Editor’s Picks: The Best Clean Beauty Products You Simply Must Have
BY SOPHIE CHUNG
No bullshit - no guesswork - just the good stuff.
29 AUG - 2022
We did the research so you don’t have to.
When I first became a Beauty Editor for a women’s lifestyle magazine back in 2015, I soon learned that the beauty industry was the furthest thing from beautiful. In the process of testing products, my skin had somehow gotten worse. Inflamed, red, sensitive, porous, flaky, thin - it had become stripped and weakened from the plethora of harsh chemicals that I was applying to it with wilful ignorance.
I was invited by The Face Place to undergo a Vampire Facial as at the time, it was all the rage due to Kim Kardashian’s social media footage of the rather memorable and slightly horrifying imagery. I was talking to one of the therapists there and I’ll never forget that day. She gave me the most incredibly eye-opening and unforgettable insight into the ‘bullshit’ nature of it all - the marketing tactics, the sheer lack of scientific backing in formulations, cheap fillers that come from partnering with petrol companies… It's a never-ending rabbit hole with an unlimited supply of shocking stories just waiting to be unearthed. I’ve tried to reconnect with her by calling The Face Place but she moved back to Australia and is completely off-the-grid, nowhere to be found on social media. A true enigma.
Anyway, she was my eureka moment. I couldn’t bear the fact that I was writing about a bunch of lies to over a hundred thousand women - lies that would be lining the pockets of a handful of WASPS who run the beauty world. I’d be doing more harm than good. That was the whole reason I started Chatty Chums - so I could write about beauty in an honest way, unearthing dirty secrets and guiding women on how to buy results-driven science-backed products that actually work, since most of the off-shelf products were (and still are) making us look worse, not better. I was furious at these conglomerates that were selling lies in a bottle. My skin was inflamed and tomato-red, and I was pissed about how this world is run.
Fussy Bee Editors Collection
I made Chatty Chums back in 2016 and fast forward 6 years; it's only now that clean beauty is sought after and with the help of elegant design, it has become synonymous with luxury.
Today, I’ll be sharing with you some of my favourite products that perform as the packaging promises. You see, I have pretty good skin. I’m not trying to be an arrogant prick. People think it’s because of my Korean genes. It’s not - I’ve never had great skin. I made it (relatively) flawless by testing all the cosmeceuticals that I could get my grubby little hands on. And after 7 years of committing myself as a guinea pig, I have a small selection of things that I tend to recommend like a broken record to those who ask.
I often get unsolicited advice and recommendations for beauty products too, only to tell them, that the products they’re ‘obsessed with’ have caustic soda/drain cleaner in them, or that they’re buying petrol-in-a-tube and that’s why they’re constantly re-applying the product like it’s crack for the skin (hello Lucas Paw Paw), or that it’s full of cheap fillers with 0.001% of the expensive ingredient that’s being advertised.
It seemed that no one really knew what to buy. To take the guesswork out, I’ve put together all these products into a convenient box, aptly dubbed ‘Editor’s Collection,’ so that you can buy decent products without the need to call each brand and research whether or not the product is good for you.
Sans[ceuticals] Bio Active Body Exfoliant
Sans[ceuticals] is a local body and hair care brand that has percolated throughout New Zealand’s best hospitality hot spots and spas. And if you didn’t already know, it’s also stocked in Chatty Chum’s go-to makeup store, Mecca!
Founder, Lucy Vincent, began developing sans[ceuticals] in 2007 as she couldn’t find any products that were natural and results-driven while being thoughtfully designed and sustainable. We recently published an interview with Lucy on the booming sustainable luxury space and what’s to come. You can read it in the link below.
Loved by a huge community of clean beauty lovers and eco-warriors who also appreciate kind-to-eye minimalist aesthetics, sans[ceuticals] is a must-have in every bathroom.
Simultaneously stimulating and nourishing, Sans[ceuticals] Bio Active Body Exfoliant uses gentle mineral-rich bamboo powder, adaptogenic and anti-inflammatory ginseng, moisture-trapping shea butter, and free-radical-fighting goji extract. It sloughs away rough skin, including flakiness from eczema and dermatitis, while also encouraging blood circulation.
You will get the most work out of the exfoliant when used on dry skin! When water is added, it immediately emulsifies into a silky solution and leaves your skin feeling baby soft. Once you hop out of the shower, pat dry your body and immediately apply the Cellular Repair Body + Face Lotion while the skin is still damp so the formula melts in easily.
Sans[ceuticals] Cellular Repair Body + Face Lotion
The Cellular Repair Body + Face Lotion is a gorgeous emulsion that’s incredibly lightweight and absorbs instantaneously by the skin. The consistency is quite fluid but not too watery, like a slightly viscous milk, and it doesn’t leave a sticky residue so you can use it as part of a night time routine.
