13 Ways to Go Green with Your Beauty Routine

A breakdown of several important all natural swaps you can make today
Filed Under > Everyday

20 Nontoxic Beauty Alternatives You Should Swap Today, @waitingonmartha

Here’s a scary news flash: a lot of your favorite beauty and personal care products contain industrial chemicals, which include carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors.  EWG has been warning us of this for years; personal care products are manufactured with 10,500 unique chemical ingredients, including things like coal tar and formaldehyde (known human carcinogens) and lead acetate (a developmental toxin).  Many also include plasticizers, which keep concrete soft, degreasers, which remove the grime and gook off car parts, and surfactants.  #Woof

All of these ingredients have no place being on our skin, which is our biggest organ of our body and soaks up everything we put on it.  Because of this scary reality, it’s easy to see why a clean, green beauty routine is absolutely vital for our health and wellness.  Fortunately, it’s actually super simple to swap out a few of the most harmful culprits (think everyday lotion, toothpaste and body wash).  

But I can speak from personal experience that it can feel wearisome planning a complete overhaul of your beauty routine, especially when it means parting with some of your favorite tried-and-true products.  My biggest piece of advice is to take it slowly; take the time to research the products you use, understand the dangers of specific ingredients, and ultimately prioritize your approach on cleaning up the toxins on your bathroom counter.  That may mean you start small and swap out the easy stuff like toothpaste and daily moisturizer.  That may mean you tackle the harder switches like deodorant and shampoo next month. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t part with your current product because you haven’t found a clean alternative that works as well, either.  I have a hard time leaving this mascara after years and years of wearing it.  And I only recently found an all natural foundation that was super hydrating and actually gave me the coverage I needed.  It’s a slow process, but it’s definitely worth it to find clean(er) products that work for you.  

Below, find a few of the green beauty alternatives I always recommend to start (I had the list at 19, but pared it down for time’s sake!).  I’d love to keep the conversation going about clean beauty; please leave a comment below with any of your favorite green beauty alternatives or questions you may have.  I’m still learning a lot myself, but I’m finding that it’s an incredibly interesting journey to be on.  Cheers, Kat



Agent Nateur No. 3 Deodorant Holi(stick)

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Here’s a friendly newsflash that the majority of big-brand name deodorant contain five very concerning ingredients: parabens, aluminum, triclosan, phthalates and “fragrance” – a term that can house up to 200 ingredients that don’t have to be listed. I won’t bore you to death, but I will point out a few things about parabens and alumimum to start. 

Parabens. There’s been research that shows these may interfere with the way our bodies produce and regulate hormones. Since there’s estrogen-sensitive tissue around your armpits, there’s a high chance that the parabens can promote cancer cells growing there (read: breast cancer). 

Aluminum. This is a metal that can promote tumors and cancer cells. According to last year’s article in Time, “breast cancer incidence tends to align with use of products that contain the metal.” 

That being said, you should swap out your deodorant for something safer. I’ve used several good all-natural alternatives including Agent Nateur’s holi(stick), Primal Pit Paste and Thai Crystal mist (current favorite). Try a few out and see what works for your body. 



Auromere Ayurvedic Herbal Toothpaste

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Sorry to break it to you, but toothpaste has just as many toxic ingredients in it as your go-to deodorant. Blue No. 1 (artificial coloring that can cause kidney tumors and immune reactions), sodium fluoride (it erodes your enamel and can be a factor in the development of heart, kidney and thyroid diseases), sodium saccharin (an artificial sweetener that can raise the risk of bladder cancer), triclosan (an endocrine disruptor that can interfere with hormones and cause cancer and brain disorders), and sodium lauryl sulfate (it makes the toothpaste foam, which causes your teeth to become sensitive to silverware among other things) all sound like bad news to me. 

I started down the clean toothpaste path with Tom’s of Maine since it’s easy to find just about anywhere (even among the mainstream brands at my grocery store). It ranks a 1 out of 10 on Think Dirty‘s toxicity scale so I knew it was a heck of a lot better than the stuff I was using before. 

Now I’m using this Ayurvedic herbal toothpaste in fresh mint. It tastes a lot more fresh to me than the Tom’s, and I’ve delved into the world of Ayurveda lately and find that this toothpaste works great. 

Daily Moisturizer

One Love Organics Coconut Water Cream Skin Dew

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Surprisingly, it is not required by law in the U.S. for cosmetic brands to be completely transparent about their formulations and ingredients. In turn, a lot of these ingredients are harmful for our health. 

Ever seen Jergens Naturals Ultra Hydrating Daily Moisturizer? It lists a whopping 34 ingredients, and many of them are incredibly toxic to our bodies.  A daily moisturizer seems innocent enough, but in reality it can be housing a boatload of terrible ingredients for us. 

That’s why I’ve completely made the switch to nontoxic products I put on my skin everyday, including this *heavenly* hydrating cream by One Love Organics. It is a new product, so it’s not on Think Dirty‘s toxicity scale yet, but all other OLO products have an incredibly low score 1-2.  You pretty much can’t go wrong with any of the line; super hydrating, simple ingredients and effective results.  

