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Target, a Shopping reader-favorite megaretailer, launched Target Clean in 2019, focusing on household essentials and baby goods, and months later expanded to beauty items. Fast forward two years and Target now sells more than 4,000 products featuring the green and white hexagonal Target Clean seal helping shoppers distinguish products meeting Target's definition of cleanliness.
SKIP AHEAD Best clean beauty products at Target
Target Clean: Ingredients you’ll avoid
So what does Target Clean mean? The retailer's definition varies based on product categories, like cleaning supplies and pet food. However, it's all about the listed ingredients and whether they exclude components Target wants to avoid. Here is a quick look at the various category-specific ingredients Target Clean items need to avoid:
Target Clean in beauty products
- Propyl-paraben and Butylparaben are parabens (preservatives) and endocrine (hormone) disruptors, according to nonprofit Environmental Working Group's (EWG) ingredients database. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reports that, generally speaking, endocrine disruptors are linked to immune, reproductive and developmental health issues.
- Phthalates are typically found in synthetic fragrances and can disrupt your hormones, per the EWG.
- Beauty-wise, formaldehyde can typically be found in keratin and Brazilian Blowouts, two hair treatments that employ heat to smooth your hair. According to the National Cancer Institute, it can cause watery eyes, coughing, skin irritation, wheezing, and burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat.
- Formaldehyde donors are preservatives that help extend a product’s expiration date, according to Unilever, the maker of Dove and Axe.
- Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) are detergent-like substances that might negatively impact marine life, according to the Environmental Protection Agency .
- Oxybenzone is a chemical sun blocking agent that can be damaging to coral and may enter your bloodstream, although the after effects aren’t fully known, NBC News previously reported in 2019.
- Sodium laureth sulfates (SLES) are cleansing agents which can cause skin irritation.
- Retinyl palmitate is a skin conditioner made from vitamin A and palmitic acid that may cause skin irritation.
- Hydroquinone is a skin lightening agent which helps reduce dark spots. However, it can cause dryness and irritation. Prolonged use can cause your skin to turn black and blue, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.
- Triclosan (TCS) is typically found in antibacterial products, although the FDA ruled to remove triclosan from antibacterial soaps in 2017. It is still found in mouthwashes and toothpaste, per the EPA. There isn't significant evidence on negative long-term human effects, per the FDA.
- Triclocarban is another antibacterial agent that can be found in soaps, per the EPA. Science Direct, an online database of medical research, noted triclocarban can mess with testosterone levels and cause PCOS, a hormonal imbalance in women, side effects of which include irregular menstrual cycles, hair loss, breakouts, weight gain and fertility issues.
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a synthetic antioxidant typically found in skin care and color cosmetics products, according to a study in the National Library of Medicine. It can cause skin reactions and potentially mess with your hormones.
- Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is an antioxidant and preservative found in skin care products and food, per the EWG. The organization added BHT can cause moderate irritation and disrupt hormones.
Target Clean in other products
Cleaning products like hand soap, laundry detergent and dish soap need to be free of nearly all the same ingredients listed above for beauty products with the exception of retinyl palmitate and propyl-paraben. Deodorants must be aluminum-free, while oral care products like toothpaste and mouthwash should be free of artificial sweeteners. Diapers should be chlorine- and fragrance-free, just like Target Clean-approved feminine care products. The first ingredient found in clean pet food for both dogs and cats must be meat, seafood or poultry, and it cannot contain artificial flavors, dyes and preservatives.
Best clean beauty products at Target 2021
Shopping readers have gravitated toward beauty and wellness items like undereye masks, pimple patches, sunscreen for kids and top-rated hair essentials like dry scalp shampoos. To help you sort through the plethora of Clean Target beauty items, we put together a quick list of seven bestsellers, ranging from skin care and hair styling products to a 10-piece eyeshadow palette that works for day and night.
"It's all about thin, thoughtful layers of skincare and makeup so there's less maintenance throughout the day," Lisa Aharon, a celebrity makeup artist, previously advised us regarding long-lasting makeup while wearing a face mask. Aharon recommended misting a setting spray after powdering to help prolong the wear of your makeup, blur imperfections and mattify skin. Milani claims this spray lasts up to 16 hours. The brand noted the setting spray doubles as a face primer.
Jessica Alba's Honest Beauty line makes clean cosmetics and skin care products, while her Honest Company brand produces baby and cleaning products, all available at Target. Her top-rated eye shadow palette contains a mix of ten matte and shimmer shades that are easy to apply with fingers and blend with your makeup brushes. This palette is also versatile — you can create soft, Zoom-ready makeup or achieve a dramatic smokey eye. The shadows range from Strobed Champagne, a copper; Gilded Mauve, a deep brown; Sunlit Copper, a red-brown with flecks of gold and Magnetic Ink, a rich black.
This deodorant genuinely smells like vanilla and coconut and glides on and dries clear — no pesky white marks transferring to your clothes here. It's made with natural ingredients, like coconut oil, shea butter and tapioca starch, which absorbs sweat. It's available in various scents, including Eucalyptus & Mint, Lavender & Rose Deodorant and Sea Salt & Cedar.
Before reaching for your blow dryer, flat iron or curling iron, be sure to employ this highly-rated heat protectant for easier styling and to prevent damage. Argan oil is rich in antioxidants, fatty acids and vitamins A and E, which help nourish your strands, while sunflower seed oil softens, adds shine and tames frizz. It's also gentle enough for those with color- and chemical-treated hair, like Brazilian Blowouts and keratin treatments, can mist this spray onto their strands.
This highly-rated green face serum — the pigmentation derives from chlorophyll — is designed for first-time retinol users and those with sensitive skin. It contains bakuchiol, a plant-based natural alternative to retinol that can improve the signs of aging, skin texture and fades dark spots. Unlike traditional retinol, this creamy serum is plant-based, and it doesn't cause dryness. Versed claims its serum is certified by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, meaning the company's harvesting of bakuchiol doesn't hinder its natural survival in the wild.
Patricia Wexler, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Wexler Dermatology, previously recommended this paraben- and fragrance-free sunscreen for acne-prone skin. The mineral sunscreen is non-comedogenic, meaning it is oil-free and won't clog your pores — an added benefit for those with oily skin. It is a non-greasy formula and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, according to La Roche-Posay. Plus, it contains Cell-Ox Shield, the brand's proprietary blend of sun-blocking agents, which help fight environmental skin damage.
Method doesn't just make natural cleaning products. The brand offers bath and body products, including this highly-rated shower gel, the second bestselling clean body wash at the retailer. The plant-based body wash — with cleansing agents derived from coconut and palm oils — is safe for sensitive skin and smells like peony, rose and sea salt, to boot. According to Method, the 18-ounce bottle is made from 65 percent recycled plastic.
Popular Target Clean-approved brands
You can shop the Target Clean page by categories or by brand. Here's a glance at 16 popular brands across various categories that have earned the Target Clean seal. Also, just because one product earned a Clean Target seal does not mean the brand’s other products can boast the same. For example, Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Naturals features the Clean Target logo but other Purell products like this hand sanitizer and these wipes aren’t Target Clean. Your safest bet is to look at the product description pages and look for the green and white logo.
Having said that, you might have some preferred brands in mind (I love shopping by brand, for example), especially when it comes to skin care, wellness, and other intimate genres. To that end, here are some Shopping-favored brands with products that have earned the coveted Clean Target seal.
- Blue Buffalo
- Burt's Bees
- Dr. Bronner's
- Honest Beauty and Honest Company
- Mega Babe
- Mrs. Meyer's
- Rachel Ray Nutrish
- Seventh Generation