8 Simple Swaps to Clean Up Your Skincare

You exercise regularly and eat right, taking care to avoid processed foods and limit sugar, but what have you done to clean up your skincare routine?

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If you’re thinking about cleaning up your beauty routine, skincare is the perfect place to start.

Consider this: your skin is your biggest organ and covers the largest surface area of your body. Research shows that your skin absorbs what’s put on it, and those ingredients can even end up in your bloodstream. So it makes sense that you’d want to put as much thought into what you put on your body as you do what you put in your body.

Decoding skincare labels isn’t easy. Luckily, brands are stepping up to consumer demand and offering increased transparency around the ingredients they’re using. The Clean at Sephora seal makes it easy to spot brands and products that are free of unwanted ingredients.

So what’s out? There are the usual suspects like sulfates, parabens, formaldehydes and phthalates, but Clean at Sephora goes a step further to ensure products in this category are also free of questionable ingredients like mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan and triclocarban. Research on these ingredients is limited, meaning experts can’t say for sure whether they’re safe or not. Clean at Sephora helps consumers shop on the safe side, highlighting products that don’t include these ingredients.

Ready to revamp your skincare routine? Get started with these clean skincare essentials.

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Clean essential: A refreshing facial mist


Use this toning mist to set makeup, tighten pores after cleansing or as a refreshing afternoon pick-me-up at the office. The limited edition pink frosted bottle features etchings of the formula’s plant-based ingredients including pink roses, grapes, rosemary and mint.

Caudalie Limited Edition Beauty Elixir, $64

Thanks to a surprise ingredient (clay!), this mist refreshes skin while keeping shine in check. Its unique liquid powder formula features skin-purifying Okinawa Clay, as well as Japanese wild rose and Japanese Seagrass to minimize the appearance of pores and balance skin hydration levels.

Tatcha The Satin Skin Mist, $62

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Clean essential: A retinol alternative

Want the powerful anti-aging benefits of a retinol, without the side effects? Enter bakuchiol, an all-natural, plant-based retinol alternative. Bakuchiol acts like retinol by smoothing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but it has no sensitizing or irritating effects. Thanks to the addition of Tremella Mushroom, Herbivore’s Bakuchiol hydrates and softens skin.

Herbivore Bakuchiol, $71

This vegan, cruelty-free and gluten-free product combines the power of bakuchiol with two ultra-hydrating ingredients: hyaluronic acid and squalane.

Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum, $95

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Clean essential: An all-purpose facial moisturizer

This skin barrier-protecting moisturizer pleases all skin types. Despite being packed with six rare African oils, this cream has a light and airy texture that isn’t oily at all.

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro™ Whipped Cream, $79

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Clean essential: A vitamin C serum

High in vitamin C and additional antioxidants, this serum improves the skin’s overall appearance and texture while also protecting against environmental aggressors that accelerate aging (think: sun exposure, pollution and even stress).

Kora Organics Noni Bright Vitamin C Serum, $90

The hero ingredients in this radiance-boosting serum are vitamins C and E, known for their brightening and protective benefits.

Sephora Collection Ultra Glow Serum, $27

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Clean essential: A gentle exfoliant

This tonic combines 8% lactic acid, 3% glycolic acid, Yosemite tree bark ferment and kombucha black tea to refine skin texture and improve the skin’s natural microbiome.

Youth to the People Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner, $50