I get it. Sometimes it’s just easier to pick up a product from a drugstore. And it’s okay! It’s important to remember that although there’s a ton of icky, chemical-filled skincare out there, there are also a few nice conventional products. Yes, there are some decent natural products at drugstores, but I’m actually going a step further here to talk about conventional products. These companies don’t even market themselves as natural!
Is there such thing as a safe, nontoxic conventional product? I think so. Just as there are horribly dangerous natural ingredients out there (lead or talc, anyone?), there are some nontoxic conventional products. That’s not to say that they’re great in every way–just that they’re much better options than others out there.
When choosing conventional products from drugstores, there are a few general rules I like to apply:
- Often (but not always!) products from Europe have safer ingredients, as they have stricter standards.
- Skip the fragrance. Unfortunately, it’s not good enough to look for “unscented” on the label. (Yes, it can still contain fragrance!). Read the ingredients and avoid “fragrance” or “parfum.”
- Look for lines made for sensitive, intolerant, allergic, or highly reactive skin. In my experience, these contain the fewest–and safest!–ingredients.
- When in doubt, check with EWG. I’ve bookmarked this trusty resource and refer to it ALL. THE. TIME.
Without further ado, here are some drugstore products I’d recommend. Remember, none of these are perfect, but they’re much better than other options.
If you’re looking for a micellar water on this list, you’ll be disappointed! In my research, it seems that the ingredients that are needed to make any micellar waters are less-than-stellar. Namely, ingredients called PEGs can be contaminated with some scary stuff, like carcinogens. Instead, a cleansing lotion is much safer.
Dove Sensitive Skin Bar
The only North American product on this list! My family has used Dove forever, and I still have a soft spot for it. I know some people use it on their faces because it’s so mild, and for a bar it certainly is, but it’s still not pH balanced, so I use it for my body. A word of caution: opt for the Sensitive Skin bar rather than the Original, Baby, or Unscented, because the Sensitive Skin is the only one without fragrance. That’s right, there’s fragrance in the Unscented bar. Sigh.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser
A nice cleanser for a nice price, this French beauty staple is very gentle, so it doesn’t disrupt the skin barrier. A little bit like a micellar water, you can opt to simply remove it with a cotton pad rather than rinsing off. (I tend to wash my face in the shower so I rinse off regardless.)
Avene Tolerance Extreme Cleansing Lotion
La Roche-Posay and Avene seem to compete for the same market–they’re both great quality French brands that feature thermal water as an ingredient. For me, it’s a toss up as to which I prefer. I do like that this product contains hydrating squalane oil.
These are both relatively light options, but for those with severely dry skin, thicker products do exist in these lines.
Bioderma Sensibio Tolerance+
Fragrance free, light, and hydrating, you really can’t go wrong with this product. The pump bottle gets a thumbs up from me as well, because I really hate sticking my fingers in moisturizer (or any products, for that matter). I’m much too much of a germaphobe!
Avene Tolerance Extreme Emulsion
Leave it to the French to figure out how to remove parabens and other sketchy preservatives, while still maintaining a clean product–it’s all in the packaging! This special tube is one of Avene’s “sterile cosmetics” meaning that no air or germs get trapped inside. Love it. Again, it’s a lightweight facial lotion with no scent.
Do you have a favourite drugstore line or product? I’d love to hear about it. Let me know in a comment below!