The Clean Beauty Revolution is Here!
The clean beauty revolution is here! I may be a little late to the party, but I’m definitely on board! There is a lot to clean beauty and why it's important to be aware of what is in your cosmetics. There is so much to it, that to put all the information in this post would make it a thesis. Instead, you'll find top-level info and links to look into it further.
What clean beauty is...and is not.
Clean beauty simply means safe products that do not cause harm to our bodies. You may have heard terms like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ in relation to beauty and makeup. These indicate whether a product is made from natural ingredients (however calling them such is not regulated) or has met standards to be labeled organic (meaning no chemical pesticides, but is also not regulated). Clean cosmetics don’t contain harmful ingredients like toxins, known or suspected carcinogens, or hormone disrupters. You can find more information on why this is important at Goop’s great information page.
But doesn’t the government regulate cosmetics?
I am really aware of, and proactive with the nutrition that goes into my body. But until recently, I wasn’t too focused on what was going on my face and body every single day. I had switched to ‘natural’ skincare but hadn’t concerned myself with what was in my makeup. Once the information floodgates opened, I was a little alarmed. I discovered that there is very little cosmetics regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States.
The basics are:
- Some harmful ingredients (such as certain cattle materials) are banned, but not the ingredients listed in the next section;
- Other than color additives, the FDA does not require cosmetics or their ingredients to be approved before going to market;
- Manufacturers are required to ensure their product is safe for consumers, however, the FDA doesn’t require any testing or documentation to prove their safety;
- If a product is found to be unsafe, the FDA cannot force a manufacturer to recall the product, it is a voluntary action;
- There is no requirement for manufacturers and their product formulations to be registered or licensed by the FDA in order to operate. However, they are encouraged to participate in the FDA’s “Voluntary Cosmetics Registration Program”;
- To find out exactly what is regulated and for more information, you can check out the FDA information page here.
I don’t know about you guys, but I find this really scary! Enough to become a conscious cosmetic shopper. It is vital that we take on the responsibility of knowing what is in the products we choose.
Reading ingredient lists
I’ve been reading food ingredient lists for a good while now, but interpreting beauty product ingredient lists is like reading another language. Luckily, we’re not on our own! There is a toxic ingredient list below to get you started, and Credo (a natural beauty store) does a great job at explaining how harmful ingredients may be written on a product here, so you can make well-informed choices.
Funny side story, I was reading an incredibly lengthy list of ingredients for a CC Cream that was coming in a monthly subscription box (that I no longer get). One of the ingredients listed was "snail secretion filtrate". I kid you not. I guess that one was natural at least...
Some ingredients to avoid include:
Synthetic fragrance - cosmetic companies can hide toxins in these under the guise of trade secrets, and the FDA can't request that they share those secrets. See the FDA information here.
Parabens - reproductive hormone disruptor.
Phthalates - endocrine disruptors.
Triclosan - may disrupt thyroid function.
Formaldahyde (releasers) - carcinogen (cause cancer).
Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs) - Possibly carcinogenic and very easily absorbed into the skin.
Ethylene Oxide - carcinogen.
Chemical sunscreens - endocrine disruptor.
Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) & Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) - carcinogens, hormone disruptors.
Coal tar hair dyes - carcinogen.
There’s even an app for that
If you want an easy option, the work has been done for you with these two applications!
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) developed their Healthy Living app and EWG Verified, which is a database app that scans and rates beauty products based on their ingredients, and the components of those ingredients. It contains information for over 200,000 products.
The app that gets the most play time on my phone is the “Think Dirty” app, by Think Dirty Inc. The database contains over 800,000 products and gives you the option to add products to your “bathroom shelf”. This app provides information about which (if any) ingredients are harmful and why. I have been known to stalk around Wholefoods scanning products until I find one that meets a level of safety I’m happy with.
Fortunately, there are many, many options for clean beauty and skincare, with stores like Credo, Goop, The Detox Market, and Aillea stocking only products that meet their strict clean beauty standards. It’s becoming more mainstream too. Wholefoods is continually expanding its clean beauty selection based on their safety standards. Even my local Target has half a beauty aisle devoted to natural beauty and some clean brands can be found at big beauty stores like Sephora and Ulta.
Do they work, though?
I have heard the same concern from many people; does clean beauty really work? We assume (I did too), that for beauty products to work well, or for makeup to stay the course of the day, they need to be propped up by synthetic ingredients. That is just not the case anymore. There is a small army of Indie beauty brands charging ahead with amazing products that do what we want them to. Natural beauty products can actually work better because the active ingredients aren’t buried within synthetic fillers. The ingredients are more available and therefore can do more good for our skin. I'm trying out a few products at the moment and I really like them! I'm using Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Facewash (at night), Fig and Yarrow Facial Serum, and Acure Facial Cleansing Gel (in the morning). You can also check out a few of the clean makeup items I use in our 5-Minute Makeup post.These are all available at Amazon (the links are above), some are at Wholefoods and I also found them at my local Target. The best part, they are affordable!
There is a multitude of Indie beauty brands and more starting up now that consumer awareness is growing. There is an Indie Beauty Expo with a large number of exhibitors focused on clean and natural beauty. I can’t wait to attend the LA expo in January and get my hands and eyes on so many brands at once! So, look forward to hearing about a ton of new products early next year!
I apologize if this post alarmed you, but it's something we shouldn't keep to ourselves. I know the information certainly got me thinking when I discovered it. I’m currently working my way through replacing harmful products with those I feel safe sharing with my family. I hope it motivates you to do the same. I’d love to hear about some of your favorite clean beauty products and I'll be sure to share mine too!
Now, I'm off to discover some clean beauty box subscriptions to replace the ones I'm giving up!