January 22, 2021
Yes “clean” beauty is a buzzword and yes there is no clear definition of the term from a regulated source, but we’ve read and studied some disturbing enough facts to understand that this buzzy movement is important enough to be on your radar for the long run.
We are all aware of the benefits of clean eating- avoiding anything highly processed and sticking to natural whole and plant-based foods. So if filling your body with the good stuff makes sense, then slathering your skin with similarly good ingredients should as well. Clean beauty in our eyes is skincare and cosmetic products from transparent brands that have tested and created their products with the safety of people and the planet in mind. Think plant-based ingredients from brands that track farming and sourcing and products free of nasty chemicals like parabens, formaldehyde, and asbestos. Your skin is the largest organ on your body and through dermal absorption, chemicals can find their way from the outer surface of your skin both into your skin and into your body.
But what about government regulations? Surely these nasty and sometimes lethal ingredients can’t find their way into our makeup? Well, the FDA states that neither the law nor FDA regulations require specific tests to demonstrate the safety of individual products or ingredients nor do they require companies to share their safety information. This means we are relying purely on the integrity of companies to deem what is safe for people and our planet and put their products through testing. The only real rule of thumb is that products cannot contain any of the restricted chemicals that the FDA has banned. Few! But wait, the FDA lists a whopping 11 restricted chemicals in comparison to 1,300 chemicals outlawed by the European Union.
How To Get Started With Your New Clean Beauty Routine
So how can we start taking matters into our own hands and ensuring our products are clean? Start with the products that you use on a daily basis as these will be the ingredients that are getting soaked up by your body 24/7. Body lotions, moisturizers, serums, hair creams, and even your toothpaste are the usual suspects but if you tend to wear full coverage makeup daily, your foundations and concealers should also be considered.
Vapour Beauty Soft Focus Foundation
Osea Anti-Aging Body Balm
Risewell Natural Hydroxyapatite Toothpaste
What To Look Out For When Buying Clean Skincare & Cosmetics
As we mentioned earlier, there is no real definition or standards to what is classified as “clean” but transparent brands will usually rely on third-party certifications like USDA Organic, ECOCERT, EWG Certification, and Leaping Bunny. You can read more into the different certifications here and when shopping, look for the emblems on product packaging or descriptions. While not every clean product needs to be 100% plant-based or 100% natural it’s good to understand what ingredients (both natural and chemical) should be avoided. Here is a breakdown of 5 offenders to be wary of.
Parabens are a group of chemicals widely used as artificial preservatives in cosmetic and body care products since the 1920s. You can find them widely in leave-on wash-off products such as shampoo, conditioners, and face washes. Scientific studies suggest that parabens can disrupt hormones in the body and harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase the risk of cancer. They have also recently been linked to early onset of puberty in girls and gestational diabetes in pregnant women.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and while banned in the European Union, it can still be found in the US commonly in hair-straightening treatments and nail polish. While many brands claim to be formaldehyde-free, there are many cases where they are still ridden with chemicals from the same family such as methylene glycol, formalin, methanal, and methanethiol. All of which release the carcinogenic compound when mixed with water during the treatment.
Talc is a natural mineral and because of its softness and water absorbency, it has been used in cosmetics and skin care for centuries. It has been proven that when unpurified, the mineral can contain traces of asbestos which is a known carcinogen. When it comes to makeup, there is also the issue that when inhaled on a daily basis, the talc can cause respiratory problems and lung disease.
Palm oil has become such a common household ingredient found in everything from foods to our shampoos. While the natural oil itself is not harmful to our skin, it’s the mass sourcing that has unfortunately caused havoc to our planet. In order to build enough palm oil plantations to keep up with the consumer demand, rain forests are often cleared causing deforestation and loss of animal habitats. The World Wildlife Fund states that 300 football fields of space are cleared each hour for palm oil production, with orangutans and Sumatran tigers at risk of extinction.
Hydroquinone is another chemical that is widely banned across the globe but not in the US. While the FDA proposed a ban in 2006 based on the findings that the chemical acted as a carcinogen in rodents, the chemical can still be found commonly in skin brightening or lightening products. Hydroquinone can be purchased in a lower two percent concentration over the counter, but stronger formulas are available by prescription. It has been linked to certain cancers, decreased immune response, abnormal function of the adrenal gland, and a skin condition known as ochronosis.
Like every other skincare or cosmetic product, it will take some trial and error to find the right products that work for your skin type. So while clean beauty, unfortunately, isn’t a golden ticket for that glass skin look, it will attain you and the planet positive results in the long run. Do your homework and read your labels before making your next purchase.