choosing cleaner skincare + my favorite products

April 18, 2018

Although nutrition has been a passion of mine for a long time, I'm actually an aesthetician as well and have been for over 10 years! These two worlds of nutrition and skincare have beautifully melded together, especially as I've been working as aesthetician again since we moved back to Denver. Though at first they don't necessarily seem like they'd fit together, having both a healthy diet and skincare routine are huge pieces in taking care of your body well, and the types of products you use can have a major impact on your health, just as the types of foods you eat can, too. 


Because of the ingredients that most over-the-counter drugstore products are made of, a lot of them can have negative affects on your endocrine, digestive, and even reproductive systems, and also put your skin's health at risk. Additives in conventional skincare, such as parabens and phthalates, which contribute to the emollient, preservative and antibacterial properties of moisturizers and other skincare products, have been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, and endocrine and reproductive disruption. Other additives like sulfates (sodium laurel sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate), a lathering agent, and fragrances (a totally unregulated ingredient that could be anything) can cause skin reactions and irritation.


By now you've heard me talk about the importance of the gut microbiome and keeping that in tiptop shape, but it's not just the food we eat, it's also the products we use that absorb into our skin, then into our bloodstream, reaching our gut and microbiome colony that can affect that important balance of good bacteria. In fact, about 60% or more of what we put on our skin absorbs into our bloodstream - if you think about the amount of product you use every single day (twice a day!), that's a lot of product. 


The toxins I just mentioned above and more can affect the delicate balance of gut bacteria that we need to maintain for optimal health. So not only are you putting your hormonal balance, the functioning of your thyroid and adrenals, and your skin's immunity at risk when using products with poor ingredients, but you're also risking an imbalance in digestive health; throwing off the production of serotonin, dopamine, and your immune function (a huge production of which happens in the gut); and also possibly reducing the assimilation, or absorption, of nutrients from the healthy foods you do eat. 


Speaking of what you eat, take a second to ask yourself: would you eat the products in your medicine cabinet or on your bathroom counter? I'm not asking to take you out to a product tasting picnic, because certainly, natural or conventional, none of those things would actually taste that great. But since the ingredients in your medicine cabinet end up in your bloodstream through absorption on your skin, think twice - would you willingly digest that? If the product was full of chemicals, toxins, endocrine disrupters and hormone imbalancers, I'm guessing that's a no. So why put it on your skin?


Looking for a more comprehensive list of ingredient no-no's? Check out this great list + descriptions of what to avoid on one of my fave clean beauty stores', Follain, website here


Now for the fun part! I love to share my favorite products because good, high quality skincare is so important to me - not just because of the additives and negative affects poor ingredients can have on your body (especially as women), but because of the amazing positive affects well-curated products can have, as well. 


Great, clean skincare not only helps to support your body well, but it also gives you the confidence to put (literally) your best face forward. While a good routine can't fix a poor diet, mounds of stress, little sleep, or lack of water, its certainly a huge piece in keeping your skin, our body's largest organ, healthy and balanced. Even if you have pesky internal issues that are showing through on your skin (which I'd highly recommend working with a professional on), using good products can still improve your skin health externally and support a transition to a clear, glowing, beautiful face as any internal imbalances are managed. 


Below you'll find two categories of skincare that I love - what you can find at the natural grocery store vs. products found at spas or specialty retail - plus a couple extra spots to pick up these loved lotions + potions. 


Natural grocery store finds | $-$$

These products are good choices if they fit within your budget more than higher priced items found at spas or other specialty retail. While they likely won't be as concentrated or have as many active ingredients, they may still be a good choice for maintaining healthy skin with clean, familiar ingredients rather than products found at the store with nasty chemicals or other toxins. All are cruelty-free, vegan, made without GMOs, gluten, parabens, petroleum, phthalates, silicones, sulfates, urea, artificial fragrances, and artificial colors. . 


