My Attempt at Building Clean, Natural & Non-Toxic PM Beauty Routine.
As I told you guys earlier, I’m fairly new to the green scene and I basically had to shop my stash for this beginner’s version of a clean, natural, and non-toxic skincare routine. I methodically went through my collection and picked the cleanest and greenest-looking jars and bottles, so this is the result of my first, unrefined attempt at eliminating toxic ingredients from my routine for a month. This post is dedicated solely to the products I use in the evening. I shared my non-toxic AM beauty routine a few weeks ago, in case you missed it and want to take a look.
To repeat what I said in my previous post, I believe there are several basic steps every routine should ideally have:
- Protect in the AM
- Repair in the PM
You know I adore Korean approach to skincare, so I always go beyond the standard 3-step routine. This time I tried to pack as many products as I could without overwhelming my combination/dehydrated skin, which can be quite challenging actually, since many clean formulas are also oil-based. Here’s what I came up with so far that’s been working well for me.
1 // My cleansing routine starts with Elemental Herbology Purify and Soothe Facial Cleansing Balm*, which comes with a really big muslin cloth that helps effectively exfoliate the skin and remove all traces of makeup. As a proper balm, it feels very emollient and, well, balmy. It is precisely the texture you are probably imagining right now: squishy, oily, and spreadable. Surprisingly, unlike most balms, it actually comes in a squeeze tube, which makes it a more hygienic choice than traditional cleansing balms that come in jars. I use Purify and Soothe Facial Cleansing Balm to remove makeup from my face and neck, but I actually use a different product for my eyes [see #2 below].
EWG lists several ingredients that are in the gray zone, like Vitamin E and essential oil derivatives, but PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate is the only one that can be potentially concerning. I say “potentially” because obviously not all PEGs are contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and Ethylene Oxide [both of which are carcinogenic], but it is a possibility with low quality ingredients sourced from sketchy labs. It is your personal choice whether you want to trust a product with ethoxylated ingredients or not, however, unless you use all-natural unrefined skincare and household products, chances are there are already dozens of PEGs and other -eths in your routine. It is almost impossible to escape them.
Ingredients: Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride*, Hydrogenated Vegetable (Soya Bean) Oil*, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter*, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax*, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil*, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Peel Powder*, Plukenetia Volubilis (Sacha Inchi) Oil*, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate*, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract*, Canola Oil*, Fragaria Vesca (Strawberry) Fruit Extract*, Narcissus Poeticus Flower Wax*, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Althaea Officinalis Root Extract*, Angelica Archangelica Root Oil*, Boswellia Carterii Oil*, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil*, Maltodextrin*, Citronellol*, Geraniol*, Limonene*, Linalool*. *Ingredients derived from 100% natural source.
2 // For my eye makeup removal I chose to use S.W. Basics Makeup Remover, which is basically a simple 3-ingredient cleansing oil that melts off the most stubborn products, like waterproof mascara, or long-lasting eyeliner. Plus, it’s unscented, so there’s little risk of irritating the delicate eye area. I both like and dislike the simplicity of this formula. I find products that I could easily whip up in my kitchen a little boring, but at the same time I want to support brands that try to promote clean, non-toxic lifestyle. It works well as a makeup remover, but I just wish the formula was more sophisticated.
Ingredients: Organic sweet almond, olive, and jojoba oils.
3 // I usually have some residue left after cleansing, so I very lightly swipe my skin with a cotton round soaked in Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Toner*. I talked about it in my AM skincare routine post, so I’ll be brief here. Yes, it does contain alcohol, however, I have not experienced any irritations. I shake the cotton round for a little while just to air it out a bit and let the alcohol evaporate somewhat, but that’s just me being extra. 🙂 This may be the only alcohol-based toner my skin agrees with, because I recently tried a different one and got a nasty rash right away.
The formula is very clean, and the only potential sensitivity triggers are Lactic Acid and essential oil compounds, all at the very bottom of the ingredient list.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Alcohol, Anthyllis Vulneraria Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Tropaeolum Majus Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Bark Extract, Echinacea Pallida Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Bark/Leaf Extract, Bellis Perennis (Daisy) Flower Extract, Natural Fragrance, Citronellol, Geraniol, Linalool, Lactic Acid.
