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  • Writer's pictureKate Markovitz

Clean Up Well: Personal Care Product Edition

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

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.


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.

Beautycounter Clean Nontoxic Skincare Makeup

Once again, I have a majority of my makeup products from Beautycounter, I trust their testing, standards and transparency. The powders are very pigmented and stay well, same for the lip options. The foundation and concealer are light-to-medium coverage, so if you do not want to see freckles, you'll want a different brand.

A general note: natural mascara can be a challenge. I've tried SO many and often they irritated my eyes if my eyes were slightly watery. I still haven't figured out what ingredient does this. Beautycounter's mascaras do not irritate my eyes (but performance is so-so). Ilia mascara was a wet formula; some love it, some hate it. Honest mascara is what I use most of the time, but it does run if sweating or crying. W3ll People mascara is next on my list to try!

Suggestions from my Community:


This is a challenging one. OHHHH natural deodorant, how necessary, yet difficult you are!

I've been searching for a natural deodorant that fits the bill since 2015 (though I think I may have found one!) Why switch to natural?

1) You have a lot of lymph nodes in your armpits. You are putting these ingredients into those glands.

2) There are a lot of harmful ingredients in deodorants, from aluminum (heavy metal + neurotoxin), to triclosan (pesticide according to FDA and probably carcinogen by the EPA), to propylene glycol (the active ingredient in antifreeze!)

Switching can be a process and you may go through a transition phase. You may notice:

  • an increase in sweat. Now that aluminum is out, often found in antiperspirants, your glands are no longer blocked and can release fluids. This is actually a good thing for our detox pathways and health, not so great our social life.

  • an increase in odor. Another not so fun side effect, but the increase in moisture and sweat can interact with odor-causing bacteria.

Try to remain positive - ultimately, it is GREAT to switch to a natural deodorant, truly. To speed up the process, use Beautycounter's Charcoal Facial Mask 1x a week and wash daily with the Charocal Cleansing Bar (charcoal can help with detoxification!)

I'm going to list a bunch of natural deodorants below (many I've tried) - though they didn't work for me, they may work for you! I was using Primally Pure Charocal deodorant until my recent pick (which I will update here on August 20th!)

Suggestions from my Community:


Safe Swaps for Personal Care Products

The main offender in shower products are sulfates: SLS, SLES, etc. While these are needed to get that really soapy lather, they are also irritants to the skin.

I have very thick, curly, wirey hair. Finding a natural shampoo/conditioner duo I like and can use consistently, well, hasn't really happened yet. My favorite has been Innersense + Beautycounter, but I get build-up with both. I use the Goop G.Tox Himalayan Scalp Scrub (my husband does too) and I LOVE IT, but it's pricey and drying if I use it too often, so I keep it to 1x a week.

I'm also really enjoying products from Eco Slay - the Banana Cream Deep Conditioner + Orange Marmalade Flax Seed and Aloe Curl Definer are my favorites!

I also recently switched it to the Billie razor, and I'm super happy with it!

Suggestions from my Community:

Oral Hygiene

Psstt.... I know, I see doom and gloom here, but I hope I am giving you options for what you may need to swap in your personal care routine!

Safe Nontoxic Toothpaste Natural Deodorant

Fluoride is a hot topic with oral hygiene. Many dentists say that it is the only ingredient to date that has been proven to strengthen enamel and decrease cavity risk, but too much fluoride can pose health risks.

I'm not an expert in this area or have much research into oral hygiene, but it's an area I have swapped in our home. I looked at the ingredients in conventional tooth products and did not feel comfortable using them in my mouth 2-3x a day.

We have used and liked Dr Brite products (toothpaste, mouthwash, whitening pen - "holistickate" for 10% off your first order!), as well as David's toothpaste. I also make sure to get fluoride-free friendly versions for Charlotte while she is still young enough not to always swallow the toothpaste.

Suggestions from my Community:


When I was in middle school, my mom took me to Macy's to pick out my "signature scent." It felt so special and I wore perfume religiously ... until I entered the holistic world and had my hopes and dreams crushed (laughing, but not).

I still do not wear perfume with any regularity today, but there are some safer options out there. Phlur, SCNT Naturals, and Henry Rose are three options I know of and most of my community recommended.

Suggestions from my Community:

Essential oils, None (this is why we get along so well LOL)

Nontoxic Safe Personal Care Swap Checklist


Mineral sunscreens are another important swap to make, for your health and our environment.

Chemical sunscreens actually absorb the UV rays and have been studied to be absorbed by the skin and remain circulating in the blood up to 21 days later! They are also harmful to our ecosystem and the coral reefs and are starting to be banned from use (go Hawaii!)

For a deeper dive into safer sunscreen, check out my Vitamin D + Safer Sun post.

Though a bit pricey (alleviated by my consultant discount), we choose Beautycounter in our home. I'm happy with the performance and I haven't been burned with its use in the past 4 years (forgetting to put it on, that's a different story).

Suggestions from my Community:

Note - in looking up some of these on the EWG, I'm finding some discrepancies between the number displayed and the raking. Do your due diligence here to research what is best for your family!


I hope this post was helpful and you feel confident with your list of options for safer swaps in your personal care products!

EACH SWAP MATTERS. Slow and steady wins the race. This will take you years to switch out and that is okay. Know that each swap is a step forward!

If you'd like a simple checklist to organize notes, jot down brands you want to try, and CHECK OFF when you have officially found a swap you love, enter your information.

I'm rooting for you, friend - Cheers to safer swaps!

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Jul 21, 2022

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