Finding The Perfect Skincare Is A Journey

The chemistry, formulas and application techniques of cosmetics fascinate me. In fact, I’ve always enjoyed trying new beauty products and experimenting with makeup. At one point, I was even a self-proclaimed product junkie. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I latched on to every fad, had too much time on my hands or liked spending money. I simply valued learning new things and to this day, once something piques my interest, I go all in, no matter what it is.

Cue story time music…

My skincare journey has been a long and tortuous one. You see, I breezed through high school without a single blemish on my skin. I thought I had dodged the bullet! Before I could finish my happy dance, however, acne reared its ugly whitehead just in time for my 21st birthday. As most people who struggle with acne, I tried every popular over-the-counter medication and product from Saturday-morning infomercials. Nothing worked until I went to see a dermatologist who found the answer to my problem.

My skin was finally blemish-free but deep down I knew the products I was using contained harmful chemicals. When I asked him how long I would have to be on this treatment he said: “Once you start using this, you never stop.”

“Hold up. Wait a minute!”, I thought. “I can’t use this forever.” Slathering harsh chemicals on my skin for the rest of my life didn’t sit well with me even if it meant having clear skin. Since I was not insecure about my blemishes, I eventually decided to live with my pimples until I could find a better alternative and I did. Clearing my skin naturally, at the exception of the time-of-the-month and occasional stress breakouts, was no small feat but it was worth it.

What You Need To Know About Clean Beauty

Whether you struggle with less-than-perfect skin or your complexion has people wondering if you have found the fountain of youth, here are five things you need to know when transitioning to a clean beauty routine.

1. What is clean beauty?

Let’s get on the same page. A cosmetic, personal hygiene or hair product that is formulated without any toxic ingredients is a clean beauty product. It doesn’t have to be handcrafted or concocted in somebody’s kitchen to qualify as nontoxic. As long as it was mindfully created without harmful chemicals, it is clean and healthy.

Did you know? Up to 60% of the chemicals applied topically on the skin can enter the bloodstream. Since the skin is largest organ in the body, the toxins it absorbs can lead to sensitivities, allergies, cancer, birth defects and other serious health issues. This is important to note when transitioning to a nontoxic beauty routine because what we use is essentially food for our skin and bodies. You wouldn’t drink crude oil so why put it on your skin?

2. Ingredients to avoid

Contrary to popular belief, the presence of a product on a pharmacy or high-end department store’s shelf does not equate with harmlessness. Furthermore, the price tag attached to it doesn’t guarantee its quality or safety either. In fact, there is a laundry list of harmful ingredients in the beauty and personal hygiene products we use everyday. Therefore, thoroughly reviewing each ingredient before using a product is essential. Familiarize yourself with them and their potential negative effects on your health especially in the beginning. The more knowledge you acquire the easier it will become.

This is the first step towards a clean beauty routine. To get you started, here are 5 toxic ingredients you should avoid, besides parabens and sulfates, along with the health risks associated with them.


Listed as dibutyl phthalate, dimethyl phthalate and diethyl phthalate. These are more commonly found in perfumes, nail polishes, hair spray, deodorants and lotions. Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors. They can cause early breast development in children, increase the risk for breast cancer and reproductive birth defects in males and females. Note that phthalates are not always listed and can be hidden under fragrance.


Listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene and toluene. This can cause developmental damage to fetus in expecting mothers. Toluene can also affect the respiratory system, irritate the skin and cause nausea.

Propylene Glycol

This is a known skin irritant and can cause hives and dermatitis.


BHA & BHT are used as preservatives in lipsticks, moisturizers and other cosmetics. They can lead to allergic reactions in skin and are potential carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.


The term fragrance can include a wide variety of scent chemicals and ingredients which can affect the reproductive system. Fragrance has also been linked to dermatitis, allergies and respiratory issues. It can be listed as parfum or aroma as well.

If you wish to go deeper, I wrote a series including a blog post and four newsletters on this topic.

3. Learn your skin

When transitioning to a clean beauty routine you must learn your skin all over again. Pay close attention to how your complexion looks and feels when you feed it certain nutrients and formulas. Switching to nontoxic beauty products will do wonders for your health, but it won’t necessarily lead to glowing skin because all products are not created equal even in the green beauty industry. Each brand and formula will work differently from one person to the next, so be patient. Lastly, don’t forget to patch test before using a new product because your skin may react negatively to specific ingredients even though they are natural.

4. Science is not the enemy

The green beauty industry is always growing and evolving. Each year, new natural beauty brands and products see the light of day. The chemistry and research used to develop high-performance nontoxic products is not something to frown upon. I can appreciate handmade elixirs crafted in small batches but I also value brands that use technology to create their formulas. Ultimately, feeding your skin the best nutrients and staying away from toxins is the key.

5. Brands I’m currently using

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the brands that make up my current clean beauty routine. They are tried and true brands that I have used and seen positive results with. Since I have had the opportunity to experiment with a wide variety of products, there are many more I could recommend which you can find on my blog but this is a great place to start.

Skincare brands I’m currently using

Body care brands I’m currently using

Embarking on a natural beauty journey, no matter how long it takes to overhaul your arsenal, is worth it. You cannot put a price on health. Therefore, go all in knowing that your wellbeing, as well as the safety of your loved ones, are worth the time, research and resources. If you hit a roadblock or need a companion for the road, I’m here for you!

Be kind to yourself and remember to always stay conscious and chic!


Kathleen is a marketing strategist as well as the Editor-In-Chic and founder of Conscious & Chic, a hub where style aficionados can munch on all things ethical in fashion, beauty, food and travel. Bridging the gap between creativity, social impact and business is one of her many passions due to her Finance, International Business and Fashion Design academic background. You can connect with her @ConsciousNChic and @KathleenElie on Instagram. She’d love it!