6 Ingredient Swaps for Cleaner, Safer Skin Care

It’s no secret that certain cosmetics can be packed with ingredients that are harmful to the Earth, harmful to your body or just plain uncomfortable to use. It’s also no secret that cleaner, safer alternatives can be seriously hard to navigate! We wanted to break it down and make it easy for you to seek out ingredients that are kinder to your skin and the planet. 

Read on for a few of our favorite skin-loving swaps for some less-than-ideal ingredients. 

1. A non-irritating swap for retinol: alfalfa extract

Alfalfa extract is found in Green Smoothie Moisturizer.

Retinol rises to the top of many best-of lists, and with good reason. It stimulates cell turnover, making way for newer, brighter skin that has fewer fine lines and wrinkles. However, many people have a hard time adding it to their routine because it can cause serious irritation and inflammation.

Alfalfa seed extract is a natural alternative to synthetic retinol, with incredible benefits and none of the irritation. The extract stimulates collagen synthesis and protects against the effects that break it down. This effectively repairs the inner layer of the skin, leaving it smooth, elastic and youthful – all without that nasty redness or so-called ‘retinol uglies.’ 

LimeLife by Alcone’s Green Smoothie Moisturizer and
Glowing Green Toner Pads

2. A non-drying swap for alcohol: witch hazel

Witch hazel is found in Glowing Green Toner Pads.

Alcohol-based toners can be tempting and those with acne-prone skin have definitely reached for them a time or two. The cooling sensation they provide can make users think it’s working deep within the skin. Unfortunately, the alcohol found in many toners and astringents is actually stripping away the skin’s natural oils and damaging its barrier. It’s also especially drying for those with already-inflamed skin. 

Witch hazel, on the other hand, is a toner that actually eases irritation and inflammation. It tightens pores and may also fight acne, because it helps cleanse skin of excess oil. Essentially, witch hazel actually offers all the benefits that users hope for from alcohol, but without stripping its protective barrier. And it has a satisfying tingle, too! It’s important to note that witch hazel is still a powerful ingredient, making it a good choice for oily skin. Those with dry or extremely sensitive skin may still experience irritation and should generally steer clear of witch hazel-based products. 

3. A natural swap for formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: radish root ferment filtrate 

Radish root ferment filtrate is found in Quench Cleanse, Glowing Green Toner Pads, Cool Balm and Sotoks.

It probably comes as no shock at this point that formaldehyde is not something we want anywhere near our skin. This colorless, strong-smelling gas has been shown to cause allergic reactions, and may cause far more concerning issues. Of course, the gas itself isn’t added to cosmetics, but it is released by certain preservatives used in some products. Preservatives play a vital role in keeping products free from harmful bacteria, yeast and fungi – but there are many healthier and safer alternatives.

LimeLife uses a few carefully selected preservatives to keep our products safe and effective. All of them are healthier swaps and none of them release formaldehyde, but there is one that’s particularly interesting. Radish root ferment filtrate is a cutting-edge preservative that comes from, you guessed it, radishes! It’s created using modern bio-fermentation technology and the lactic acid bacteria that’s been traditionally used to make kimchi. In addition to naturally preserving products, it has amazing antimicrobial and moisturizing benefits for your skin. 

4. An eco-safe swap for oxybenzone: zinc oxide 

Zinc oxide is found in all LimeLife sun care.

There are two main types of sunscreen – chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreen works by absorbing and metabolizing UV rays within the skin, while mineral sunscreen reflects the rays before they’re absorbed. One of the most common ingredients in chemical sunscreen is oxybenzone, a chemical that causes harm to fragile coral reefs and is even banned in several parts of the world. 

An eco-friendly, reef-safe alternative is mineral sunscreen made with non-nano zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is natural and non-toxic, and it provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Zinc oxide is classified as either nano or non-nano, referring to the size of its particles. Non-nano zinc is the safest bet, because its slightly larger particle size makes it so it can’t be absorbed into your bloodstream.

5. A non-stripping swap for sulfates: soapberry

Soapberry is found in Dream Clean.

A nice, soapy lather from your face cleanser can make it feel like it’s working extra hard. That’s a sneaky trick pulled by sulfates, namely sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. These compounds are found in a lot of foaming products, from cleanser to toothpaste to dish detergent. Though they are effective at scrubbing away dirt and oil, they’ve also been shown to cause varying levels of eye and skin irritation. 

Soapberry, or sapindus mukurossi, is a fruit that contains natural saponins. Its extract offers that foamy clean feeling you crave without irritation. It’s also been shown to inhibit melanin production, reducing the appearance of age spots and sun damage. Plant-derived saponins can also fight infections, boost the immune system, protect against viruses and combat acne-causing bacteria! 

LimeLife by Alcone’s Dream Clean Cleanser

6. An Earth-friendly swap for polyethylene beads: perlite 

Perlite is found in Power Start.

Polyethylene beads, commonly called microbeads or microplastics, were once common in everything from face scrubs to toothpastes. These tiny plastic spheres slip through wastewater treatment plants and into our oceans, where they’re ingested by marine life – and ultimately, by us. The US banned the use of the exfoliants in 2015, but they’re still used in many other countries around the globe. 

The allure of polyethylene beads is that their spherical shape makes them a gentle exfoliant. Perlite is an eco-friendly swap that mimics their shape and is made from entirely natural ingredients. Derived from volcanic rock, perlite is heated to an extremely high temperature so the water in its inner structure vaporizes, causing the particle to blow up like a tiny bubble. The smooth, round surface allows for dead skin and debris to be gently rolled away.  

Are there any other ingredients you’d love to learn a swap for? Let us know in the comments! 

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