Given the rise in conscious consumerism in the beauty and skincare world, the term “clean beauty” is suddenly everywhere to be found.
“As opposed to what? Dirty beauty?” you may be thinking. Well, kind of. We’ll admit that “clean beauty” is somewhat vague, as the rules of what constitutes as “clean beauty” are muddy. But we’ll try to clear them up for you.
What Does “Clean Beauty” Really Mean?
Officially, there’s no one definition for what constitutes “clean beauty.” The FDA has taken a relatively lax approach to regulating the toxins that often end up in beauty products, having banned only 11 additives for use in cosmetics in the last 80 years. That’s why many beauty and skincare companies have started creating products that abide by stricter quality standards. After all, it makes no sense to slather cell-damaging chemicals onto your face if your goal is to take care of your skin!
Clean beauty products are often denoted by their ingredients (or lack thereof). Most are made with ingredients found in nature, some of which might be listed as fair trade or organic. You won’t find parabens, phthalates or other harsh chemicals in clean beauty products. However, clean beauty can also refer to the sourcing, production and packaging process of a product as well. Some skin and bath products, like bar soaps and shampoos, are package-free to reduce plastic waste.
The definition of clean beauty varies brand by brand, but it’s universally accepted that clean beauty products should not and cannot be full of harsh chemicals like silicone, parabens and sulfates. (Ahem, and Gods + Grit abides by this standard, too!).
Here’s why making a genuine effort to support clean beauty products matters:
Clean beauty products are safer for the skin and body.
An inconvenient truth about conventional cosmetics: many are laden with toxic ingredients that have a serious impact on human health.
Since 2009, 595 cosmetics manufacturers in the U.S. have reported using chemicals in over 73,000 products that have been linked to cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. Some of those are formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, mercury, which damages the kidneys and nervous system, and parabens, which disrupt hormones and the reproductive system.
What’s more, the irony of conventional cosmetics can’t be overlooked: they’re marketed to improve the skin’s health and appearance, but their composition of harsh chemicals can dry out and damage skin cells. Frequent application of toxins to the skin can ultimately lead to irritation, uneven skin texture, fine lines and dark spots.
Clean products and brands differentiate themselves by actively avoiding use of these kinds of toxic chemicals. It turns out that ingredients derived from the natural world are also just as effective in creating beauty and skincare products. Some of these ingredients might include aloe vera, sugar, witch hazel, shea butter and coconut oil, among others.
They also minimize environmental impact.
Taking care of your skin is great — but what if it comes at the cost of the planet? Clean beauty brands attempt to minimize ecological harm by using ingredients that don’t cause toxic runoff. Think about what happens when you take a shower: your shampoo, conditioner, and any other bath products you use eventually go down the drain and into the Earth’s water systems. That means that the chemicals those products are made of also end up in our waterways.
In addition, many beauty and skincare brands have pledged not to test their products on animals.
Clean beauty is not only the best option for your skin, but also for the planet — both of which will thank you in the years to come!