Big beauty brands are just that—big. They involve large volumes of products readily available to the masses that make up a billion-dollar industry. In fact, the beauty industry has recently come under extreme scrutiny over the past few months involving safety issues with contaminated products, like makeup and sunscreen.
It’s frightening not knowing what could be in the products we reach for every single day—not only the ones we use on ourselves, but the ones we use on our children, too.
When trust is broken and your family’s health is at risk, feeling frustrated is an understatement.
So, who’s responsible? Big beauty brands. Under law, cosmetic products and ingredients technically don’t need FDA approval before they hit the market. This means that the products must be safe for consumers when used according to directions on the label. Ultimately, the brand itself is responsible for your health and safety.
These big brands aren’t trying to harm their consumers on purpose. However, the problem lies in the scale of the operations. When you’re a massive beauty brand, it’s extremely difficult to monitor every ingredient from every source with the utmost scrutiny.
The Safety of Our Skincare Is Nothing New
For the past five years, the growing concern of ingredients, as well as the regulation of these ingredients, has forced many brands to embrace the “clean beauty” movement. Now that the term “clean” has become a buzzword, the no-no lists for skincare, cosmetics, and even home cleaning products continues to grow.
But is that enough? If the product is contaminated with extremely harmful chemicals, who cares if a brand checks the boxes of clean?
Where are we going wrong? Is it the sourcing of the ingredients, or the ingredients alone? Could it be the manufacturing? Are the containers we use to house these precious skincare concoctions safe? Or could they also be a source of contamination?
The Solution to Safe Skincare? Shop These Small, Trustworthy Beauty Brands
As a small brand, we scrutinize every ingredient, every source, every bottle and all the testing that goes into every product to ensure safety. Smaller brands have the luxury to do this because it usually involves a single person or small team that’s put everything on the line to bring you the very best. Quality is everything to a small business, and while they might not have the resources to scale to massive levels, they have the passion and grit to ensure safety and the very best possible outcome for their customers.
Maybe the solution to safe skincare isn’t “clean beauty”—maybe it’s “small beauty.” When it comes to massive brands, safety has officially become out of our control. What we can control, however, is our purchasing power. Look to passionate founders who scrutinize every ingredient and insist on quality over quantity above all else. Need some help? These five brands will help us all get back on track.
The Back Story: In 1996, a young man from Togo, West Africa, met a young woman from rural Washington State. Inspired by a shared calling to do right by the world, Alaffia, a social enterprise, was born. Founded in 2003, Alaffia continues to redefine the natural products industry through its values of Beauty, Equality and Empowerment, fair trade, and safe, efficacious hair, face and body care.
The Product Line: Using nutrient-dense ingredients such as coconut oil, African black soap and shea butter, Alaffia makes bar soaps, baby products, hair care, hand soap and body cream. Not only are their products sourced and created with the utmost care, their social missions and giving back through their Alaffia Foundation is unmatched in any brand I’ve ever come across. Sold at many mainstream locations such as Target and Wholefoods, you’ll be seeing this clean and conscious brand around for many years to come.
The Back Story: Primally Pure was founded by Bethany McDaniel, whose eyes were opened upon discovering the power of eating real food—a discovery she wanted to translate to the wellness industry. Bethany subsequently purged her bathroom cabinets of toxic conventional skincare products and began formulating her own replacements with pure, simple ingredients.
The Product Line: Known for their non-toxic deodorants that actually work, Primally Pure also carries serums, face masks, mists and even a home collection including hand soaps. Their products are formulated using real ingredients derived from nature for maximum purity and potency, as well as certified organic ingredients sourced with the utmost attention and care from family-owned farms, whenever possible.
The Back Story: Evan Healy, a holistic aesthetician, is a beauty expert and a recognized pioneer in the natural personal care industry. Her mission is to change the way women think about and treat their skin. evanhealy is a holistic skincare line created and formulated to work with the rhythms and physiology of the body, and to support long-term skin health and radiance. They value therapy and simplicity, believe that less is more, and act with the knowledge that the less you interfere with the skin’s ability to achieve balance, the better.
The Product Line: Their products range from hydrosols and oils to clay masks and essential oil perfumes. Their body butters and oils are inspired by ancient beauty practices, nature and its cycles, Ayurveda, homeopathy and traditional western herbalism. evanhealy’s ingredients are from whole plant oils, waters and butters, as well as earthen clays. They source them directly from small family farms, women’s co-operatives and co-operative villages around the world, whenever possible.
The Back Story: Larkly was co-founded by Sarah Wilkie and Kerri Faber, who challenged themselves to create safe, effective, ingredient-conscious SPF that their kids would actually want to put on. The result? An innovative, sustainable mineral-based sunscreen that feels good on the skin, is good for your health and good for the planet.
The Product Line: Larkly sells an all-natural, translucent powder sunscreen that will give you complete protection in one convenient, on-the-go application. It goes on easily with no mess and no greasy or chalky finish. Using natural sunblock ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, their innovative formula also includes a powerful trio of antioxidants including resveratrol, green tea and licorice root extracts, which help protect the skin from environmental damage. Made with an environmentally friendly refillable brush, Larkly’s packaging helps cut down on single-use plastic by offering an alternative to buying a new brush every time you run out of sunscreen.
The Back Story: We couldn’t list out small, clean beauty brands without mentioning ourselves! Otto Skin Goods is determined to simplify your skincare routine into a streamlined, effective and achievable daily experience. As a dermatology nurse practitioner and mom of four living in the Midwest, I wanted to make real, results-driven skincare more approachable, where every ingredient in the formulation serves a purpose. The solution? A simple routine with fewer ingredients that target real concerns.
The Product Line: With only four products in our entire routine—a day serum, night serum, face oil, and cleanser—we believe in ‘less-but-better’ skincare. Not one to follow trends, we only use ingredients that are clinically proven to work with your skin, not change it. We also source ethical ingredients and craft our products in small batches for less waste. To us, safety means not only avoiding harmful ingredients, but reducing allergy risk and correctly utilizing active ingredients. Otto’s ingredients are vetted for potential harm, allergy, irritation, compatibility and necessary percentage—only then is an active or plant-based ingredient added to one of our products.
Do you support small beauty? Tell us your favorite small and local brands that offer safe and effective skincare products in the comments below.