So, you cut out processed foods to take care of your body, and stopped using plastic straws to save the turtles, but what about your skincare routine? An EWG study found that on average, women expose themselves to 168 chemical ingredients daily through their personal care products. These products are not only dangerous to our health, but they also contaminate the environment and our water supply when we wash them all off. This varies from the makeup you’re (hopefully) washing off at night and the soap you’re using, to the sunblock that goes into the sea when you go for a swim.
I wasn’t paying any attention to what was in my makeup and skincare products until I watched the Toxic Beauty documentary, which is how I understood that what goes onto my body is just as important as what goes in it. You can educate yourself about the dangers of harmful chemicals by watching the doc and doing some research, but as a crash course, some of the chemicals you should look out for are: parabens, formaldehyde, oxybenzone, phenoxyethanol, artificial fragrance, dimethicone, and many more…
You can also download the Think Dirty app, and scan barcodes of products you’re looking at next time you’re shopping for beauty products. The app will give you a comprehensive rating of how “dirty” the product is, along with detailed (but easy-to-understand) information on ingredients, certifications, and health impacts.
The clean beauty industry has received so much more attention in the last year, with lockdowns giving people the opportunity to examine the products they are using, also allowing Middle Eastern brands to gain more exposure. After some trial and error, and listening to TikTok makeup gurus, here’s a list of beauty brands that your skin, and the planet, will love you for.
The story of Ilia began when founder Sasha Plavsic’s mother encouraged her to read the ingredient list on her favorite lip balm, and she was shocked to discover many of the ingredients were not safe. This set a challenge for her to recreate her favorite lip balm so that it would be safe, effective, and natural. Ilia sees skincare and makeup as one, with active ingredients in its makeup products without toxic ingredients that are harmful to your skin and the environment. Their products are ideal for women on the go as many of them are multi-use, with just a few pieces of their makeup you can put together a quick and natural makeup look.
Ilia ‘Super Serum’ Skin Tint
Another brand perfect for beauty beginners, RMS Beauty is the brainchild of makeup artist Rose Marie Swift. Non-processed, non-toxic cosmetics nourish and heal skin whilst delivering flawless coverage. RMS Beauty offers natural makeup and skincare formulated with raw ingredients in their natural state that add a wealth of vital nutrients to your skin while promoting anti-aging benefits.
RMS Beauty “Lip2Cheek” Lip & Cheek Stain
Brands like W3ll People not only create products with plant-powered formulas to support long-term skin health, but make it a point to give back to the planet. To celebrate Earth Day, the brand partnered with the National Forest Foundation to plant 10,000 trees in National Parks in the U.S in April. With a list of over 1,700 ingredients that they exclude from their products, you can trust that W3ll’s ethically sourced and renewable botanicals make for revitalizing cosmetics that nourish and soothe.
W3ll People ‘Expressionist’ Mascara
Many clean skincare brands are on the pricier side, but this is one of the exceptions. With “Conscious Beauty for All” as their motto, it is not surprising that women- and minority-owned Cocokind is eco-beauty’s latest hero brand. This affordable skincare line was founded by Priscilla Tsa after realizing that prescription medications couldn’t soothe her cystic acne.
Cocokind Organic Chlorophyll Mask
“Clean Makeup Designed for Sensitive Skin.” Tower 28 products are made with non-toxic, non-irritating, good-for-you ingredients that you can pronounce. The brand believes that skin imbalances tend to be the result of your skin overreacting — whether from harsh ingredients, allergies, environmental aggressors like sun or pollution, or even makeup you already use. The products are compliant with EU Regulation, which bans over 1,300 ingredients, compared to only 38 in the United States.
Tower 28 ‘Bronzino’ Illuminating Bronzer
Codex Beauty has created a new standard within the natural space: plant-based biotech beauty. The brand’s sustainability consciousness integrates the full production chain for all of your skincare needs, from maskne to dry skin. The brand works with local ethnobotanists and indigenous peoples and considers everything from the bio-availability of a plant species, the ecological impact of organic/biodynamic farming to the local biome, and the indigenous community in their production.
Codex Beauty ‘Bia Skin Superfood’ Cream
Labothécaire, a brand name based on two French words — “laboratoire”, meaning laboratory, and “apothicaire”, meaning apothecary, is the first Saudi clean skincare line that addresses skin concerns using natural ingredients and clean proven scientific actives in their purest form. Founder Fatmah Al Maddah is a pioneer in safe, effective, and simple skincare in the GCC region, and created Labothécaire to offer products that are backed by science. The products are formulated by world-class experts and certified to international and European standards.
Labothécaire Pure Full Body Deodorant Spray
The UAE’s first luxury clean conscious suncare brand, SunKiss, offers reef-friendly sunscreen made of natural ingredients, striving to protect marine life and coral. All products are free of oxybenzone and octinoxate, the two most commonly occurring chemicals in the most popular sunscreen brands, which are hazardous to coral reefs. Their sunblocks are only formulated using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, two naturally occurring minerals that protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays.
SunKiss Coconut SPF 30 Suncare
Herbal Essentials is an award-winning homegrown brand that draws its inspiration and ingredients from the Himalayas to bring affordable natural skincare that works. The products combine pure Himalayan Spring Water, which has been clinically proven to boost skin cell renewal, with active plant botanicals and ancient Ayurvedic ingredients that have long been known for their wellness benefits. Whether you are looking for a cleanser, mask, or moisturizer, you can find gentle and effective products for every step of your skincare routine.
Herbal Essentials Himalayan Micellar Water
Thanks to her knowledge as a dermatologist, Dr. Lamees Hamdan created a body oil out of necessity while she was pregnant, and founded an award-winning natural skincare brand as a result. Iranian rose, Southeast Asian tamanu, Indian amber, Egyptian jasmine, Lebanese orange blossom, and African shea butter are just some of the many unique ingredients that combine to create Shiffa’s rare and healing products.
Shiffa Healing Balm
Founded by HRH Sheikha Intisar Al Sabah of Kuwait, compassion is at the heart of Prismologie’s philosophy. This brand emphasizes making a difference to humanity by replenishing the self so that we are better placed to give care to others. Prismologie was born from the Sheikha witnessing the impact color therapy had on emotional and physical wellbeing, and decided to develop a brand of luxurious body and lifestyle products that fused the evocative power of color and scent.
Prismologie Citrine & Bergamot Shower Gel
After trying every product on the market to help tackle their adult acne, sisters Sarah and Nora Al-Musili launched By Noussou, a Dubai-based skincare brand that uses all-natural and chemical-free ingredients to help those suffering from acne-prone skin, particularly in adult years. The founders experienced a loss of confidence due to their skin concerns and wanted to help other women who are struggling as there was nothing on the market, including medical-grade skincare, that suited their needs.
By Noussou ‘Maskquerade’ Facial Mask
In Morocco, beauty rituals are more than your skincare routine; they are social affairs where women come together with their own natural recipes prepared with the finest ingredients. This was the inspiration for Izil, founded by Mouna Abassy, who struggled when she moved to Dubai to find beauty products that were pure, natural, and empowering. Their products are made from ingredients provided by the nature around them, including special blends of Moroccan organic plant extracts, herbs, and essential oils.
Izil Re-Mineralizing Body Mask