What is Clean Beauty, Really? Q&A with Karen Behnke, Founder of Juice Beauty

“Clean Beauty.” It’s a term in the beauty industry that is often misconstrued and misused by consumers and the media. It can be understood as reaching a set of standards, such as being vegan and free of harsh chemicals. I had the pleasure to connect with beauty expert Karen Behnke, Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Juice Beauty, and got to break down what “Clean Beauty,” really means, while learning how she built her brand to what it is today!

Juice Beauty was founded in 2005, and gained major traction with its powerful, clinically validated, and gentle organic Green Apple Peel.

“I have always been passionate about wellness and fitness and it has fueled all my businesses as well as my life and body,” Behnke says. “I have also always been obsessed with skincare and this was enhanced during my pregnancies in my 40’s. I was experiencing hormonal acne and the beginning of lines in my skin during my pregnancies, so I set out to find healthy skincare solutions that delivered visible results – and this quest for a solution led me to founding Juice Beauty, almost 20 years ago.”

Fast forward to 2024, Juice has expanded hugely, offering a range of skincare and cosmetic products that align with the clean beauty movement.

With several lines of product, there is sure to be something that will suit your skincare or makeup needs. I was able to try the PREBIOTIX CLEANSING CREAM, PREBIOTIX SPF 45 GLOW, DAILY MULTI-TASKING MOISTURIZER, and the STEM CELLULAR ANTI-WRINKLE MOISTURIZER.

Out of the three, my standout favorite is the moisturizer! Filled with key ingredients such as a unique blend of fruit stem cells and Vitamin C, the rich cream actively strives to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also packaged in Post Consumer Recycled Packaging – just unscrew the cap and place the jar in the recycle bin.

Q & A

Peter Bialkowski (PB): What constitutes a product as “clean?” What does clean beauty mean to you?

Karen Behnke (KB): As the founder of the OG (as named by Cosmo, Elle and Forbes) “beyond clean,” organic ingredients skincare brand, I have to say there is no definition of “clean” and it’s certainly not regulated. For Juice Beauty it means that the majority content of all our products are organic ingredients to achieve the high antioxidant levels and to limit toxic pesticides, and using the highest performance plant or safe ingredient that we can find.

Juice Beauty has pioneered thousands of high performing plant-based ingredients that are better for the skin and better for the environment. For instance, we started using Zinc SPF almost 20 years ago instead of chemical sunscreens, using coconut alkanes and grapeseed for slip and feel instead of silicones or dimethicones or petroleum glycols. We set the bar high for clean beauty standards. And…we package our products in 99% recycled plastic from ocean + land waste, or glass, in FSC certified boxes shipped from our Solar Powered Headquarters. That is beyond clean.

PB: I have only tried your skincare, can you talk about your makeup and hair products? Which do you recommend?

KB: Juice Beauty’s Skincare Infused Makeup collection is amazing – from our award-winning Phyto-Pigments Serum Foundation (age defy serum + full coverage foundation) to our SPF 30 Stem Cellular CC Creams (light plant pigment coverage in 8 shades + zinc spf + organic ingredients) that is perfect for every morning and our very popular Last Looks Cream blushes (no synthetic dyes—just crushed roses) it’s hard to recommend just one product – they are all favorites and great for everyday use. Gwyneth Paltrow, a Juice Beauty investor, was our Creative Director for our makeup when we launched it in 2014. She has beautiful taste. Juice Beauty’s Green Apple haircare products are also made with high performance ingredients, plant proteins and vitamins for shiny, beautiful hair and these products are featured in high-end boutique hotels and clubs.

PB: As a mission-driven company, what are the core values that guide every decision at Juice Beauty?

KB: Here are our 5 EcoValues:






The practices of sustainability, organic ingredients, utilizing no animal byproducts, cruelty-free are foundational values for Juice Beauty. We focus on best practices throughout the entire company, and this includes packaging, manufacturing and in any way possible at our headquarters and on the farm. In fact, our organic farm and Headquarters are powered by California’s sun. Our sustainable packaging quest started about 10 years ago as we have converted to PCR/Recycled plastic—cleaning up the land and oceans, putting it back in our packaging and recycling again. We use sustainable glass, FSC Boxes, recycled cardboard boxes and more. And what is inside the bottle is critical as we use organic ingredients not only to have the best high antioxidant skincare results but to limit pesticides on our planet and bodies.

PB: What is your advice for someone who has always dreamt of starting a skincare line?

KB: Stay true to your mission and trust your instincts. Starting and running a beauty company is a journey – for me it’s been the opportunity to constantly innovate and push boundaries to radically transform the chemistry of beauty. If you are passionate about what you do, that will help you overcome all the obstacles that fall in front of entrepreneurs every day.

It’s important to use products that are not only good for you, but good for the environment, too! You can find Juice Beauty products at Ulta or on their official website.