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What is Clean Beauty and What Brands Should We Look out For?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NYU chapter.

“Clean beauty” isn’t a formal term that has a perfect definition. Like you, when I hear the words ‘clean beauty,’ I think of products that are good for my skin and ingredients that contain less chemicals. 

According to Vogue, most clean beauty brands are concerned with aggressive ingredients and synthetic chemicals. Companies such as Drunk Elephant cut out the “suspicious six”: essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical screens, fragrance/dyes, and SLS. 

Even though companies are becoming more aware of their ingredients lists, I don’t believe that there are hard and fast rules to what ingredients are safe for your skin — to each their own. For me, the less “unnecessary ingredients” (essential oils, fragrance, dyes, drying alcohols, etc), the better. 

But even with ingredients such as fragrance, the percentage of individuals whose skin is sensitized by fragrance is less than 4% of the population, which isn’t very high. Preservatives are not harmful either! We consume them everyday when we eat food. Preservatives are in the medicine that we take. We need preservatives so our skincare won’t expire. 

The key is to find what works for you (and what doesn’t). Here is a list of clean beauty brands to get you started: 

First Aid Beauty 

The tried-and-true, the one that skincare gurus such as Hyram rave about (I had to put it in this article, how could I not?!) Their no BS products, especially ones that contain colloidal oatmeal, are perfect for those with sensitive skin. 

And First Aid Beauty is not just a skincare company, they have a goal to give back to the community as well. In 2020, the company launched Fab Aid which helped pay off more than $1 million in student debt. 


Whamisa is a Korean brand that I have been following for a while. This brand uses fermentation and botanical extracts as its focus. Many of their products are formulated with Mugwort which helps calm sensitive/red skin. There are absolutely no synthetic ingredients.  

Indie Lee

I have loved this brand ever since I tried their toner and their cleanser. With my sensitive/eczema skin, I can promise you that their products will not irritate your skin. Indie Lee has one of the best toners I have ever used. Do NOT sleep on this brand.


This is another favorite brand of mine! Ever since I tried their cleanser and their deep moisturizing gel, I have consistently incorporated it into my skin routine. Their deep moisturizing gel is perfect for those days when your skin is exceptionally dry and when one moisturizer is just not enough to cut it.

This Japanese brand creates products that are free of synthetic fragrance, parabens, ethanol, mineral oil, colors, sulfates, and phthalates. And you know it’s good when influencers like Remi Ishizuka (@rrayyme) and Chriselle Lim (@chrisellelim AKA ‘Your Rich Mom’ on TikTok) use it in their everyday skincare routine. 

Tower 28

Even though this is a brand known for its makeup, Tower28 offers one of the best face mists that I have ever used. I wanted to include them in this article because Tower28 was founded on creating products that are for people with sensitive skin/eczema-prone skin. Their face mist hydrates without causing irritation. A huge plus is the Hypochlorous Acid in the facial mist which helps reduce redness and irritation. 

Nuria Beauty 

If you are looking for an affordable alternative to clean, vegan, cruelty-free, sustainable beauty, look no further. I love this brand because the products they offer are very straight to the point. The ingredients list is short and easy to interpret. Finally, this is a woman founded company which also contributes a portion of all sales to girls’ education!

Farmacy Beauty 

In my eyes, Farmacy Beauty can do no wrong. Their products are suitable for everyone. The brand is paraben free, formaldehyde donor free, fragrance free, phthalate free, mineral oil free, cruelty free, and free of synthetics. My favorite products by them are their Honey line: Honey Potion Mask, Honey Halo Moisturizer, and the Honeymoon Glow Serum.


Herbivore is another clean beauty brand that I love. Even though they are mostly known for their facial oils, my favorite are their masks. The mask that I use weekly is the Blue Tansy AHA + BHA mask. This mask has worked wonders for my acne. The AHA in the mask exfoliates the skin on its surface and maintains its moisture content. Meanwhile, BHA is able to help improve acne by penetrating deep into the skin. It helps unclog pores and decrease inflammation. 

Henne Organics

This can’t be a skincare article without talking about your lips. Henne Organics is a Swedish inspired brand founded in 2015 as a way to introduce eco-luxury lip care into the skincare market. After trying out all of their products, I can say for sure that this is what your dry chapped lips need for this winter! 

Henne offers everything from lip masks to lip serums. The ingredients in the lip serum are top notch, containing only the best natural oils. When my prescription acne medicine dried up my skin, I used their serum to continuously hydrate my lips. And because the majority of this serum is made up of oils, I also use it on other areas of my face/body whenever I see that I have a dry patch. 

French Girl 

When I talk about skincare, I am going to address the entire body, not just the face. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and you should take care of every aspect of it. A brand that I have been obsessing over is French Girl. This company is a luxurious-eco friendly brand that focuses on sustainability, promotes fair trade and practices in all parts of the clean beauty equation. 

I’m particularly in love with their skin and hair oils. The oil that I have been using is their Rose Hair Oil, and even though it is described as for “your hair,” I use it on my body as well since there are no silicones or petroleum in the ingredients list, unlike many hair oils on the market. So if you were wondering what the chic Parisian models on Vogue use, they use French Girl. 


Femmue is an Asian-woman founded brand. The inspiration for this brand was flowers and everything is made in Korea (so you know it’s good). For those who want to splurge for some luxurious and beautiful clean beauty products, this is the go to brand. Since it is a Korean brand, you can find it on sites such as Net-A-Porter, Revolve, and Peach and Lily. 

Wander Beauty 

I love their makeup products so much, but their eye patches deserve a special shoutout. They’re just that good. The patches hydrate dry and tired eyes while brightening it. Whenever I don’t get enough sleep, this is what I reach for.  

Serena is a senior editor for the NYU campus. She is a rising senior studying economics and psychology. Her interests besides writing for Her Campus are keeping up with the latest high fashion trends as well as testing new beauty products. If you have any questions or just want to chat, hit her up on Instagram/TikTok @rens.nyc
Senior at NYU studying English and Journalism. Big fan of conspiracy theories, superheroes, and good coffee.