Last Updated on March 30, 2022 by The Filtery Staff
Being a teenager (or tweenager) is hard… And having to worry about things like acne doesn’t make it much easier! When it comes to the topic of teenage skincare, we’ve got good news and bad news.
The bad news is that there are a lot of questionable ingredients out there in the world of personal care products (I’m talking allergens, hormone disruptors, carcinogens, etc.). But the good news is that there is also no shortage of great brands that use natural, organic, and non-toxic ingredients that are safe for tweenage and teenage skin.
We’ve rounded up our favorite brands and highlighted them for you below. Some of these brands carry products that are specifically targeted toward acne-prone skin, while others offer general skincare products for all skin types. Some come with fun and bright packaging, while others are minimalistic and low-key. You’ll be able to find super-simple, 2-step routines as well as lengthy regimens with lots of products to foster self-care.
So whatever type of skincare routine would best fit you or your teen, there’s a non-toxic brand below to help you make it happen!
This post contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. We only make recommendations that are genuine and meet our standards.
If you want to dive into some of the problematic ingredients contained in most skincare products on the market (and what to look for in safer brands), click the toggles below to read more. Or if you want to just skip right to our recommended brands, just scroll down!
Endocrine Disruptors, Personal Care Products, and Hormones—Oh My!
The problem of endocrine disruptors in personal care products is pretty well established by now. Ingredients like parabens and phthalates are commonly found in things like lotions, cleansers, shampoos, scrubs, cosmetics, feminine care products, and more.
These chemicals are hormone disruptors, which means they can mimic estrogen or other hormones in the body, disrupting natural hormone function and leading to downstream effects like breast cancer and other reproductive and developmental issues.
Anyone and everyone can potentially be affected by endocrine disruptors, but of course, healthy hormone function is extra important during those pubescent years!
And unfortunately, endocrine disruptors are not the only ingredients of concern to watch out for. In addition to parabens, here are the toxic chemicals that are most commonly used in skincare products:
This is an extremely frustrating “ingredient.” Due to a loophole in labeling laws, companies are allowed to include almost 4,000 different chemicals in their products, while hiding them under the word “fragrance” or “parfum.”
Some of these ingredients are perfectly safe, while others are incredibly problematic. Phthalates, for example, can hide under the fragrance loophole and consumers would be none the wiser.
Although the laws and regulations around fragrance disclosure are slowly starting to change (in a good way!), there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made in this area.
You can read more about this issue here.
This is an ingredient that’s commonly found in toothpaste, but is also used in soaps and cleansers. It’s an anti-bacterial agent that is known to have endocrine-disrupting properties.
You’ll find a lot of artificial dyes in skincare products as well. You’ll see them listed as things like “CI 42090” or “FD&C Blue No. 1” or “D&C Blue No. 4.”
The safety (or lack thereof) of artificial dyes varies widely. Some have been associated with things like skin allergies and hyperactivity in children, while others (like coal tar) are linked with cancer.
The thing about these dyes is that they’re just… well, unnecessary! Does your cleanser really need to have a pretty bright color? These dyes provide no actual function, so we’d prefer they were just left out.
This ingredient is often associated with anti-aging products, but it can be found in all kinds of different cosmetics and skincare products, including anti-acne products.
The problem with retinol comes from UV exposure (so you can see the problem with using them for facial products like moisturizer). Retinol been named a photocarcinogen, which means it has the potential to cause cancer when it’s exposed to sunlight.
Retinol can be listed under similar names such as retinyl palminate and vitamin A palminate.
BHT and its relative, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), are synthetic antioxidants that are also commonly used in personal care products to extend shelf life. BHA has been linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity, along with cancer.
Although more research still needs to be done on BHT specifically, it should also be noted that it’s a toluene-based ingredient. Toluene is a well-established toxin that can cause neurological damage and more.
Talc is commonly used in things like powders (like baby powder) and cosmetics (like blush), but it’s surprisingly found in some soaps and cleansers, too. The problem with talc is that because of the way mined it’s commonly found near asbestos deposits, it is commonly contaminated with asbestos. Of course, most of us know by now that asbestos is toxic and can cause everything from respiratory issues to cancer.
Although not all talc contains asbestos, many people choose to avoid it due to the high likelihood of contamination and level of danger that asbestos poses.