Browse our collection in the shoppe HERE

Shampoo & Conditioner

Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Shampoo

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I’m getting a little weary just typing this, but shampoos and conditioners usually contain five toxic ingredients: sulfates, parabens, “fragrance”, triclosan and polyethylene glyco (sensing a little pattern?). Many of the “hydrating” hair products actually strip the scalp of its natural moisture.  A bit counter-productive, I’d say. 

But the struggle with moisturized hair is real, even with cleaner products. I’ve bought a few completely natural shampoo and conditioner brands that just don’t cut it.  I’ve tried the Acure line, which you can find at Whole Foods/Whole Body and it was just okay (though my boyfriend liked it).  This is a product I especially see a difference in moisture and touchability (which is SO important to me with my long, thick brown hair) with the clean options and not-so-clean options).  My biggest suggestion to you is try a few samples if possible, and be diligent at looking at the ingredients. 

That being said, I’ve been SO pleased with Bumble & Bumble’s Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil shampoo and conditioner.  With a nod to all natural oils (it uses six feather-light oils: grapeseed, safflower seed, sweet almond, macadamia, argan, and coconut). While it’s not perfect; it gets a 4 out of 10 on the Think Dirty toxicity scale, but all other B&B shampoos are 9’s and 10’s, it does smell amazing, works to hydrate my hair and a little goes a long way.  

Nail Polish

Smith & Cult Nail Polish

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It’s scary to think about, but we OF COURSE soak in the chemicals we put on our nail beds. Check out this EWG study for the deets. 

While I’m committed to an all-natural, clean beauty routine, I am in no way ready to give up a good mani and pedi when needed.  Fortunately, we discovered Smith & Cult nail polish, an “8-free” formula that doesn’t include the usual suspects in most nail polishes (Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, Xylene, Ethyl Tosylamide or Triphenyl Phosphate). 

The incredible thing about Smith & Cult polishes is that they last at least 2x longer on my nails than the toxic counterparts.  I’m the person that doesn’t enjoy a standard mani (not gel) because it chips off in 2-3 days.  With Smith & Cult polish, I find that my nails last longer, look healthier and I simply feel better knowing that it’s clean. 

For the record, I recently tried a nontoxic Aila nail color too (same price point as S&C), and it chipped within a day. Really disappointed but solidified my love for S&C. 

Nail Polish Remover

Aila 3-in-1 Soy-Based Nail Color Remover with 100% Argan Oil

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A lot of nail polish removers you can buy at CVS for 99 cents have acetone, aka propanone.  It can cause nails to be excessively dry, brittle and damaged.  To put it in perspective, a typical gel manicure includes a 10-minute acetone soak before reapplying.  I love my gel manicures like the rest, but that realization has kept me away from getting them too frequently. 

Unfortunately, even the nail polish remover without acetone still includes harmful chemicals, especially “fragrance” that we’ve learned is just as disruptive to our bodies as other ingredients.  I’ve turned to Aila’s nail polish remover (here’s another great alternative too) to ensure that I’m helping, not hurting, my nails. 

Body Wash

Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap

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If you haven’t heard of Dr. Bronner’s by now, you’re living under a rock. This bestselling family-owned, 100% natural brand is a life saver in more ways than one.  It ranks an outstanding 0 out of 10 on the Think Dirty toxicity scale, and can be applied for 23049823049 uses on the body and around the home.  It’s organic, certified fair trade, and has 100% recycled packaging. 

The peppermint is my favorite, though all of the scents I’ve tried are great (almond, unscented, lavender, etc.).  This one is cented with organic peppermint oil that cools skin, clears sinuses and sharpens the mind, all while in the shower!

The pure-castile liquid soap is concentrated, biodegradable and versatile like I mentioned above;  it can be used on the face, body, hair as well as with dishes, laundry, mopping, pets and all-around house cleaning. 

Sunless Tanning Lotion

Vita Liberata Fabulous Self Tanning Tinted Lotion

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I’ve mentioned this amazing tanning lotion once or twice on here before, and it’s still one of my absolute favorite “all natural secrets” I like to say.  My friends and I still get regular spray tans in the winter when we finally hit rock bottom of paleness (usually like…right about now).  But honestly, the chemicals in those booths freak. me. out.  There are FDA warnings inside the rooms warning about inhalation (which is pretty inevitable in there), so it cannot be good.

So instead, I used to look to St. Tropez tanning products to get me that healthy glow in the dead of winter, or whenever I needed a little boost really. Everything was all fine and good until I looked them up on the Think Dirty toxicity scale…they’re all a whopping 9 out of 10!!! The Gradual Tan Everyday Body Moisturizer, for example, scores high in Carcinogenicity, Developmental and Reproductive toxicity, as well as Allergies and Immunotoxicities. 

