Clean beauty is, perhaps, the buzziest craze to sweep the beauty industry in recent years. With consumers becoming savvier about the potential risks associated with some commonly used ingredients and access to clean products becoming easier and more affordable than ever, nontoxic beauty products are among the most popular picks at retailers from Sephora to Target. While there's still a lot of work to be done in terms of education and wading through all the conflicting information surrounding what's safe and what isn't, we're still all for beauty choices that are better for our bodies and the planet.
Danielle Walker happens to agree. After she found health through dietary and lifestyle changes after an autoimmune disease diagnosis at age 22, The New York Times best-selling cookbook author and founder of food blog Against All Grain has been an advocate for grain-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar–free eating to support healthy and happy bodies. And more recently, the 36-year-old mom has found herself growing just as diligent about what goes on her body as she is about what goes in it.
Here, Walker talks all about the clean-beauty routine that has supported her pursuit of healthy, glowing skin as she traverses her 30s. See all her picks below, including a recipe for an all-natural brow- and lash-enhancing serum.
"I’ve tried to amp up my skincare routine over the past couple of years as I get older and notice that I need to take care of my skin better," says Walker. "I try to keep my skincare as clean as my diet, but trying to understand the ingredients of everything also overwhelms me if I’m honest. I found Beautycounter about five years ago and haven’t looked back ever since."
This vitamin C is the morning serum Walker always reaches for. "Since quarantine and spending a lot of time outside doing family walks, I started using a vitamin C serum daily. It brightens my skin and helps reduce the appearance of existing dark spots, while the antioxidant-rich turmeric and camu camu extracts help protect against new ones," she explains.
Osea has been in the clean-skincare game since the '90s, well before eliminating toxic ingredients entered the minds of the masses. And although it's no longer a lone ranger in the clean-beauty sphere, it's still one of the very best options. This vitamin C serum is one of its safe, effective formulas.
"When I’m not wearing my tinted SPF moisturizer, I apply a thin layer of an SPF 25 mineral sunscreen on my face," Walker tells us. "I have a history of basal cell carcinoma, so I’m really careful to protect my skin if I’m going to be in the sun for longer than 15 minutes."
Who What Wear sister brand Versed is one of the brands demystifying clean beauty by making superior products at shockingly low prices. This moisturizing physical sunscreen moonlights as a makeup primer and shows up perfectly clear, even on darker skin tones.
"I also really love this resurfacing peel. I feel like my skin glows in the morning when I use it," Walker gushes. "The AHA/BHA combination improves skin texture and boosts clarity without irritation or overdrying. With glycolic, malic, and botanically derived lactic acid, the formula clears away dull surface cells while arginine and essential fatty acids help soothe to reveal a brighter, healthier-looking, renewed complexion."
This clean resurfacing mask is another editor favorite because it employs a 20% concentrate of fruit-based glycolic, lactic, tartaric, and malic acids and 5% willow bark extract to smooth and refine the skin. You'll want to rinse it off after about 20 minutes (or 10 if you have sensitive skin)—it's too strong to keep on overnight.
"I never used to put night cream on because I didn’t like the greasy feeling and thought it would make me break out, but now, I slather it on every night to help my skin stay hydrated and reduce the look of fine lines," Walker explains. "My favorite is the Countertime Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream because it’s super rich and deeply hydrating. It supports elasticity and visibly firms while smoothing skin texture to minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles."
You're likely already familiar with peptides, the amino acids that serve as building blocks for proteins in the body. Collagen is one of the proteins peptides support, and it's extra important for maintaining smooth, bouncy skin. This cream by Drunk Elephant is popular for its deeply moisturizing and skin-strengthening properties. Fine lines and wrinkles don't stand a chance. Plus, it's totally clean.
"I think great skincare starts with what we’re putting in our body, not just what we’re applying on top," Walker says. For this reason, she suggests upping your water intake throughout the day to support beautiful, glowy skin.
"I try to take care of my skin on a daily basis by the foods I ingest. So, while not a small bottle of serum or a tincture, I think my homemade bone broth is essential in keeping my skin and hair looking healthy. The essential minerals, amino acids, protein, collagen, fats, and gelatin not only keep my gut healthy but strengthen my hair, skin, and nails, too." Not into making your own bone broth? Try this healthy option instead.
"I use mostly store-bought skincare products, but I do use a homemade oil blend on my brows and eyelashes that I really feel has helped them fill in," Walker says. The recipe consists of equal parts organic castor oil, argan oil, and vitamin E.
"I use this product more frequently than the foundation because I usually only need a lighter coverage and evening of my skin tone. I love the slight glow it gives to your skin and that it's light enough to still see my freckles through," she says. "This sheer-coverage tinted moisturizer helps even skin tone as it protects against the sun’s damaging rays with SPF 20 mineral sunscreen. The formula features a blend of black currant seed oil, peony root extract, and vitamin C to help brighten while leaving skin looking radiant."
"I have tested so many mascaras, and this one makes my lashes feel fuller and longer and stays on throughout the day," Walker says. "I love that it’s nontoxic and made without parabens, paraffin, silicones, mineral oil, or synthetic fragrances."