In all honesty, ethoxylated ingredients are nearly impossible to avoid completely, but it’s still something worth being aware of. The biggest concern with ethoxylated ingredients is that they can be contaminated with two toxins: ethylene oxide (an irritant that’s known to cause multiple types of cancer and infertility) and 1,4-dioxane (which is another known carcinogen).
These two ingredients are used in the manufacturing process of ethoxylated ingredients and small amounts of them have been found in the end consumer products. The problem is that since these ingredients aren’t added intentionally, they wouldn’t be listed on ingredient labels and you’d basically have no way of knowing whether or not your personal care products contain these chemicals.
The list of ethoxylated ingredients is a long one—it includes things like “PEG” and other words with “eth” in it.
What to Look for in Non-Toxic Skincare Products for Tweens & Teens
The good news is that some research shows that consciously avoiding these types of chemicals can make a difference—and relatively quickly! A 2016 University of California Berkeley study of 100 adolescent Latina girls showed that switching to non-toxic personal care products for just three days lowered the levels of many of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in the girls’ urine.
What this means is that choosing safer products (and teaching young people how to do the same) can make a difference. Here are some things to look out for when shopping for products:
The first thing to look for when shopping for personal care and skincare products is transparency. Do they clearly list their ingredients? Does the product contain “fragrance”? Do they give more information on their website? Do they use vague language about “natural ingredients” without any real substance behind it? Do they answer your questions clearly when you ask for more information or do they give you the run around with answers involving “proprietary information”?
Organic, Natural, & Non-Toxic Ingredients
It’s important to remember that just because something is “natural” doesn’t automatically make it “good,” and just because something is “synthetic” doesn’t automatically make it “bad.”
However, in general, organic and natural skincare products do tend to be much safer than products with long ingredient labels filled with impossible-to-pronounce names. So try to look for products that use natural, plant-based ingredients.
Beware of Greenwashing
Unfortunately, greenwashing (that is, marketing something as “eco-friendly” or “non-toxic” when it’s really not) runs rampant in the personal care industry. In the U.S., there is much less regulation over this industry than there should be, and companies are legally allowed to make all kinds of claims without backing them up.
For this reason, you should never take phrases like “Made with natural ingredients!” at face value. Don’t hesitate to look further into a brand’s claims, read the ingredient label yourself, and even email a brand to get more information if needed.
Third Party Certifications
It can also be helpful to look for third party labels such as USDA Organic, MADE SAFE, and EWG Verified. These certifications indicate that a product has been tested against a certain set of criteria for safety and environmental responsibility.
The Right Fit & Feel
Of course, everyone has different preferences when it comes to skincare, so find something that’s a good fit for you or your teen!
You’ll notice that the brands we picked out below run the gamut in terms of aesthetics, from colorful and glittery to clean and gender-neutral. They also vary widely in terms of the number of products included in the routine.
Learning how to take care of one’s skin shouldn’t have to be filled with anxiety. If we can make it a little more enjoyable for our teens by using products that fit their personalities, then why not?!
What Is the Best Skincare Routine for a Teenager?
Skincare regimens can vary widely, from a simple 2-step routine to a long and involved ritual. At the end of the day, it’s going to vary widely according to the teen’s preferences and needs.
The two basic essentials include cleansing and moisturizing. In order to keep pores clean and acne at bay, it’s important to cleanse your face with a non-toxic face wash at least once a day and/or after sports or exercise. Most people wash their face during their morning shower and then again before bed in order to wash off any makeup, sweat from the day, and the environmental pollutants that end up on your skin after walking around in the world.
Applying a non-toxic moisturizer after cleansing is important in keeping skin hydrated, soft, and young. It also helps prevent the over-production of oil, which can lead to more acne.
Other teens may choose to add some extra self-care steps to their skincare routine, whether that involves toner, serum, or gua sha (we LOVE this one from Wildling!).
And of course, if you or your teen are taking something like Accutane or other prescription medications, be sure to talk to your doctor and/or dermatologist before switching up your skincare routine.
The Best Natural, Organic, & Non-Toxic Skincare Brands for Tweens & Teens
Here are our picks for the best brands offering safe, non-toxic skincare products for tweens and teens.
Oh and P.S. If you need some plastic-free hair ties or scrunchies for your teen to hold their hair back while washing their face, check out this article.
