• Kate Markovitz

Clean Up Well: Personal Care Product Edition

For general recommendations and a blueprint for swapping to safer options, check out this post: How to Ditch & Switch to Nontoxic Products.

Safe Clean Nontoxic Personal Care Swaps

In this post, I'm going to share some more specifics, by talking the products you are using DAILY - skincare, makeup, shower products, deodorant, oral hygiene, sunscreen.

A couple notes first:

One of the over-arching ingredients I recommend everyone avoids (if you are only going to avoid 1) is an easy-to-identify on the label: fragrance/parfum. More about why here, but this is public offender number 1. A company should be able to tell you what is in its fragrance blend and if not, I question its transparency, integrity, and formula. No need to keep secrets - we deserve to know what's going on our skin!

Clean Beauty and Safe Nontoxic Skincare Swaps

Secondly, use a resource (I suggest the EWG) to look up the rating of your products. Decide what you are comfortable with for your products (I try to stick to 3 and below) and use this metric to guide what you purchase for the future.

I'll share brands I've tried and liked, as well as suggestions from my community (Thanks IG fam!).

If you need help organizing, I created a checklist you can use for notes (you'll notice page 2 is a home edition.. coming soon!)

I do have some affiliate links in this post, specifically for Beautycounter, my Amazon shop, Dr. Brite. It does not cost you any more to shop through these links, but it supports my blog and small business. I appreciate the patronage!

Let's begin!


Think about how often you use these products, typically twice a day. You can understand why you would want to know what is in your skincare so you can feel comfortable and confident using it!

Cleansers, moisturizers, creams, serums, makeup removers, etc can contain ingredients such as parabens, sulfates, undisclosed fragrances, petroleum (yes, the same thing motor oil is made from - usually under the name petrolatum, xylene, toluene, mineral oil, liquid paraffin), BHA, BHT, PEGs, and so on. It's worth the hour you will take to investigate what's really lurking in your current routine.

I personally use 90% Beautycounter skincare (I'm a huge fan of the Countertime and Counter+ lines). Beautycounter is a certified B Corporation with a Never List of over 1,800 harmful ingredients. I appreciate their dedication to safety and performance... and being a status quo disruptor - as am I ;) Beautycounter was recognized as THE leader in clean when they testified in front of Congress in December 2019 urging for more protective laws in this space and when they were the first limited edition partnership with Sephora in 2020. In full transparency, I am such a fan of the brand I am a consultant.

I have some face masks and serums from Primally Pure which I really enjoy, especially the plumping mask + clarifying serum. I also used the Beuti Beauty Sleep Elixir in the past and enjoyed it, as well as some Skin Obsession products, like the Lactic Acid Peel + Microdermabrasion crystals (I enjoy mixing these with my cleansing oil or balm). I'm also trying some products from Plant-Based Beauty (the mask + lash growth serum). Additionally, I love the Acure Face Masks (though they are pricey!)

Credo Beauty + Follian are two curated cleaner beauty shops to check out brands. Some of them I am not fully comfortable using, but these will still be more transparent than the conventional brands of the past.

Other Suggestions from my Community:

Cocokind, Beauty by Earth, Farmacy, Josie Maran, Kypris (serums + beauty elixir)

Men's Products

Additionally, I want to mention here before we get too far down the list: MENS PRODUCTS, because it's rarely mentioned. We think of personal care products as a woman's "issue."

My husband ran out of shave cream and face cleanser not long ago and I went to Target to buy him an interim product while I ordered his usual option. There were none, NONE, that I truly felt comfortable with him using! They all had parabens, fragrances, etc... in fact, one label literally had every single ingredient on my "hard no" list. I was really shocked.

Additionally, I cannot find another brand, other than Beautycounter, that makes products specifically designed for men that are also safe. While I have many happy male clients, this is so disappointing. There needs to be more available! If you have an option, please share.


Makeup products contain similar concerns to skincare products, but now we add in the colorants and thus heavy metals. Heavy metals are naturally occurring in the earth, but that does not mean they are safe - just the opposite. Many are highly toxic to humans and have been linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, environmental concerns and more (source). The most commonly found heavy metals in makeup are lead, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, mercury, and antimony.

One of the issues I have here is a lack of testing. Many women are now awake to looking for "clean" or "natural" beauty products but unless the company is testing for these heavy metals, they could be present in "better" options.