Top 12 Clean Beauty Picks of 2020

Happy New Year! You know what that means…it’s time for the roundup of my favorite clean beauty picks of 2020. Let’s jump right in.

Top Beauty Picks 2020 – SKIN

A skin supplement, serum, cleansing oil, body care trio, and eye cream. I’m pleased that my top skincare picks cover many bases this year! These all were in serious rotation in 2020.

#1 – The Nue Co. Skin Filter

Let’s start off with a product that I don’t put on my skin, but I take for my skin. Skin Filter by The Nue Co. has been such a wonderful addition to my skincare regimen this past year.

Designed to improve sun damage, pigmentation, breakouts, and blur impurities in just sixty days, I can say that I’ve seen a visible improvement in my skin since starting in mid-2020. Tested in France under dermatological control, the patented blend of Vitamin C, Zinc, Champagne Grape Seed, and Melon is clinically proven to improve skin luminosity, pigmentation, blemishes, and elasticity.

(Also, can we just talk about the necessity of having adequate levels of Zinc and Vitamin C to keep our immune system boosted? I not only take this for my skin but my overall health, to be honest.)

I’m set up with The Nue Co.’s subscription service which keeps me from running out and I’m super grateful for that because I’m THE WORST at remembering to re-order things. Also, you automatically get a 20% off loyalty discount with the subscription service.

However, through January 31st, The Nue Co. will be offering an additional 20% off the already discounted (20%) subscription plan to help customers establish a healthy routine in 2021. Simply use the code NEWYEAR! at checkout.

What the what? That means you can get the Skin Filter subscription for $38.40 instead of $60. Such an incredible deal!

Also, while we’re talking supplements, I LOVE their Magnesium Ease Spray. I’ve talked about this on Instagram many times and it’s fantastic. (Check out my SUPPS Highlight on Instagram to see how I use it.)

And it turns out you love the Magnesium Spray as well! Just read the comments on this post.

#2 – Necessaire Body Trio

I finally got my body care routine together in 2020 and it’s all about this trio. I wrote a full review on these products here.

#3 – Free + True Bright Side Vitamin C Serum

I’ve been dying to tell you about the Free + True Vitamin C Serum!

As many of you know, I am an African Botanics loyalist (all my favorites here) and use the Nutritive Molecule Serum daily as my Vitamin C serum step. I will always love it, but will also always always always hate the price tag.

So many of you have asked for a more affordable Vitamin C serum and I reviewed A WHOLE BUNCH of them but the Free + True Bright Side is by far my favorite behind the Nutritive Molecule Serum. And! It’s a much easier price tag to swallow at $72.

Formulated with two clinically proven, powerhouse forms of stable, non-irritating Vitamin C, niacinamide, and robust botanical ingredients, Bright Side effectively targets uneven skin tone, sunspots, acne scars, and discoloration. The duo of tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (at a whopping 10%) and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (3%) ensures that even the most sensitive types can use it.

This innovative day serum plumps and firms while regulating sebum production, strengthening the integrity and resilience of the skin, and thanks to niacinamide, breakouts don’t stand a chance.

I think this serum would work for all types of skin, but my fellow sensitive skin friends will really love this formula – it’s a heavy-hitter, yet manages to soothe the skin. It is incredibly creamy and feels amazing on the face – I noticed an immediate plumping and a much brighter-looking complexion followed shortly after.

This serum is for sure a winner in my book!

#4 – Twelve Beauty Rapid Eye Treatment

Ohhh, the woes of my eye cream experiences. I could seriously write a book. I mean, a very whiny and boring AF book, but a book nonetheless.

My particular issue is this – I need serious hydration around my eyes. My eye area gets visibly dehydrated over the course of the day and it craves moisture. With that being said, my eye area is SO SENSITIVE. Almost everything I put around my eyes gives me a reaction of bumps. Not millia, but actual red, reactive bumps that hate life in general. (I’m pretty sure it’s a manifestation of my PD that I cleared up around my nose and mouth, but now wants to party by my peepers.)

Bottom line, I’m scared to put stuff around my eyes. At least I was until I found Twelve Beauty Rapid Eye Treatment.