Honest (Tween Skincare Kit)
Includes: Clearing Cleanser, Soothing Daily Moisturizer
This kit is a great option for tweens & teens of all ages and genders. It comes with the two essentials—a cleanser and a moisturizer—plus a mud mask, hydrogel cream, and vitamin C serum if they want to up their game. The cleanser has 0.5% naturally-derived salicylic acid, so it’s great for acne-prone skin.
Honest uses the safest natural and synthetic ingredients to make products that actually work. They have a “NO List™” of over 2,500 ingredients that are not used in their products due to concerns about carcinogenicity, endocrine disruption, environmental persistence, sensitization, reproductive and systemic effects, and more. Everything is rigorously tested not only for safety but also for effectiveness. And of course, they’re committed to transparency as well; they clearly tell their consumers exactly what’s in their products without hiding behind sneaky labels like “fragrance.”
Hero Cosmetics (Clear Skin Toolkit)
Price: $8 – $20
Includes: Exfoliating Cleanser, Rescue Balm, Acne Pimple Patch, Lightning Wand, Moisturizer
The Clear Skin Toolkit was created to treat acne-prone skin without any of the harsh toxic ingredients normally seen in skincare. It has the essentials (which includes an exfoliating jelly-to-foam cleanser & prebiotic moisturizer) plus a few other interesting pimple fighting products to round out your teen’s skincare routine.
Two different versions of their Mighty Patch are included in the kit to clear zits quickly. For deep zits, use the patch with Micropoints (similar to other patches’ microdarts) to deliver anti-inflammatory ingredients like 0.5% salicylic acid and bring any pus to the surface.
Finish them off with The Original patch, which contains pure medical-grade plant-based hydrocolloid gel to dry up any remaining pus. Once tamed, your teen can use the Rescue Balm and Lightning Wand to reduce any residual dry, red, or dark spots. Conveniently, you can find Hero Cosmetics at big box stores like Target.
Shop Hero (Use code THEFILTERY15 for 15% off.)
INNBEAUTY PROJECT (Skin Goals Kit)
Includes: Daily Cleanser, Toner, Hyaluronic Acid + Serum, Moisturizer, Lip Oil
The 6-piece Skin Goals Kit comes with four different skin essential products—a cleanser, toner, serum/moisturizer hybrid, moisturizer—plus a lip oil containing a plant plumping complex. As a bonus, it comes with a cute new bag to take your non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free skincare products wherever you go.
A couple of other great inclusive and affordable skincare products for teens include their alcohol-free Pimple Paste and dual-action exfoliating Green Machine 7 Min Glo Mask which includes a Daily Green Complex made from 15 green superfoods.
Ursa Major (In The Clear Skincare Bundle)
Includes: Fantastic Face Wash, 4-in-1 Essential Face Tonic, & Fortifying Face Balm
These three products come together to cleanse, exfoliate and soothe oily and acne-prone skin with clean, cruelty-free, and vegan ingredients. The In the Clear Skincare Bundle includes a foaming face wash (gluten-free), a 4-in-1 (cleaner, exfoliator, soother, and hydrator) face tonic, and a lightweight gel moisturizing face balm (also gluten-free). “It’s all good” according to Ursa Major as they do not use petrochemicals, SLS, SLES, parabens, synthetic fragrance or color, glycols, silicones, or PEGs.
As a Certified B Corp company, Ursa Major is committed to being a sustainable skincare company by focusing on using recycled plastic, renewable energy, giving back, and most importantly the naturally-derived ingredients used in every product.
Cocokind (Starter Routine)
Includes: Cleanser, Soothing Cream, Serum
The Starter Routine is a great and simple kit for tweens and teens who are beginning their skincare journey. It includes an oil to milk cleanser, serum with sodium ascorbyl phosphate (one of the most gentle forms of vitamin C), and a lightweight smoothing cream with a celery superseed complex to support your teenager’s skin structure. The cleanser’s “hero ingredient” is a prebiotic complex of GMO-free fermented oat to help maintain the skin’s microbiome.
Depending on your teen’s skin type (oily, acne-prone, dry, etc.), Cocokind has curated products into different “routines” so you can find the perfect match. They even have a quiz to create your own routine.Cocokind has a goal to shake up the beauty industry by being as transparent as possible about everything to do with its products. You’ll see this in their very informative packaging which includes formula facts, sustainability stats, and instructions on how to recycle the product once it’s finished.
