5 Steps for Switching to Clean Makeup

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Switching to clean makeup products has been a challenging transition for me. At one point in my life, I was a makeup junkie that fed my addiction by working as a makeup artist at a few department stores.Since leaving that industry, I’ve drastically cut back on my beauty purchases to start becoming more conscious about the amount I was purchasing in order to reduce waste. However, I still didn’t pay much attention to the ingredients in my products.

After my uterine fibroid diagnosis, I’ve become more intentional about reducing my exposure to environmental toxins. Unfortunately, I’ve come to realize that some of my everyday makeup essentials have questionable ingredients. In an ideal world, I’d simply throw everything away and start over, but large sweeping changes aren’t my thing. Also, I’ve come across a few challenges that have slowed down my transition to clean makeup.

Challenges of Finding Clean Makeup

Finding clean makeup can be a struggle. My journey took several years of research, which I’m so glad I can share with you so that you don’t have to go through it like I did.

The designation “clean” doesn’t have a standard definition.

This means that one company’s version of clean can have a different definition than another brand’s definition of clean. While many larger brands have a relatively similar standard of what they consider safe for consumers, there’s no true regulation for these labels.

Some labeling can be confusing.

For example, “vegan” appears on the label of many brands, but that isn’t the same as “clean”. “Vegan” is an important label for animal welfare. However, many people assume that vegan ingredients indicate a safer product for humans, but this isn’t always the case. Another common label I see is “paraben-free”. Sometimes these products omit parabens, but they still contain other chemicals that are a cause for concern.

Some clean products don’t have designations or labels.

Some of the products you currently use may be fairly safe, yet they don’t have “clean” labels on the sticker. So don’t throw everything away just yet.

Many of the cleanest, safest brands still don’t have many color options for us brown girls.

I have to admit that this is probably one of the biggest issues for me. I’ve yet to find a clean under-eye concealer that I’m completely happy with in my shade.

Despite these challenges, I’ve been able to come up with a process that has allowed me to switch out most of my makeup products for safer items that I enjoy just as much as my old makeup.

5 Steps for Switching to Clean Makeup Products

I’m all about simple, actionable steps. These are the steps for switching to clean makeup that I followed:

1. Don’t throw everything away!

At least not immediately. As I mentioned before, some of your products may not be terrible to use. We don’t want to create unnecessary waste, and it’s ok if there’s something that you love and want to use up first.

2. Create 3 Piles.

Don’t worry about each product’s ingredients yet. At this point, we’re just trying to audit what you have and decide what’s worth keeping.

    • Keep – These should be items that you use several times a week or more and that you can’t see yourself parting with right away.

    • Throw Away– This pile should include anything that’s expired or that you won’t ever use. Be honest with yourself. Let that glitter eyeshadow that you’ve had for 3 years go, girl.

    • Donate – These may be items that are unused and unopened that you can gift to someone else who’ll use the item. I recommend putting a sticky note on every item with the person you plan to give it to so there’s no confusion later.

3. Audit the Keep Pile.

After you’ve thrown away the items that aren’t serving you and given away the items in the Donate pile, now it’s time to determine how safe the items in your Keep pile are. The easiest way to figure this out is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database. There you can type in each of your products and see how they score. If your item isn’t listed on the database, you can find some red flag items to look for here.

4. Research your replacements.

As you’re about to run out of an item, start researching its replacement. I recommend finding 2 or 3 replacement options and putting them in your notes app on your phone so that you know what to look for when it’s time.

5. Keep a list of new product recommendations as you come across them.

There are lots of recommendations on Pinterest, IG, and blogs for clean beauty products.

Here are some tips for finding clean products:

  • Download the EWG’s Skin Deep app so that you can scan items while browsing in-store.

  • Look for clean designations. Target and Sephora both have their designations to help you shop for safer product brands. Just be sure to review their criteria to make sure you’re comfortable with trusting their standards.

  • Most brands have their ethics listed prominently on their website. Companies like Bare Minerals, Chantecaille Beaute, and Kosas have their ethical standards proudly displayed on their brand sites. If you have to dig for it, there’s a good chance that cleaner, safer products aren’t at the forefront.

Living a healthier lifestyle is about small sustainable changes in every aspect of your life. These changes should enrich your life, not cause more stress. It’s ok if you need to ease into things and move at your own pace.

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