Your Green Beauty Starter Guide
Knowing where to start when it comes to cleaning up your everyday beauty routine can be incredibly overwhelming. It was for me! That’s why I created this quick ‘cheatsheet’ to help you get started. These are the tips I wish I had known when I first started swapping out my toxic makeup with cleaner alternatives over a year ago! Whew, time flies. Before I dive into the three-step StyleShaker method to cleaning up your routine, I want to address a commonly asked question:
IS CLEAN BEAUTY THE SAME AS GREEN BEAUTY?
There is no one universally accepted definition for these two terms in the industry. Yay, funsies! Here’s how I see it:
CLEAN = safe for your body, inside and out. Caveat: Something deemed safe to one person could be harmful to another. Case in point, I’m not gluten intolerant, so for me, having a concealer with gluten wouldn’t be harmful. But, if someone IS gluten intolerant, that same concealer would wreak havoc on their system and be 100% harmful. It isn’t a perfect science.
I’ll guide you along the way, but the final decision is ultimately yours. My intention is to help inform and empower you with honest and objective reviews so you’re able to make the best decision for yourself!
GREEN = good for the planet and creatures living on it (that means YOU too). Think: cruelty-free, sustainably-packaged and sourced, etc.
Another fun caveat here is that not everything is labeled properly and sometimes brands state they’re cruelty-free when in fact, they are not. It can get messy and confusing, I’m not going to sugar coat it. But it’s not the end of the world, and rest assured, there are brands you can trust and ‘clean’ products that actually perform just as well, if not better, than conventional alternatives.
IT NEVER HURTS TO ASK
Even if I do trust a brand, I always ask one question, and I absolutely recommend you do the same. That question is, “what’s inside?” Asking questions is not only good for you, it is one more way to help shape the future of the beauty industry. If we hold brands and retailers accountable by asking this simple question before we pony up a buck or $40 for a beautifully packaged, influencer-backed, buzzed-about product, they will (and in my experience, have) listen. I see this as communication, not a drama-filled social media shouting match. Simply ask, “what’s inside?” And if you don’t feel comfortable with the answer you receive, that’s your answer. Spend elsewhere. That’s how I roll, and it has worked out well for me.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” - Maya Angelou
Ok, let’s dive into the three simple steps!
STEP 1. SELECT
You’re going to take this journey in small steps. Well, you don’t have to, but I found it to be the most effective, stress-free way to do it.
It starts with the first step, and that is to SELECT three of your conventional makeup products, the ones that a. you use everyday, and b. cover the most surface area on your face. Go ahead and find those first three products now…I’ll wait.
La la la…dah dee dooooo….be bop. Ok, back? Great. Let’s continue.
“Baby steps.” -Bob, from the film What About Bob, 1991
Now you need to know whether these products are indeed ‘toxic’ or harmful. You can do this one of two ways:
There’s an app for that- I recommend downloading the EWG Healthy Living app AND the Think Dirty app. I lean more heavily on the EWG, it’s a personal preference, but both are good options for quick references when you’re shopping and need instant info. Keep in mind, not ALL products are listed in there, and sometimes the EWG score is different from ThinkDirty (ugh, I know, but it’s a start). Still, this is an easy way to pull up ingredients with ratings. You won’t get honest reviews here like you will on my site, but again, it’s a great tool to have on hand.
See if there are any ‘nasties’ lurking inside- You’re going to want to look at the ingredients inside of the three products you just selected to kick this off. Now, here’s a fun one, most brands don’t print ingredients on the bottle/container, SO, you’ll need to find them online. I won’t go into how I’ve found different ingredients lists on different sites for the same product (I just did, it’s infuriating, but don’t worry about that right now).
Now that you see a full ingredients list, you can cross-check it against the worst offenders out there. I love to use the Dirty List on Credo Beauty for this. Beautycounter also has a little ‘Never List’ you can download HERE. Super handy to have around.
Still on not sure?- Ask the brand. I find most brands are super responsive on Instagram, so I usually send a quick DM there.
COPY AND PASTE THIS IF IT HELPS:
“Hi! I found [ENTER: ingredient X here/”fragrance” is one of my favorites to find] listed as an ingredient inside the [ENTER: product title here]. I’m concerned this may be harmful or toxic. Could you confirm it is safe/what ingredients the fragrance is comprised of? Transparency is very important to me when deciding what to purchase. Thanks for your help!”
