Many skincare brands seem to have our best interests at heart and can make us feel like they are making it their own personal mission to help solve all our skincare woes. But unfortunately, even in a day and age where transparency has become a trend, most brands will still play on our insecurities to help sell their stock, make outlandish claims about a product or praise their poor formulations and ingredients to many susceptible consumers. Even though it may seem impossible to find, here are 8 no (or at least minimal) B.S skincare brands on the market.
1. Paula’s Choice
When people talk about honest and effective skincare brands, Paula’s Choice is often one of the first to come to mind. Founded by “The Cosmetics Cop” herself Paula Begoun in the ’90s, the company’s core values were modelled after her beliefs that skin care and cosmetics should be based on ingredients that have been subjected to peer reviewed research.
In 1995 she started selling her products online and, thanks to their reasonable prices, effective formulas and continuous use of fragrance-free and non-irritating researched ingredients, she gained a large following that continues to this day.
Paula is also the founder of Beautypedia.com, the online version of her book Don’t Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me, which basically rates products from different brands and breaks down why they are effective or why they may aggravate your skin. To this day, many of their products are still renowned bestsellers, cruelty-free and have been able to save quite a few complexions.
2. Honest Beauty
For those who are looking for decent natural skincare brands, Honest Beauty is not a bad option. Founded by actress Jessica Alba and Christopher Gavigan, the mission of this wellness company was to create safe and effective products for the whole family without harsh chemicals, detergents, dyes or fragrances. They claim their values are rooted in consciousness and transparency, amongst other things, and that everyday they hold themselves to an Honest standard.
Beyond their makeup and baby care lines, they offer clean skincare that is cruelty-free and formulated without SLS/SLES, parabens, phthalates, PEGs, synthetic fragrances, dyes and is all priced quite reasonably. Even though most of their products contain natural fragrance and potentially irritating essential oils, everything else they use is gentle and has a simple formula.
Since many people truly believe things like lavender oil, orange fruit oil or rose water are beneficial and healing, and if you don’t have any particular problems with certain essential oils or natural fragrances, then this is definitely one of the better companies for you to try that has come out of the “natural” fad. They truly seem to believe in their core values and their goal of delivering safe, holistic, affordable and effective products to the masses.
3. No B.S. Skin Care
Similar to Honest Beauty, No B.S. Skin Care uses predominantly “natural” plant based ingredients and does away with harsh chemicals in their formulas. They have what the company calls a “good list” of ingredients that includes tea tree oil, rose hip, vitamin C, Vitamin E, aloe vera, pomegranate, cucumber, jojoba oil, coconut oil and more. There is also what they like to call a “shit list,” basically all the chemicals they will never add to their products like parabens, phthalates, sulphates and synthetic fragrances.
No B.S. is also involved in several charity organizations including partnerships with SheRecovers, Feeding America, Project Glimmer and Lotus House, offering product and monetary donations, volunteers and much more. Also, to help minimize their environmental impact they created sustainable packaging and offer a step by step guide on their website on how to properly and responsibly recycle their products. The prices are more mid-range and most of the products contain essential oils, but despite that, everything is produced locally and is cruelty-free.
4. The Ordinary
As far as buzz-worthy and game changing skincare brands go, The Ordinary fits right in to that category. Launched in 2016 as one of the several brands part of the much larger Canadian company DECIEM, the goal was to offer premium skincare at insanely low prices by removing unnecessary scent, packaging and marketing clinical formulations with integrity. All of the products are cruelty-free and contain high-amounts of proven skincare ingredients like retinol, peptides, vitamin C, niacinamide and much more in simple glass dropper bottles or opaque squeeze tubes.
Though controversial for many reasons, including the behaviour of the former and now deceased CEO Brandon Truaxe and many questioning the methods behind the testing, packaging, sourcing of the ingredients and distribution that allow them to price everything so low, there is no denying this brand has been making waves and threatening the way the beauty industry dupes consumers and overcharges for most of their products.
5. Drunk Elephant
Skincare brands that are able to smartly mix the “non-toxic” and clinically efficacious labels are few and far between but Drunk Elephant has seemed to succeed. Founded by Tiffany Masterson, a woman who was frustrated and confused that no products ever seemed to work on her problematic skin, decided to finally create her own line after combining her acquired knowledge of skin care ingredients and how to properly formulate them.
Drunk Elephant isolates both good synthetic and natural ingredients that are present in the formula to benefit the skin. There are no traces of any kind of skin-sensitizing or irritating fragrances or essential oils and the products contain a high percentage of actives at the ideal PH levels. Every component is tested to make sure it is potent, absorbable and recognized by the skin while being packaged in airtight pumps or jars to keep the actives intact and never exposed to air. This clean-clinical brand is constantly praised, hyped and also cruelty-free, but unfortunately, very expensive.
6. The Inkey List
Reminiscent somewhat of The Ordinary is this UK based brand The Inkey List. Their goal is to put out products with straightforward and minimal formulas containing coveted high quality ingredients at low prices.
The brand was started by skin experts and former branding and product developers for Boots’, Mark Curry and Colette Newberry and has gained favourable buzz from the beauty community for its minimalistic packaging, small price tag and smart, fragrance and irritant free formulations that contain superstar ingredients such as retinol, glycol acid, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. It is available online at Sephora, ASOS and Shoppers Drug Mart for anyone in Canada.
This next brand was developed with dermatologists to help restore the skin’s protective barrier and offers many decent fragrance-free and sensitive skin approved products at drugstore prices. All of their formulas are enriched with a blend of three essential ceramides (essential for maintaining proper hydration), fatty acids and other lipids to help repair and replenish the skin barrier.
With a wide range of products available that contain beneficial ingredients, including facial moisturizers, body lotions, eczema creams, SPF, retinol, vitamin C serums and various cleansers, CeraVe is definitely a no B.S brand everyone should get to know.
8. Dr. Sam’s
This particular brand was started by Dr. Sam Bunting, a dermatologist based in London who has a rather large YouTube following. Her line is described as such: “a concise system of affordable premium-feel cosmeceutical skincare for blemish-prone grown-ups concerned with the first signs of ageing”. The system of products is quite basic with a single cleanser, a moisturizer, a night serum and an SPF and is based on the method she uses to treat her patients in her clinic everyday.
With great ingredients, fragrance-free formulas that are suitable for all skin types and simple packaging, there is no going wrong with any of Dr. Sam’s products. Available online, it can be quite pricey for anyone who is ordering outside of the UK.