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Cleaning Up Acne Prone Skin

Clean beauty is big. Natural personal care and beauty products generated more than $1.5 billion in U.S. sales in 2017, and is expected to reach nearly $25 billion by 2025.

The desire for healthier skincare ingredients makes sense. We exercise regularly, eat healthy, organic, non-GMO foods, and get preventative medical tests and treatments. Yet so many of us are still slathering dangerous chemicals on our skin and hair on a daily basis.

U.S. cosmetics regulation laws haven’t really been updated since 1938. While the European Union has banned more than 1,300 chemicals from use in beauty products, the United States has only banned 11. Luckily, many brands have voluntarily cut these chemicals from their products.


What is a clean beauty or skincare product? 

It’s a product that’s made without a long list of ingredients that have either been proven to be toxic or linked to harmful health effects. Most clean beauty products do not contain ingredients like parabens, sulfates, silicones, phthalates and synthetic fragrances. They also gravitate toward ingredients that are ethically sourced because clean brands want to protect not only personal health, but also environmental health.

Clean products aren’t necessarily all-natural or preservative-free. Man-made ingredients can be considered clean as long as they’re safe and non-toxic. If you want to get down to the dirty details of exactly which chemicals are considered to be toxic and/or dangerous, here’s an article that explores the science behind clean cosmetics.

If clean beauty sounds fantastic to you until you see the price, you aren’t alone. Much like you’ll pay more for a burger at Shake Shack than for one at McDonald’s, better ingredients cost more. However, as an increasing number of consumers show an interest in clean beauty, more brands and retailers have begun to offer products at lower price points. Target currently stocks dozens of clean beauty brands, more than half of which offer products under $15 (including our Mighty Patch for $7). 


Is Clean Beauty better for acne-prone skin?

The majority of people who suffer from acne have sensitive skin. By eliminating products with harsh, toxic chemicals and fragrances, you are taking the first step toward soothing your skin (and breakouts). Traditional acne treatments are often formulated to dry out pimples, but they also dry out the rest of your skin, which ultimately causes your oil glands to go into overdrive and produce too much sebum (which then clogs your pores and the vicious cycle continues). By replacing conventional skincare products with clean products, you’re swapping out fillers, fragrances and toxic chemicals for nourishing natural ingredients that can gently treat your breakouts.

RELATED READ: 3 Reasons Why Your Skin Is Breaking Out


Okay, I’m in. Where’s the best place to find clean beauty products?

The good news is that you can find them everywhere - from Target and Walmart to Amazon and Sephora. The bad news is that misleading labels like natural, pure and botanical are not regulated and can make it difficult to decipher product packaging. Products that contain natural, organic, pure or botanical ingredients are not necessarily clean. Even stamps from USDA Organic, non-GMO and EWG don’t automatically indicate that a product is clean or safe, but they do signify that it passed certain guidelines.

So how can you tell which products are clean? Basically, you need to take a close look at the ingredient list on the label. Consider any of the following ingredients to be a red flag:

  • Parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl)
  • Any ingredient beginning with PEG
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Mineral oil
  • Paraffin
  • Petrolatum
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate
  • Propylene glycol
  • BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
  • Chemical sunscreens (oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate or octinoxate)
  • Fragrance

If this is all greek to you, don’t despair. There are a number of sites that specialize in curating green and clean products, including one of our faves, Detox Market. Here are a few clean products designed especially for acne-prone skin!

  1. Cleanse: OSEA Ocean Cleanser is infused with the mineral-rich abundance of the ocean - red algae and chlorophyll with lime, cypress, juniper and jasmine essential oils - to balance skin without stripping it. $48 at

  2. Tone: Odacite Blue Aura Cleansing Water is a powerful, no-rinse cleanser, formulated with purifying Ayurvedic herbs infused in Aloe Vera juice, paired with Salicylic Acid and grapefruit. $39 at

  3. Moisturize: Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream calms and nourishes even the most sensitive skin with antioxidant-rich chamomile and rosehip, plus omegas 3, 6, 7, and 9. $60 at

  4. Treat: Mighty Patch. Yes, we’re at Detox Market too! Our clean hydrocolloid patches gently heal blemishes without irritating skin. $17.99 at or, of course, at

Looking for a more extensive clean routine? Check out Goop’s 7-Step Clean Beauty Routine for Clear Skin.

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