4 // Remember Yuripibu Cellum Amaid Ampoule I talked about a while back? Yeah, I am still not convinced that it actually does anything for my skin, but I needed a hydrating step for my nighttime routine, and there it was looking at me from the “maybe” shelf. In theory, this is a brightening, smoothing, moisturizing, and firming serum that will do everything, except make you coffee. In reality, I am near the bottom of the bottle already, and the only thing it did for me is hydrate. Yes, the serum is quite pleasant and moisturizing, and doesn’t agitate my combination skin, but if I wanted plain moisture, I would have paid 5 bucks for a HA serum from The Ordinary and called it a day. Needless to say, I won’t be repurchasing it.
Natural cosmetics are not very popular in Korea, so there isn’t as much choice when it comes to EWG-approved formulations. However, this one is all green. It is really quite unfortunate that I found it ineffective, otherwise it would have been a fabulous non-toxic Kbeauty option for a daily anti-aging serum.
Ingredients: Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate (96%), Niacinamide, Caulerpa Lentillifera Extract, Centella Asiatica Leaf Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, rh-Oligopeptide-1, rh-Polypeptide-1, rh-Oligopeptide-2, Ascorbic Acid, Silk Amino Acids, Tartaric Acid.
5 // I found a couple really amazing products for this step of my PM routine, and the first one is Eminence Bearberry Eye Repair Cream*. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted my eye cream to be, and then some. It’s nourishing and creamy, but not greasy at all. It makes my eye area feel soft and soothed, helps reduce the fine lines caused by dryness, and actually addressed a red spot I had in the corner of my left eye. That area for some reason is always irritated, especially after I take off my makeup, but this eye cream calms it down almost immediately. I could not be happier with it, seriously, it is hands down the best Eminence product I tried so far.
After running the ingredient list through EWG database I stumbled upon several potential triggers. First of all, we have Retinyl Palmitate, which is basically a mild retinoid. Since I use this eye cream in the evening, this ingredient is not actually exposed to sunlight, so I get to enjoy its full anti-aging benefits. Sodium Benzoate, Sorbic Acid, and Benzoic Acid are used here as preservatives to protect the delicate botanical extracts that would otherwise go bad faster than you could use up the product. I know some of you avoid preservatives in all forms, not just parabens, so I thought it was worth a mention. There was one ingredient I was surprised to see in an eye cream – Zinc Sulfate. According to EWG, there is limited evidence of eye toxicity when products with Zinc Sulfate are used around the eyes, and EU enforces special labeling for such products. It is, however, listed as second to last ingredient, which means the concentration is extremely low. Likely, it was included for its antimicrobial properties.
Ingredients: Aqua, Linseed Acid**, Euphrasia Officinalis Extract, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi, Petrosilium Hortense Extract**, Sesamum Indicum Oil*, Glyceryl Stearate, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil*, Glycerin, Theobroma Cacao Butter*, Cetyl Alcohol, Vitis Vinifera Juice*, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopherol, Xanthane Gum, Trifolium Pratense Extract*, Humulus Lupulus Extract*, Carthamus Tinctorius Oil*, Nicotinamide, Pantothenic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Retinyl Palmitate, Lecithin, Salvia Officinalis Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Perilla Ocymoides Extract*, Rosa Damascena D.*, Ubiquinone, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Sorbate, Benzoic Acid, Lactic Acid, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Sorbic Acid. * From Controlled Organic Product **Biodynamic Ingredients Certified By Demeter International
6 // I talked about the beauty benefits of pomegranate extract before, so I already knew that Erin’s Faces Firming Serum* would make the perfect addition to my evening routine. This silky serum layers beautifully with the rest of my products, and I sometimes use it during the day, too. I love everything about it: the easily spreadable texture, the light natural fragrance, and the fact that it doesn’t feel heavy on the skin or clog the pores. Unlike many plant extracts that topically can only work as antioxidants, Pomegranate extract actively boosts the skin’s resistance to UV rays, prevents collagen loss by inhibiting MMP-1 enzyme, and makes your body produce its own antioxidant Glutathione to combat free radicals. And yes, all you need to do is slather on a cream or a serum with this ingredient, and you’re good to go! 😉
The ingredient list is mostly clean, with a couple potential minor hazards [according to EWG anyway]. EWG gives DMAE a 4 out of 10 hazard rating, based on inconclusive toxicity results unrelated to its use in cosmetics. This ingredient is said to be good for for firming the skin and giving it a more lifted appearance, and derma e actually uses it as a star ingredient for one of their lines [who else tried their DMAE eye cream? I loved it!].
Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Juice*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Oil*, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Aspalathus Linearis (Organic Rooibos Tea) Extract*, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), Emulsifying Wax, Vegetable Glycerin, Daucus Carota (Carrot) Oil, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Thioctic Acid (Alpha Lipoic Acid), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C Ester), Palm Stearic Acid, Malic Acid, Polysaccharide gum (Xanthan Gum)
7 // This is not an everyday step for me, but sometimes when my skin feels a little dry, I would smooth a few drops of PIXI Rose Oil Blend* over my face after applying the serums and prior to moisturizer for some extra nourishment. Usually my skin feels like that after a stressful event, when I don’t get enough sleep, or if I didn’t drink the recommended half my weight in fluid ounces of water that day. Rose Oil Blend is one of Pixi’s best products and it’s probably the next most-loved after the brand’s ultra popular Glow Tonic.
The formula is all-green and all-natural.
Ingredients: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Punica Granatum Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil.
8 // My overnight moisturizer is actually an exfoliant, how neat is that? Elemental Herbology Vital Glow Overnight Resurfacing Cream* became a lifesaver, since I had to put away all of my other topical acid exfoliants for Clean Beauty Month. There’s no way they would pass the EWG scrutiny, and to be honest, I miss some of them a lot and I feel like my skin is worse off since I stopped. However, this is one of those rare cases where I think that a cleaner version is actually just as good as some of my not-so-green favorites.
Vital Glow Overnight Resurfacing Cream contains a plethora of botanical extracts and oils, along with natural AHAs that gently exfoliate the dead cells while I sleep. The consistency of this cream is thick and feels more like a balm, so I always spend an extra minute or two massaging it into my skin in the evening. There is a very slight tingle, commonly associated with AHAs, which disappears soon after the application. Overall, I am happy with the results, and will continue using this lovely balm well after my Clean Beauty Month is over.
The ingredient list is quite long, so I pretty much expected to see a few yellows on it – EWG is tough like that. Some yellow names are understandable, like acids and alcohol, while others may or may not be in the gray zone, depending on how hardcore you are about certain ingredients. First of all, Limonene, which is a natural derivative from essential oils, is a bit too high on the list, so keep that in mind if you are sensitive to natural oils. This cream also contains non-paraben preservatives, Trisodium NTA which was approved by US FDA for human consumption [but classified as expected to be toxic or harmful in Canada] and lye as a pH adjuster [otherwise the cream would be too acidic]. In short, I love it, you may not – it’s your choice, really. My job is to give you facts, because it’s always nice to be an informed consumer.
Ingredients: Aqua*, Glycerin*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride*, Plukenetia Volubilis Seed Oil*, Cetearyl Alcohol*, Myristyl Myristate*, Squalane*, Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil*, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil*, Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter*, Cetearyl Olivate*, Limonene*, Panthenol*, Isostearyl Isostearate*, Sorbitan Olivate*, Terminalia Ferdinandiana Fruit Extract*, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil*, Tocopherol*, Brassica Oleracea Italica Seed Oil*, Lecithin*, Arginine*, Citrus Nobilis Peel Oil*, Malic Acid, Oryzanol*, Pyrus Malus Fruit Extract*, Malpighia Glabra Fruit Extract*, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Commiphora Myrrha Oil*, Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Citrus Paradisi Peel Oil*, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil*, Phaseolus Radiatus Meristem Cell Culture Extract*, Cetearyl Glucoside*, Sorbitan Stearate*, Maltodextrin*, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate*, Xanthan Gum*, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate*, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Alcohol Denat, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Sodium Glycolate, Trisodium NTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Formate, Linalool*, Citral*.*Ingredients derived from 100% natural source.
Your turn to share! Do you have any PM routine favorites? Anything I should try? Let me know in the comments below!
Disclosure: This post features PR samples and products purchased by Glamorable, and may contain affiliate or referral links. For more details about my product review policy, copyright, and information about affiliate links, please refer to Disclosures & Content Use page.