If you follow my other blog (Blooming in Bedlam), you probably already know I’m obsessed with anything green beauty. I make a lot of my own skin care and beauty products, I rave about how essential oils changed my beauty routine, and I spent all this past summer detoxifying my makeup routine. Obviously it is my passion to share my knowledge and experiences with others, so I was absolutely stoked when my fellow founders here at Strong Girl Collective agreed to give up their absolute favorite skin care products in order to try a greener version, based on my suggestions. Lauren, Joanna and Julie told me all about a couple of their “Ride or Die” products. I looked up the toxicity scores of the ingredients based on the EWG’s Skin Deep Database, then suggested dupes that were safer and greener, but just as effective. They are going to try their new greener products and let us know how they fared in a follow up post I’ll share in November. But for now, here are their Ride or Die Dupes: Green Skin Care Edition.
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Cosmetic Toxicity and the EWG
First, a little background. The Cosmetic and Skin Care industry as a whole is completely unregulated and unsupervised by the FDA. With the exception of a few active or banned ingredients, the U.S. government completely ignores these industries. While the European Union has banned more than 1,000 ingredients from use in cosmetics, companies here in the U.S. may use any ingredient or raw material in their products without government review or approval. ANY ingredient. That means many of your products may contain ingredients that are proven to be linked to skin reaction and sensitivity, reproductive or developmental harm on a fetus, organ system toxicity and even cancer.
Fortunately, a non-profit organization called Environmental Working Group is hard at work every day reviewing product’s ingredients, testing them for toxicity, and keeping a database to make toxicity scores publicly available. Products are given a score of 1-10, one being the least toxic and ten being the most toxic, based on their ingredients and the amounts used. Since the beauty industry comes out with new products every single day, not everything is in the database. But you can build your own report on a missing product based on it’s ingredients list too! So, I looked up the score of each of their favorite products and suggested dupes with lower scores. Some of the suggestions I have tried myself before and some were based on overwhelming positive reviews (because we all have different skin types).
Lauren: Sunscreen and Eye Wrinkle Cream
My first volunteer is Lauren from Working Mom Magic. She is a daytime television producer in Miami with a husband and two kids. The first ride or die product she dared me to swap was her sunscreen, Eltamd UV Daily SPF 40. She loves it because, “Living in South Florida a good daily sunscreen is a MUST. I have tried dozens of sunscreens, but it is tough to find one that wears well under makeup, doesn’t make me breakout and doesn’t make me look even more oily than I am naturally. This is my go-to sunscreen since it is lightweight, absorbs instantly and gives a nice matte finish. It also wears great alone or under my makeup.” She may love it, but it scored a nasty 8 out 10 on the toxicity level. Yuck!
So she needed a lightweight, matte finish sunscreen that wears great under foundation and is non-comedegenic. I also wanted to find her one that was obviously much healthier and somewhat reasonably priced. After pouring over the EWG’s recommended sunscreens, and narrowing them down by price, performance, reviews and toxicity score, the clear winner was the Coola Suncare Mineral Face SPF 30 Sunscreen. It does have a lower spf, but because it is a mineral sunscreen, it stays in place until you wash it off, as opposed to a chemical sunscreen that is absorbed by the skin over a few hours. I know you’re thinking a physical sunscreen would be awful looking and not pair well with makeup, but the reviews tell a different story. Over 400 reviews and an average score of 4.5 stars an Amazon with testimonies that say it works beautifully as a line-smoothing primer under liquid foundation and almost like a blurring BB Cream when worn alone. It is made with certified organic and skin nourishing ingredients like Rosehip oil, evening primrose, and shea butter, but with a matte finish. Best of all, a toxicity score of only two!
Lauren’s next ride or die was a much bigger challenge. She is currently using Roc Retinol Correxion Eye Cream. She says she loves it because “I have at least 5 eye creams in rotation at any given time, but this one is my favorite. It is not as moisturizing as other creams I use, however this is the only cream that I can see a noticeable difference. It reduces the lines around my eyes and gives the whole undereye area a less crepey appearance. My husband and I both say we can totally tell the difference when we stop using it for a bit.” It works so well because of a super effective, but dirty ingredient called Retinol. It alone scores a 9 out of 10, and attributes to reproductive, developmental and organ system toxicity, cellular level changes (meaning it gets into your dna), and cancer. So trying to find an eye cream without it that is effective, clean and not in the $75 per 1/2 ounce price range is not the easiest.
Going through the same search process as the sunscreen was useless. I literally looked at dozens of eye creams. If it was inexpensive, had great reviews and was “proven effective”, it had retinol in it. The ones without retinol either had very mixed reviews or were exorbitantly overpriced. So, I took a look at all the eye creams made by some of my favorite clean companies. I settled on Blissoma’s Bright Eye Revitalizing Nutrient Serum, which has a toxicity score of 1 out of 10. I haven’t personally used this serum, but I have never been disappointed by anything Blissoma makes. Blissoma is actually the first green beauty company I ever loved because their promise to only use clean, skin loving ingredients in absolutely every product is so readily apparent. I don’t have to search every single ingredient because they are so transparent and certified vegan and cruelty-free. This eye serum is a healing, anti-aging, time release Vitamin C serum for the eye area to fight fine lines, puffiness, discoloration, and loss of firmness with absolutely no scents, gluten, nuts, alcohol, animal ingredients, petrochemicals, parabens, phenoxyethanol or other synthetic preservatives. If you know us, we’re all about Amazon, so you can also buy it on Amazon here, but it doesn’t qualify for Prime, so you have to pay shipping and wait 7-10 days. I recommend you buy it directly from their site because they offer a rewards program towards free products and free shipping with newsletter sign up.
