The beginning of the new year welcomes to opportunity for many a resolution. At our store, the most common one people come to us with is the desire to overhaul their makeup bag with exclusively "clean" products. This is great! There are so many reasons to love clean beauty brands, from their primarily female founders to their sustainable production, to their safe ingredients. The past decade saw a rise in beauty products that are as good for your body and the planet as they are effective-- consumers no longer have to choose one or the other. As a result, cleaning up your makeup has never been easier. However, tossing everything out and starting fresh can be expensive and wasteful. I so appreciate when clients want an entirely blank slate, but a slow transition to clean products is just as impactful.
Here's an easy guide to cleaning up your makeup in a slow, sustainable way:
Step One: Take inventory of your beauty products and discard anything that has expired.
All makeup products are labelled a little logo of a jar with the number of months that the formula will last after opening. Powder products can last multiple years, liquids and creams last around a year, and products that go near your eyes, like mascara and eyeliner, should ideally only be used for around three to four months. Another easy indicator is if the product smells like it has gone off, it’s because it has.
If you have any makeup products that are still usable, but you don’t want them anymore, donate them to worthy causes like the Women’s Health Collective. Many charities will accept gently used makeup products (other than mascara and eyeliner)
Step Two: Become acquainted with the various definitions of "clean" beauty and decide what is important to you.
There is a lot of noise in the clean beauty world since the term, although popular, is not regulated by the FDA. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by all the information that you end up not wanting to put anything on your face at all. I am a huge believer in clean beauty, but I don't love that term because it implies that your regular makeup is dirty or inferior. There's no room for fear-mongering in 2020-- we have enough shit to worry about already.
Do your research to become acquainted with what all the terms and ingredients mean. Then, pick a couple of things that are important to you. Start small. The most accessible place to start with is to choose products companies that do not test on animals, also known as "cruelty-free." Everything we sell at IRC is cruelty-free, which means if you're already on this website, you're off to a great start. Brands can choose to become "Leaping Bunny" certified to demonstrate that their products are cruelty-free. If they have this designation, there will be a small image of a leaping bunny on their packaging. However, this is a designation that companies have to pay to utilize, so brands, particularly indie brands with smaller budgets, might choose to opt-in. If a product doesn't have a leaping bunny logo on it, it doesn't mean that it isn't cruelty-free. Do your research and, when in doubt, ask the company directly.
Removing added synthetic fragrance from your products is a natural next step. Cosmetics companies are not legally required to disclose the exact ingredients that they use to create their fragrance. Something in your makeup might be causing your skin irritation, but you will never be able to know what exactly it is. Another reason for avoiding fragrance is that it is often added to a product to camouflage potentially "toxic" ingredients. Fragrance can also prevent you from knowing when a product has gone rancid. I get that a bronzing powder that smells like chocolate might seem cute, but does it really need to smell edible to be effective? No, it most certainly does not.
After that, you might choose to look into removing certain preservatives from your products. However, let me preface this by saying that not all preservatives are harmful! Any formula that includes water requires a preservative. Tons of naturally-derived ingredients act as effective, safe preservatives, and you have no reason to be afraid of them. If you're investing in an expensive skincare product, you want it to be well-preserved so that you get your money's worth. The most common group of parabens that people wish to avoid are parabens (anything ending in -paraben), which are synthetic compounds that are widely considered to be endocrine disruptors.
A reliable resource to use to educate yourself on the safety of cosmetic ingredients is the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. If you have the patience, you can enter every single one of the ingredients listed on your products into the database, and it will provide you with a ranking on a scale of how safe it is to use, with links to published research to back it up.
Step Three: Replace what you’ve discarded and try to do so with a new, “clean” alternative.
I get that there are some holy grail products that you won’t want to veer from, but there are so many fantastic alternatives to conventional beauty products now that I promise you won’t know the difference.
Love Armani Luminous Silk foundation? Try Vapour Soft Focus Foundation. Can’t live without Nars Creamy Concealer? Ilia’s True Skin Serum Concealer is better. Ilia’s Tinted Brow Gel is a convincing alternative to Glossier’s Boy Brow. The list goes on.
Step Four: Use up the products that you do have left.
Try to hit pan on them before you purchase new ones. I am guilty of consistently buying new makeup when I have lots at home that I have yet to touch. I end up with six lipsticks in the same shade; all of them are slowly decaying at the bottom of my handbag. Shopping your makeup stash can be lots of fun because it can remind you of the great things you already own. Once you’ve finished up those, repeat step three.
Step Five: Treat yourself and add something fun and new into your makeup kit. Kosas makes the lip gloss that is shiny but not sticky. Maybe it's time to explore a cream blush instead of a powder, like Manasi 7's All Over Colour pots. What about a primer that doubles as a serum? There is so much to explore in the world of green beauty that you might find something entirely new to love.