So what is conscious beauty anyway? In a nutshell, it’s a form of ethical consumerism in the beauty industry though be cautious as the term is used rather ‘loosely’ by some brands. The term describes beauty products with certain qualities that imply more ethical practices. For example, within the ‘conscious’ beauty realm you can find products that are vegan, organic, cruelty-free, toxin-chemical free, or sold in refillable or recyclable packaging. Sounds great right? I have to say, I whole-heartedly support any movement that results in us being more responsible and respectful towards the planet as well as each other, as long as it doesn’t turn into another impossible standard for consumers (mainly women) to live up to, or result in shaming those who aren’t (or can’t) make those choices just yet.
Over the last few months I’ve experimented with a range of products, from deodorants and SPF’s to essential skincare with actives. While I stepped onto the conscious beauty wagon dubiously, I have to say that it has not disappointed at all! In particular, one thing that surprised me was seeing how some small brands can beat the big brands hands-down when it comes to quality, price and promise - as a small business ourselves we love to see that! Not quite being ready to accept that summer is over myself, I wanted to share my conscious summer skincare routine and some of the products I have been reaching for. Some of you may be extending your summer holidays into October, avoiding the crowds or planning some winter sun and I hope that some of my tips and recommendations spark your curiosity.
For me, conscious beauty means products that have good ingredients, products that are not gimmicky and really embody that concept of doing things with intention. In the summertime, our skin experiences different stresses to those in winter and it is important to be adaptable. Much like summer outfits are more lightweight and breathable, I like my skincare products to also have that glorious weightless feeling.
Summer can be a time where we perhaps wear less make-up but our skin can get quite congested due to heavy SPF (multiple SPF applications throughout the day) not to mention sweating! A good cleansing regime is important throughout the whole year but do not underestimate the need for a good cleanse just because if you are wearing less make-up. Particularly when wearing a physical SPF, a good cleanse will do your the face the world of good. I’ve been enjoying the By Sarah Oil-to-milk Cleanser a relatively new plant-powered brand, inspired by Sarah’s sister’s cancer journey. I rub it into my face and then combine it with water which makes it turn milky and super easy to wash off! I don’t usually get on well with facial oils as I find them too heavy and greasy but this product has hands-down become my go-to cleanser. It has a mixture of gentle oils that have antioxidant properties, vitamin E which can neutralise free radicals and squalane that leaves the skin feeling soft and moisturised, perfect for removing make-up as well as dealing with urban pollution. It is a gentle cleanser that does not strip the skin and is also certified vegan, cruelty free and suitable for all skin types which is a bonus. As part of their sustainability commitments they package the cleanser in a glass bottle with aluminium lid and you get a reusable pump too!
Serums and exfoliants
Vitamin C has gained popularity in skincare and has become one of the building blocks of a complete skincare regime. Used for its antioxidant properties, which can protect the skin from UV damage, it can also brighten the skin and help in fading dark spots. I have been using Vitamin C serum for sometime but have recently switched to Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster, which also contains Vitamin E and Ferulic acid. The formula is more lightweight than my previous Vitamin C serum and it just fits better with how I want my skin to feel leaving it bright and protected against the city smog.
Other serums I am using periodically are the Super Seed Serum and the Brightening Hyaluronic serum by Votary. The super seed serum is very soothing whilst the Brightening Hyaluronic serum contains AHAs, which gently exfoliate without leaving the skin stripped. The Votary products are fragrance free, natural and cruelty free and arrive in gorgeous recyclable packaging including those brilliant dissolvable packing peanuts. This brand pull out all the stops. I’m a convert.
Depending on my how skin is feeling, I sometimes feel that I need a bit of moisturiser for extra hydration. At the moment, I am using the ethical, vegan hydrator Biossance Squalane Omega Repair cream. It feels very light and super silky and comes in recyclable packaging and shipping is carbon-neutral (yay!). I’ve almost finished my first pot - a sure sign this stuff is good! Biossance products are cruelty-free, vegan and My Green Lab Certified meaning that they reduce their environmental impact with every product created.
The skin around our eye is thinner and can be more sensitive than the skin on the rest of our face. I like to use a lighter product on my eye area as heavy products can contribute to little white bumps (Milia) that sometimes be more common in the eye and cheek bone area. I am using Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum and all I can say is “wow”. Retinol is a Vitamin A product and is important for its anti-aging and brightening benefits. However, the vitamin A we use on our face can be too harsh for the eye area so this gentle formulation is perfect. It’s super light and smells lovely too. Don’t forget that Retinol/Vitamin A containing products cause sunlight sensitivity so it is best to use the product only at night and to be strict with your SPF regime in the daytime.
