I met Dunja several years ago on a Berlin rooftop—bathed in a golden glow of a setting sun— and was taken with her big smile and her skin. It was probably just good genes, but stalking on her Instagram I also discovered that she was a clean beauty advocate, testing and educating about organic and clean beauty products through her beauty workshops, Clean My Routine. The workshops, which are held across Germany, demystify all things clean beauty and help clients curate a non-toxic, and dare I add, pretty bathroom shelf.
Like many of us, Dunja found her way to clean beauty after a bad reaction to conventional skin care products filled with silicones, which led to her phasing out irritants and other toxic chemicals. Working in branding at Berlin clean beauty company Amazingy with brands like Kjaer Weis, Ilia Beauty, and Josh Rosebrook, Dunja definitely knows her stuff and has a few tricks up her sleeve when it comes to clean beauty hacks.
We chat with Dunja about her clean beauty journey and pick up a few tips too.
First, what does clean beauty mean to you?
To me clean beauty means natural ingredients on my skin. The term clean beauty itself has no real definition though. Some brands and shops take this as an opportunity to give their beauty products a clean image, by making their own clean beauty labels. They create a clean beauty list saying what ingredients are clean what not and that’s it. This means you can have a brand using natural ingredients but also microplastics, because they say it’s safe for the skin, but clearly it is not for the environment. For the consumer this is confusing which is why I founded CleanMyRoutine. It’s a series of workshops to help you with switching to natural skincare.
Is natural always better? What’s your take on 'clean synthetics'?
Some [clean synthetics] make sense in an ethical way. Look at mica—it’s the stuff that creates a sheen after the application—you’ll find it in powders, highlighters, even in shampoos. But mica is also linked to child labor in India. You can now get synthetic mica, which is even more shiny than the natural one and is ethically sourced.
What prompted you to embark on a clean beauty journey?
My skin broke out from a conventional hair product seven years ago. That was the first time, I turned around a product to look up its ingredients. It turned out to be a blend of silicones instead of the promised argan oil, which I could only find at the end of the INCI list. After three days of scanning all my beauty products, I shut the door for conventional beauty products. It was a market I had never questioned before.
What has been one of the most surprising things you’ve learned about beauty, skincare or the beauty industry since you switched to clean beauty?
We need to rethink and redefine skincare.
There is still a significant lack of regulation and transparency in the beauty industry, and a lot of greenwashing, with many brands jumping on the green or clean wagon without actually aligning their marketing with their ingredients. Add to this is the inconsistency on what is actually classified as clean. How do you navigate this? What are some useful trustful sources you turn to sort out the clean from the unclean products?
Try the Clean Swap Machine on my page. It’ll help you to find a good natural match for the conventional product you’ve been using. Also with every answer you receive, you learn a bit more about your skin and what works best.
What are a few ingredients that are definitely deal breakers for you and that you avoid at all costs? And why?
I don’t really have an avoid mindset. I started from zero and then asked myself, 'what’s the natural product that can fix my skin’s needs?' This was quite hard in the beginning, because the amazing textures we have now in natural skincare didn’t exist back then.
What are three ‘can’t live without’ products in your make-up bag?
ILIA Beauty Lipstick Crayon in 99 Red Balloons—the perfect everyday red. Sadly ILIA discontinued it but I have a few backups though.
HIRO Mineral Makeup SPF 25. I love that I can have light to full coverage with this mineral foundation and always have sun protection on my face.
A mauve-brown lip pencil from Benecos. Perfectly defines while looking really natural.
What product do you wish you could find in clean beauty that you haven’t yet been able to?
AHAs and BHAs.
What was the goal you had in mind when you started CleanMyRoutine?
Clean My Routine is the workshop you wanna go to, to finally have all your skincare questions answered in order to find a natural beauty routine that suits your skin type. You can try textures, chat with like-minded people, make samples you can try at home, and on top you get a goodie bag.
Overhauling your current beauty stash can be quite overwhelming. Any advice to people wanting to clean their routine?
Start with the face cream and the lipstick. A woman eats up to 3 kilograms of lip products in her lifetime, and face creams are something most of us use on a daily basis. Actually make it a SPF. It’s the best anti-aging cream on the market.
To find out more about Dunja's Clean My Routine workshops visit cleanmyroutine.com.