“Clean beauty” is the newest trend in the beauty world. It’s all about choosing makeup and skincare products that are safe for yourself and the environment. But, selecting the right products is about more than just grabbing items off the shelf that claim to be “natural.” So, how exactly do you practice “clean beauty?”
What is Clean Beauty?
If you’ve glanced at your favourite beauty and fashion magazine lately, you’ve probably noticed the growing popularity of green or all-natural beauty brands. Even popular beauty bloggers and YouTubers are jumping on the bandwagon. The main concept behind clean beauty is committing yourself to using safer, more natural products every day.
In general, practising clean beauty means that you’re choosing natural products that don’t contain synthetic, artificial, or laboratory-made ingredients. You’re taking the time to research products before you make a purchase to ensure that they are good for you and the environment. And, you’ve educated yourself about potentially toxic ingredients that are often included in skincare and makeup.
How to Choose Clean Beauty Products
According to beauty experts, Peach and Lily, there’s “no concrete definition of what actually qualifies as clean beauty.” You’ll find products from brands at all price points making all sorts of vague claims in an attempt to take advantage of the trend. It really can be quite frustrating! Since clean beauty can mean something a little different to everyone, it’s hard to nail down and stick to a specific definition.
Still, there are some things you can look for that will ensure you’re choosing a clean product. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates some words that are used to describe beauty products being sold in the United States. While they don’t regulate the use of every word out there, looking for specific terms can help you know if you’re on the right track.
In order for a company to use the word “organic” in the description of their product, the product must meet certain guidelines set by the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. On the other hand, the word “natural” can be slapped on any product without being regulated at all. There are always going to be manufacturers that don’t follow the rules, but if you find a product from a reputable company that also claims to be organic, it’s a safe bet that you’ve found a clean product.
Greenwashing is a new term that’s come into play with the clean beauty movement. It’s used to define a brand that uses a lot of words and phrases that aren’t regulated to make it sound like their product is clean and green. The best way to steer clear of greenwashing is to do your research. Before you make the purchase, go online and check out the company, the individual product, and any unfamiliar ingredients listed on the label. Reading labels and doing research is the key to practising clean beauty.
Know Which Ingredients to Avoid
Knowing which ingredients to avoid will help you choose clean products. Reading the labels and learning the scientific names takes a little getting used to. While you’re wrapping your mind around shopping green, banishing these four ingredients will get you on the path to practising clean beauty.
- Parabens: Parabens are a common preservative used in all sorts of beauty products, from shampoo to makeup. Their purpose is to keep things like liquid lip gloss from spoiling in the tube, but there’s a lot of debate about whether or not they’re safe human use. There have not been many large-scale studies done that prove they are harmful, but some studies have found parabens in breast tumors.
Although the FDA still allows the use of parabens in beauty products, you should avoid them if you’re practising clean beauty. They’re easy to find in ingredients lists- they always end with “paraben.” Steer clear of any product that lists butylparaben, propylparaben, methylparaben, or any other version of paraben on the label.
- Formaldehyde: By now, we all know that formaldehyde is bad for our health. Unfortunately, studies show that it may be in cosmetic products even if you don’t see it on the ingredients list. Formaldehyde is a problem in cosmetics because it can cause reactions like contact dermatitis.
It’s commonly used in nail products under the name formalin. When purchasing nail products, look for the phrase “three free” on the label to ensure the products don’t use any of the three most commonly used toxic and allergenic ingredients often included in these types of products.
- Microbeads: Many consumers aren’t aware of the dangers of microbeads for the environment but avoiding them is essential to practicing clean beauty. You might see them listed on a product label as polyethylene or PEGs, and they are very harmful to the environment, and over time, human health. These microplastic beads find their way into marine habitats, and because they don’t decay, they are a huge problem for our oceans.
Thankfully, the Microbead-Free Waters Act will eventually ban companies from including them in their products, but until then, check product labels and avoid them completely. If you already own a product that contains them, stop using it, and don’t flush it down a drain.
- Petroleum Jelly: Petroleum jelly is sold as a moisturizer or protectant on its own, but it’s also a common ingredient in many cosmetic products. It’s used to prevent moisture loss, but it should be avoided if you’re practising green beauty. Not only is petroleum jelly harmful to our endocrine systems, it’s also bad for the environment because petroleum is a non-renewable resource that’s actually a byproduct of the oil and gasoline industry.
Steer clear of products that contain petroleum byproducts and choose plant-based moisturizers instead. Go for things like shea butter, olive oil, jojoba oil, and coconut oil. These ingredients smell and feel so much better on the skin than petroleum jelly- and they come from plants, which are a renewable resource. Even better, they’re all beautiful as stand-alone, clean moisturizers that can be used on the hands, lips, and body for ultra-hydration.
Practising clean beauty is about educating yourself about which ingredients are harmful to you and the environment. It’s about taking control of what you put on your skin. Taking charge of the products you purchase is not only empowering, but it will also put your mind at ease.