I’m really not your typical kind of woman when it comes to beauty. I’ve never been big on wearing makeup (thanks to some icky breakouts caused by early experimentation with conventional cosmetics) and up until a few years ago, I thought that skincare simply meant lotion and facewash.
A handful of bad experiences coupled with an affinity for the “au naturel” look meant that I spent the majority of my 20’s choosing to forgo beauty products altogether. While I’m glad that those years made me pretty darn comfortable with myself as mother nature made me, I realized around the age of 25 that it might be time to give makeup - or at least skincare - another chance. But where to begin?
I have super sensitive skin that cannot tolerate anything involving “fragrances” (an unregulated term that can refer to any one of 3000+ ingredients - read more about this here). Harsh ingredients or anything too acidic will cause my eczema to flare up and powdery, chemical-laden makeup results in dry, flaky skin. With these stipulations in mind - and a desire to avoid palm oil, plastics, or any suspicious chemicals of course - I blindly began to stumble my way into the world of clean beauty.
At first I was so nervous to trust any product containing ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce or didn’t immediately recognize. This was the benchmark that clean beauty proselytizers like Goop were making a fuss about at the time. Luckily, it was around the same time that I fell into friendship with Nina Zilka of Alder NY and Marie Arlet and Krystal Vaquerano of Shea Brand. These three ladies have listened to my experiences and answered my questions about beauty products over the past few years, gently guiding me through experimentations with cleansers, oils, masks, sprays, makeup, and more.
The advice of friends who I can trust to put organic, fair-trade, palm oil free, and ethically sourced ingredients at the top of the priority list is invaluable to me and has helped me discover some of my very favorite products to date! Their passion and knowledge has helped me reframe the concept of beauty in my mind - from one very much focused on covering up and altering my appearance to one that places healthy, beautiful skin first.
I’ve found that eating well, drinking plenty of water, and exercising often are just as important for keeping my skin looking and feeling beautiful as the products I put on it. With those habits incorporated into my weekly routine, I finally figured out my formula for clear and glowing skin.
My Weekly Clean Beauty Routine For Clear & Glowing Skin
Step 1: Deep clean and refresh with Alder NY clarifying face mask - once a week.
After having the opportunity last year to test Alder’s clarifying face mask with charcoal I was officially hooked. I entered my first masking experience with zero expectations and emerged with my skin feeling more smooth and clear than it had in years. I like to use this once a week; I quickly rinse my face and apply this magical cleansing mask before getting in the shower. As it dries I can feel the grit and grime being pulled from my pores by that powerful activated charcoal. I find that I only need to use about a third of the amount that comes in the package (I store the open package in a reusable ziploc so it doesn’t dry out in between uses), so all in all this face mask is a no-brainer for beauty lovers on a budget!
Why I love Alder NY:
- All of their products are vegan and never tested on animals.
- They never use SLS, SLES, parabens, PEGs, formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing agents, silicone, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, EDTA, BHA and BHT, hydroquinone, triclosan, or triclocarban.
- Everything is produced in Brooklyn.
- Their packaging is sleek and inclusive of all gender identities.
- Their products are uncomplicated and always improving
I have been using the SW Basics cleanser and exfoliant for the past three years now. Before I hop in the shower (every other day because I like to save water and my hair & skin don’t like to be washed too often) I mix a capful of exfoliant with half a capful of cleanser so that they are nicely combined by the time I’m ready to scrub my face. I LOVE that SW Basics’ exfoliant is made of only three ingredients, all of which I can (and totally would) eat. Oats, almonds, and salt make for the perfect amount of exfoliation while the oats add in that little bit of necessary moisture. This gentle formula combines perfectly with astringent tea tree oil and the softening rosewater that make up SW Basics’ cleanser.
Why I love SW Basics:
- Each product contains 5 ingredients or less.
- They always use simple ingredients that are certified organic and/or fair-trade.
- They believe in making skincare work for you, providing tons of informational content on particular ingredients and DIY beauty possibilities.
Step 3: Apply Oil + Water face and hair oil - every other day.
This double duty face + hair oil has officially changed the way I think about moisturizing. It’s perfectly lightweight and sinks into my skin slowly, with zero greasy feeling. I always apply a few drops to my face, using a gently massaging circular motion, after getting out of the shower and sometimes if it feels particularly dry in the morning. This heavenly scented oil manages to moisturize dry spots, soothe redness, and simultaneously smooth away any bumpy breakout areas. I can tell that it’s going to be perfect for calming the frizzy ends of my hair come winter weather. It may seem pricey, but a little goes a long way and for the quality of the product, I’d say this is a pretty fair deal.
Why I love Oil + Water:
- They focus on using raw, wild harvested, organic, and fair trade ingredients.
- They do not use any stabilizers and work to educate customers on the natural shelf life of high quality ingredients.
- Everything is lovingly handcrafted in Brooklyn.
- Everything smells amazing.
>>>>> Learn more & shop Oil + Water here! And be sure to check out their subscription option ;)
Step 4: Hydrate with Shea Brand cucumber hydrosol spray - as needed.
I love to carry the cucumber hydrosol around in my purse, ready for a quick spritz whenever I’m feeling hot, sweaty, or dehydrated. This fruity-smelling distillate instantly cools down my skin, calming redness and soothing any dry areas. To be honest, I find myself using Shea Brand’s hydrosol much more than necessary just to feel my body temperature drop as the cool cucumber mist hits my skin. Since I struggle with dry skin more during the wintertime, I expect that this gently hydrating and nourishing hydrosol will come in handy all year round.
Why I love Shea Brand:
- They use active, natural ingredients that pack a punch.
- They never use palm oil derived ingredients, manufactured synthetics, chemical stabilizers or preservatives, parabens, pthalates, or sulfates.
- Their packaging is minimal, low-waste, and gorgeous.
- Everything is manufactured in NYC.
>>>>> Learn more & shop Shea Brand here! Use code SUSTAININGSHEA for 10% off your purchase.