STEP 2. SEARCH
Let’s say all of the products you selected are not going to make the transition to cleaner, greener beauty with you, and you need to find replacements. Now it’s time to search and find what will work best for you. Beauty is not a one-size-fits-all kind of situation, so keep in mind that there is trial and error involved here. The good news is, I’m working on making this easier for you, and I’m not alone! So here’s what you can do when searching for the perfect swap:
Start with the best- Want to know the top five clean, green beauty foundations/concealers/mascaras/[insert your category here] right now and who they’re best for? You’re covered. These “BEST OF” round-ups are a great starting point for you. Check out the PLAYLIST HERE.
Get the hookup with the Lookup- My “LOOKUP” blog is an always-growing archive of what I’ve tried. Think of this as the CliffsNotes version of my more comprehensive video reviews. Enter a term into the search bar, and you’re off and running!
STEP 3. SWAP + REPEAT
It’s that simple. Find three replacements, look for three more replacements. Repeat steps 1-3 above and I promise you, as cliche as it sounds, if I could figure it out, you absolutely can!
WHERE TO SHOP- THE SHORTLIST:
Safe & Chic- one of the best assortments out there
Credo Beauty - it’s like Sephora for clean and green beauty
Detox Market- love the point/reward system here
Pharmaca- great brands and always have a sale happening
Petit Vour- Love the subscription box for trying out new products and brands
This list goes on, and on, and on. But for now, this should get you started…
BEFORE YOU GO…
It’s about being informed, not being afraid.
There are a few things I wish I knew when I first started out that want to share with you:
Just because a product has the word ‘natural’ on it, does not mean it isn’t harmful to you. Asbestos is natural. Just sayin.
If you see the ingredient ‘fragrance’ on a list, you will want to ask the brand about what that actually means/is composed of. It could also be written as 'parfum' or my personal favorite, 'fra-grance,' either way, it falls under a dated industry loophole. The short story is, back in the day, companies were allowed to use this term to protect trade secrets. The FDA still allows this and anywhere from 1-100 ingredients could be used under the guise of 'fragrance.' I'm talking petrochemicals, carcinogens, you just don't know. What goes on your skin, goes into your body at varying degrees. So transparency and knowing what's inside what you (and your loved ones) slather on daily, is important. There's a lot of activism out there working to change this, but for now, keep an eye out for this misleading term. If it's on the list of ingredients, it could be pretty much anything and you'd never know. Ask “what’s inside?” Use the script above to make life a tad easier. And if you do not like the answer, it’s a ‘pass.’
There’s plenty of fear-mongering out there. Just focus on what you’re doing, it will save you the added stress of flipping out over the latest and greatest toxic threat. Listen to the facts and if you can’t find them, stay in your lane making the small changes that matter most to YOU. Because I promise you, those small positive changes WILL add up. I applaud you for taking the first step and every additional step you take from here on out! I’m right there with ya, and so are thousands of other StyleShakers. We’re a team, and you’re officially a part of it.
You do not have to be perfect or 100% “clean and green” if it doesn’t work for your life. No judgement. When I first started along this path, I created a ‘loose’ concept to help me make a decision called the Rule of 3. In the beginning, I held firm to this. I was hardcore. If an ingredient in a product rated higher than a ‘3’ on the EWG rating scale, I wouldn’t use it or recommend it. Cue: exhale. I have since loosened up my grip a bit. Nowadays, if I really like a product with an ingredient over a ‘3’ I look a bit further because like I mentioned earlier, this isn’t a perfect science. Some of the questions I ask the brand via a two-second DM:
What percentage of this ingredient is in the product?
I see this ingredient is rated as a ‘5’ on the EWG scale, but has limited research behind it. How can I know the amount used in your product is ‘safe?’
If the ingredient is called-out as an irritant, I ask the brand why? I’ve received really helpful responses here, and have learned a lot.
Communicating openly and diplomatically with brands has helped me tremendously and it also helps the brand! Several companies have taken steps to remove ingredients from their products based on consumer feedback. They are usually (not all the time) very receptive!
There are lots of grey areas when it comes to green and clean beauty. People just want to be told what to use, what’s “good” and what is not. I totally understand that. The reality is, and if anyone currently tells you otherwise, I call BS, the industry is not there yet. But it IS changing and moving in the right direction. Your questions are going to help that. Your support of my channel and other green/clean beauty channels out there will absolutely help that.
We’re in this together! And quite honestly, I’m just getting warmed up…There’s plenty more to come and now that you’re on my VIP list, you’ll be the first to know!
NOW YOU KNOW.
And there you have it! Now that you know better, you can do better, and hopefully, live better.
With that, I wish you all the best on your green and clean beauty journey. Stay in touch with me on Instagram as you go @thestyleshaker. I'll be lookin' for ya.