As we all know, the #1 skin sensitiser is fragrance and a lot of body products these days are going fragrance free but what I love about sans[ceuticals] is that you don’t have to give up the sensorial aspect of skin care for your health. They use 100% ECOCERT natural fragrance from Grasse, France, and due to its CO2 supercritical extraction process, they don’t need to use hexane. There truly is no compromise!
Benefit wise, it not only helps clear up eczema and dermatitis (a major benefit) but due to its therapeutic dosage of 5% niacinamide, the lotion reduces pigmentation and redness (vit B is a staple for reducing rosacea also) while providing a brightening effect and stimulating collagen and elastin production, hence its name ‘Cellular Repair.’
It shocks me that there are still people who like to be willingly ignorant when it comes to sun protection. For those sun bunnies who are accelerating their photo-aging process, this lotion will help with repairing sun damage. Due to its calming effect, I go through this very quickly in summer especially. Because it absorbs so fast, you can soak your body, head to toe, in this delicious milky drink and your skin will lap up every drop of it.
Aspect Intense Hydration Sheet Mask
When your face is feeling dry and taught, the aspect Intense Hydration Sheet Mask is an absolute godsend. It is, by far, the best hydrating facial treatment I have ever used in my life and I implore you to try it. Trust me, your life will be changed for the better.
Suitable for sensitive skin, it soaks the skin in highly hydrating, replenishing and calming ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, brown algae extract, copper PCA, chamomile extract, and vitamin B and E. It’s perfect as a party prep step and injects so much moisture into the skin, your skin will look supple, plump and glowy, as if you’ve just had a 60-minute facial! You MUST take it while traveling.
I like to wear it for hours (it sticks to your face like second-skin so you can go about your chores while wearing it) until the sheet is dry-ish. The sheets themselves are made of eco-friendly bamboo and cellulose. Following any flights, in which the air sucks up all trans-epidermal moisture from within your skin, the aspect Intense Hydration Sheet Mask will revive its water levels and plump up those in-flight fine lines that we never asked for.
Aspect Hydrating Lip Balm
I like to think I’m a lip balm connoisseur of sorts. I frequently take it upon myself to be the judge and jury of people’s lip balms and will throw away any petrol-in-a-tube formulas right in front of the owner and provide a natural alternative then and there. It might be intensely bitchy and self-righteous but lip skin health is something that I take seriously. No one likes crusty lips and the solution for it is incredibly easy.
I like lip balm formulas that swipe effortlessly onto the lips, are easily absorbed and not too glossy or waxy. A lot of lip balms out there tend to cause a sticky mess, which makes it hard to layer lip colour on top of them.
This one has a non-sticky texture that wears undetectably like a thin veil, making it an incredible unisex lip balm that hydrates the lips and provides antioxidant protection. It also has a yummy fruity fragrance from the natural oils, which I love. I have a stick of this in all my handbags and pouches. I don’t go ANYWHERE without it.
When you’re travelling and find your skin getting itchy dry patches, you can apply it like a multi-balm and your skin will be instantly soothed and the flakiness should disappear shortly. It’s just a really great natural texture-free balm for any dry skin woes in a compact 5g stick.
Asap Super B Complex Serum
An absolute icon of a product, the asap Super B Complex is famous for its hydrating properties and high niacinamide content. Packed with crosslinked hyaluronic acid (that provides 5x the moisturising power and 50x the moisture retaining properties of traditional HA), resveratrol, aloe vera, vitamins B3, B5, B9 and E, red clover flower and licorice extracts, this serum is a must for every skincare routine whether it be anti-aging, hydrating, anti-acne, texture-smoothing or brightening.
It boosts collagen production, reduces pigmentation and redness, including rosacea, reduces pore size and has a soothing effect while brightening the complexion. It’s the first serum to apply in the morning and night before your C or A serums.
If you can keep your skin cells pumped with hydration, your skin will reflect light optimally and that’s what gives the bright, youthful glow. You must use a niacinamide serum in your skin care routine and this serum is hands down, the best one I’ve tried, while being relatively wallet-friendly considering its epic quality.
Arithmos De-Stress Superfine Body Oil
Born from a heart-tugging concern for her daughter’s skin condition, former accountant, Michelle Wang, became a qualified cosmetic chemist and clinical aromatherapist to create simple, clean and effective bodycare. Using seasonally sourced ingredients for their potency, Michelle hand-blends her body oils in micro-batches to ensure the products are always fresh - Arithmos is truly the epitome of hand-crafted love.
What is most impressive is that Michelle created Arithmos in 2021 and it quickly became an award-winning brand within a year of its launch. You can read the interview in the link below.
You can reap the rewards of aromatherapy in a bottle of Arithmos De-Stress Superfine Body Oil. Cedarwood, sandalwood, frankincense, geranium and ylang ylang are blended to create a moment of escape that will make your eyes roll back. For its carrier oils, omega-packed camellia seed oil, sebum-mimicking jojoba oil, and retinol-rich rosehip oils are used. Lightweight, soothing and hydrating, you’ll understand how she formed such rapid product-led success (as opposed to sales-led growth - if you want to get into B2B stuff).