First things first, ESSENTIAL OIL FREE. #praisebe

This potent blend of plant peptides helps firm, lift, and drain the skin below the eye significantly reducing bags and puffiness while boosting microcirculation, which noticeably lessens dark circles. The key ingredients are hydrolyzed rice protein, glycine soja (soybean) protein, and Ceratonia siliqua gum.

The formula feels like a gel-serum hybrid and absorbs very quickly around the eye area, so I use it both morning and night. And you need the tiniest amount – seriously, like the littlest pea size on your finger goes so far. The bottle itself lasts for months and at $58, I think this the biggest steal of the bunch.

What I’ve noticed overall? Soft, hydrated skin around my eyes, less puffiness, and an overall boost around the eye area. Most importantly, no irritation. I will use this eye treatment forever and ever.

#5 – Lovinah Dragon’s Blood Vitamin C Cleansing Oil

Holy moly, the Lovinah Dragon’s Blood Cleansing Oil is SUBLIME. A lovely emulsifying oil, this product washes away fully clean with water only – no washcloths needed. (If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that cleansing oils that require a washcloth are a NO-GO for me.)

This cleansing oil has double-encapsulated salicylic acid in it which means it can get down to business where you want it to, but also, due to the double-encapsulation, is totally safe and non-irritating around the eyes. (I can attest to this!) Highly-concentrated in vitamins and nutrients, it emulsifies with water to completely remove heavy makeup, excess oil, dirt, and other pore-clogging impurities.

And if that wasn’t enough, it smells like pure, fresh guava. It’s insane how good this oil smells. I would gladly sit around sniffing it all day if that were an acceptable thing to do while working, driving around, Zoom-ing, etc.

Boxwalla Subscription Box

I want to take a quick moment to sing the praises of the Boxwalla Subscription box. I learned about the Lovinah Cleansing Oil from a Boxwalla box and when I started thinking about it, I realized I learned about Lovinah, Votary, Pai, and African Botanics through Boxwalla. These are all incredibly well-loved brands of mine and I owe it all to Boxwalla.

So, if you’re looking for an incredible curation of unique. effective, and luxurious beauty products, Boxwalla is the one for you. Last thing – the boxes come every other month, so you don’t feel bogged down with too many new products over the course of the year.

There are only a few spots left for the upcoming February box, but if you miss this go-round, I would definitely recommend checking out the One-Time Boxes page, where you can purchase previously-featured products at incredible prices without a subscription!

Top Beauty Picks 2020 – Hair

2020 was the year I completely changed my haircut and the way I style my hair. I added tons of layers and changed my bang shape to very textured, mid-length curtain bangs.

Honestly, you all, I don’t know what shifted in me in regards to FULL-ON embracing my natural texture. (Maybe the fact that natural texture is very much on-trend right now? Funny how that works!) I’ve always hated my texture and have spent so much time blow-drying and waving with an iron to make it look a very particular (smooth yet wavy) way. Regardless, I’ve had a complete mind shift and am really enjoying this messy, slightly wacky wavy head of hair I’m donning these days.

At this point, blow dryers and hot tools aren’t being used much. I literally wash-and-go, many times showing up to my studio with a wet head. Part of the reason I can do this is my fantastic haircut (OKC friends, go see Sara at August & Omi and tell her I sent ya!) and the other part is great styling products.

#6 – Hairstory Hair Balm

I wash, condition, and towel-dry my hair and then apply one pump of this hair balm throughout my hair and let it air dry. Super complicated, I know.

This little bottle of magic adds the littlest bit of weight to naturally big/fluffy/frizzy hair for a leaner look – all without feeling crunchy, sticky, gelled, or lacquered. I love it because it makes my waves less airy/fluffy and adds a touch of definition without it looking like there’s any product in my hair.

Although I have a lot of hair, the individual strands are very fine, so my hair gets weighed down super easily – this balm does not do that. “Wait. A little weight, but not too much weight?” Exactly. Like I said, it’s magic.

#7 – Hairstory Undressed Texturizing Spray

Once my hair is dry, if I want to add some texture throughout, I spritz this texturizing spray all about to give it a little zhuzh. The texture I get is so touchable – not gritty or sticky at all.