What can I say, I am gravitating towards the Murad skincare line for my retinol needs! I am really liking Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream. It’s not too heavy and I feel that my skin can still breathe while the actives work to strengthen my skin’s barrier and (fingers crossed) reduce wrinkles! Oh and Murad products are not tested on animals and are PETA approved which makes me very happy.
SPF should not be a product that we only use in the summer but it is definitely a product we must not skip in the summer months. Finding the right SPF is actually surprisingly difficult.For warm weather, we may be seeking more lightweight formulas and our winter SPF may not cut the mustard. Nowadays many SPFs also contain anti-pollution properties, which can further reduce the antioxidant stress on our skin (with high levels of air pollution in most major cities, this is great news for the urbanites amongst us). There is a lot of back and forth regarding physical versus chemical sunscreen. Physical sunscreen can leave a white cast and can be comedogenic (cause breakouts) and even worse, some of the chemicals often found in physical sunscreens can affect marine life. I have started using Hello Sunday’s face moisturiser The Everyday One available in SPF 30 and 50. It’s fantastic! It does not break me out and it is super light! It contains UVA/UVB protection, blue light protection and is free from Oxybenzone, Octinoxate and Benzophenone – products we should try and avoid in sunscreen. I am also using the Paula’s Choice Essential Glow Moisturiser with SPF 30. It has mineral sun filters, anti pollution and brightening properties which gives my skin a lovely glow.
Masks are a great way to reinvigorate the skin. They are definitely not an everyday product but can really rescue a situation if the skin is feeling dry or lack-lustre. My new ‘go to’ products are the Wildtree Cleansing Mask and the votary Intense Overnight Mask.
The Wildtree Cleansing Mask is a good rescue if your skin is starting to feel a bit congested and oily and you are in need of a deep cleanse. It comes in a powder that you mix with water and apply the paste to your face (it’s like a green tea beauty ritual!).It contains superfoods moringa powder and chlorella leaving skin feeling bright and smooth afterwards. Wildtree is also one of my fave new conscious beauty brands and has an interesting story too, founder Natalia’s experience with chronic illness led her to take a holistic approach to her health and she was inspired to create honest, affordable and organic skincare products. We love them!
If your skin is starting to feel a bit dry, dehydrated and then I recommend The Votary Overnight Mask with rosehip and hyaluronic. It’s luxurious, intensely moisturising yet does not feel heavy or greasy, a good choice if you have acne prone or combination skin.
Let’s not forget about our body! In the summer we expose our skin to the sun and tend to wear clothes that show off a bit of skin. If you’re off for some winter sun make sure your skin is prepped and nourished.
Although I do not recommend physical exfoliants on the skin of the face, I have a body scrub here that I really love! I used the Wildtree Skincare’s Uplifting body scrub once to twice a week and maybe a bit more (2-3 times a week) on stubborn areas such as elbows. It is a very kind and gentle sugar cane scrub that is also infused with avocado oil, baobab powder, shea and cacao butter. Essentially it hits the vitamin E, C and antioxidant notes and the fresh citrusy smell is a great mood booster.
As a moisturiser, I have been reaching for Irene Forte’s White Wine Body Cream. This is the first product I have tried from this boutique skincare brand and it has made me curious about trying out other products. The brand concept embodies conscious, intentional beauty with organic ingredients, sustainability at its heart and is also cruelty-free. The reason I like it is that it feels lightweight but gets the job done. My skin is moisturised without feeling greasy but similarly does not leave me needing more moisture. It is a very balanced product and smells like a glass of Moscato on a summer’s evening. Yum.
Last but not least I tried a few eco-friendly deodorants this summer. I’ve not had great experiences with these in the past as quite frankly, they just haven’t worked so I tried Wild’s Sustainable Deodorant with some scepticism. Amazingly, after checking with family and friend’s I can safely say that I passed the sniff test (I still have a bit of anosmia after covid so i thought best check) - this stuff really works! Wild is a natural deodorant that doesn’t contain and nasties like parabens, aluminium or sulphates. It comes in a re-usable applicator with compostable, plastic-free refills and the company supports reforestation projects too. I tried the coconut and vanilla containing coconut oil, cocoa and shea butter - it’s gentle, works and smells gorgeous all day long! If you fancy trying it out, you can get a 10% discount if you enter LAFINA10 at the checkout!
We hope you enjoyed reading about our conscious beauty heroes as much as we enjoyed writing about them. If you have any comments or feedback, we’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words: Dr Lafina Diamandis, GP & Founder Deia Health & Dr Cheryl MacGregor, Ophthalmologist & Beauty Addict