How to Swap Your Beauty Staples for Clean Alternatives (That Really Work!)

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the clean beauty movement is here, and here to stay. From celebs like Olivia Wilde backing safer cosmetics and skincare, to legal measures being taken to ensure our stores’ shelves get cleaned up, literally, the toxic ingredients hiding in mainstream products are being brought to light. Finally!

To give you an example of how behind the U.S. is when it comes to cosmetic policy, restrictions haven’t been updated since 1938 (before WWII when a lot of chemicals were added). Chemicals like phthalates, parabens, sulfates, etc. are likely being applied to your face and skin everyday thanks to the products that we’ve relied on for decades. And not to totally freak you out, but these ingredients go further than causing allergies. Some of the most toxic of the ingredients are linked to all sorts of serious health issues.

If you want to take inventory of your medicine cabinet, this is a helpful list of ingredients to ditch.

Luckily, big stores and brands are getting behind this movement, with pure products improving greatly in terms of quality and effectiveness. And being a beauty lover but also understanding that health trumps everything, I’ve made it my personal mission to find effective safe products and to toss the toxic ones. After lots of trial and error, here are the swaps worth investing in.

Herbivore Brighten


I’m a huge facemask fan; Sunday doesn’t feel right without one, so finding a clean option was crucial. I’ve been all about Herbivore’s Brighten ever since trying it, and appreciate this mask for a number of reasons: 1. It comes with a cute applicator. 2. You barely need any. 3. You can see results instantly. 4. It’s not messy (or an awful, weird color). This is an excellent once-a-week treat that evens out and brightens the complexion.

RMS Un Cover-Up


Even if I’m “not wearing makeup,” I’m wearing concealer under my eyes and around my nose. Since this is something I couldn’t live without, I’ve invested in quite a few. RMS proves to be the leader in multi-tasking while providing coverage. It’s light, but definitely lessens my under eye bags or red splotches—without drying me out like a lot of mainstream concealers.


True Botanicals Hydrating Cleanser


I’ve been a long-time Cetaphil girl, and though it’s a gentle, affordable option, it has chemicals. I’ve tried multiple clean cleansers since, and without a doubt True Botanicals is my fave. It doesn’t have an odd smell or texture like some natural versions do – it actually smells amazing – and it strips makeup without striping skin. Is it weird that I truly look forward to cleansing now?

Primally Pure Sensitive Deodorant


If there’s one thing I’ve wasted money on in the search for swapping out products, it’s deodorant. Finding one that nixes smell alone has been a journey, and then consistency is another major problem. I started using Primally Pure’s about a month ago and finally feel confident with a deodorant option.

Here’s the thing—you will sweat, which for a lot of us isn’t something we’re used to. But it’s necessary; I find that if I am getting sweaty, I just apply a little more product and everything soaks up.

Source: @tracy_joe_

ILA "In My Room"


I don’t wear color daily, but if I’m going out, it’s in my makeup bag. ILIA has the most gorgeous colors (personal favorite here) that actually hydrate lips and the lasting power is decent, too. It doesn’t stick to my lips like some stains, but if you think about it, what chemicals are hidden in stains to make them stay on all day long? Kinda scary!

Primally Pure Lip Balm


For chapsticks, I’ve been super pleased with Primally Pure’s line of lip balms. I always keep at least one with me and love the natural scents.

RMS Living Luminizer


The RMS highlighter has a cult following, so it’s the first one I picked up—and I can’t see myself buying anything else. It provides a glow from within and you barely need any to brighten up facial features.

Source: @ninaagdal

Honest Company Apricot Lotion


Depending on my mood and the weather, I go back and forth between body oil and lotion. Lotion wise, Jessica Alba’s company Honest has affordable options that blend well. Plus, I love the variety of scents to choose from.

Indie Lee Vanilla Citrus Oil

Moisturizing Oil

When I want oil, I’m crazy obsessed with the smell and feel of Indie Lee’s Vanilla Citrus moisturizer. You’re definitely oily for a couple hours, but sometimes that feels good.

Even making one swap a month is a wonderful start. I personally like to replace any product with a clean one once a toxic product is all used up—it’s definitely the budget-friendly route to go.

Do you have any clean products that deserve a spot on this list?

  • Love this guide to swapping out products for more natural and non toxic alternatives. Thanks for sharing

    Eme x

  • Neoma

    This is an excellent product roundup! I clicked three products and am going to check them out after I finish this comment. I really appreciate you keeping it simple and explaining why you love each product. Thank you for this wonderful post!

  • I would recommend Kjaer Weiss as well! They have this beautiful foundation that also doubles as a concealer. As someone who has genetically dark under eye circles, I was super impressed by it! Additionally, their packaging is reusable (they have refills), which is a win for the environment as well!

  • You should feature Good Cubed!! They’re a great natural product and cruelty free website.

  • Great selection! It’s amazing how many chemicals we put on our skin without a second thought. Have you heard of the app Think Dirty? You scan a product and it tells you how “dirty” it is. Super helpful.

    Alexandria |

  • Madison Moore

    BeautyCounter is a great company with amazing products – all clean!!

  • Juauna

    I love this page with clean suggestions! I just use my essential oils and DIY, but it’s nice to have ready made stuff too! Thank you!

  • Staci Hamalis

    Very helpful! I am a big fan of the Body Oils from Vilia Soap!

  • Caroline K

    Beautycounter! The best one-click away shop for clean products!

  • Natalie Redman

    Great guide.