BONUS – Oway Organics Pomade

If my bangs or layers around my face are feeling a little fluffy/big, I use this pomade to help persuade them to simmer down.

Top Beauty Picks 2020 – Makeup

I know in my brain that of the two, skincare is really the most important facet to aging well and looking great, but makeup is 100% my favorite. My heart just says so, okay? It’s truly amazing what you can achieve in terms of accentuating your best features with a little color and light. Here are my top picks for the year.

#8 – Rituel de Fille Ethereal Veil Concealer

If you happened to be on my Instagram Stories yesterday, you saw my 1-minute foundation trick that leaves the most beautiful and natural finish without actually using foundation. (It’s in my Beauty Tips Highlight following my blush and lipstick tutorial, if you are interested.)

Instead of foundation, I use this Rituel de Fille concealer only where I need it and it blends flawlessly, thanks to #9 on this list.

This is the best concealer I’ve ever used and would recommend it to anyone, but especially ladies with more mature skin. It doesn’t crease, it doesn’t look too shiny, it’s not too thick…it’s PERFECT. I wear the shade Metis in summer and Ceres in winter.

#9 – Clove + Hallow Blending Brushes

THE BEST BLENDING BLUSHES IN ALL THE LAND. You are just going to have to trust me. The Precision Buffer and Perfecting Buffer Brushes are a tag team of wonder. I use the Precision to apply my concealer and then the Perfecting to create a completely natural-looking, yet radiant complexion.

#10 – Jenny Patinkin Luxury Vegan Brush Soap

I praise Jenny Patinkin for creating this product and shaving so much time off my brush-washing routine. Here’s my step-by-step routine!

#11 – Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Blush Sticks

You know how I feel about blush, right? It’s my #1 tip for a youthful look!

I am the proud owner of 4 shades of the Westman Atelier Blush Sticks and they are just perfection. You can see all the shades swatched and read my raves here.

#12 – Ilia Liquid Powder Chromatic Eye Tints

LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST. Ohhhhhh, these eye shadows are so so soooooo good. Released in 2020, I couldn’t get these in my hands fast enough.

A liquid eyeshadow that transforms into a weightless, metallic powder like a little magic eye shadow fairy. How fantastic is that? Y’all, you CANNOT mess these up – seriously, application is a breeze. Just glide over your lids with the wand and blend with your finger. Effortless. And they are so subtly gorgeous on the eyes! But you can build them up for more drama if you wish! CAN YOU SENSE MY EXCITEMENT?!

I have all shades, but my top picks are Glaze (champagne pearl, so versatile), Hatch (pale sage green/gold amazingness, the most unique of the bunch), Dim (grey lavender, gorgeous on brown eyes), and Sheen (copper bronze). FYI – Mythic would be insanely gorgeous on blue eyes, is all I’m sayin’.

Well, that’s a wrap! Hope you found some new gems in this list and let me know what beauty products you fell in love with in 2020 in the comments!

  1. Leanna H

    January 5, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    Hi Sarah! Thanks for the suggestion of another vitamin C similar to the the AB Nutritive Molecule Serum (which I love, but whew $$$) What is the texture of the Free & True serum? Still apply it under an oil? Thanks!

  2. whoorl

    January 5, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    Hi Leana, it’s a very creamy texture and yes, I wear it underneath my oil.

  3. Judee Lonnemo

    January 5, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    Have you tried the Hairstory New Wash? I’ve been using that and their styling products for years. The balm is perfection!

  4. Caroline

    January 7, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    I always love your recommendations! My main issue with Vitamin C serums is the awful smell- I heard it once described as “hot dog water gone bad”. Does the Free + True serum have that issue?

  5. whoorl

    January 7, 2021 at 7:58 pm

    Hi Caroline! That smell is usually attributed to Vitamin C + Ferulic (like Skinceuticals) formulas, This one is not – smells really fresh and citrusy!

  6. Susie Moock

    January 13, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Hi Sarah I bought the Clove & Hollow brushes. There was a video that you had posted in a story with which brush and how you use them. I am searching for that video is it gone because it was only in a story?

  7. whoorl

    January 13, 2021 at 3:50 pm

    Hi Susie, it’s in my Instagram Beauty Tips Highlight towards the end.