Kinship (The Besties Kit)
Includes: Gentle Enzyme Face Cleanser, Cleansing Pads, Gel Cream Moisturizer
Inside this essential 3-piece skincare set, you’ll find clean, cruelty-free, plant-based formulas as well as their proprietary Kinbiome™, a plant-based probiotic which supports clear skin and a strong skin barrier.
The Naked Papaya cleanser features papaya extract, jojoba oil, & sunflower oil. Insta Swipe (their only non-vegan product) cleansing pads have lemon extracts, glycolic acid, and honey to exfoliate, brighten, clear pores, and reduce breakouts. And the Supermello gel cream moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid, marshmallow root, and coconut water to hydrate and reduce redness.
Another essential for teens experiencing annoying breakouts is their Pimple Potion made with retinal (vitamin A derivative), 2% salicylic acid, and bakuchiol for clearing and preventing pimples from forming.
Kinship makes it known that their products do not include any of the barrier-unfriendly ingredients found on the No-No list of 1,300+ ingredients banned by E.U. Cosmetic Regulations.
Rael (Glow All Out Kit)
Includes: Cleansing Water, Cleanser, Toner, Serum, Hyaluronic Acid Concentrate, Moisturizer, Serum Mist, Invisible Spot Cover, Microcrystal Spot Cover
In their largest available kit, Rael has put together a 9-step skincare system to bring your teens and tweens healthy and glowing skin. Even though Rael focuses on providing products that cater to people with periods, they are safe for all skin types and sensitivities without any of the harsh or toxic chemicals.
Most of the kit’s products contain a triple-powered penetrating H30 hyaluronic acid complex for reducing inflammation and deep moisturization. It even comes with two different types of spot covers—hydrocolloid & microcrystal—to minimize active blemishes or pimples just under the surface.
They also offer different sets to choose from depending on whether you’re looking to “Glow All Out” with lots of steps or something with only the basics.
Disco (Starter Kit)
Price: $53 (subscribe and save) – $66
Includes: Charcoal Face Cleanser Stick, Exfoliating Face Scrub, Hydrating Moisturizer
Cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize with this well-rounded all-natural and vegan Starter Kit from Disco. This is one of the few brands on the list that doesn’t include salicylic acid but uses charcoal instead to detoxify and cleanse pores. Charcoal-based products are a good choice for people who don’t have acne-prone skin or for whom salicylic acid is too harsh.
Disco is more geared towards men’s skincare as well as educating their customers about the clean ingredients they use and how to create a proper skincare routine.P.S. We did a full review of Disco’s repairing eye stick, which you can check out here. It’s a great option for those tired days when your eyes could use a little pick-me-up!
ZitSticka (Patch It Up Kit)
Includes: Patches for surface zits, deep zits, and dark spots
This kit is focused on healing zits at every stage with its transparent zit stickers teens can subtly wear anywhere from school to the gym. They’re even waterproof and can be used with makeup.
Microdart technology in the Killa™ stickers delivers salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid into deep zits, while the aptly named Goo Getter™ hydrocolloid patches dry up any pus inside the more shallow ones with salicylic acid, niacinamide, vitamin C and tea tree to help soothe and heal. Hyperfade™ the leftover dark spots with the lightening and brightening ingredients found in this patch’s microdarts to complete the zit healing lifecycle.
ZitSticka states that its products are free from harmful ingredients. We did notice that the sunscreen Megashade™ has some questionable ingredients, so that’s the only product that we don’t recommend.
Blume (Clear Skin Kit)
Includes: Face Wash, Acne Oil, & Moisturizer
The Clear Skin Kit is a must-have for acne-prone skin with its 3-step skincare routine, which includes a creamy face wash with soothing plant extracts that won the 2021 Byrdie Eco Beauty Award.
Blume’s Best Seller, Meltdown Acne Oil, is different from most spot treatments. It’s great for sensitive skin with ingredients like rosehip oil and chamomile flower in place of the harsher benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid you usually find. The main ingredient, Black Cumin Seed Oil, helps reduce inflammation and fights infection. The acne oil can be used alone as a spot treatment or mixed with the hyaluronic acid face moisturizer for full-face coverage.
