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Our Selection Process

selecting clean beauty products for the store

Only Clean Beauty Brands

We only sell 100% natural, organic, safe, cruelty free, clean beauty brands to deliver a simplified shopping experience in what can be a sometimes ambiguous market.

There are many brands that people assume are natural because they are small, or use certain language, but aren't natural at all. To be approved for sale on Biddy + May's clean beauty webstore, a product must not only be made from natural ingredients with no unsafe synthetics at all; it must also be effective and cruelty-free. We also take into consideration packaging and the brand’s commitment to transparency in ingredient sourcing.

As a platform, we promote clean beauty consciousness, and use of natural, cruelty-free makeup and skincare products sourced both locally and internationally. We want to help people make educated choices around their beauty and skincare routines. Self-care is non-negotiable, and we think everyone deserves healthy luminous skin. Here is a guide to our rigorous approval process, and how we’ve curated our collections.


Decoding the terms natural, organic & clean

We only sell 100% natural products, and by natural, we mean products that don’t have unsafe chemicals in them. Currently, there is a lack of regulation, and therefore clarity, around what it means to be natural, organic or non-toxic - these terms are most commonly used by brands to market their products.


Natural Skincare

A natural skin care ingredient is derived from a plant, mineral or animal by-product. The term ‘natural’ has no legal or even global third party definition, stating what qualifies it as such. So skincare and cosmetics companies can determine their interpretation of natural. The product can be promoted as ‘natural’ using evocative imagery and wording on the front label, but turn the bottle around, and the ingredients on the back do not need to reflect this. It may contain a small number of natural ingredients combined with toxic ingredients such as parabens, phthalates and sulfates.

We only stock products made from 100% natural ingredients and that also means no unsafe synthetics. We believe these products are incredibly powerful, and always look for effective products. The misconception that 'natural products are ineffective' is not the case.


Organic Skincare

The term organic as applied to ingredients has a legal definition, and the use of the term must meet a defined standard issued by a specific organisation – such as USDA Organic, EcoCert or BioGro. Organic describes the way an ingredient is grown or farmed without the use of fertiliser, pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones or genetic modification. The word organic may be used in front of an ingredient on an ingredients list, even if the product doesn’t contain 100% organic ingredients. However, Certified Organic skincare must be just that, made with a high percentage (depending on the certified body) of organic ingredients to be labelled as such.

For us, our focus is 100% natural, and if a product we screen is organic, even better.


Clean Skincare & Clean Beauty

The term ‘clean beauty’ is also unregulated, but now carries more weight in the beauty industry as many companies are becoming more transparent with their processes. A clean product can also be natural, but it goes a few steps further, as a natural ingredient may not necessarily be clean, like lead for example.

‘Clean’ describes beauty products that are created without known toxic ingredients; they must contain safe ingredients, ethically sourced and manufactured taking into account human and environmental health. Clean beauty products must be free-from a long list of known toxic ingredients, some of which are banned in many countries.

Clean beauty brands take great care to use nutrient-dense ingredients, that nourish and look after our skin. They may also use safe synthetics (developed via green chemistry practices) when necessary for preservation or effectiveness.

The difference between these three terms can be confusing, so let us do the vetting for you. We are not only committed to stocking only products made from 100% natural ingredients, but have adopted a more modern philosophy with a focus on the cruelty-free status with a focus on transparency and efficacy.



Cruelty-Free versus Vegan

All beauty products at Biddy + May are always 100% natural and cruelty-free. We want to help people make educated choices around their beauty and skincare routines. Education is a part of that, promoting the use of natural beauty brands and consciousness around using natural, cruelty-free skincare and make up products. Self-care is non-negotiable, and while we think everyone deserves healthy glowing skin, we don’t think we should have to compromise animal welfare in pursuit of beauty.

There is a difference between cruelty-free makeup and vegan makeup and many people think they are synonymous with each other.

Cruelty-free means the finished product was not tested on animals; it refers to and describes the testing process - not the ingredients where most animal testing occurs. Therefore a cruelty-free product can contain non-vegan ingredients, such as lanolin, honey, beeswax or collagen. Clarity around the ingredients, the raw materials, is an important distinction because a product can claim cruelty-free even if the ingredients used to make the product were tested on animals.

Vegan means a product does not contain any animal products or animal-derived ingredients. It describes the ingredients, rather than the production process and therefore, products tested on animals may call themselves vegan without being cruelty-free. They could, however, contain ingredients harmful to your health; and these ingredients might have been tested on animals.

