A Functional Medicine Doctor’s Clean Beauty Routine

Clean Beauty is an Inside Job

Through my own health journey, I came to an important conclusion: clean beauty is an inside job. When my health was at its worst, I had acne, rashes, bloating, weight gain, and inflammation. The glow was gone.

Getting my health back was a long process that involved healing my gut with dietary changes, sleep, exercise, stress management, supplements, medications and focused elimination of environmental toxins.

I truly believe that any beauty routine starts with good nutrition and lifestyle practices, and addressing underlying health issues. When I got my health back, I got my glow back. And in doing so, I revamped my beauty routine and ditched the toxic chemicals I used on my skin and hair.

We Have To Advocate For Ourselves

Did you know that many personal care products expose you and your family to toxic chemicals? While the European Union has banned approximately 1,400 harmful chemicals1 and ingredients from personal care products, the United States has only banned about 30.

An analysis by the Environmental Working Group2 found that

“more than 1 in 5 of all products contain chemicals linked to cancer, 80% contain ingredients that commonly contain hazardous impurities, and 56% contain penetration enhancers that help deliver ingredients deeper into the skin. Cosmetic ingredients penetrate the skin and may pose health risks, particularly for children. Personal care products may be the primary exposure route for many chemicals that raise significant health concerns. Consumers can be exposed through skin absorption, inhalation, and ingestion.”

If you’re not convinced that the products we slather on our skin are actually absorbed, think about the topical medications we prescribe, like hormone creams. It is well known that topical estrogen raises systemic estrogen levels.

And to make matters worse, the average woman uses 12 personal care products a day, exposing her to over 168 unique chemicals3…. before she even walks out the door.

You Don’t Have To Compromise Health In The Name Of Beauty

Skin care and beauty products can be both safe and effective. That is why I counsel my patients to utilize resources like the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database and Think Dirty to evaluate the safety of their personal care products. You can also look for the EWG VERIFIED mark on products that meet EWG’s strict criteria based on a variety of health standards.

It’s also why I endorse companies like Beautycounter. Their mission is one I can stand behind. They started by eliminating over 1,400 chemicals restricted in personal care products by the European Union, and then eliminated chemicals screened by Beautycounter and found to be of concern. This means approximately 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals on their “Never List” are already off the table before they even begin to formulate a product. In fact, Beautycounter is a founding member of EWG VERIFIED. Plus, these are hands-down my favorite beauty products on the market. And I’ve tried a lot!

But the truly beautiful thing is that we have lots of options when it comes to clean beauty! Some of my other favorite brands/ resources are Good Molecules and The Detox Market (try their subscription box!).

My Safe and Effective Clean Beauty Routine

Below, I share my favorite products and resources for my own clean beauty routine. Many, but not all, of the products I use are from Beautycounter. You might be thinking the same thing as me… that’s a lot more than 12! I don’t use all of these everyday, but this is honestly what you’ll find in my bathroom. And maybe I’m a little excessive. Details below (with a * next to my top essentials).

Skin Care

Charcoal Cleansing Bar – This is my daily face wash for removing makeup at the end of the day. Charcoal detoxifies and absorbs impurities without drying out my skin. A Beautycounter fan favorite. I also love the Counterstart Cococream Cleanser which is more hydrating.

Counter+ All Bright C Serum* – I layer this serum under my moisturizer and foundation in the morning. Vitamin C and turmeric brighten skin and help reduce and prevent dark spots.

Overnight Resurfacing Peel* – this is a new favorite that everyone (including me) loves. Botanically-derived acids improve skin texture and minimize pores, fine lines, and dark spots without irritation or over-drying. Gentle enough to use every night, though I like to alternate with a facial oil.

No. 3 Balancing Facial Oil – I love all of the facial oils, but this one is my favorite. I layer this under my serum and moisturizer several nights a week.

Countermatch Recovery Sleeping Cream* – I use this every night, and swear that I wake up to smoother, firmer, more hydrated skin.

Countertime Ultra Renewal Eye Cream – I use this day and night for the sensitive and delicate skin around eyes. Plant-derived Retinatural Complex and Persian silk tree extract reduce the appearance of under-eye shadows and crow’s feet.

FOREO LUNA Facial Cleansing and Firming Massage Brush– This cleansing brush is part of my nightly routine. I use it with the Counterstart Cococream Cleanser to prep my skin and make my other products more effective.

Safer Skincare and Beauty Products

If you want to learn more about Beautycounter and their commitment to safer, non-toxic skincare sign up below!


Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer * – This tinted moisturizer provides SPF 20 and sheer coverage, which makes it ideal for days without makeup and also gives me extra coverage when I do wear foundation. I use Medium.

Skin Twin Featherweight Foundation* – This lightweight, creamy foundation is a game changer, and I love the new formula. It’s easy to use and looks natural. I layer it over the Dew Skin tinted moisturizer for extra coverage. I use Medium 350: Medium w/ golden undertones (Honey).

