hydrating facial products that leave my 46yr old skin feeling supple and balanced.
I can really tell the difference in how my skin both looks and feels since incorporating this product into my AM regimen. I was using another facial oil prior to subbing this one in the mix and there's been no comparison in terms of which one I prefer. My skin has more of a glow now - the overall texture is absolutely smoother, and I have found my skin better able to tolerate my retinol applications. The fact that it is rich in a number of powerful antioxidants is the cherry on top!
Melach 33 Silky Shea Body Butter – I’ve been working in the beauty industry for over 25yrs and tried
countless body lotions/creams. And I can truly say that this body butter is one of the most
pleasurable ones I have yet to experience. I love how incredibly moisturizing it is while not feeling
greasy or heavy. I was so pleased to find this to be the case, as often shea butter-based creams can
feel oily or too thick in my opinion
The texture is smooth and luxurious and leaves my whole body feeling exceptionally hydrated. My favorite time to use it has been following a warm bubble bath, the various oils in the product melt right into my skin and lock in moisture when I apply it this way. The formulation is also pleasantly and lightly fragranced, therefore I find that it does not interfere with my perfume, which I prefer in a body moisturizer. All in all, I look forward to applying this cosmetically elegant body butter after every tub soak.
NUDESKIN by NUDESTIX Lemon-Aid Detox & Glow Micro-Peel - Sign me up to glow! I'm an esty and I have 27yrs of experience test-driving products. This easy-to-apply at-home "peel" is a great option for when I am looking for a detoxifying and clarifying treatment that won't strip my 46yr old skin, and at the same time truly delivers on the deep cleansing I seek from time to time. I live in Houston, TX and our climate is mostly hot and humid year-round, so a few times a month I really need a product in my skincare arsenal that can tackle troublesome clogged pores.
This rings especially true, when I
spend more time outdoors, hence more frequent applications of sunscreen... often leading to pesky blackheads and an overall sense of ickiness. For people that struggle with oiliness and tend to be acne-prone most of the time, I could see this mask being a great option for application multiple times a week. Personally, I will reach for it a handful of times throughout the month during the spring and summer seasons, and really any other time I need a thorough cleansing with the benefit of a
NUDESKIN by NUDESTIX Tight & Bright Face Mask 10% Mandelic Acid + 10% Niacinamide - Hip hip
hooray! I'm an aesthetician and beauty professional with almost 3 decades of industry experience,
and I'm always on the lookout for awesome at-home treatment recommendations for myself and my
clientele. I found this mask to be spot-on for those occasions when I wanted a gentle exfoliating
option that left me glowing! I was pleased with how bright my skin looked after trying this product
and how beautifully my complexion makeup was applied after usage.
I also really liked it as a way to help gently remove dead skin cells that were still hanging on, a week after a recent SkinPen
procedure. I think that persons seeking a brightening and clarifying mask, that is also gentle enough for even fairly sensitive skin types to use, will really fall for this product. The balancing combination of mandelic acid and niacinamide makes for a just-right glow on those days when my skin seems a bit dull and needs a pick-me-up. The texture is quite sticky, so that may be a turn-off for some, but I applied it while bathing and so that was not much of a concern to me.
NUDESKIN by NUDESTIX Citrus Clean Balm & Make-up Melt - I LOVE cleansing oils and balms and this product feels like a lovely combination of these two types of cleansers. I am an aesthetician and
a makeup artist with 27yrs of industry experience. I’m also a woman who always has no less than
two dozen cleansing options on-hand to use at the sink or when bathing. I found this balm to be
extremely effective at removing even the most stubborn of mascara and eyeliner formulations, a big
win for me since I tend to have watery eyes and so I'm drawn to longer-wearing eye makeup.
Add to this, the lovely aromatic scent of this thicker makeup remover, and I have a new favorite option to throw in my mix. My skin feels soft and supple after washing, something I look for in a great balm/makeup remover. I also appreciate that it comes in a tube rather than a tub, so I don't have to
use my fingers to scoop out the product (something I have often found to be bothersome with other "melts"), I can just squeeze a bit onto my fingertips to apply... and a little goes a long way. I would like to see it made available in a larger size though, as I could see myself going through this tube fairly quickly if used daily.
NUDESKIN by NUDESTIX 5% Citrus Fruit & Glycolic Glow Toner - I would consider this product to be a treatment toner, unlike many toners that mainly just balance the skin's pH and hydrate the skin. I am
an aesthetician and admittedly I haven't always used or recommended a toning step to my clients;
however, using this product gave me pause.
I particularly like how smooth and radiant my skin looks after using this following my second cleanse in the evening. I’ve also benefited from applying it in the morning after using a retinol or other drying topical treatment the night before. The light fruit acid formulation helps to slough off any dry areas that are still clinging on! I don't find it to be too aggressive and it did not leave my skin feeling stripped like some other acidic toners often do. I believe that this toner would be a great option for anyone wanting a light and effective chemical exfoliation without bothersome redness & irritation. For reference, I have normal-to-combination skin and I’m 46. I have always had to be careful not to over-exfoliate and my retinol use is low and slow,
even after over 20yrs of use! I will be incorporating this delightful product into my regular rotation
and am pleased to have discovered an active toner that has a few places in my skincare routines!
