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Clean and Heathy Products

by Kelly Hammond-Patton 24 Jan 2023
Clean and Heathy Products

1. Clean ingredients

At its core, clean beauty means that you can use a product without risking your own health. The ingredients list must contain only safe, clean ingredients.

What constitutes “clean” ingredients? At the Good Face Project, we analyze each and every cosmetic ingredient and give grades based purely on safety and toxicity. 

To us, a clean beauty product is free of hormone disruptors and carcinogens. We developed the Good Face Index, which takes hundreds of thousands of scientific studies and research papers on cosmetic ingredients and turns them into easy-to-understand safety ratings. This makes it easy to see if a product is safe based on its ingredients. Essentially, a product is only as clean as its worst ingredient.

2. Transparent labels

When a beauty brand makes an effort to list all of its ingredients and label accordingly, it is on the right path to clean beauty. However, not all brands are transparent. 

A good example of lack of transparency in the beauty industry is including fragrance in beauty products. Fragrance is not an ingredient, but since the industry is highly unregulated, companies can hide ingredients under the umbrella term “fragrance.”

Another example of non-transparent labels is misleading the consumer based on packaging. Brands can falsely label their products with buzzwords like “natural” and “eco” in order to capture the conscious consumer’s attention. This is called “greenwashing” and we’ll elaborate in a moment.

Clean beauty simply doesn’t contain mystery ingredients, and clean beauty certainly doesn’t claim to be something that it’s not.

Clean Beauty is Simple

Were you expecting a longer list of criteria? Perhaps you were expecting words like “natural” and “organic.”

Clean beauty isn’t about being 100% perfect. This means that yes, man-made ingredients are clean as long as they’re safe and non-toxic. This also means that clean beauty doesn’t have to be all-natural, preservative-free, etc. Clean beauty is synonymous with non-toxic beauty.

Rather than focus on buzzwords like “natural” and “organic,” switching to clean beauty products focuses on eliminating as many toxins as possible from our daily products.

Clean beauty is also about making ourselves more aware. Since the beauty industry lacks regulation, it’s up to us to become familiar with the most common toxins in our skincare, beauty, body, and hygiene products.

Unfortunately, that means the consumer (talking about you!) has a lot of responsibility to pay attention to what’s in her cosmetics.

How to do this without going crazy? More on that in a minute.

There are a few misconceptions about clean beauty that we need to clear up:

Does Clean Beauty Have to Be All-Natural?

Clean beauty has been around for a while, but the movement is rapidly growing. For a long time, products containing only natural ingredients were considered the all-stars of clean beauty. “Preservative-free” is another buzz word surrounding natural beauty.

But, the answer to your question is no, clean beauty doesn’t have to be all-natural.

It’s the twenty-first century, and the science of beauty has evolved to include a plethora of safe synthetics, safe man-made ingredients, and even safe preservatives.

In fact, ALL cosmetics should contain some form of safe preservation to maintain the stability of the formulation.

As long as certain synthetic ingredients are non-toxic and proven to have no harmful effects, they can be incorporated into clean beauty products.

Does Clean Beauty Have to be Organic?

Similar to natural beauty, organic beauty is often confused with clean beauty. Like organic food, there are many benefits of organic ingredients in cosmetics, but non-organic ingredients can be just as safe.

The bottom line: No, clean beauty doesn’t HAVE to be organic.

Yes, clean beauty CAN be organic, but it’s not a requirement. What is a requirement, however, is that those ingredients are SAFE, regardless of whether or not they’re organic.

Does Clean Beauty Have to be Green?

If you thought “clean beauty” had a murky definition, enter “green beauty.”

Green beauty has several associations:

  • Plant-derived
  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
  • Eco-friendly
  • Sustainably sourced

Phew, that’s a lot!

While these criteria all sound great, a beauty product can exhibit all of these characteristics and not be clean if it contains toxic ingredients.

Vice versa, a beauty product can have purely safe ingredients, but they may be conventionally sourced or contain animal products (i.e. honey, beeswax, silk, etc.). In this case, the product is still clean since it’s non-toxic, but it’s not considered green.

So no, clean beauty doesn’t have to be green.

Clean Beauty Recap: Can You Have it All?

So, you just found out that natural, organic, green beauty products aren’t necessarily clean right off the bat.

We know how you feel. We’ve been misled by the beauty industry, too. They have us believing that the products we smother on our faces are good for us because of what they say on the label.

If you’re questioning the products on your shelf—good. That’s what we want you to do. We want you to question labels like “natural” and “green” because the truth is in the ingredients list.

This doesn’t mean that ALL of your favorite products are toxic, though. You may have some clean beauty faves on your shelves without even realizing it.

What we want to do is empower you with the knowledge to decipher between clean and toxic products.

In order to know what to look for, you have to know what to avoid.

The Opposite of Clean Beauty: Toxic Beauty

There is a whole world of clean beauty products out there. From online stores like Amazon to our go-to beauty meccas like Ulta and Sephora, you can almost always find clean alternatives to your not-so-clean favorites.

But finding clean beauty brands takes a little bit of work, especially if you’re new to non-toxic beauty.

To start, let’s take a look at some of the red flags that give it away when a product is clearly toxic.

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