Fortunately, I’ve found a WONDERFUL clean alternative that earns a lovely 0 out of 10 on the scale; Vita Liberata is an ultra-hydrating lotion that creates a natural-looking tan that fades in a few days and never looks obnoxious or uneven.  It’s made with certified organic botanicals and *claims* there’s absolutely “no smell whatsoever” but there is a bit of a smell, though not a deal-breaker at all.  It’s formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates and has no traces of triclosan, GMOs, fragrance, or alcohol.  

Try the gradual lotion (my favorite), or the mousse (which still works great just more high-maintenance to apply I think), and the self-tanning bronzer which looks so natural and great that I can’t believe I haven’t known about it until now. 


Cocopull Oil Pulling Coconut Oil Packets

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A lot of popular mouthwash brands contain alcohol.  This dries out the mucous membranes in the mouth, reducing your saliva and causing bad breath. It actually ends up changing your mouth and throat’s pH levels.  And recent studies have found evidence that alcohol increases the risk of developing oral, head and neck cancers. Yikes. 

As an alternative, I’ve started oil-pulling.  All you do is swish coconut oil around your mouth for up to 20 minutes.  It has a ton of oral health benefits, while it makes teeth whiter, breath fresher and clears up your skin too. Seriously, I’ve never had my mouth feel so CLEAN.  

You can of course use plain organic coconut oil, but I really like these individual coconut oil packets because it takes the guesswork out of serving size, and they have a subtle peppermint flavor. Really just an all-around good product for the oil-pulling beginner like me.  

False Eyelashes

Battington Lashes Kennedy Lashes (Moderate)

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So I still see the appeal of beautiful, long false eyelashes.  I remember buying them for $5.99 at Walgreens during college, and I even dished out the $150 last year for a professional set. Long story short: they’re bad for your eyes, they can add up quick, they usually hurt/feel uncomfortable and usually look…fake.

But since I’m still intrigued with these things, I was all ears when I heard what Jessica at Bare Beauty said about these ones by Battington Lashes.  They’re 100% silk lashes that look so incredibly real, and they’re only $24.  You actually take them off at night, carefully storing them in their chic box until next use.  Along with an the all natural eyelash adhesive I use (HERE), I feel really great about wearing them.  If you’re interested in false eyelashes, don’t waste your time or money or energy getting them professionally done at a salon; try these instead. 


By Rosie Jane Season Eau de Parfum Gift Set

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In 2015, Time shared a piece about the dangers of perfume.  And still now, the term “fragrance” or “parfum” is your first flag.  It can mean there are up to 10,000 different ingredients involved in making that intoxicating smell. You can pretty much assume that most fragrances you spritz on your wrist contain phthalates, which can lead to developmental disorders, lower IQ, hormonal imbalances and reproductive risks. 

Fortunately, there are a lot of natural, clean ingredients that smell absolutely divine.  A new favorite brand of mine is By Rosie Jane, and this gift set includes four best-selling scents; they’re all paraben free, sulfate free, phthalate free, phosphate free and cruelty free.  




Kjaer Weis Foundation

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Finding all-natural, clean makeup (that actually works well) can be a little more difficult than finding the green personal care products. I’ve tried a TON of foundations and powders over the past two years in hopes of finding one with great coverage, texture, moisture and overall feel. I am not someone who runs around town without a drop of makeup on (yet) so a good foundation is really important to me.  

I recently discovered clean beauty Kjaer Weis thanks to Levert Beauty. It can be scary ordering a foundation over the internet, but the site does a great job explaining what color will match your specific skin tone (I have light-to-medium with pink undertones).  The foundation is incredible…a little goes a long way, and it feels super hydrating and touchable on my face.  Not to mention, the packaging is so luxe and makes me feel oh so fancy when applying. 


RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up

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I’ve been using this concealer for at least a year now, and I will never use a different one.  RMS Beauty completely nailed it with a hydrating, lightweight formula that offers flawless coverage that actually resolves imperfections and redness of the skin.  The nontoxic formula includes coconut oil, beeswax, jojoba oil, rosemary extract and it has proven to last a lot longer than I imagined it would (it’s a tiny little jar after all!). 

With my previous YSL Touche Eclat, I knew I wasn’t using the cleanest formula (most YSL products hit a 9 out of 10 on the Think Dirty toxicity scale).  This alternative, that actually works better, is a nice 3 out of 10 instead.  Seriously love this product. 


Featured image, Kathryn McCrary for Waiting on Martha

Leave a Comment


  • Beautycounter! All of our products are safer and we are working to help make all products safer. Check out our amazing skincare, makeup and children/baby products: beautycounter.com/leahfite

  • RMS Beauty is great.

  • I have already use Cocopull.That’s great.i like this

  • Marie Claire / 01.24.2017

    Loved this post! Really motivated me to download Think Dirty and look up all the products I use on a day-to-day basis. The results were pretty frightening! Luckily, you guys provided some great tips.. will slowly start replenishing my products with green ones. Thanks for the push!

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