Arithmos Discovery Set
Travel pics look great on the gram but behind it is the manic nature of it all - organising sightseeing and transport logistics, deciding what to eat and where, booking hotspots... On top of it all, I find it incredibly stressful to live out of a suitcase for extended periods of time, constantly packing and unpacking my life as I jump from city to city on a two-day basis, especially when I’m doing the rounds in Europe. I’m never doing that again - I require a 5-day minimum stay wherever I go so I don’t overexert myself trying to tick off everything on my bucket list.
The Arithmos Discovery Set is part of our ‘Travel Lightly’ box. Including 3 travel-sized vials Michelle’s hand-blended aromatherapeutic oils, it will provide you with the perfect me-moment that you’ve been looking forward to. Whether it’s to ‘de-stress’ with a tension-melting woody blend; ‘soothe’ your mind and tight skin with rose and geranium; or ‘uplift’ your energy levels and treat irritated skin with jasmine and neroli, there’s a perfect scent to solve your woes. I like to keep one in my handbag so I can re-apply on my hands, split ends and dry patches, and do some breathwork throughout the day. Just 20 seconds here and there makes a world of difference to my patience and controlling any overwhelming sensations of hanger.
Versatility at its best - the Aleph Beauty Hybrid Eye Pigment has an ultra creamy texture that sits between a cream, powder and pencil.
The shade is a rosy nude brown with flecks of gold shimmer that suits absolutely every skin tone. It’s not too pigmented which means you can gradually build its intensity and considering that it’s a shimmer product, it has zero fall out!
There are a few shades available in the Hybrid Eye Pigment collection but I think Flicker is a truly standout shade. It’s not too dramatic and yet, it’s eye-catching - just perfect for adding a little bit of texture to a classic clean girl look. Plus, it’s fool-proof so you can use your finger to blend it on your lids and under eyes effortlessly.
Nevé Room Spray and Candles
In light of carcinogenic paraffin-based candles (petrol bi-product) becoming an obvious health concern for many home fragrance lovers, it was a necessity to opt for a local brand that uses 100% natural soy wax. Nevé is a wholesome mother-daughter owned company and I adore what they stand for. With their thick glass jars and sustainable candle refill model, Tessa and Vicki’s business makes luxury affordable.
Hand-poured in Christchurch, their candles have a flickering wood wick flame that crackles like a fireplace. The ambience it gives off is truly something else. Plus, their products don’t give me a headache, unlike a lot of other candle brands. I find the scents to be either calming, sexy or invigorating. And as I’m an impatient person, I heavily spritz the lounge, hallways, rooms and bathrooms with their room sprays when I need an instant mood change.
I particularly love Whiskey + Wood Smoke for a sexy, moody vibe. It’s not pungent like a cologne, but rather a warm cocooning fragrance that reminds me of 5 star hotels. When I want the house to feel fresh and energised, I like to light the Wild Pine + Juniper Berry candle. It’s like you’re strolling through a thick forest with a G&T in your hand - perfect all year round and particularly during the Christmas season!
For the room spray option, we have Pink Peony + Prosecco. If you love the iconic Issey Miyake Pleats Please fragrance, then you’ll go absolutely bonkers for this blend. I usually detest sweet fragrances but this is not sickly at all. It’s well balanced by a blooming bouquet of white freesias and wild roses caressed in a creamy musk. If you love the smell of fresh flowers, you won’t be turning back for this.
Pro You Marine Collagen Beauty Blend
Last, but definitely not least, the Pro You Marine Collagen Beauty Blend. If you love to work on your beauty from the inside out, it doesn't get better than this product - I swear on the lives of all the puppies in the world.
No lie - it’s an epic formulation. Potent, transparent, locally-made and sustainable - this 7 in 1 beauty powder is the creme de la creme of ingestible beauty.
What’s so incredible about it is that it supports a range of beneficial supplements at potencies that you would usually find in stand-alone products! Talk about bang for your buck! The Marine Collagen Beauty Blend does not compromise on efficacy despite its boasting ingredient list. This means that you can take the Pro You Beauty Blend for all your vitamin and mineral needs including 8g of premium marine Verisol® F bioactive collagen peptides, 500mg of vitamin C, 2440mcg of vitamin A, 2000 mcg of biotin, 15 mg of zinc, 100 mg of hyaluronic acid and 5mg of the strongest antioxidant of all - astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin is nature's strongest antioxidant that is a warrior against environmental stressors and pollution in the form of free radicals. An antioxidant 8000 times stronger than vitamin C, astaxanthin maintains skin health, firmness and hydration. Despite all these amazing benefits, ProYou is currently the only collagen product in New Zealand to utilise astaxanthin!
You can be rest assured that this blend is free from artificial sweeteners, flavours, fillers and colours! Not to mention, this formula is 100% free of gluten, dairy and GMO’s.