ORPHEUS Resurrection Serum Slip Cleanser – I’m 46 years old, an aesthetician, and a beauty lover,
and I want bouncy skin every single day of my life! So, it stands to reason that I am always on the
hunt for products that promise to deliver smoother and more supple, deeply hydrated skin that also
has a lovely glow to it. Enter Orpheus' newest addition to their bio-active line of 100% clean skincare, Resurrection Serum Slip Cleanser... you had me at serum. The fact that this cleanser feels so velvety smooth is just one of the reasons it stands out among its peers. The super-star actives - lactic acid,
snow mushroom extract, Orpheus' proprietary peptide complex, and more, all work synergistically to
form a gentle yet powerful rejuvenating facial wash.
And I have also enjoyed the benefits of leaving it
on my skin for a few minutes and experiencing a light enzymatic exfoliation treatment. I must
mention that the packaging is beyond chic - the weight of the pale periwinkle ceramic bottle in my hand is substantial and texturally pleasant to hold and use. And the pumped container looks
gorgeous on my vanity – I’m a sucker for exceptional branding. From manufacturing to marketing, to science, packaging, and beyond - this product delivers something truly special and noteworthy in a sea of other products. A little goes a long way, and I’m glad because I want to keep this serum cleanser in my rotation.
ORPHEUS Resurrection Bio-Shield Cream - I LOVE a cream with a pump! It's so nice to be able to dispense a product this way, without having to dip my fingertips in a jar... I appreciate this especially
I find the texture of this moisturizer to be divine - it strikes the perfect balance of rich hydration, while managing to still feel breathable and comfortable when applied. I have gotten in the habit of using it only at night, (as I live in a very humid area and tend to reach for a lighter formulation in the AM) and I wake up with my skin glowing and supple. I tend to have a variety of both chemical and mechanical exfoliants in my skincare routine rotation at all times, so my skin can sometimes become sensitized and stripped - despite my best efforts to keep it balanced and at peace. As an aesthetician, I know the importance of pampering and protecting my skin barrier, and this cream by Orpheus truly resurrects my over-treated skin!
Viori Citrus Yao Hair Shampoo and Conditioner Bar Set - These creamy, all-natural, rice water-based
products are the epitome of luxury. Having worked in the beauty industry for almost three decades,
I've come across so many different hair products, but I can honestly say that none have been
presented more beautifully than these paraben-free shampoo a nd conditioner bars from Viori. The packaging is so gorgeous, exquisitely crafted, and truly a work of art. I didn't want to toss out the origami-like folded paper in which the shampoo bar was expertly wrapped! The fragrance is beachy and makes me long to get away when lathering up. The aroma is bright and effervescent with soft floral notes, though a bit sweet for my taste (with essential oils of peach, mandarin, vanilla, lemon, and grapefruit), as I tend to lean more toward musky scents. The bars both deliver hydrating ingredients (jojoba oil, cocoa, and shea butter) an d other ingredients that strengthen hair and add shine. I landed on 4 stars because the scent was not one that I would like to use on a regular basis, although I could enjoy the experience while vacationing somewhere tropical. These bars would be great for travel too if packed in portable containers, with no leaky bottles to worry about!
Viori Hidden Waterfall Hair Shampoo and Conditioner Bar - This all-natural solid shampoo and
conditioner set is beyond lovely! As a professional consultant in the world of beauty, I'm always on
the lookout for innovative products and I'm a sucker for gorgeous packaging. Viori really created
something special with these beautiful bars exquisitely wrapped in the most decadently designed
papers. I also love all of the nourishing and hydrating ingredients they worked into these paraben-
free formulas. Rice water serves as their base, and then they incorporate cocoa butter, shea butter,
vitamin B5, jojoba oil, bamboo extract, and so much more. I also appreciate their gentleness, as I have color-treated hair that requires some babying. The Hidden Waterfall scent is so rich, and intoxicating - think heady jasmine, bright mandarin, and sexy sandalwood and amber. I don't care for sweet or overly floral fragrances, and this all-natural one is enriched with essential oils and the payoff is aromatic and moody. The bamboo holder looks lovely beside my bathtub and is the perfect accessory for resting the bars on after each use, as it allows drainage and can be easily rinsed off. Chic packaging, thoughtful formulas, portability, and softened/shiny locks - I'm a fan!
WELL PEOPLE Revitalizing Dew Snow Mushroom Eye-Gel Cream- I am that girl who uses multiple
eye products in both the AM and PM. As someone who has loathed her dark circles since her second
grade school pics, I am forever in the market for new eye products. This formulation promised to
deliver hydration and smooth out the delicate skin around my eyes, and I found that it did just that.
I have other eye area products in my rotation that target puffiness, laxity and dark circles - so, I truly wanted this dewy gel-cream to mostly leave the treated skin feeling moisturized and taut. I love the addition of niacinamide, as this ingredient does wonders when it comes to brightening/evening my tone and smoothing my skin. I have used an all-over facial emulsion daily for several years now, that also includes this workhorse ingredient, and I have loved the results. I have fairly stubborn dark circles, so I need a bit more time to see how well this product tackles that particular concern. Overall, I give two thumbs up, if what you’re looking for is a thirst-quenching eye treatment that improves texture and may over time, brighten too!
Wanting to know how you can incorporate clean beauty into your routine, reach out for a free 15-minute consultation to find out how I can help you!