Joanna: Cleanser and Moisturizer
The next of my brave volunteers is the lovely Joanna of Motherhood and Merlot. She is a wife and mother of four children under five living in Arizona. Joanna understandably loves wine, but is a makeup lover too! She volunteered up her cleanser saying she is ride or die for Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple Facial Cleanser because “I have really sensitive skin. I hardly ever have breakouts, unless I use the wrong product and then it’s like an explosion of spots. I need something that dissolves every last bit of makeup the first time and this definitely does that.” This cleanser scores a 5 out of 10 and probably works so well at stripping her makeup because it has some very drying ingredients like alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. It probably also strips a lot of her skin’s natural oils.
My mission was to find a non-stripping cleanser that would still effectively melt away makeup, but leave the skin’s natural oils to help balance pH levels and build up her skin’s natural barrier defenses. I actually had the perfect cleanser in mind because it’s the same one I use in the summer when Oil Cleansing is just too heavy. I use Blissoma’s Free Rejuvenating Herbal Gel Cleanser. I just happen to know it works like a dream to dissolve my makeup and leaves my skin feeling clean, but not in any way tight or dry, just balanced. It doesn’t foam up like a traditional cleanser, but that’s part of what makes it perfect for dry, sensitive or reactive skin. It also happens to have the lowest possible toxicity score of 1 out of 10. Again, it doesn’t qualify for Prime, but you can buy it from Amazon here. In case you missed it, I recommend you buy it directly from Blissoma’s site because they offer a rewards program towards free products and free shipping with newsletter sign up.
Apparently, Joanna was really looking for a skin care routine makeover because the next ride or die product she volunteered was her moisturizer! She has been using CLINIQUE Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief because “I can use it both day and night, it soaks right in unlike thick creme moisturizers, and it doesn’t break me out, like thick creme moisturizers.” It has a medium toxicity score of 5 out of 10, but still contains unnecessary dyes, fragrances and ingredients linked to neurotoxicity and cancer. I was confident I could find a better moisturizer that was nourishing and light without breaking her out.
After researching several contenders, I went back to basics and settled on a light one ingredient oil. I chose Acure Organic’s Marula Oil. This is 100% marula oil, cold pressed and unrefined. Sephora carries the exact same product, but at nearly 5 TIMES the price per ounce from the Marula brand. I already use Acure’s Argan Oil as my own moisturizer, but I wanted something a little lighter for Joanna since she is a newbie to beauty oils. Someone who has sensitive and reactive or acne prone skin would understandably be hesitant. But marula is a great starter oil for skincare because it quenches thirsty rough skin, but soaks right in and does not leave an oily feel. Best of all, with only the one natural ingredient, it has a toxicity score of 1 out of 10.
Julie: Eye Moisturizer and Clarifying Mask
Last, but not least, is Julie from Girl On The Move. Julie is a California girl, travel enthusiast and avid runner, but only so she can have all the cupcakes she wants. Her first Ride or Die skincare pick is the H2O+ Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment, which she uses as an eye moisturizer. It is her number 1 go to because “As someone juggling multiple responsibilities I feel like I never get enough sleep! And I don’t want to always look tired. This hydrating treatment makes me skin look, and feel moisturized all day long.” This product wins for most toxic of the whole ride or die bunch, with a jaw-dropping 9 out of 10 on the toxicity scale. I told Julie I had never actually seen a 9 before in my two years of looking at products. Needless, to say, she threw it away immediately. Can’t say I blame her.
But she needed a replacement stat and I immediately thought of the Hydraphase Intense Eye Cream from La Roche-Posay. It is a gel creme that hydrates immediately and continues to hydrate for 24 hours with Hyaluronic Acid, which draws moisture into the skin and helps skin retain it too. Perfect for a busy lady. It visibly diminishes the look of under eye bags and puffiness, which is what makes your eyes look tired. This moisturizer is also fragrance and paraben free, resulting in a much lower score of 2 on the toxicity scale.
Her second Ride or Die Product is actually kind of a gimme because I didn’t have to do much research at all. She offered to give up her favorite treatment, the ORIGINS Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask. She says she loves it because “It cleanses my skin and clears my pores, but doesn’t leave me dried out. It also leaves my skin feeling soft, which an absolute must in the dry California air!” This mask also happens to have hundreds of positive reviews across several websites. When I went to look up the toxicity score, I was happy to report back to Julie that it scored a very acceptable and safe 2 out of 10. As I told Julie, I could recommend another mask that is similar and may score a 1, but that really is just spending a lot more money for no reason. She said she was happy the readers would see she doesn’t use all toxic products and would continue to use it.
I honestly couldn’t believe these ladies were so willing to give up their ride or die favorites, but I’m so excited they did! Check back in the first week of November when I make all of the ladies give me their honest opinions on all these new products. Initial reactions have seemed to be good, but I can’t wait to see if they will permanently give up their ride or die products for my green skin care swap! What are your favorite ride or die skin care favorites? Would you give it up for a greener version? Tell me in the comments below!