What is clean beauty—and how to get started, mama

Here's what you should know about the ingredients you're putting on your family's skin.

clean beauty

Clean beauty is a buzzword that has a certain appeal everyone wants to be associated with. "I like to eat clean," or "I only use clean products in my home," are as common nowadays as a toddler temper tantrum. Butclean beauty has no legal definition so it can take on a different meaning for each person. .

Currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no authority to recall a cosmetic, which is very troubling when you consider the average woman uses 12 products every day, averaging 168 total ingredients, according to a survey by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Additionally, there are thousands of personal care products in the United States that have not been reviewed for safety by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, an independent company that reviews chemical compounds found in cosmetics.

These numbers become even more concerning when we factor in what we're potentially putting on our kids..

In December, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (New Jersey) introduced the Cosmetic Safety Enhancement Act of 2019 in an effort to better regulate the FDA. If passed and signed into law, it will require cosmetic manufacturers to register their facilities and the list ingredients with the FDA. But until then, mamas are responsible for doing their own research.

What makes a product "toxic"?

Toxic can be tough to really define. In the U.S., less than a dozen chemicals and chemical classes are prohibited or restricted for use in personal care products—Europe has banned or restricted about 1,400.

What some beauty brands and people think are toxic may not be the case for others. To bridge the gap, individuals should investigate ingredients that are linked to health and environmental harms; ingredients that can potentially affect our health and the health of our families.

"Due to outdated and inadequate laws governing personal care products, there are hundreds of these worrisome ingredients used in personal care products sold in the US," says Carla Burns, a research and database analyst at EWG.

It's important to know what's in the products you use on yourself and with your family, try to limit exposure to those that contain ingredients linked to harmful health effects to help reduce your overall body burden.

What is the difference between natural + organic products?

Organic products that have a USDA Organic seal means that the product complies with the USDA Organic requirements, largely indicating that toxic synthetic pesticides were not used during the production of agriculturally based ingredients. But organic isn't necessarily an indication of a product's overall safety.

"There is no legal or standard definition of natural, so there's no way to determine what a 'natural' product is just from that term," says Burns. "Your interpretation of this claim may not be the same as the product manufacturer. However, natural does not guarantee that a product is safe. There are many natural ingredients that are poisonous. The best way to know what is actually in a product and if it may contain ingredients of concern is by not relying on marketing terms and to check the ingredients on a product label."

So what are the harmful ingredients to be concerned about?

While many of the ingredients in personal care products likely pose little risk, exposure to some has been linked to serious health problems, including cancer. According to EWG, the following ingredients should be banned:

Don't panic, mama. Here's what you can do:

The best way to protect your family is to know exactly what you're putting into and on your bodies. Just because your favorite skin care product contains one (or more) of the above items, doesn't mean you should stop using them completely. Do your research and figure out what's best for your and your family.

"I have seen the market shift over the past few years by consumers wanting ingredient transparency and for products to be both effective and formulated without chemicals of concern, and in my eyes that is clean beauty," says Burns.

Need help getting started? These places help you shop smarter:

Think Dirty App: Scan the barcode of cosmetics to find out its ingredients.

Cruelty-Free Company Search: Use this link to research cruelty-free products.

EWG SkinDeep Cosmetics Database: Research the ingredients of over 69,000 products.

Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin: This book by Adina Grigore offers all-natural skin solutions you can find at home.

If you're still unsure, start with these clean items below:

Trades for Good hand soap

Trades for Good hand soap

We're obsessed with this sweetly smelled hand soap made with organic ingredients, that's packaged in a 100% recyclable aluminium can.


Volition celery green cream

Volition celery green cream

Celery isn't our favorite vegetable, but when it's in this oil-free face moisturizer that helps improve our overall complexion, we're all for it!


Esker oils

Esker oils

Aside from the variety of formulas for pregnant and postpartum mamas like belly oils, and clarifying, restorative and firming, these essential oils are plant-based and not super greasy so you can apply them all day without feeling sticky.


Vivaiodays rose geranium cleansing water

Vivaiodays rose geranium cleansing water

This gentle, soap-free cleansing water comprised of 98% organic rose geranium floral water is great for you and baby.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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What you need to know about President Trump's Supreme Court pick

The President has reportedly selected his third SCOTUS nominee.

President Donald Trump has chosen his third pick for the Supreme Court—and he picked a mom.

The New York Times reports President Trump is choosing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee. An official statement is scheduled for Saturday.

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