The Filthy Fifteen: Baddies of the Beauty World

Let’s call this Day One of my Journey to Better Beauty, as I’m calling it. Diving right in!

First, let’s get one thing straight: chemical-free beauty isn’t possible. Beauty products are, by definition, made up of chemicals. I mean, water is technically a chemical. The trick is just figuring out which chemicals don’t need to ever be rubbed into your face/eyes/skin/etc. So the first step toward cleaning up my beauty regimen is figuring out exactly which beauty ingredients are kinda shady.

Little did I know (well, that’s not entirely true — I totally did know) how hard it would be to define those ingredients. While there are some ingredients that everyone pretty much agrees should be totally avoided (aluminum and parabens always make the list, for example), there are ingredients that appear on some “AVOID” and “Dirty Dozen” lists, but not on others.

I tried to sift through the complete and utter information overload and pick the ingredients that I’ll personally be trying to eliminate. This list might change over time, but it’s my starting point. Your personal list might look different, and that’s TOTALLY okay. I also don’t want to go into the science behind each why I’m avoiding each ingredient because I am most certainly not qualified to do that, and other sources can tell you much more than I can. I recommend starting with this article. It’s super comprehensive and service-y. Basically, all the ingredients I’m avoiding are carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, pesticides, reproductive toxins, or some combination thereof.

Okay, let’s not start freaking out yet. Your lipstick isn’t straight up giving you cancer. But for someone like me, who uses a ton of products and uses them often, it makes sense to eliminate unsafe ingredients as thoroughly as possible. I fully understand this will take some time, and I’m not about to throw out all my products and spend a ton of money on new ones all at once. I’m just vowing to be much more mindful of my product choices going forward.

So to make things easier, I put together a little graphic to use as a cheat sheet! I’m pretty sure I’ll need to refer to it every time I make a beauty purchase from now on since some of the ingredient names aren’t exactly easy to remember. So here it is… the Filthy Fifteen, the baddies of the beauty world (from what I can tell).

Alright, so we have a starting point! We have a Day One! We have a long road in front of us, but at least now, we have a map. My task over the next couple days will be going through all my beauty products and trying to figure out which ones meet my new criteria. I have a feeling it… won’t be very many (if any).

Oh, and this video pretty much seems to be a requisite for understanding the history of the beauty industry and how it came to be as sketchy as it is today.

And here are a couple more resources when it comes to researching safer beauty:

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database

Let me know what you think of all this! And if you’ve already started your journey to better beauty, I’m curious: where did you start?

A sneak peek at the shelf where I keep my most-used products in my medicine cabinet, including some items I have yet to review. This gives you a good idea of how far along I am in my better beauty journey!

  1. Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser - I feel pretty meh about this. I bought it as part of a kit and I’m not super thrilled about any of the products in it. Just trying to use it up so I can try something else.
  2. 100% Pure Red Wine Resveratol Scrub + Mask - I got this recently and have only used it a few times, but so far, I love it. Smells awesome and feels soft on the skin.
  3. Juice Beauty Green Apple Blemish Clearing Peel - This is part of the kit I mentioned in #1, and I’m not a huge fan of it.
  4. 100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream - I’m not typically an eye cream person (I don’t think I have the issues that eye cream tries to address), but I wanted to try this because it’s one of 100% Pure’s best-selling products. I’ve only used it once or twice but so far, so good.
  5. SheaMoisture Reconstructive Finishing Elixir - I did a lite review of this product here, but I continue to use this more as a body oil than for my hair (it’s a bit heavy even for my course/medium thick/frizzy hair).
  6. SheaMoisture Thickening Growth Milk - More on that in this post, but all in all, I still like this stuff.
  7. 100% Pure Purity Hydrating Tonique - I reviewed this pretty thoroughly here. I like it well enough, though I’m not sure it helps a ton with breakouts. 
  8. Crystal Body Deodorant Stick - Just posted a review of this stuff. Definitely liking it!
  9. Glow by Dr. Brandt Overnight Resurfacing Serum - Not necessarily part of a better beauty regimen but this stuff is absolutely my HOLY GRAIL acne treatment. Hilariously, it doesn’t seemed to be designed for acne (it’s marketed more at aging skin) but out of all the non-Rx acne products I’ve tried, this one works wonders on my skin. I buy it as part of the Glow kit from Sephora and use the daytime product too (which didn’t make it into the pic). I keep buying itduring bad skin months despite its ridiculous price tag. The crazy price — $65 for one ounce of product — is why I only let myself buy it when my skin is particularly bad. But seriously, guys, this is the only thing that I can count on when my breakouts get bad and I’ll probably continue to suck it up and buy it because it’s amazing.
  10. Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Face Cream - Now we’re getting into the more conventional products. I got this as a gift and I can’t say I notice a difference when I use it — which I haven’t been doing lately because the Glow serum mentioned above seems to work for both aging skin AND acne. It’s seriously a miracle product.
  11. Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover - Just your standard eye makeup remover. I’m sure there are better options out there, but I’ll finish what I have before I scope out a more natural version.
  12. Clean & Clear Popped Pimple Relief Drying Paste - I bought this out of desperation while traveling and I don’t like it at all. I should throw it away but sometimes I try it again just to make sure I hate it (do you ever do that?). It looks ridiculous on (BRIGHT white) and seems to make pimples, and popped pimples, look worse in the morning. Boo.
Better Skin Care: 100% Pure Purity Hydrating Tonique Acne Care