ACURE: I used brand this for a few years while we lived in DC because my budget supported it well and I could easily find a good basic skincare routine (cleanser, exfoliator, moistuizer) through Acure at Whole Foods Market and on Thrive Market


MYCHELLE DERMACEUTICALS: This line is a good choice for finding treatment products such as vitamin C or other serums. You can find this line at Whole Foods Market, 


ANDALOU NATURALS: Love this brand for masks and exfoliators since you can find them in small, one-use packs at Whole Foods and Natural Grocers (if you're out west) - my fave being the Pumpkin Honey Glycolic!


Specialty + Spa RetaiL | $$-$$$

If you're looking to step up your routine and make a real investment in your skin. Keep in mind that because of the higher quality and larger concentration of active ingredients, this route is best if you have a little extra budget to work with since these products are likely to be a little more pricey. However, you will see faster and more prominent results with these, especially if you're looking to target a specific issue.
*Be aware that purchasing these products on Amazon or other online retailers that may sell through third-parties could result in products that have been cut with an additive like detergent or other non-approved ingredient. If that product is significantly cheaper, what's inside probably is as well. 


EMINENCE ORGANICS: My ride or die. I've been working with Eminence Organic Skincare for over 8 years now, and I have consistently come back to it as the best line that I've ever personally used or worked with for clients. Because there's no water in these products, they are very concentrated (in fact most require you to add water to them before using - even moisturizers and masks), and they are made with only organic fruits, vegetables and herbs. The story behind this brand is incredible, also! The entire line is fantastic and I don't think you can really go wrong, but my top faves have to be the Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant exfoliator, the Citrus + Kale C + E Masque for hydration + brightening, and the Eight Greens line for balancing hormonal acne. (How to choose just one?!) You can find locations on their website, and it's also available for purchase at Alchemy Face Bar both online + in-store if you're local to Denver or Boulder.


SORELLA APOTHECARY: I just began working with this line recently, but have been really impressed with their serums and moisturizers. This is a botanically-based line with a lot of love behind the brand, and was actually created by an aesthetician. Particularly favorited are the Pomegranate Acai Antioxidant Serum for a daily dose of vitamin C + other antioxidants, the Lemon Lightening Serum for evening skin that's got a little hyperpigmentation, The Balm for extra dry skin because of it's nourishing ingredients and addition of hylaraunic acid, and the Daily Greens moisturizer for light hydration with a punch of nutrients. You can also find Sorella at Alchemy Face Bar in Denver or Boulder, or through their online store. 



Honorable Mentions

Extra shout-outs go to...

~ Fig + Yarrow, which has a great Facial Serum for normal to dry skin. Local to Denver, but can now be purchased at Target

~ ARC or Advanced Rejuvenating Concepts, a clinical line with clean ingredients and a killer Cranberry Exfoliating Peel that's fantastic for resurfacing and lightening dark spots. Pick up at Alchemy Face Bar. 

~ Suntegrity, the BEST sunblock that I have ever found. When I first found it, I fell in love and 3 years later I'm still diggin' it. #customerforlife The Primer for face is the best, in my opinion, but they do have three tinted options that work just as great: light, golden light and medium. You can purchase through Alchemy Face Bar, Follain, Take Care Shop, or directly through their website

~ Though I haven't used a ton of their stuff, I did want to shout out to Ursa Major for their Brighten Up Vitamin C serum which is seriously brightening while adding a boost of hydration, and Essential Face Wipes because who doesn't need a face wipe during or after a long flight? I originally found their line at Follain, where you can purchase it online (or in-store if you're in Boston), but can also find it at Take Care Shop in Washington, DC. 

If you're looking to step-up your skincare game, I'd love to chat with you! Have specific questions or want to round out your nutrition, product cabinet and lifestyle to support healthy skin? Let's chat about scheduling a consultation - you can get in touch with me here

And P.S. None of the links above are affiliate links - just sharing my knowledge so you can have a better, more vibrant life in wellness! 

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