5 Clean beauty brands you can count on for no-BS skincare formulations
The term "clean beauty" has garnered traction over the recent years, with brands mushrooming in the market with promises of "natural" beauty products that are non-toxic and safe for the skin. But how well do we know what the brand truly offers when they say that they are "all-natural", "clean" or even "vegan"?
We've covered sustainable brands that are making an effort on going green, homegrown labels that are worthy of our support, and even organic skin food that's good enough to eat. But this time around, we're angling the spotlight on clean beauty brands that offer formulations with minimal bullsh*t and maximum efficacy.
From sugarcane-derived squalane to biocompatible actives that agree with every skin type, these clean beauty labels are worth exploring if you're looking for skin-safe saviours:
Back story: After realising that it was almost impossible to find 100% natural skincare that's free from toxins and harmful ingredients, Tata and Henry Harper decided to started to develop their own formulations directly from their 1,200 acre organic farm in Vermont, USA. Nine years later, the brand is now recognised for pioneering the "farm-to-face" movement with zero outsourcing—all products are high-performing, non-toxic and made sustainably.
Free of: GMOs, toxins, fillers, artificial colours and fragrances, synthetic chemicals
Fun fact: Tata Harper sources more than 300 organic ingredients from over 68 different countries for its products. It also takes its sustainable practices pretty seriously—all products are housed in glass bottles that are highly recyclable, and the brand only uses 100% post-consumer materials or recycled paperboard for its packaging.
Must-haves: The Resurfacing Mask has won a slew of beauty awards across countries for good reason—the 100% natural beta-hydroxy exfoliating mask packs a punch and guarantees an instant glow. Other bestsellers include the Regenerating Cleanser, Hyaluronic Gel Moisturiser and Beautifying Face Oil.
Back story: Biossance combines the cutting-edge science to create skincare products that are both safe and effective for our skin and the planet. With the help of biotechnology, the brand sustainably harvests squalane from sugarcane to ensure the ingredient's stability and efficacy—a welcoming alternative from shark-derived squalane (inhumane) and olive-derived squalane (highly unstable). All products are infused with 100% plant-derived squalane to soothe and hydrate the skin.
Free of: Parabens, fragrances and synthetic fragrances, animal-derived ingredients, PEG (polyethylene glycols), baking soda
Fun fact: The company has banned more than 2,000 ingredients that are toxic and non-eco-friendly, while its sustainable practices include planet-first processes (no deforestation, low water usage, etc) and conscious packaging.
Must-haves: Naturally, the Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil combines the best of both worlds to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles while nourishing the skin (brownie points go to the oil-soluble, stable form of Vitamin C). If you're looking for a powerhouse for your ultra-sensitive skin, try the Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum for its safer, plant-derived alternative to retinol—bakuchiol.
Back story: Back in 2017, founders and skincare experts Elsie and Dominika wanted to create natural beauty products but couldn't find a brand that specifically offered what they wanted. After kickstarting a platform on all things natural beauty (Clean Beauty Insiders) and co-authoring a book on recipes for the skin, body and hair, the dynamic duo decided to launch BYBI (By Beauty Insiders)—a 100% natural, vegan and cruelty-free beauty label.
Free of: Synthetic ingredients, animal by-product ingredients
Fun fact: The brand is refreshingly honest on incorporating feasible methods when it comes to manufacturing and packaging. Case in point: it uses bioplastics derived from sugarcane to house some of its products (in the event where glass isn't the most practical or possible). BYBI's ingredients are mostly renewable resources i.e. ingredients that are easily replenished and do not require intensive energy to harvest/grow.
Must-haves: Skin "Boosters" from bakuchiol and olive squlane to cold-pressed strawberry seed oil; the Babe Balm, a multipurpose balm that works as an emollient salve with the help of Coenzyme Q10, calendula oil and hibiscus oil.
Back story: Founder Tiffany Masterson's motivation behind launching Drunk Elephant was so that her children could be minimally exposed to toxic chemicals, hormone-mimicking fragrances and natural allergic sensitisers. All products are made with "biocompatible ingredients that skin can recognise, accept and process", along with active ingredients at ideal pH levels.
Free of: "Suspicious 6" i.e. essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical sunscreens, fragrances/dyes and SLS
Fun fact: A constant ingredient you'll find in all of Drunk Elephant's products is virgin marula oil that Masterson touts to be the best kind of oil for its high content of fatty acids and antioxidants.
Must-haves: A cult favourite is T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum—packed with the brand's AHA/BHA blend including glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric and salicylic acids and raspberry extracts to slough away dead skin cells, calm and soothe the skin.
Back story: After surviving a surgery to remove a rare brain tumour in 2009, founder Indie Lee decided to adopt a new life purpose: provide healthier skincare options with the help of both nature and science. All products are vegan, cruelty-free and effective for all skin types.
Free of: 1.4 dioxane, aluminum, BHA & BHT, coal tar dyes, DEA, MEA & TEA, formaldehyde, mineral oil, nanoparticles, parabens, petrolatum, pthalates, siloxane, sulfates, synthetic fragrance, talc, toluene, triclosan
Fun fact: Each Indie Lee product comes with a list that disclose all the ethically-sourced ingredients used in the formula—not to mention, all products are rigorously tested for efficacy.
Must-haves: The CoQ-10 Toner is free of alcohol and rich in antioxidants to help balance your skin's pH while giving it a radiant glow, and the Clearing Mask is a keeper for its cocktail of actives (from salicylic and glycolic acids to bentonite clay and colloidal sulphur) to deep cleanse and nourish the skin.