Products labelled cruelty-free or vegan may not necessarily be clean.

Leaping Bunny and PETA certifications mean that cosmetic companies have adhered to strict guidelines on becoming cruelty-free beauty and vegan beauty.

We research to ensure that even if a brand is not certified, they must be cruelty-free.

For more clarity, some 100% vegan brands - vegan and cruelty-free - will certify with an independent third party such as The Vegan Society, PETA, or the Leaping Bunny Programme. Cruelty free certification requires that no new animal testing is employed at any stage of product development by the company, its laboratories, or ingredient suppliers. If you are unsure of a brand's cruelty-free status, Cruelty-Free Kitty is the Internets’ most comprehensive, current list of 100% vegan brands.

100% vegan brands do not contain any animal products or animal-derived ingredients. They do not test their ingredients on animals or test their products on animals. 100% vegan brands do not hire or ask third parties to test their ingredients or final products on animals on their behalf. They have contractual agreements with their raw material suppliers to ensure they are not testing on animals. They do not sell in China because brands are currently required to submit their products for animal testing if they want to sell in China. However, the Chinese government has announced that, by 2020, long-contested laws that made animal testing mandatory will be lifted.

We only allow a small handful of non-vegan ingredients such as honey and beeswax.


Cruelty-free all the way, because bunnies don't wear makeup!

If in doubt as to why we ensure our beauty products are cruelty-free, check out Save Ralph. A Short Film by Taika Waititi.


Love Vegan Brands as well as Cruelty Free Beauty?

Discover and Shop Vegan Skincare and Vegan Make Up



We are continually looking for innovative, emerging brands and products both locally, here in New Zealand and internationally. Brands that have a passion for natural beauty and employ best practice in their ingredient sourcing and manufacturing processes. Our selection of products is carefully curated to ensure we cover a need, and our suite of brands is ever-growing. For example, the increasing demand for vegan products - vegan skincare and beauty brands - means we look very closely at sourcing the best vegan skincare and vegan makeup on the market while being committed to stocking only 100% natural ingredients. 


Product Efficacy

We try every product to ensure it is effective, taking into account worldwide or local product reviews. It must also look great, smell good, feel beautiful, have thoughtful packaging and have a real point of difference.

You deserve the best, and we are committed to bringing you the best.


Beauty Brand Knowledge

It is important to us that we have an in-depth knowledge of the brands we select. We get to know the founders, the passion behind their clean beauty creations, their brand values and transparency in how they source their ingredients.

Without question, every brand approved must provide fair pay and employment conditions and be an utterly cruelty-free beauty brand. Many of our brands go further by employing sustainable approaches to production and local ingredient sourcing.


Ingredient Review

While reviewing beauty products, we use multiple reputable resources to check every ingredient. For a product to be accepted, it must be 100% natural, which means it cannot contain any restricted ingredients, or we will not stock it. We are continually updating an evolving comprehensive 'No Go' ingredients list, reflecting global ingredient restrictions. We want to make informed decisions that prioritise your health so you can make informed decisions, not misled ones.



Biddy + May believe in safe, high-performing, clean natural skincare and make up. We believe in health for your skin, and in turn, health for your body and the environment.

We examine every ingredient so that you don’t need to. No toxins, no compromise.

Below is a list of ingredients you will NOT FIND in any of our clean beauty products.



1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen linked to organ toxicity, may be found in as many as 22 percent of the more than 25,000 cosmetics products in the Skin Deep database but you won’t find it on ingredient labels. That’s because 1,4-dioxane is a contaminant created when common ingredients react to form the compound when mixed together.

FOUND IN: Products that create suds (such as shampoo, liquid soap, bubble bath), hair relaxers, others

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Sodium laureth sulphate (SLS), PEG compounds, chemicals that include the clauses xynol, ceteareth and oleth

WHAT IS 1,4 DIOXANE? 1,4-dioxane is generated through a process called ethoxylation, in which ethylene oxide, a known breast carcinogen, is added to other chemicals to make them less harsh.



Butylated Compounds

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are used as preservatives in a variety of personal care products. Both of these chemicals are also used as preservatives in foods. These chemicals are linked to several health concerns including endocrine disruption and organ-system toxicity.

FOUND IN: Lip products, hair products, makeup, sunscreen, antiperspirant/deodorant, fragrance, and creams


WHAT ARE BUTYLATED COMPOUNDS? BHA is primarily used as an antioxidant and preservative in food, cosmetics, food packaging and animal feed.

POTENTIAL HEALTH CONCERNS: Endocrine disruption, organ-system toxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer, irritation.


