Beauty products. Most of us use and love ’em. I myself have had a relationship with makeup and skincare pretty much since I hit puberty (and was therefore cursed by the acne fairy), and have gone through all the ups and downs of ‘this product works, that one doesn’t, this one made my eyes itchy, and that one gave me hives’ and so forth. Believe me when I say I’ve bounced around through so many products that left my skin and wallet running for cover.
It actually wasn’t until about 3-4 years ago that I really started to learn about (and pay attention to) what is put into so many commonly used products, from high-end brands to drugstore essentials. As I started to get more into it, I was honestly shocked. Chemicals that could and have been shown to cause cancer were rife. Detergents, foaming agents, heavy metals, and stuff I couldn’t even pronounce littered ingredient labels of even the most pricey products I grabbed. Acne prescriptions from dermatologists left my skin a flaky mess that disintegrated to the touch and my bath towels permanently bleached. Everything that promised this result or that seemed to make my skin worse, and the heavy foundations I used to try and cover up the results left me with a face that didn’t match the color of the rest of my skin and a cake-y buildup of orangey powder.
As I write this, I am laughing to myself, not because this experience was fun or funny by any means, but because I know so many women who have struggled with these exact same experiences. (We all went through a caked-on makeup and crooked eyeliner phase in high school, right?)
But, despite the evolution in my makeup skills, my story ultimately changed when my mom and I discovered the concept of natural beauty: beauty whose ingredients came from natural sources, were pronounceable, and had waaay less of a possibility of making your skin feel icky. I kid you not, as soon as I cut out the makeup with all the bad stuff in it, the skincare with harsh chemicals, and haircare without heavy silicones, my skin and hair both started doing so much better. My acne, though it still occasionally flares up due to hormones, is much more manageable and a lot less painful, my scalp doesn’t itch as much, and the irritation I got before all over my body is virtually gone. I also just feel better too. I don’t know about you, but nature has always felt so healing to me, so using products that are derived from it make me feel a lot more refreshed (kind of like eating a salad as opposed to a fast food burger). After all, beauty doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, be bad for you.
In addition to flipping the natural switch, I also became passionate about only supporting cruelty-free makeup and skincare brands. As a lifelong animal lover, I was so surprised to learn that many of the brands I knew and had used for years were developed with animal testing, even brands that claimed to be “organic” or “natural”. So, I also made a resolution to only purchase from brands that were verified to not test on animals, and did not sell in markets where animal testing was required by law.
At the time, finding products that fit both these bills was unfortunately not too easy of a task, and often times products like this just didn’t perform as well as their non-clean, animal-tested counterparts. Nowadays, I’m happy to say the options have gotten to be endless, and the performance of these products has changed drastically, making it a lot easier to come over to the clean side!
What’s even better is that a lot of major retailers like Target and Sephora have started to carry clean + cruelty-free options. Sephora has been one of my go-to places to shop, especially for haircare, and Target is super convenient!
Here’s a list of the clean + cruelty free products that I use and love; I hope they’ll be a game-changer for you too! Click the links or photos to shop!
My number one holy grail mascara! I’ve been using this for years and I can honestly say it is the BEST natural mascara out there! It lengthens, lifts, and is easy to take off but doesn’t run. A must-have in any natural beauty guru’s bag! Bonus- you can find it at Sephora!
Everything about Aether Beauty appeals to me: from their chic, recyclable packaging to the crystals they infuse in their makeup. This is the first eyeshadow palette I have found that I feel performs as well as conventional products, and the colors are neutral enough for every day, but they can be bold enough for evening or special occasions! My trick to get the most out of your pigment: use a natural facial mist or setting spray to lightly dampen your eyeshadow brush before you apply! (This one is my favorite to use!) Use code TABINICOLE for a special discount on your order! Click here or scan this QR code with your phone to shop!
I love highlighters! They give the face such a luminous, dewy glow that you can’t really get from other products. The best one I’ve ever used, conventional products included, is the Yellow Diamond Highlighter from Aether Beauty! Most highlighters wash me out, but the golden tones of this one really warm up my skin, and the shine is next-level. You can even use it on your décolletage or as an eye shadow in a pinch, so it’s really versatile! Shop here or scan the QR code above! Use code TABINICOLE for a discount on your order!
Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by bad foundation. *raises both hands* Foundation is probably the most important makeup product in my opinion! Foundation that doesn’t blend seamlessly with your shade or leaves you with dry or oily skin just isn’t right. This has been my biggest hurdle to tackle throughout all my makeup-wearing years and I’m so happy to say that, at last, my love has come along in the form of Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation in the Illusion shade. This is the first foundation to capture my olive-undertones without being orange, and it works well with my combination dry/oily/sensitive skin!
Another fabulous Sephora find! I’ve always loved a strong brow look, and this gel from Ilia gives me that look without being heavy or unnatural-looking. I personally use the Dark Brown shade because I prefer to go a little bolder! Usually the trick is: for lighter haired folks, go for a brow shade or two darker than your hair color, and for those with dark hair, go for a shade lighter than your hair color. These guidelines have always worked well for me, but if you rock a different set of rules when it comes to brows, more power to ya!
Another amazing product from the brand who invented the best natural mascara and brow gel! I’ve never been a huge fan of lipstick; its tendency to get feathery and stain your teeth while also requiring a lot of touch-ups throughout the day is a little daunting to me. But, in photoshoots, a more saturated makeup look shows up so much better on film! Enter the Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner. Light and creamy enough for lip balm lovers like me, but pigmented enough to refresh your natural lip color, this is my new go-to for lips!
I’m a fan of this brand, can’t you tell? This liquid liner is the only natural one I’ve found that performs like a conventional liquid liner. (And Sephora stocks it!) Its fine tip is perfect for wings (my favorite!) and you can also use it to create some pretty cool artsy liner looks! See a few of my faves below!
Every good makeup kit isn’t complete without a primer! I’ve been using this one for years and love the pearly finish and clean, non-greasy, non-astringent feel! I love ordering mine from Safe&Chic, a site that sells only clean and cruelty free beauty!
My skincare routine is pretty simple, and this cleanser is just a good, old-fashioned, gentle way of washing your face. The scent is amazing and it soothes my acne-prone skin!
I use this lotion all over: face, body, hands, even sometimes the ends of my hair! I’m a sucker for lavender scents and this lotion is so light and non-greasy, but still very moisturizing!
This is my favorite hydrating mist that also works really well as a makeup setting mist! I love it after a workout or hot shower, and it’s also useful for making your eyeshadows apply a bit darker if you mist your brush beforehand!
Honesty, finding natural haircare has been a struggle for me from the beginning. Everything was either too creamy or didn’t clean my hair enough, and I’m so glad to say I’ve finally settled on a product that works for me: Briogeo’s Scalp Scrub Shampoo! This shampoo is a little different than conventional shampoos and takes a little getting used to, but it really has been amazing for my hair and scalp! I suffer from a simultaneously oily yet dry scalp, and this kicks things back into balance! (Bonus- find it at Sephora!)
Just like my skincare routine, my haircare routine is simple and easy. I’ve used this leave-in spray from Shea Moisture since college and it does a really good job of easing tangles and snarls after a long day of swimming in the ocean or pool! It smells amazing and is inexpensive, plus you can find it at Target! All wins in my book.
Body + Bath
First off, they smell amazing! I currently have the Field Lavender scent, and my mom loves the Pink Petal Roses scent! Plus, I always love mineral baths for unwinding after a long day. Definitely a must for a little self-pampering time!
My mom was the one who introduced me to this brand and I am totally hooked! This body wash + bubble bath combo is technically for babies, but I love using it for me! It seriously smells exactly like the classic Johnson&Johnson baby wash we all knew and loved as kids, but it’s so much better because it’s all-natural and much gentler!
This is my favorite body lotion hands-down! It’s so hydrating, non-greasy, and gentle enough for even my husband (who struggles with occasional eczema) to use. This is another great Target find for both kids and grown-ups alike!
The bottom line is, when it comes to switching to natural and cruelty-free products, it’s not too hard to make the change. With the clean + cruelty free movement sweeping the market everywhere, the variety of products available, and major retailers hopping on the beauty bandwagon, it’s a simple switch that can have a lasting impact on your body and the environment. If you’re a beauty lover like me, it’s time to make the leap to clean beauty that loves you (and the animals!) back!