After realizing that I had approximately TWO products that met my new, pretty strict beauty criteria, I pretty much immediately decided it was time to pick up a few things to start reviewing. Online searches quickly led me to 100% Pure Cosmetics, which has a bevy of makeup, skin care, and bath/body items that totally align with my better beauty standards.

Imagine my shock when I was strolling in Berkeley and actually came across one of their three retail stores! I had no idea they were based in California, much less a short drive away from me. Cue me being super excited and dragging my mom (who was visiting at the time) and friend into the store. I definitely had to try a couple things, and the first thing I selected was the Purity Hydrating Tonique. I know, “tonique.” But whatever, I rolled with it.

I’ve never really been a big toner person, but since I don’t own any already, it didn’t seem like such a frivolous purchase. I’m trying to use up my conventional beauty products as best I can before adding too many new ones.

I’ve been using this toner for a few, so I feel like I can give you a well-rounded review.

What it looks like:

Check out the beautiful cardboard packaging it comes in! It felt luxurious just opening the product.

Inside the cardboard tube is a heavy opaque glass bottle that also feels pretty luxurious and expensive. I definitely give the packaging high marks.

What it says it does: “Purity Tonique is formulated specifically to give you a clear complexion and to protect against future breakouts. This purifying facial toner delivers hydration to skin cells while fighting against blemishes. Hyaluronic acid delivers organic lavender hydrosol and organic aloe to thirsty skin cells…”

What’s in it: Organic Lavandula Angustifolia Aqua (Lavender Hydrosol)1, Organic Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Juice) Leaf2, Extracts of Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower, Echinacea Purpurea (Echinacea), Hydrastis Canadensis (Goldenseal), Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Flower/Leaf/Stem and Lonicera Caprifolium (Japanese Honeysuckle), Hyaluronic Acid

Nothing that’s on my Filthy Fifteen list!

What it smells/feels like: It definitely has an herbal-y scent, and I think the lavender and tea tree it contains is probably partially to blame for that. Lavender isn’t one of my favorite scents, so I’m not in love with the smell. But I don’t hate it, either. Let’s say I’m neutral, but if you hate herbal scents, this might not be for you. It feels like a cool mist and does absorb into the skin fairly quickly with no damp or sticky residue.

What it actually does: This stuff definitely feels good to spray on my face. It’s refreshing and I suppose does feel a bit hydrating (which I don’t really need — my skin is fairly oily). But I’m not in the market for just a “feel-good” product. So does it actually help reduce/prevent acne?

I’m going to tentatively say yes. I think this stuff calms my skin down. If it’s red or blotchy from me poking at my pimples (a total no-no that I indulge in far too often), spraying some tonique does seem to soothe it. I’ve also used it as a priming spray before makeup and I would maybe say it helped minimize oil but I think I’d have to try it a few more times to be sure.

I’ve also noticed less pimples in general, but when my hormones started to change around my period, it seemed to be powerless to fight them.

Would I repurchase: Eh, probably not. It’s a nice product that feels good on the skin and maybe fights the good fight against my pimples a bit. It also makes me feel like I’m at a spa, which I’ll admit is plus. But I don’t think I’d shell out $21 for it again. My experience with this product hasn’t turned me off from 100% Pure skincare products whatsoever, though. I think they’re made of high-quality ingredients, and I bet there are some real gems among the bunch of otherwise solid products.

Better Beauty Rating (Worse, Okay, Good, Better, Best): I’m going to give this a solid Good. It gets higher marks for packaging and feel on my skin, but it’s not like I woke up in the morning after using it with perfectly clear skin (not that I expected to). I think it’s worth a try if you want a fancy product to calm your skin and make your bathroom feel like a spa.

Okay! So this has been my first Better Beauty review. What do you guys think? Did I skip anything you want to know? Want to see more of these?