Ethanolamine Compounds (MEA, DEA, TEA and Others)

Ethanolamines are present in many consumer products ranging from cosmetics, personal care products and household cleaning products. Both have been linked to liver tumours. The European Commission prohibits diethanolamine (DEA) in cosmetics, to reduce contamination from carcinogenic nitrosamines.

FOUND IN: Soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners and dyes, lotions, shaving creams, paraffin and waxes, household cleaning products, pharmaceutical ointments, eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, blush, make-up bases, foundations, fragrances, sunscreens

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Triethanolamine, diethanolamine, DEA, TEA, cocamide DEA, cocamide MEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, linoleamide MEA, myristamide DEA, oleamide DEA, stearamide MEA, TEA-lauryl sulfate

WHAT ARE ETHANOLAMINES? Diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) are key examples of ethanolamines—a chemical group comprised of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and alcohols. They are used in a wide range of applications including cosmetics and personal care products.

POTENTIAL HEALTH CONCERNS: Cancer, environmental concerns (bioaccumulation), organ system toxicity


Ethoxylated Ingredients

Ethoxylation is the process of reacting ethylene oxide with other chemicals to make them less harsh. Ethoxylation can create small amounts of 1,4-dioxane and leave residual ethylene oxide in the product.

FOUND IN: shampoo, liquid soap, bubble bath, hair relaxers.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: PPG, PEG, polysorbate and ingredients that end in –eth such as laureth, steareth, ceteareth.

WHAT ARE ETHOXYLATED INGREDIENTS? Ethoxylated ingredients on their own are of low concern, however, the process of ethoxylation, may leave behind trace amounts of carcinogens.

POTENTIAL HEALTH CONCERNS: This manufacturing process can result in two toxic contaminants linked to breast cancer and other cancers: ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane.


Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives

Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs) are used in many personal care products, particularly in shampoos and liquid baby soaps. These chemicals, which help prevent microbes from growing in water-based products, can be absorbed through the skin and have been linked to cancer and allergic skin reactions.

FOUND IN: Nail polish, nail glue, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap, body wash, colour cosmetics.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal.

WHAT IS FORMALDEHYDE? Formaldehyde is a colourless, strong-smelling gas used in a wide range of industries and products including building materials, walls, cabinets furniture and personal care products.

POTENTIAL HEALTH CONCERNS: Cancer, skin irritation



Hydroquinone is most commonly used in skin lighteners, products heavily marketed towards women of colour. It is linked to cancer and organ-system toxicity.

FOUND IN: Skin lighteners, facial and skin cleansers, facial moisturizers, hair conditioners, fingernail coating products.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Hydroquinone or tocopheryl acetate

WHAT IS HYDROQUINONE? Hydroquinone is marketed most aggressively to women of colour for its whitening ability in skin creams. The chemical is allowed in personal care products in the United States in concentrations up to two percent. Although banned in the European Union, a UK news report found that products containing hydroquinone were relatively easy to procure. In addition to its use in skin lighteners, hydroquinone is a possible impurity of tocopheryl acetate (synthetic Vitamin E), which is very common in facial and skin cleansers, facial moisturizers and hair conditioners.

POTENTIAL HEALTH CONCERNS: Cancer, organ-system toxicity, respiratory tract irritation.


Methylisothiazolinone And Methylchloroisothiazolinone

Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT) may be hard to pronounce, but they can be even harder on the body. These common preservatives are found in many liquid personal care products, and have been linked to lung toxicity, allergic reactions and possible neurotoxicity.

FOUND IN: Shampoo, conditioner, hair colour, body wash, lotion, sunscreen, mascara, shaving cream, baby lotion, baby shampoo, hairspray, makeup remover, liquid soaps and detergents.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Methylisothiazolinone (MIT): 2-methyl-4-isothiazoline-3-one, Neolone 950 preservative, MI, OriStar MIT and Microcare MT. Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT): 5-Chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one and MCI.


Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT) are widely used preservatives found in liquid cosmetic and personal care products. Both chemicals inhibit bacterial growth in cosmetic products on their own, but they are most commonly used as a mixture in products.

HEALTH CONCERNS: Inhalation toxicity, allergies and possible neurotoxicity.



Insoluble nanoparticles in cosmetic products are essentially used as UV-filters or preservatives. Nanoparticles alter properties of cosmetic products including colour, transparency, solubility and chemical reactivity. It is unclear to what extent insoluble nanoparticles are used in cosmetic products. FOUND IN: deodorants, toothpastes, shampoos, lotions, foundation, anti-aging creams, and nail polish.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Fullerenes, micronized zinc oxide, nano zinc oxide, micronized titanium dioxide, micronized quartz silica.

