Beauty Veteran Jean Godfrey-June Makes a Case for Switching to Clean Beauty Products

And shares her own favourite brands.

Clean beauty is the fastest-growing sector in the beauty industry, as consumers are becoming curious about the ingredients in their products. What is “clean beauty,” exactly? There’s no accepted industry-wide definition or regulation of the category, but they are generally marketed as being made without ingredients some believe could be potentially harmful to your health. In the past, these products have had a reputation of not being as effective as traditional alternatives—but that’s changing.

“Clean” formulas keep getting better says Jean Godfrey-June, beauty director at goop (and former beauty editor of Lucky magazine). She points to goop Beauty’s new GoodGenes All-In-One Nourishing Eye Cream and Face Cream as an example. The brand claims that clinical and consumer results have showed that after four weeks, 100 percent of women saw significant improvement in skin firmness and texture, and 97 percent saw significant improvement in fine lines and wrinkles.

Godfrey-June, a three-decade veteran of the industry, has tried the most effective, most expensive, and hottest cult beauty products—and she’s now using clean products exclusively. I Zoomed with her to hear all her thoughts, as well as a few of her insider beauty tricks.

When did you become interested in “clean beauty”?

About 10-15 years ago, I was in a meeting with fellow beauty journalists hosted by one of the biggest beauty companies in the world. The president stood up, looked at all of us, and said, “Beauty products are safe. That is my message to you. It’s your job to report that beauty products are safe.” At that time, none of us had ever considered that beauty products might not be safe. Never! So, a little while after that, I had lunch with someone from a high-end beauty company, and asked if they use safe ingredients, and he said, “Well, no, you can’t—you can’t make money in beauty unless you use all these ingredients.” That got me thinking.

There wasn’t much of a clean beauty industry back then. But a few clean companies, like Josie Maran, started coming out, and I would get excited about those. Then I started working with goop, and that coincided with an explosion in clean beauty.

(Related: Did you know the Canadian law that regulates chemicals in beauty products hasn’t been updated in 20 years?)

Do you find “clean” products as effective as their conventional counterparts?

When it comes to clean skin care, there’s actually amazing technology now. At first, there were some products, like mascara, that were hard for me to switch out because I felt the clean version wasn’t working. But now, Saie and Westman Atelier both have formulas that are, in my opinion, the best. Clean shampoos also were not up to conventional standards until a couple years ago, and now there are amazing ones. I love FEKKAI and Sangre de Fruta. A good clean self-tanner was also hard to find. I love Vita Liberata—it’s so superior to any other one, clean or conventional.

Why did goop choose to focus on eye cream for this release?

To me, eye cream’s greatest function is to plump up the skin around your eyes. There isn’t a makeup artist in the world who doesn’t put eye cream on their clients before doing their makeup, no matter how oily their skin is. It makes a big difference and helps makeup go on better.

The eye cream and face cream are said to have “ceramides” in them—what are those and what do they do?

Ceramides have been around for a long time in skin care. Their biggest benefit is their delivery system—they get ingredients farther into your skin. They’re also moisturizing and help firm your skin.

Any application tips?

For the eye cream, use your ring finger and apply just the lightest bit. You don’t need to apply it above your eye or in the corners. Also, give it time to sink in before applying makeup. For face cream, I like to use a lot, and I just massage it into my face upwards. It’s so rich, but you aren’t super oily after you put it on.

How should people decide if they should go with “clean beauty” products?

It’s like what Gwyneth says—[beauty products are] not a life or death necessity, they’re something you buy to feel good. So that’s what they should do.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Next, learn how to give yourself a spa-worthy at-home facial—with a clean beauty brand, of course.