You’ve probably got one. That cabinet/closet/drawer in your house that collects beauty products you’ve bought in hopes that they will do amazing things, only to be disappointed. Again.

messy make-up collection

Yes, it’s the dreaded beauty product graveyard. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

My beauty graveyard lies deep in the back of a linen closet in my hallway. It contains (brands who shall not be named) lotions, shampoo, bug spray, deodorant, mascara, brow gel, foundation, face wash, and two (ok possibly three) unopened boxes of hair color. And those are just the things I’ve kept. I’ve thrown or given away lots more.

she chose poorly - we all buy beauty products we don't end up using!

Yes I’m picky, and notoriously indecisive. But I can’t believe that I’m alone in this scary plight.

You see, I don’t mind spending money, but I really hate wasting money. It’s one of the reasons I started this site. To help keep stuff out of the dreaded product graveyard. Yours, and mine.

And when you’re trying to make the switch to safer, cleaner and more natural beauty products, this can be especially problematic. That’s because natural and clean products often come with a reputation of simply not working as well. And to be completely honest, some of them don’t. Mascara and deodorant are two notorious examples (read on for my favorite of the latter).

Yes there’s always going to be a little bit of trial and error. That’s life.  But the goal of course is to minimize wasting time and money spent looking for that “holy grail” of a product.

So with this in mind I want to offer a few easy tips for switching to safer beauty products AND keeping them on your must have list. There’s no rocket science here. Just simple things I’ve starting doing that have helped me zero in on the right stuff.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them (and decide you love a product as much as I do) I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) which helps to support my site. I am only affiliated with brands that I use, love and trust. 

Tip #1 The Secret’s in the Samples.

I’ve said this before in my Beauty with Brains post. And I’ll say it again. Sampling is KEY. It seems like an obvious thing, but most people still don’t seek out samples. Why buy the entire bottle/jar/tube when you can try it out first? Plus, everyone loves a cute little sample. Here are my favorite places and brands for sampling.


You’re probably shopping here anyway, so don’t pass up the opportunity to check out some of their cute little samples. Target has sample sizes of some of my favorite clean beauty brands, like S.W. Basics, Dr. Bronner’s, Nourish Organic and Acure. Check some out on your next Target run.

Samples of Acure Organics and S.W. Basics at Targetsample sizes of Nourish Organic lotion and face wash

Whole Foods

Although my grocery shopping budget is more of the Aldi persuasion these days (great prices on organic stuff by the way) I love making the occasional trip to Whole Foods for one reason. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of clean and natural beauty and personal care brands. Really, I could spend a good couple hours just browsing all the great stuff there. Ahh if only I had such time…

But what’s really nice is that they offer a good selection of travel and trial sizes, making it an awesome place to try something new.

natural beauty product samples available at Whole Foods
Some sample bins at Whole Foods. A cute and practical way to try out cleaner brands.

The Detox Market

Sometimes you don’t mind gambling on a full size product if it’s on the cheaper side. But when it comes to the higher end stuff, it’s particularly nice to sample. Now I know that places like Ulta and Sephora put out sample products to try at the store. But their cleanliness is often questionable. And isn’t it nice to try stuff at home, in the light of day, for more than five seconds?

Enter the Detox Market. For about $8 you can get four little samples of almost any product they offer. It’s a great way to find that new lip gloss, lotion, foundation etc. without breaking the bank on a bad choice.

The Detox Market Clean Beauty Samples

Suntegrity Skincare

This is one of my favorite clean skincare and sunscreen brands. I use their unscented body sunscreen on my face and neck every day, mixed with a little moisturizer. And they just so happen to offer some nice samples to try out.

Suntegrity skincare tinted face moisturizer with SPF

Devita Natural Skincare

Another great clean and natural skincare brand that I love. They offer two “try-me” kits with eight (yes eight!) nicely-sized different products to try. You’re bound to love most or all of them.

Devita natural skincare try-me anti-aging kit

Tip #2 Be Non-Committal

You know what is even better than free shipping? Free returns. And a satisfaction guarantee. Just the thing for those of us with fear of commitment.

Sure you want to get it right the first time and never have to send anything back. But if something just doesn’t work out, it shouldn’t have to end up in that beauty graveyard. Here are some clean beauty brands that just so happen to agree.


I love it when a company includes a free return label in the box (no need to dust off that old printer). It’s almost like Beautycounter is saying “go ahead, we dare you not to love this…”. And with this company’s commitment to safety and performance, you’re probably going to love it. Just saying.

Beautycounter eye shadow palette in romantic


Remember when I said deodorant was notorious for ending up in the beauty graveyard? It’s probably one of the toughest products for people to switch up. There are some good science-y reasons to ditch your usual aluminum-based antiperspirant for a more natural choice (read my post here on the subject). Do yourself a favor and skip right to a really good one. Native is always free shipping and free returns. Even in summer, eight months pregnant, with no air conditioning, I don’t smell. This one’s a keeper.

Native natural deodorant

100% Pure

Here’s another awesome super-clean and natural beauty brand that offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you don’t love it, send it back on them, even if you’ve used up some of it. Many of their products are pigmented with fruit extracts, which is really cool. I particularly love their fruit-pigmented powder foundation (pictured below).

100% Pure Natural and Non-toxic Makeup

Tip #3  Ditch the Fragrance.

This tip might seem like a strange one, but follow me here. So many times I’ve bought something only to be turned off by the scent. You can’t always smell something before you buy it. And even if you do, a scent can end up being too strong or bothering your skin.

From a health perspective, there’s very good reason to go fragrance-free (or at least synthetic fragrance-free). And in doing so, you also get an added bonus – less chance of disliking the product. When you know something isn’t going to have a strong perfume-y smell, you already stand a better chance of liking it.

Tip #4 Box it Up

Subscription boxes are all the rage these days. They are particularly good when you 1) know that you want to start making some changes for the better but 2) aren’t sure of exactly what to try first. It’s a bit of a laid back and lazy approach to change. You sign up for a monthly delivery of sample products chosen for you, and there they come to your door just waiting to be tested out.

You probably won’t love and purchase everything you receive, but that’s not the point. The point is to discover some new (safer, cleaner) beauty favorites in a fun and organic way. I’ve been looking into a few of the natural and green beauty box subscriptions myself lately and have decided to try out Petit Vour. Not only do they work with some of my favorite non-toxic and cruelty-free brands, but they are very reasonably priced compared to other beauty box subscriptions on the market. Plus, you can earn money towards your next delivery by reviewing what you try. Pretty neat.

So now I want to know, what lies in your beauty graveyard? What products have been the toughest for you to switch up? What are your strategies for finding safer products that you actually use? Drop me a comment below and let me know!



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Disclaimer: This site is intended to share my own experiences and opinions in an effort towards helping people more easily find safer products. It should not be considered health or medical advice. Always do your own research and due diligence before trying out new products. 

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