Clean beauty

340px-Gwyneth_Paltrow_avp_Iron_Man_3_ParisWhether you’ve been gooped a long time ago, or the idea of cleaning up your beauty bag has come to you recently, this is for you. I believe that making changes in our beauty/wellness routines, eating and cooking style as well as voting with our purchases matter. When I started my website in 2007, I wanted it to be a resource for more natural alternatives and information otherwise scattered all over the internet. When Gwyneth Paltrow started her website Goop in 2008, I became a subscriber because many of the ideas were close to my philosophy. It has since become a popular resource for all things clean living.

I have just finished reading GOOP CLEAN BEAUTY * by the editors of Goop (The Ultimate Guide to a Healthy Body, a Natural Glow and a Happy, Mindful Life) and here’s my scoop. The whole idea of the book is to give you tools for achieving beauty from inside out, so hair and makeup are certainly not the main points. We all know there are no miracle beauty products to reverse the damage caused by destructive habits. One needs to go much deeper to see a real difference. The chapters focus on simple gut-friendly cooking, stress management, environmental factors, exercising and rest complete with Q&As from expert contributors.

“At GOOP, we find it ironic that many U.S.’s biggest beauty companies use ingredients that are known to be harmful and then set up foundations and charities to support breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer research.” – Gwyneth Paltrow

GOOP CLEAN BEAUTY * offers information on how to reduce the toxic load from food, environment or products, but it’s not about obsessively avoiding everything. You get simple detox recipes like Spinach and lemon hummus, Root vegetable soup, Clean fish tacos, Chocolate milkshake smoothie. Other detoxing tips include dry brushing, sauna, working out. There are chapters on getting enough quality sleep and how to deal with jet lag, about sun exposure vs lack of vitamin D, drinking and smoking. Towards the end there are hair and makeup tips, beauty routines, notes on dermatologist procedures etc.

(*affiliate links, visit disclosure for more info)

5 simple steps to a cleaner beauty I’d pick from the book:

  1. Reduce the amount of toxins your body has to deal with – choose natural or organic products for your body and home.
    Avoid plastic containers with recycling numbers 3, 6, 7, PC (polycarbonate).
  2. Use mineral sunblock (non-nano, with zinc and/or titanium dioxide) – SPF 30 is enough for most situations. The book recommends brands like Coola, Naturopathica, Drunk Elephant. I have used Laboratoires de Biarritz, Alphanova Sun, BIOSOLIS.
  3. Eat less processed food. Cook.
  4. Exercise, sweat.
  5. Get more sleep.


I have collected the chemicals mentioned in the book as harmful, yet still widely used, so you can make better choices. I have also included brands that offer natural options, most of which I have personally tried.

parabens – endocrine disruptors (butyl-, isobutyl-, methyl-, propyl-)

formaldehyde releasers (when added to water and decomposing):
2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol)
diazolidinyl urea
DMDM hydantoin
imidazolidinyl urea
sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

phthalates – make producs stick to skin, nails, plasticizers, endocrine disruptors:
DBP (dibutyl phthalate)
DEHP (diethylhexyl phthalate)
DEP (diethyl phthalate)

fragrance/perfume/flavor – trade secrets don’t need to be mentioned (at least in the US), commonly include phthalates, solvents, colorants
mehtyl cellosolve

Natural perfumes: Florascent, Pacifica, Goop

EDTA (binding, stabilizing) – ethylenediamineteraacetic acid, calcium disodium EDTA, disodium EDTA, tetrasodium EDTA

1,4 – dioxane contamination (by-product of ethoxylation process – ethylene oxide is added to other chemicals to make their effect on skin less harsh)

polyethylenene glycol
anything with laureth like sodium laureth sulfate, ceteareth in the name

ethanolamines (surfactants):
ETA (ethanolamine)
DEA (diethanolamine)
Cocamide DEA
MEA (monoethanolamine)
TEA (triethanolamine)

chemical sunscreens – endocrine and hormone disruptors, skin irritants (the same chemicals found also in moisturizers and creams):
octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate)

Alternatives: Acorelle, BIOSOLIS, Laboratoires de Biarritz, Alphanova Sun, Coola, Naturopathica, Drunk Elephant

benzalkonium chloride
butylated dydroxyanisole (BHA)
butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
coal tar (by-product of petroleum combustion)
thimerosal (mercury)
toluene (solvent)

SLS, SLES – sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate (surfactants, SLES is vulnerable to 1,4-dioxane contamination)

These are often found in shampoos, shower gels and toothpastes, but there are plenty of brands that offer alternatives: Sante, Logona, Lavera, Weleda, Urtekram, Madara, Sonett to mention some of them.

petrochemicals very common and can generate 1,4-dioxane:
paraffin wax, mineral oil
toluene, benzene
anything with PEG (polyethylene glycol)
anything with DEA (diethanolamine) or MEA (ethanolamine)
butanol and anything with butyl (butyl alcohol, butylparaben, butylene glycol),
EDTA (ethylenediamineteraacetic acid)
anything with propyl (isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol, propyl alcohol, cocoamidopropyl betaine), parfum or fragrance

hair dyes:
lead acetate
ethanolamines etc.

Alternatives: Khadi, Cultivators, Logona, Sante, Hairprint (restores hair colour)

nail polish – choose without phthalates, formaldehyde or toluene, perhaps without fomaldehyde resin and camphor

I’ve found these brands that offer good options: Logona, Benecos, BOHO

nailpolish removers – use non-acetone
These brands offer more natural versions: SANTE, Logona, Benecos

If you don’t want to be walking around shops with a long list of crazy ingredients to avoid, buy certified organic, natural products from trusted brands that are dedicated to creating non-toxic products.