The clean beauty brands you need to know about

Woman washing face
Cassie Steer,-Beauty Editor at Large

Three brands with impressive clean credentials, one huge win for your skin (and conscience)

The beauty industry loves a buzzword. But while some trends are swiftly relegated to Beauty Room 101 (feather brows anyone?) ‘clean beauty’ looks like it's set to stay. According to Mintel, more than a third of us are actively looking for clean beauty products with 41% of UK customers agreeing that it’s important for their skincare to contain natural ingredients, a movement mainly being driven by millennials. So what exactly do we mean by ‘clean’ beauty?

‘Our research shows that 56% of respondents believe that clean indicates that a product is natural or organic and implies that it’s safe and free from toxic ingredients,’ says Sarah Jindal, senior innovation and insights analyst – beauty and personal care at Mintel. However as she points out, just like ‘natural,’ ‘pure’ and ‘green’, ‘clean’ isn’t a defined (or more importantly regulated) term. Clean beauty isn’t necessarily about man-made vs natural, it’s more about safety and ‘doing no harm’ which can extend into the eco-ethical sphere too. 

The brands to look to? Alongside bigger names like Origins and Bare Minerals, there’s a new guard of niche beauty labels making noise in the industry. Loved for their complete transparency when it comes to ingredients, operations and enviormental impact, these brands are gaining a cult following with pioneering products. Read on for three of the best at John Lewis & Partners.


Stress. It's the scourge of modern society and the cause of many an over-wrought complexion. It’s also why founder and psychotherapist Charlotte Ferguson decided to create Disciple; the brand designed to combat stressed-out skin. This London-based, 100% natural skincare company aims to improve the body’s ability to adapt to stress from within, while addressing symptoms of stress on the skin using a mind-body-skin approach which relies on ingredients such as prebiotics and adaptogens (non-toxic plants that help fight stressors). 

A word with the founder, Charlotte Ferguson:

What does clean beauty mean to you?
‘Just because you can’t pronounce an ingredient, doesn’t mean that it’s “bad” which is why I prefer to have a hitlist of ingredients to avoid. For me these include artificial fragrance, SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate), toluene, phthalates and formaldehyde. The jury is still out on parabens and that’s why it’s important to keep yourself up to date. For me, clean beauty means transparency and harmony. Mindfully created products that do not contain known toxic ingredients. A clean ingredient/product should not cause disruption to the body.’

How has your background in psychotherapy helped with your brand?
‘I worked in private practice mainly with women in their 20s and 30s experiencing anxiety, stress, trauma and depression. My clients noticed that their body, skin and hair was also suffering which in turn caused further anxiety. Some developed acne, others had psoriasis flare-ups or noticed they were developing lines quicker than before.

‘At the time I was also quite frazzled and noticed that my skin began to suffer and I developed cystic acne. I tried everything – facials, skincare, laser, antibiotics and eventually Roaccutane but as a therapist I knew I wasn’t dealing with the root cause of my acne. All of the research papers pointed to cortisol – the stress hormone. This led me to discover adaptogens, probiotics and linoleic acid-rich oils. Within six weeks I had sorted my skin out and I just knew I had to share this with others suffering from skin problems.’


Celebrating its 50th anniversary, this innovative Nordic mainstay is showing no signs of any impending mid-life crisis. If anything, the trusted brand is still finding ways to grow and is currently focusing on developing more sustainable packaging. Its formulas are 80-99% naturally derived and are free from a whole raft of nasty ingredients. Its USP? Natural Arctic ingredients such as rare, hand-picked berries (cloudberry, bilberry, crowberry, arctic bramble, cranberry, lingonberry) and other nourishing natural ingredients such as spruce, birch, Nordic cottongrass, mushrooms and red algae.

A word with Tiina Isohanni, VP R&D, Lumene:

What does clean beauty mean to you?
‘Lumene’s philosophy is honest, pure and natural beauty. We believe in enhancing, not covering. Lumene’s approach to beauty begins at the source of the most resilient and pure, wild natural ingredients and we combine pure Arctic spring water with wild Arctic and Nordic plants. In comparison to using plants from organic, fair trade or conventional agriculture, wild harvesting for us as a Finnish brand, stands out as healthier, more eco-friendly and more relevant as they are typically hand-picked. All our skincare and face make-up formulas are 100% vegan and cruelty free at all stages of the development and manufacturing process.’

How is your Nordic background important to the brand?
‘Our Nordic heritage and surroundings offers consumers something truly unique. The quality of water is of primary importance when creating caring, pure and safe skincare products. For this reason we use pure Finnish spring water, which is known to be the purest on Earth with a natural pH close to the skin’s own. The unique Arctic wild berries, plants, mushroom, algae and other ingredients that grow in the northern longitudes are richer in nutrients and anti-oxidants than related species growing in regions with a less extreme climate. They’ve evolved over thousands of years to survive and thrive under a challenging annual light cycle: 8 months of unbroken winter darkness followed by 4 months of 24-hour intense summer sun. This strange light phenomenon stimulates Arctic plants to produce unparalleled high levels of potent nutrients and anti-oxidants as a way of protecting themselves against the environment. We capture the power of these unique light-charged actives and channel their benefits in formulas to promote healthy, balanced and glowing skin.’


Vegan, cruelty free and enviromentally friendly, Evolve Beauty products are lovingly handmade in small batches at a studio in England's Hertfordshire. A carefully selected team of artisans design and make each product by hand, to ensure the freshness of the antioxidants in the natural oils, butters and extracts. 

A word with the founder, Laura Rudoe: 

What does clean beauty mean to you?
‘To me, it means being mindful and conscious about the beauty products we choose to buy. Every product has an impact on our planet throughout its supply chain. We need to consider where the ingredients are sourced from (we screen every one of our ingredients to check the supply chain is ethical and sustainable), how they have been processed (we check for any contaminants and potential toxins), what we package them in (we use recycled plastic or glass containers), where and by whom it was manufactured (we make our products by hand in our eco studio in Hertfordshire), what will happen to it during use (we avoid the use of non biodegradable materials such as micro beads) and what happens to the packaging at the end of its use (our containers are recyclable).

‘Just a few years ago, clean beauty was incredibly niche, but I’m pleased that it is becoming more widely known and appreciated. People are becoming more aware about the ingredients they put on their skin and the impact that products may have on the world around them.’ 
What led you to develop natural skincare products?
‘I have Romanian heritage and natural and organic living was a huge part of my family‘s lifestyle growing up. As a teenager and into my 20s I suffered from acne and I turned to natural medicine and eating as a way of improving my skin and my health.  

‘I have also always been interested in ethical business and how businesses can do well financially as well as doing good for their community and the planet. After I left Harvard Business School in 2005 I spent all of my free time educating myself about natural ingredients to become an expert. At the time, organic and ethical beauty products – apart from being few and far between – were either expensive and unaccessible to everyone, or ineffective and unattractive. This is what inspired me to create a range of highly effective skincare at affordable prices that also helps people become a little greener in their everyday lives.’

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