Extreme list giving us a headache
The ingredients list on a lot of beauty products can be extremely long, not to mention full of scientific words and symbols that don't make much sense.
I want to know more about what I'm slapping on my face, but the headache-inducing lists on the back of my products are overwhelming and put me off delving into the world of clean beauty.
But when I heard Queer Eye host Jonathan Van Ness - or as I like to affectionately call him, the "Clean Kween" - was visiting Australia, I knew it was an opportunity to get real about what's in my products.
JVN, the grooming expert on the hit Netflix show, has been a loud fan of clean beauty brand Biossance since it was a "baby", telling The Beauty Diary he first started using it in June 2017, while filming season one of Queer Eye.
"I was living in Atlanta and I was having a psoriasis flare up, which is a condition where your little baby immune system is shedding too much skin," Van Ness told TBD at a Biossance event recently.
"It was such a flare up and everything I was using was upsetting my skin, which was when I discovered the brand and started using it consistently and feel like it definitely calmed my skin down."
He's now an ambassador for the company, with Catherine Gore, the brand's president revealing she couldn't believe it when she learnt Jonathan was a fan.
"We remember when he first used Biossance, we were all cheering, thinking 'how does he know' because we were a baby brand," she explained. "But Jonathan was one of the first people to use the brand and really stay with it."
The company is now four years old and has 18 "clean" skincare products - but despite its success, Catherine says people often get confused about what clean actually means, in particular how it differs from natural beauty.
It's definitely something myself and readers of The Beauty Diary have discussed over in our Facebook group - so I was keen to get to the bottom of it.
"For clean the focus is on the formulation of the products using ingredients which are proven to be safe and not harmful to your health or the health of the planet," Catherine explained to TBD.
"A natural brand will source its ingredients from nature, examples can include botanical oils, natural salts and resins but not all not all-natural ingredients are safe or sustainably sourced.
"A good 'natural' example is sandalwood, often this ingredient is not sustainably sourced or farmed."
"A good clean vs natural product example is lip balm," she continued. "Historically, a lot of lip balms say they're natural but there's still an animal derivative - usually beeswax - in them."
Another battle Catherine said the brand faces is the belief "clean" is not as effective as its "non-clean" competitors who use science-backed ingredients.
"When it comes to skincare products, having to choose between clean ingredients or effectiveness is no longer a decision you have to make," she said.
"Clinically-proven, effective, and sustainability-sourced ingredients are possible because the science and ingredients are so good, that clean and clinical are one in the same.
"We call it cleanical."
Jonathan is a huge believer in the results, revealing his favourites products include the Rose Vegan Lip Balm ($18 in Sephora) which he also uses as an eyebrow gel "all the time".
"It's amazing, I feel like it has a long-lasting effect on my lips in between use, it's not one of those perpetuating lip balms where you have to keep using or else you'll get extra chapped," he said.
Another of his firm faves, is the Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream ($54 in Sephora) is his "literal" hero, admitting he's been known to use it all over his face as well as being a "gigantic fan" of the Squalane + Tea Tree Balancing Oil ($49 in Sephora) which he said was great for oily skin and breakouts.
If you've spotted that use squalane a lot, you'd be right - it's a core ingredient in all of it's products and comes from 100 per cent plant-based renewable sugarcane.
Beauty junkies will know, squalane is an ingredient popping up in a lot of products lately, but if you've never heard of it before, Catherine explains it brilliantly.
"If you think of hylauronic acid as holding moisture in, squalane is moisture," she said, adding it's found naturally in our skin, "but we lose almost completely by the age of 60" Catherine says.
Now you've got your head around what clean beauty is, here are a few of my favourite clean products.