WHAT ARE NANOMATERIALS?: There is not a legal definition for nanomaterials. Typically, they are defined as purposely-engineered materials with at least one dimension between 1 and 100 nanometres, which is about 1/8000 the width of a human hair. At this size, materials begin to exhibit unique properties that affect physical, chemical, and biological behaviour. There is no single type of nanomaterial. They can differ with respect to composition, primary particle size, shape, surface coatings and strength of particle bonds.

POTENTIAL HEALTH CONCERNS: Studies have indicated that low solubility nanoparticles tend to be more toxic than larger particles of the same material. However, we know very little about the potential effects on human health and the environment due to research gaps related to nanoscale materials.



Parabens are preservatives used in a wide variety of personal care products and foods to prevent the growth of microbes. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals can be absorbed through skin, blood and the digestive system.

FOUND IN: Shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers and scrubs

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, other ingredients ending in –paraben

WHAT ARE PARABENS? Parabens are actually several distinct chemicals with a similar molecular structure. Several are common in a wide array cosmetic and personal care products: ethylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben.

POTENTIAL HEALTH CONCERNS: Endocrine disruption, cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity



Pronounced THAL-ates, these chemicals, which are linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer, have been banned from cosmetics in the European Union, but still remain prevalent in U.S. products. FOUND IN: Colour cosmetics, fragranced lotions, body washes and hair care products, nail polish and treatment

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance

POTENTIAL HEALTH CONCERNS: Endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer.



Resorcinol is commonly used in hair dyes and acne medication. In higher doses it is toxic and can disrupt the function of the central nervous system and lead to respiratory problems. It has also been shown to disrupt the endocrine system, specifically thyroid function.

FOUND IN: Most common in hair dyes, also in shampoos/hair lotions, peels and in products used to treat acne, eczema and other dermatological issues.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Resorcinol, 1,3-benzenediol, resorcin, 1,3-dihydroxybenzene(m-hydroxybenze, m-dihydroxyphenol)

WHAT IS RESORCINOL? Resorcinol is primarily used by the rubber industry, especially in the production of tires; it is also used in high quality wood bonding, dyes, chemical fertilizers and in the manufacturing of certain chemicals.

POTENTIAL HEALTH CONCERNS: Skin and eye irritant, skin sensitizer, organ system toxicity, and possible endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC). 



An ingredient that is widely disputed over whether it is safe to use or not. You are probably in contact with sulfates on a daily basis.

FOUND IN : Sulfates are found in variety of products from toothpaste to cleansers to also help with foaming. There are a lot of different types of sulfates, but the ones that are used most commonly are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).


POTENTIAL HEALTH CONCERNS : May strip away valuable moisture and protective barriers, causes skin and eye irritation, can trigger allergies. 



Toluene is a toxic chemical used in in nail products and hair dyes. Exposure to toluene can result in temporary effects such as headaches, dizziness and cracked skin, as well as more serious effects such as reproductive damage and respiratory complications.

FOUND IN: Nail polish, nail treatment, hair dyes


WHAT IS TOLUENE? Toluene, found naturally in crude oil and in the tolu tree, is added to gasoline and is used in the making of many products including paint thinners, adhesives, rubber and hair dyes.

POTENTIAL HEALTH CONCERNS: Developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, irritation.



Triclosan and triclocarban are commonly used antimicrobial agents found in many soaps and detergents. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has identified triclosan in the urine of 75 percent people tested. Widespread use with few regulations has led to concerns regarding their effects on humans and the environment, such as endocrine disruption, bioaccumulation, and the emergence of bacteria resistant to antibodies and antibacterial products.

FOUND IN: Antibacterial soaps and detergents, toothpaste and tooth whitening products, antiperspirants/deodorants, shaving products, creams, colour cosmetics.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Triclosan (TSC) and triclocarban (TCC)

WHAT IS TRICLOSAN? Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent found in a wide variety of antibacterial soaps and detergents, as well as in many deodorants, toothpastes, cosmetics, fabrics and plastics. It was initially developed as a surgical scrub for medical professionals, but in recent years it has been added to a host of consumer products, from kitchen cutting boards to shoes, in order to kill bacteria and fungus and prevent odors.

POTENTIAL HEALTH CONCERNS: Endocrine disruption, triclosan-resistant bacteria, environmental toxicity (bioaccumulation).


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