Many, many moons ago my Mother-in-law introduced me to Clinique. She wanted to save me from the dangers of drugstore cosmetics and didn’t want me to break-out from makeup that clogged my pores. I’ll tell you, once I tried them, I was impressed. The color lasted, the products worked, they felt good, the department store ladies were always so helpful and I felt like I was part of a special cosmetics “club.” (Plus, they have all those extra free bonuses!) At the time, Clinique seemed like they had great products and I thought we were making good, safe choices. But as I became more eco-conscience and health-concerned, I started wondering about my makeup and facial care. I thought, “If organic food is good for my body and cosmetics go ON my body and are absorbed by it, shouldn’t my makeup be organic too?” With that thought in mind, I started reading labels.
Reading the Clinique Labels
The first label I checked was my “go to” yellow moisturizer, Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel. I was addicted to it and really couldn’t imagine life without it. I used it in the morning, I used it after a shower, and I used it at night. It felt so good and kept my face from feeling tight and dry! Reluctantly, I pulled it out of the cabinet and slowly turned it over, terrified of what I might find lurking there because there was NO WAY I was going to give it up! At first, I was greatly relieved. The label said…NOTHING. Nothing! No ingredients. All it told me was that it was allergy tested, developed by dermatologists and that it was 100% free of fragrances. YEAH! That is exactly why I started using it! BUT then, the lack of ingredients made me wonder WHY. Why aren’t the ingredients listed on the bottle? The answer is “because they don’t have to.” They are required to tell us what is in our facial products, but not necessarily on the primary label. So I kept looking and this is what I found (on the outside carton, by the way). My favorite can’t-live-without-it facial lotion is mostly dimethicone and a huge list of other stuff I can hardly pronounce. I went straight to the EWG’s cosmetics guide to find out what was in my moisturizer. I searched for dimethicone and some of the other ingredients because I really, really loved this lotion. (I was hoping it was made from organic “love” and flowers. Exactly like it made my face feel, wonderful!)
What the Heck is Dimethicone?
Through the EWG’s helpful cosmetics guide, the first thing I learned about dimethicone is that it is a very popular ingredient in cosmetics. In the EWG’s database alone, it is listed as an ingredient in over 5,000 products. Next, I learned that although the EWG rates it a 3 on the 0-10 scale of hazards (moderate hazard), they still suspect dimethicone to be toxic and dangerous to both our bodies (organs) and the environment. Here is the EWG listing on dimethicone:
What About the Other Ingredients?
Many of the other ingredients in Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel are rated with overall low concern or can’t be found in the database. They may be of little or no danger or they may be listed under an alias name. Here are just a few of my findings:
Tocopheryl Acetate — With an EWG rating of 3 for moderate hazard, there is still strong evidence that it is a skin toxicant and/or allergen. (So much for Clinique’s allergy testing and not causing breakouts.) Animal testing –yep, animal testing — has shown tocopheryl acetate to cause tumors when used in high doses. I’m assuming “high doses” is probably more than we would typically use in a day, however it is another popular ingredient in over 5,000 different products. (Argh and good grief too.) You can see the whole report here:
Click on the ingredient for the EWG report:
Four strikes, I had enough, I moved on to one of my next favorite Clinique products.
Not My Foundation Too!
As I started checking the other products, I was just as disappointed. My great covering foundation has an active ingredient of octinoxate which has earned itself an EWG rating of 6. SIX out of 10, leaning on strong evidence as an endocrine disruptor, a reproductive toxin, and a danger for wildlife and environment. It also includes octisalate which is thought to have immune or allergenic effects and is a suspected environmental toxin with a rating of 4. As the final straw, the number one non-active ingredient in my favorite foundation? Yep, you guessed it, dimethicone.
Lead. Is it Really Used as an Ingredient in Lipstick & Makeup?
Oh yeah, the FDA actually did a study and Clinique lipstick is on the list. (A to the R to the G to the H!)
Although the FDA is OK with lead in our lipstick and assures us that it is safe, my question is WHY? Why do we need lead in lipstick? Joyfully, I no longer wear lipstick everyday (I am blessed with a dark complexion and naturally pinker lips), but when I do, I skip the lead carriers and wear Poofy Organics.* No lead, great color and wears well. From my experience, lead is not needed in lipstick, so why take the risk? For more information on lead and other toxins in lipsticks, here is a brief but helpful article by Dr. Axe at Draxe.com.
You Had Me at Dimethicone!
Honestly, I only needed to check out a few of Clinique’s products and the EWG’s list of Clinique’s common ingredients to know I was done. I found nothing in my Clinique research that made me happy. More than that, I was very frustrated that Clinique works so hard to keep us from knowing what’s in their products. On their website, you have to dig deep to find any mention of ingredients. They hide the word in their FAQ section and you actually have to contact them about the specific ingredient that concerns you. They never tell you ANYWHERE. It’s even hard with a Google search. I had to rely on pictures posted by others or go into a physical store to check out the ingredients of products I don’t already own. So much for understanding their products before you buy.
How Much is Too Much?
Now you have to decide, is it OK to use a little because it works so well? For me, the answer was a solid “NO,” but if you love Clinique it’s really up to you. I often tell people, you have to “pick your poison.” Sometimes there isn’t an alternative or for reasons that only you know, you have to make exceptions and take some risk. But for me and for these products, as far as I’m concerned a little bit of organ toxicity, a little animal testing and a little “possibility of tumors” and danger to the environment is a little too much. Especially since dimethicone, tocopheryl acetate, octinoxate and other hazardous ingredients are probably hiding in more than one of my products. They might be considered low risk when used in small quantities, but if you use several products that contain them, the risk is increased as the quantity increases. Bummer.
Are There Green and Healthy Alternatives to Clinique?
Yes! DIY or making your own is a great and safe way to know EXACTLY what is in your products, but it’s not easy or convenient. I’ve tried making a few things like foundation, body butters, lotions and cleansers, but I haven’t found recipies I feel are worth the time and effort. Overall, I’ve used a bunch of expensive ingredients and have created nothing, but messy Pinterest fails –I could start a board!
Next I tried a few different products starting (sadly) with a some common store greenwashers, but after doing my research and testing, I now primarily use Poofy Organics* for my facial care and makeup. I’m very pleased with most of their products, especially as an alternative to Clinique. They are a transparent company and list EVERY ingredient on their website and product labels, so we know exactly what we are putting on our bodies before we buy. My new daily face lotion is primarily whipped, creamy organic unrefined shea butter and organic apricot kernel oil.
I’ve replaced my Clinique 3-Step with Poofy Organics Flawless Face and 100% organic argan products that include makeup removers, cleansers, and moisturizers (with and without SPF). Poofy Organics makeup is clean, safe, organic and wears well without feeling sticky or heavy. You can see the full ingredients list of my new face lotion here. Every ingredient is organic except for those items which the USDA doesn’t offer certification.
Other Good Alternatives to Try
I’ve been using Poofy Organics* for over a year and I’m very happy. Not only are most of their products certified organic and made by hand in the USA, but they offer over 400 products all in one shop which is very convenient and makes shipping more affordable. With that being said, not every product works for every person, so here are a few other alternatives I consider healthy options and based on their ingredients, I would be willing to try them myself:
With Poofy Organic’s* greener, healthier options for me and the environment, I no longer mourn my old yellow moisturizer and not only does my skin feel great, but I can feel confident that my new green choices are better for my skin, my body and the environment! Bye, bye forever Clinique!
*This post includes affiliate links to Poofy Organics. Thank you for your support!