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BIOLOGI BQK RADIANCE FACE SERUM DUO
Available at biologi.com.au and adorebeauty.com.au
There are a lot of Beauty Diary readers chatting about this Byron Bay brand in our Facebook group - and that's because it's so darn good. The Bqk serum is actually made up of two paired products, a morning serum made from Kakadu Plum extract and an evening serum made from Quandong extract. Both contain 0.2 per cent sodium benzoate, a preservative that keeps the extract stable. The plum-based one is for use in the morning where it doses you up with a next-level amount of vitamin C (100 times that inn an orange). Found naturally in the native fruit, it is used to brighten skin and reduce inflammation. It also contains Gallic acid, an active that is used to treat dark circles and beat wrinkles. At night after double cleansing, you then use a healthy pump of the Quandong - a native peach - serum which helps skin recover from environmental factors such as sun damage that can cause dryness and sensitivity. It also puts moisture back into your face.
And holy guac, these two serums together are like magic. From the first morning application, my skin was instantly brightened and less puffy around the eyes, an area I struggle with being a night owl who has to wake up before sunrise every day.
The formula is not like a normal serum, it's super thin, oily almost even, so it takes a little longer to soak into your skin - but stick with it, let it sit a few mins and then massage in any excess. It's the most simple product, with just two ingredients in each, it will definitely simplify your skincare routine if you're looking to strip back and get back to basics.
INDIE LEE SLEEP BODY OIL
Available at Sephora
Who doesn't want better sleep? I know first-hand it's a topic readers at news.com.au are obsessed with, so when a beauty product came across my desk that states it soothes and relaxes you for a deeper, more restful sleep AND pumps your skin full off moisturising goodness, I was intrigued. The bottle has a spray nozzle, something I wasn't expecting with an oil-based product but it sprays out evenly and you're instantly hit with a relaxing waft of lavender and camomile. I was a bit worried it would leave my skin greasy and leave marks on my bed linen as I applied it just before getting into bed, but the formula is really gentle and doesn't mark my sheets. Skin wise, it leaves me feeling baby soft all over, and I found it massaged in really easily. I can't say it definitely helped me get some extra Zzz's, but it's a nice relaxing touch before bed that helps you unwind and get in the mood for sleep.
BIOSSANCE SQUALANE + VITAMIN C ROSE OIL
Available at Sephora
Yes I know, the second oil in this column which is a shocker for this oily skin-typed person. But I'm now a fan of oils - so soz if you missed that memo, but you can find out what swayed me here. The reason I like this "clean" product is because it's super moisturising and brightening without making me look slick and shiny. It actually leaves my skin looking super glowy and only takes a few drops to be effective. Obviously, I checked with my new BFF JVN how this one is meant to be used (okay, it was a brand rep but whatevs) and you don't ditch your serums for this. Instead, apply your skincare routine as normal and then the last step is to use this oil to lock in all the goodness. Talk about genius.
GO-TO EXFOLIATING SWIPEYS
Available at Mecca and gotoskincare.com
These are such a bloody delight, I don't even know where to start. The ingredients list is super simple, with ingredients including water, lactic acid and aloe vera. Go-To promises to keep skincare uncomplicated and these really live up to that statement. They're super handy, give your face a deep scrub without damaging your skin - and have a fresh, dreamy citrus scent made from a blend of essential oils. I'm a huge fan of this brand, having been converted to including an oil cleanse in my routine by the brand's creator Zoe Foster-Blake recently and also loving the face masks. But the Swipeys are quite possibly one of my fave items in the line as they're just so convenient and effective.
TATA HARPER HYALURONIC GEL MOISTURISER
Available at Sephora
Everything about this brand is boujee AF, from the green glass bottle that they encourage you to recycle to the ingredients inside that are grown on the brand's own 200 acre organic farm in the Champlain Valley, Vermont. Named after co-owner Tata who founded the skincare brand with her husband, every product made is non-toxic and with ingredients that are backed by science. I've been in love with this moisturiser since it landed on my desk last year, it's super hydrating and the lightweight gel is super calming and great for oily skin-types. It works thanks to the Hyaluronic acid, a natural moisturiser that holds 1000 times its weight in water. What's strikingly different about Tata's products compared to other clean brands is its distinct lack of fragrance - there's not a hint of essential oil to be whiffed here. This gel moisturiser has a super unique earthy smell that takes a few uses to get used to and is very different to the over-processed offerings littering the beauty industry. If you want clean, natural and science backed beauty - this is the brand for you.
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