Clean beauty refers to the practice of producing non-toxic products that are made without a long (and ever-evolving) list of ingredients linked to harmful health effects.
Why It’s Important
The last piece of regulation passed to control the personal care industry was in 1938 leaving it mostly unregulated. Without this government regulation and oversight, companies are allowed to include whatever ingredients they want, often packing make-up and beauty products full of toxic ingredients. Under this free-for-all, they can also use whatever marketing adjectives they please to promote their products. Natural, green, eco — these are all terms loosely and widely used though not correctly. A brand can promote a green, natural product while if you turn to the ingredient list, you are sure to find another story.
Phthalates, PEGs, parabens, ethanolamines, chemical sunscreens, BHA, and synthetic fragrances are ingredients on a long list of toxic offenders. While the science for this isn’t always black and white, some things are easy questions. Propylene glycol — antifreeze — can be a common ingredient in moisturizer. While studies based science can sometimes differ, we can all agree we don’t want those ingredients on our bodies or faces.
What You Need to Know
Here are 3 key takeaways you need to know about clean beauty
- The fragrance loophole
Cosmetic companies are not required to disclose ingredients that are considered “trade secrets” per the FDA — a point which is maddening in many points of clean beauty. The fragrance is one the most obvious uses of this loophole when it comes to makeup, skincare, and bath products considering they can contain toxic ingredients and there will be no mention of them. The fragrance formula doesn’t just include scent but in addition color and experiential elements (how products stick to your skin.) Because of this massive FDA failing, anything under the terms fragrance, perfume, parfum, and flavor can be masking large amounts of toxic ingredients that are often used by conventional brands. Consider this a big red flag when shopping.
- Carcinogens in beauty products
Carcinogens (meaning they can cause cancer) are often put into our personal care products — and it’s perfectly legal to do so. One of the biggest carcinogens is a preservative called formaldehyde, which is often used in body, hair, makeup, and skincare products. It is never listed on labels nor are the chemicals in formulas that release formaldehyde listed on labels. Instead, look for this: 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, quaternium-15.
- Endocrine disruptors
Endocrine disruptors are classified as chemicals that have the ability to mimic the body’s hormones. They are dangerous because at first, they are counterintuitive. Aptly named, they mess with the endocrine system — a system used to regulate the body’s essential rhythms like mood and metabolism. They are served in microdoses, but the tiny doses are what allows them to impersonate our own hormones which alter the production of them and how they behave. The disruptors have been linked to long-term health issues like birth defects, reproductive issues, metabolic problems, and cancer. Endocrine disruptors are included in parabens, which is often used in preservatives. When looking through labels, look for words ending in paraben on labels like butylparaben.
Our Favorite Clean Beauty Picks
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Type: A Deodorant (link)
Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash (link)
ILIA – Organic Tinted Lip Conditioner (link)
Herbivore Lapis Balancing Facial Oil (link)
Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 (link)
Olio E Osso – Natural Balm (link)
Tata Harper Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil With Vitamin A (link)
Dr. Barbara Sturm Enzyme Cleanser (link)
Check out other beauty articles here.