“Clean” Beauty for the Family: Drugstore Favorites and More

At the beginning of shelter in place orders last year, I naively thought I was entering a few weeks at home where I would emerge glowing, hydrated and fresh for a new dawn. Somehow, the open schedule and days of going nowhere quickly de-motivated me from making time for self-care. In true #2020 fashion, along the way my personal bathroom flooded and was declared hazardous until it was demoed and rebuilt six months later. The sudden new reality of showering with Barbies and getting knocks on the door for bathroom time had me more in the hygiene routine of a Pacific Crest Trail hiker over a queen at home. 

Needless to say, a shower alone with some time for scrubbing and pampering became the highest luxury in the land here! It’s easy enough to do, but easy to let go by the wayside. Ultimately, everyone in the family discovering and keeping a personal care routine has been a way to find rituals and grounding at home, and with seeing fewer people it’s nice to know the motivation is truly about feeling good in our own skin. 

clean drugstore skincare

What is “Clean” Beauty?

It’s kind of an eye roll, really. Without regulation, it’s easy for the term to be misused to the point of being unhelpful. For someone like me, it means that for people like me who are allergic to many preservatives or additives in products, I have a way of filtering to a group of options that are made without them. Some people relate these more minimally created products to better long term wellbeing and health. I often immediately see the difference in additive-free formulas in the redness, itchiness, peeling of my skin, as well as insomnia and other side effects. 

It’s so wild, and it’s been happening all of my life from diapers, detergents, food dyes and on. In the Noxema generation, it’s easy to go a while before wondering if your hygiene products could only be perpetuating the problem. It can be hard to find something that really provides relief and then know it’s out of budget. The past few years, it’s been crazy to walk into Sephora or even Target and be able to have fun hunting for something, feeling some openness to explore knowing it’s free of common allergens for me. 

I like to think, if it works for me it works for anybody. I really love to see these brands taking off as proof that working to create a product with more integrity can change the marketplace. 

I’m typically looking for products made without these “Top 10” ingredients studied to be common irritants. 

  1. Parabens
  2. Fragrance 
  3. Chemical UV filters
  4.  Diethanolamine
  5. Triclosan
  6. Phthalates
  7. Sodium Laureth Sulfate 
  8. Formaldehyde
  9. Polyethylene
  10. Butylated Hydroxyanisole

Thankfully, from following along the past few years I’ve seen the personal care industry listening to these consumer needs more and more. There are so many ways to feel the benefits of some personal care time without compromise now, from luxury products to new favorites at the drugstore. 

Studies linking ingredients in our topical products to our overall health continue to prove to me why we need more reform and regulation in the personal care industry so it never comes down to ability to spend for a person to be able to have care products that won’t potentially harm them, especially to combat the “greenwashing” we can see from companies using buzz words to mislead consumers. When in doubt, I appreciate this Skin Deep database by the Environmental Working Group that lets anyone check the safety rating and other information on our favorite products. 

black and white tile bathroom

We’re always rotating things out here, so it would be a day in Heaven to have all of our favorite picks below stocked up here at the same time. Nevertheless, here’s a round up of some of our favorite things we’ve found while shopping to make shower time something special. 


I had bought this scalp scrub as a treat at the beginning of 2020, and I really miss that hair. In addition to the natural power I was feeling with all. that. volume, I was going almost a week between washes. Definitely a great treat. We also love this tea tree scalp oil that’s under $15. 

This leave-in conditioner is used by everyone in the family. My daughter and I work it into our hair in the shower and then use this comb to get it through before we rinse it out and let our hair air dry after some waves spray. Markus has coarser curls so he leaves it in. I think it’s everyone’s hero product! 

I don’t do a lot of skincare masks with my daughter yet, but we love doing this hair mask together. I almost always put a pack in my travel bag for something fun to do at night or during downtime at our hotel. 


My favorite cleansing oil (a bottle lasts me 6-7 months when I’m using it twice a day) feels like a total luxury when I use this gua sha tool to work it into my skin. 

If I’ve used this overnight peel while sleeping, I love the Acure scrub as a way to slough off the old and start the day fresh without drying or harming my skin. The sea kelp and lemon peel really wake me up. 

This overnight mask feels so good on, like a little cool sensation every time. It’s like when your grandmother put Pond’s on you before bed. There’s a noticeable barrier between your freshly cleaned skin and the negative energy of the outside world. 

Markus can be prone to milia on his face, which I’ve never encountered before but learned can be aided pretty effectively with an alpha-hydroxy acid exfoliant. He’s not a multi-step skincare program kind of dude, so this two-in-one exfoliant and moisturizer that he uses after washing with this exfoliating cleanser exceeds expectations for an under $15 item and has kept the milia at bay. 

Eye cream for mothers should be cheap, easy to apply and highly effective. I like this one for all these reasons. 

I always see a difference in my skin when I’m making sure I’m getting enough probiotics in my diet. This topical mist is so high in living probiotics you keep it in the refrigerator! The fine mist, chilled in the fridge, is such a pick me up. 


I was at Ulta a few weeks ago and walked by this old friend of a body scrub. The original Instagram sensation and we love them for it. I had to treat myself to a bag and it’s still fun. I appreciate that Ulta’s doing great curbside right now. 

I love this coconut oil salve for sealing in the good stuff when I’m fresh out of the shower. I’m not light handed with it, yet a jar still seems to last forever. 

One product that can really inflame my skin if it’s not a match for my needs is self-tanner. My mom, sister and I are all loyal to this brand that goes on easily, builds up to a warm color and comes with a mitt for stain-free hands. 

What’s your desert island bath care item? Have you found a new personal care routine while at home this year? I’m already looking forward to warm weather and sun on my shoulders!

clean drugstore skincare

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