You want to consumer better and you are looking for clean cosmetics? As we hope you are a regular reader of our blog. This is great and means as well that you certainly read the blog about the zero-waste beauty routine. This blog presented already some great brands, which are sustainable and offer innovative and sustainable beauty products.

What are clean cosmetics?

But more general- how can you know if a cosmetics products is sustainable. Clean cosmetics means cosmetics which does not harm your skin, neither the nature. And to know this you need to understand what is in your creams, make-up and more.

Understand the ingredients of cosmetics

Similar to food are the ingredients on the list most times in order from more to less= the first ingredient is in the highest quantity in the product until the last with lowest.

But if you ever tried to read all what is in your new mascara or body cream you need glasses or magnifier. And you probably ask yourself what language this is.

These lists are written in tiny letters and full of words which you probably never heard before.

So here some categories you should watch out for : Microplastics, softeners, aluminum, formaldehydes and mineral oils.

1)   Micro-plastics

Many cosmetic products contain micro plastics. We are sure that if you would have known this before you would not have selected these products.

Micro plastic is uses as binders, brighteners, abrasives or just as fillers. This can be found in creams, shampoos, lotions, scrubs and also toothpaste. Plastic particles that are smaller than 5 mm are considered microplastics. They are in cosmetics which are wax or gel-like.  Another word “microbeads”.

Some brands did already eliminate the micro plastic, other still use it, knowing what they do.

When we use cosmetic with microplastic these go directly in the used water. As until now it is not possible to filter microplastic they will end up in the ocean and drinking water.

Keep in mind that many plastics take between 200 to 600 years to degrade. We can find microplastic in over 1200 types of fish, but already as well in our drinking water or drinks as beer. Microplastics no matter if from clothes, cosmetics or other are always harming our planet.

Each week 5 grams

Researcheers estimate that we take each week around 5 grams of microplastics via food in our body.

There are no detailed studies about the long terms effects but many times this plastics contains softeners and in general toxic ingredients. We do not believe in a non-existing or a positive effect.

Plus microplastic is a magnet for toxic substances which it attracts in the water.

You do not want to buy anymore cosmetics with Microplastics? – Great! Check for these mentions which all mean plastic starting with a P for polymer.

Polyethylen (PE)

Polypropylen (PP)

Polyethylenterephalat (PET)

Nylon – 12

Nylon – 6

Polyurethan (PU or PUR)

Acylates Copolymer (AC)

Polyacrylat (PA)

Polymethymethacrylat (PMMA)

Polystyren (PS)

Polyquaternium (PQ)

A list (in German) is also given out by the German BUND here.

2. Softener (Phthalate)

WHO says this is another thread to human health. Softeners are often used to make plastics softener as they are otherwise too hard to be used.

In baby and children products they are forbidden, but not in cosmetics. (“WHAT” you think, why if we know they are bad for kids they are still allowed? – Keep in mind that lobbies are everywhere)

Typical ones are:








Other words ending on –phtalat

Often in hair spray or gel, sun crème, deodorant, tooth paste or perfume, but as well cosmetics as nail polish or mascara.

Through sweat of your skin they can get into the body, oil can help as well for the body to absorb them. The first studies see a link between infertility and cancers these softeners as reasons.  

3. Aluminium

Aluminium inhibits sweat as it causes the pores to contract and block sweat ducts. However, this is not healthy in the long term because sweat has a balancing and important function for the body. In addition, aluminium can also be absorbed through the body, and they are also suspected of causing cancer.

It is extracted from ore bauxite – the rainforest is being cut down again for this purpose. During the production, a toxic red mud is created which is often incorrectly or not disposed of and ends up in nature where it destroys entire habitats.

Do without it? – Good idea, but pay careful attention. As alternatives with rock crystal or alum substances are not an alternative and are often even more toxic.

4. Formaldehyde

Formaldehydes are carcinogenic and cause allergies: It is mainly used in nail polish because it has a preservative effect. Unfortunately often not named – look out for:

DMDM Hydantoin

Diazolidinyl Urea

Imidazolidinyl Urea



Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate






Triclosan and parabens are used as an alternative to preservation and should also be absolutely avoided, they can influence the estrogen level and, similar to microplastics, damage nature.

5. mineral oil

Mineral oils make cosmetics softer and smoother – for example lip gloss. They have different names as:

Parrafin, Parrafinum, Petrolatum

Vaseline, Ozokerit


They are inexpensive to manufacture and do not cause allergies.

All these are made of raw oil. Substances which are based on petroleum are often labelled with MOSH (mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons) or MOAH (mineral oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons).

The European organization of food safety estimates that these ingredients can cause cancer or as well promote genetic defects.

6. Further elements to avoid

These further elements are not clean and should not be in your cosmetics- better avoid them.

Silikons – they make especially hair smooth but cannot degrade afterwards.

Tensid SLS ( Sodium Lauryl Sufate) – it helps to create foam and make soaps look more efficient. No real affect and further might cause cancer and are toxic for all organisms in the water.

Perfumes can easily create allergies and should be used with precaution.

Vegan cosmetics and animal tests

Vegan cosmetics are of course always best, as you can be sure that no ingredient is inside which is of animal origin. This eliminates all questions of what it might be and how it was generated. Nearly all vegan brands do not do any animal testing neither.

What ? – You thought animal testing for cosmetics is not allowed anymore? You are partly correct.

Animal tests are not allowed for cosmetics in Europe since several years. But tests for medicaments are- any many cosmetics contain as well ingredients which are in medicaments and which have been tested on animals before. So there are still many brands using this little hole to escape from general rules. The list from PETA is certainly not complete but includes already more brands than you would expect. You can find it here.

Clean cosmetics are hard to find

We are sorry about this super long article and list. But we hope it helps you to decide better in the future. And step by step you will find great brands and products and if you stick to them you do not need to read labels aver again.

The application “CLAIRE” might help. This application can decrypt the little words on the ingredients lists. We tried it and it really depends on the brands, typo and writing. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

Buy natural cosmetics!

Natural or clean cosmetics are better for you and the nature. They work without all the toxic ingredients and they are as efficient as the big brands you see in TV.

This is the only way to really be sure that you can buy without reading the labels each time.

We presented several brands in the article before, but here again one brand which we really like. Let’s take it as an example to decrypt some labels.

Pachamamai is a French brand offering you cosmetics, but as well solid shampooing and more. All ingredients are carefully selected and organic. The cosmetics are made in France with respect to the planet.

How about a solid body cream instead of a classical lotion full of microplastics and mineral oils? The cream is efficient and soothes your skin, but take a look on the ingredients as well. All is natural and not harmful to planet, animals or humans. Inside is: COCOS NUCIFERA OIL, RHUS VERNICIFLUA PEEL CERA, CANDELILLA CERA, SESAMUM INDICUM SEED OIL, GARCINIA INDICA SEED BUTTER, EMBLICA OFFICINALIS FRUIT , SILYBUM MARIANUM SEED OIL, PARFUM, CITRUS AURANTIUM DULCIS OIL, TOCOPHEROL, HELIANTHUS ANNUUS SEED OIL, LIMONENE, LINALOOL, CITRAL. You can see that all oil comes from plants, ass ingredients sound rather like a salad than complicated. And it comes in a little metal box. This makes it easy to travel, but it is refillable as well.

And another tip: These rules are valid for cosmetics but of course do cleaning products for the house need some attention as well. Great news are that Pachamamai offers as well a solid dishwasher soap. With only 5 fully natural ingredients your dishes will be clean, your hands soft and the nature protected.