Includes: Face & Body Scrubs, Foaming Daily Face Wash, Blem Pen
Although they don’t have a pre-made kit, Prep U does carry the essentials your teen would need (minus a moisturizer). All products feature plant-based formulas and no harsh chemicals.
You can choose between two face & body scrubs—Exfoliating Charcoal + Bentonite Clay or Hydrating French Green Clay. No skincare routine is complete without a cleanser, so their foaming face wash is perfect for all skin types harnessing the power of plants and soothing benefits of essential oils. A different type of spot treatment is found in their Blem Pen—a roll-on treatment for blemishes containing Witch Hazel.
Prep U’s mission is to “help boys prepare for a lifetime of good hygiene, personal care routines and healthy self-confidence inspired by self-sufficiency.” They state they’ll soon have a product line for girls but their current products work for any gender.
Prep U is also available at Target.
Price: $6 – $22
Includes: Face Cleanser, Face Lotion, Face Serum, Body Lotion, Rose Butter, Beauty Balm, Beauty Oil, Skin Salve, Eye cream
Conveniently found at Target, Nourish Organic has all the clean essentials, plus more, for your teen to pick and choose for their skincare routine, no matter their skin type.
The moisturizing face cleanser and lightweight face lotion feature aloe-based formulas that help to nourish, hydrate, and balance skin. For maximum hydration, try the vitamin-packed oil-based Pure Hydrating Face Serum underneath any moisturizer.
All of their products are 100% Certified Organic by the USDA or NSF guaranteeing they are safe from harmful ingredients. They are actually the first personal care products to be Certified Organic in the US.
Juniper (Teen Skincare Pack)
Includes: Juniper Teen Cleanser, Treatment Mist, Exfoliant, and Lotion
Made specifically for hormonal teenage skin, this practitioner-recommended skincare kit is packed with certified organic and natural ingredients. The water-based and oil-balancing products work best on oily and acne-prone skin.
Witch Hazel, a natural astringent, in the cleanser tones and reduces inflammation. Bergamot, geranium, and lavender in the face lotion help to fight bacteria and heal scars from acne. A unique product in this kit is the Treatment Mist to cleanse, reduce, and refine pores using the healing powers of aloe vera, gotu kola, and grapefruit.
Juniper is an Australian-based company, but Nourished Life (the retailer) ships its products internationally.
BYBI (Ultimate Skincare Kit)
Includes: Vegan Oat Milk Cleanser, Everyday Moisturizer, Facial Spray, Eye-Brightener, Beauty Balm
BYBI’s 5-piece Ultimate Skincare Kit brings you this list’s first carbon-neutral skincare routine. BYBI looks at the carbon footprint of all of it’s vitamin and mineral-packed natural ingredients to determine the impact of every product on our environment.
The kit’s cleanser features an oat milk base that cleanses and calms all skin types while a probiotic coconut yogurt balances out the skin’s microbiome. Inside the Face Base everyday moisturizer, jojoba oil, aloe vera, and grapeseed oil combine to hydrate, soothe, and protect inflamed, dry, or itchy skin without clogging pores.
For extra hydration, Mega Mist Hyularonic Acid facial spray soothes and tones while the beauty balm works its shea butter magic from head to toe. Both are great for all skin types, even babies!
Includes: Cleansing Products, Facial Scrub, Moisturizers, Acne Spot Treatment, Serums, Eye Products, Masks, Towelettes, Hydrating Oils, Night Products, Day Creams
Acure products are free from the harsh chemicals found in a lot of beauty products. Instead, Acure infuses them with vitamins, minerals, and other healthy 100% vegan ingredients.
Though this is not a kit, there are a variety of hydrating and rejuvenating cleansers and moisturizers to choose from depending on your tween’s or teen’s skin type. Don’t forget The Incredibly Clear Acne Spot treatment. It uses natural ingredients + 2% salicylic acid to clear up your teen’s breakouts by reducing redness and drawing out impurities.
Non-Toxic & Natural Face Wipes
Let’s be honest: sometimes using facial wipes is much more realistic than going through an entire skincare routine. Wiping one’s face down after sports practice or before bed can make a big difference Here are some brands that make great non-toxic face wipes:
Learning how to take care of your skin doesn’t have to be stressful. There is a lot to consider, but you can feel good about shopping from the brands above. Once you find a natural and non-toxic skincare brand and routine that works for you or your teen, stick to it. Your face (and overall health!) will thank you for it!