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What Does Clean Beauty Mean? (And Why Do We Need it?)

“Clean Beauty” in a Nutshell 

‘Clean beauty’ is a term that has been bandied about by beauty editors and influencers for a while now, but what is clean beauty and what does the phrase ‘clean beauty’ actually mean? What makes a product synonymous with the term ‘clean beauty’ and how can we incorporate clean beauty products into our daily routines? 

To learn what clean beauty means we have to first understand that at its core, clean beauty is simple, clean, honest and transparent. Any beauty product which makes false claims or contains harmful ingredients cannot be called ‘clean beauty’. Clean beauty products are free of hormone-disruptors and carcinogens and do not use packaging which causes harm to the environment (at any stage of the process).

A clean beauty product must not contain ingredients which are toxic or in any way damaging to our health. This should be the standard for all beauty products though, right? Unfortunately, wrong. 

The beauty industry is seriously unregulated. All too often consumers are duped by beauty companies who promise their products are ‘organic’ and ‘natural’, only for us to translate the small print on the packaging to find that it denotes otherwise. 

Too many beauty product manufacturers get away with filling their products with toxic or carcinogenic ingredients and then disguising that fact with misleading labels. For example, ‘fragrance’ does not have to be included under a products’ ingredients list so some unscrupulous companies hide less-desirable ingredients under this umbrella phrase to hoodwink consumers. Buzz phrases like ‘natural’ and ‘eco’ often lead consumers to believe that a beauty product is clean and ethically-sound, but these phrases are largely unregulated and so do nothing to explain how ‘clean’ a beauty product is. 

The good news is that the clean beauty movement is here to cut through the spurious claims and ensure that consumers are getting the clarity they deserve. The clean beauty industry as a whole has seen exponential growth since the start of this year, and not a moment too soon.  

What Defines Clean Beauty? 

Is Clean Beauty Always Natural?

Modern science is a wonderful thing and surprisingly, for a product to be defined as a ‘clean beauty’ product doesn’t always mean that its ingredients have to be natural. Whilst we champion nature and have our own strict standards here at EthicaCBD, other beauty products including man-made ingredients can be defined using the term ‘clean beauty’ as long as they are deemed safe and non toxic.

Is Clean Beauty Always Green? 

Eco-friendly, sustainably-sourced, vegan, cruelty-free, safe for the planet… the definitions of ‘green beauty’ are vast and far-reaching. If a product is organic and natural but still includes animal products such as beeswax or silk then this means that it is not ‘clean’. Clean beauty is not harmful to humans, animals or the planet. 

Is Clean Beauty Always Organic?

Similarly to organic food, the labelling of this buzz phrase can be rather misleading when applied to beauty products. Yes there are big benefits from using natural, organic ingredients, but a beauty product doesn’t have to be organic to fall under the ‘clean beauty’ umbrella. The crucial thing is that the ingredients are safe and non-toxic and pose no harm to the user.

What is Greenwashing?

You know that company that shouts loudest about planting trees but when you delve deeper you find it imports ingredients from a third world country where the workers are unfairly paid, and the air miles outstrip any assumed benefit of planting a tree? Well that company is an expert at greenwashing. “Greenwashing” is the unscrupulous practice of making out that your product is as green and sustainable as can be, when in actual fact that is far from the truth. 

In the clean beauty industry ‘greenwashing’ can be misleading to those of us searching for clean and non harmful products. Yes a product might say ‘natural’ and ‘sustainable’ on the packaging, but can the methods of manufacturing, the ingredients which make up the packaging, the transportation and everything to do with the product claim that it is ‘clean’?

What is Toxic Beauty?

There is a hugely unregulated arena within the beauty industry where carcinogenic, harmful chemicals can be used in beauty products. Many of the beauty products on your shelf use heavy metals (including arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and nickel) which are incredibly harmful to skin, but are allowed to be included in beauty products because they are ‘contaminants’ and not required on the ingredients list.

With the universal use of harmful chemicals like parabens in our cosmetics, it can be difficult to navigate all of the toxic skincare ingredients to avoid. Many well-known commercial brands contain ingredients that just don’t belong in (or on) our bodies so we’ve put together a list to make that detective work a little easier:

Toxic Beauty Ingredients to Avoid:

  • PAREBENS These are most widely used in beauty products today and are most commonly used as a preservative. According to the National Institute of Health,parabens  “are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.” Avoid anything with ‘paraben’ in the ingredients list.
  • PETROLEUM JELLY Often used as a moisturising agent in skin creams and lip balms, petroleum jelly is harmless if the oil is refined properly. However if not (and there is no regulation to this effect), then it can  be carcinogenic and irritate the skin. 
  • FRAGRANCE As mentioned above, many harmful ingredients can be concealed in beauty products under the guise of ‘fragrance’ so that they remain undetected by the consumer. 
  • OXYBENZONE This is a commonly used ingredient in sun creams but it is known as a “endocrine-disrupting compound” which means that it can play havoc with your hormonal system. It is harmful to coral reefs due to its bleaching properties and some countries have  banned its use due to this reason. 
  • FORMALDEHYDE This toxic substance is used in many products which you may find in your home and is used to stabilise and prevent fungus/bacteria from forming in beauty products. Its preservative properties are outstripped by the potential harm it can cause and its reputation as a known carcinogen. 
  • ETHANOLAMINES (often known asTEA, MEA, DEA) are used as foaming agents in things like face wash and toothpaste. This substance can be corrosive to metal and is an irritant. 

Now that you know which ingredients to avoid, you will hopefully understand why we think clean beauty is so important for our health, and that of the planet. EthicaCBD’s whole company ethos is based around being transparent, clean and ethical and so the leap into clean skincare was an easy decision.

Why is Clean Beauty Important?

The clean beauty movement is rapidly growing and this growth cannot have come at a better time. Using biodegradable packaging, no single-use plastic and an overarching ethos of being cruelty-free will not only give us peace of mind that we are doing our best for ourselves, but that we are also doing right by Mother Earth.    

Our CBD skin care range is purely and simply a luxurious range of clean skin care products designed to nourish, protect and restore your natural beauty. We are stringent in our manufacturing and transparent in our research, stripping everything back in our aim of creating the cleanest, most ethical CBD skin care brand in the marketplace. Your body (and your planet) deserves better, so make the leap to clean beauty today. In a year’s time you’ll be so glad that you did. 

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