The beauty trend of today: clean.
Along with terms like organic, green, natural, and cruelty-free, the words clean beauty are being used to describe products—from skincare to hair and makeup—that are free of proven and suspected harmful ingredients such as parabens, synthetic fragrances, and artificial colours to name a few.
Take a look at the world’s largest beauty retailers and they have entire sections devoted to clean beauty. Scroll through your feed and it will not take you more than a minute to see a clean beauty brand or product on your screen. If these aren’t any indications, clean beauty is here and is here to stay.
But, let’s be real, how well do you know your clean beauty? What does it exactly mean? How well can you trust all-natural brands?
Clean Beauty—and Why It Matters
Honestly, there’s no clear or standard definition for clean beauty and that’s mostly because the category is relatively new and is still growing. Plus, the beauty industry has yet to regulate the use of the word clean. While that’s the case, you can think of clean beauty as brands and products that take the well-being of the consumers and the environment into consideration when being developed, manufactured, and sold.
But, the problem is this. Without regulation, any brand can call their products clean whether proven safe or not. It means when you see products that are marketed as green, clean, or organic, you can and should be sceptical. Sure, there will be brands that are true to their claims, but you can’t be too confident that there aren’t brands who green-wash their products or make false green claims just to make money.
How to Identify Clean Products
Figuring out whether something is as clean as it’s claimed to be can be quite confusing. But, there are decisions you can make when shopping for products that are better for you and the environment—and it starts off with focusing on at least two things: certifications and ingredients.
There are independent organizations that have created their set of standards and guidelines to clean beauty. These groups assess everything from the product’s safety to you and the environment, therefore eliminating the legwork from your end. Some of them include:
Soil Association and Cosmos
The Soil Association is a leading organic certification body in the UK. It has recently partnered with four other organizations to set organic standards organically. To receive this certification, 95% of all ingredients in any product should be organic, cruelty-free, and sustainably sourced.
This non-profit organisation was set up to promote transparency when using the word organic. Years later and it is now an internationally recognised certification for natural cosmetics. With this certification, 95% of the ingredients must be natural and come from certified organic production.
|Ecocert is the first certification body to set standards for natural and organic beauty products. When you see this logo in cosmetics, you are rest assured that it’s eco-friendly. Keep an eye out for the labels Natural Cosmetic and Organic Cosmetic, which essentially means that the product has at least 50% plant-based ingredients, and 5% of all ingredients by weight are sourced via organic farming.
Other than these, there are also the Leaping Bunny, Beauty Without Bunnies, and NSF Certified Organic, among other clean beauty certifications. We can readily thrust these third-party certifiers because they are independent organizations with strict standards. This is opposed to brands who self-assign their green labels.
In many cases, beauty brands categorise their products as clean based not on what’s in it, but on what is not. You’ll usually see a free-from list on the label, enumerating ingredients that have been deemed potentially toxic to your health and the environment:
A type of preservatives that may negatively affect hormone levels as well as trigger allergic reactions.
A by-product of petroleum that is often added as a moisturiser but can be toxic to the environment.
|Fragrance is a vague ingredient that may contain chemicals that are linked to reproductive and hormonal issues both in children and adults.
|This may be present in synthetic fragrances and are often irritating to the skin. Phthalate exposure is also linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
A skin-bleaching ingredient that’s potentially carcinogenic. It’s linked to certain cancers and a skin condition called ochronosis.
Solvents, softeners, and thickening agents that may be laden with certain levels of carcinogens.
Sodium Laureth & Lauryl Sulfate (SLES/SLS)
|Harsh surfactants or cleansers that can strip your skin of natural oils and cause irritation.
In addition to these, many brands also add talc, triclosan, silica, and formaldehyde in their “free from list..”. Keep in mind, however, that these ingredients will not necessarily load your skin with toxins. The list is not meant to condemn these ingredients, either.
The point of clean beauty is to raise awareness and encourage consumers to be more mindful and selective about what we put on our skin on a daily basis. It’s a rejection of beauty brands who use possibly dangerous ingredients in their products. If you can avoid these potentially harmful ingredients and find a cleaner alternative you love, why not give it a try?
Make the Switch to Clean Beauty Today
Switching to clean beauty doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to throw out everything on your dressing table and start from scratch. You don’t have to exclusively use clean products to make a significant impact or those that only use natural or organic ingredients, either. Because although clean beauty largely favours naturally derived ingredients, it can use synthetic ingredients as well as long as they’re safe for your health and the environment. You can also think of clean beauty as words that closely align with sustainability and transparency.
Clean beauty is all a matter of preference and that depends on what you think is better for you. As science and innovation in the beauty industry progress, so will our definition of clean beauty. With the upsurge in demand for clean products, we can only expect large retailers to make it easier to score clean finds with great value for money.
What is your definition of clean beauty?