Skin Twin Creamy Concealer– I use a little bit of this concealer under my foundation to hide dark circles and other imperfections. I use Tan 1.

Illuminating Cream Highlighter – I use these sheer blendable highlighters to create contour and add a subtle glow. I apply Bronze Glow below cheekbones for contour, and sometimes use the Pearl Glow above cheekbones as a highlighter.

Satin Powder Blush – Delivers buildable color without questionable ingredients. I use Date.

Precision Liquid Eyeliner – love this one for a rich matte-black eyeliner.

Brilliant Brow Gel* – Flake-proof, foolproof, and easy to use.

Hair Care

Daily Shampoo + Conditioner* – A tiny bit goes a long way and leaves hair shiny and silky. I use these several times a week and they don’t dry out my hair.

Acure Dry Shampoo – avoid the talc. This one is Paraben free, Sulfate free, Mineral oil free, Petrolatum free and Formaldehyde free.

Body Care

Kenna Nicole DUSK Essential Oil Blend – I am obsessed with this warm and sultry blend of 8 essential oils, and I use this instead of perfume. Plus, Kenna Nicole is a local Michigan company that is generous enough to offer my tribe 15% off! (use the coupon code MAREN, and buy their candle while you are there).

The Clean Deo in Fresh Coconut– This is my favorite natural deodorant followed by NATIVE Deodorant (note: if buying NATIVE look for sensitive and unscented).

Dr. Bronner’s Organic Pure Castile Tea Tree Soap – A house full of doctors deserves a natural antibacterial soap made with Tea Tree Oil. This has a permanent place in our shower. Say no to triclosan!

The Honest Company Organic Body Oil Moisturizer – I use this instead of shaving cream.

Cream Blends Body Butter – This small, local Michigan company makes the best body butter ever for dry winter skin (it is especially good for pregnant bellies!). Made with shea butter, coconut oil, almond oil, grapeseed and Vitamin E.

Protect All Over Sunscreen SPF 30 – This is a Beautycounter best seller and summertime essential that my whole family uses.

Dry Brush – I use a this brush on dry skin before my shower to stimulate circulation, lymphatic flow, and detoxification. Just brush from the extremities in toward the heart.

Oral Hygeine

RiseWell Toothpaste – I look for toothpaste that is gluten-free, fluoride-free, and also free of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. I also avoid anything too abrasive, like many whitening products and tooth powders can be. But the reality is, we still need a safe and effective alternative to fluoride. Enter hydroxyapatite. There’s aren’t that many products on the market with this ingredient, which has been used in Japan for decades. Use code MAREN10 for 10% off!

Dr. Tung’s Smart Floss – you should know that dental floss is often coated with PFCs — Teflon, and PTFE. Yuck! This one is lightly waxed with a vegetable/beeswax blend, and is free of BPA, PTFE, PFAS chemicals and petrochemical wax.

Tongue Scraper– once you try it, you’ll never go back.

Philips Sonicare rechargeable electric toothbrush – An electric toothbrush is also essential for good oral hygiene.

Waterpik Aquarius Water Flosser – I also love a good waterpik!

Period Care

Tampons/ pads – there really are a lot of great options that you’ll find in most natural grocery and drug stores, but my favorite brand is Cora and I’ve got monthly deliver set up through Amazon Subscribe & Save. Natracare is also great.

Interested in trying Beautycounter?

If you make an order through Beautycounter you’ll always get free returns, and if you become a Band of Beauty member you’ll get free shipping, a 15% product credit, and a sweet welcome gift when you spend $50+. I’d sure appreciate it if Dr. Christine Maren is listed as your consultant at checkout.


If you’re interested in learning more about a functional medicine approach to improving your health, please read the other articles on my website. Also, follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I share some of my favorite articles, emerging research, healthy recipes and trusted wellness products.

Safer Skincare and Beauty Products

If you want to learn more about Beautycounter and their commitment to safer, non-toxic skincare sign up below!

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  1. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:342:0059:0209:en:PDF
  2. https://www.ewg.org/news/testimony-official-correspondence/statement-jane-houlihan-cosmetics-safety#.Wllm1EvauRs
  3. https://www.ewg.org/news/testimony-official-correspondence/statement-jane-houlihan-cosmetics-safety#.Wllm1EvauRs

About Dr. Maren

Christine Maren D.O., IFMCP is a board-certified physician and the founder of a virtual functional medicine practice in Colorado, Michigan, and Texas. She is also the co-founder of Hey Mami, a platform dedicated to helping women navigate a healthy and happy motherhood. She is best know for her work in thyroid, gut and reproductive/ preconception health. Dr. Maren is board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is an Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner (IFMCP). Read more

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