What Is ‘Clean Beauty’ - And Where Do You Start With It? 


Skeptical of trends and buzzwords? We get it. It’s hard to know exactly what they mean and often, they crowd out more progressive ideas that don’t have a label. Not to mention the fact that plenty of trends fade out before anyone truly gets to grips with them. 

But what about clean beauty? Is it here to stay? Should you be searching for the tag? And what exactly does it mean? Here’s what you need to know… 

Wiping away the murky definition...

In the summer of 2019, Harper’s Bazaar surveyed 1,000 women. They were asked to explain what ‘real’ beauty is and how they achieve it. Predictably, there was little consensus. Answers ranged from using more natural cosmetics to the increasing mental impact of exercise. 

However, one thing that did seem to correlate was the idea of real and clean. 50% of respondents said they already use clean beauty products. For these women, being clean was about emphasising what you have - lashes, lips and skin tone. Or sticking to natural ingredients. Sounds simple, right?

Well, The Good Face Project has its own definition: the product must have the group’s A, B or C safety grade for non-toxicity, and it mustn't pretend to be something it’s not. Clearly, the phrase isn’t regulated. Which means no-one can agree on clean standards. Which leads us onto the next point.

… with transparent labels leading the way

A glance around the internet can bring up all sorts of physical properties for what’s clean or not. But there are some traits that keep recurring. For starters, clean brands tend to avoid mentioning ‘fragrances’ on their perfume. It’s easy to sneak nasty substances into these - like phthalates, which harm male hormones and have been linked to infertility.

Elsewhere, you’ll probably find that a lot of brands exclude petroleum, talc, silica and formaldehyde: each of which have at least some harmful or toxic properties. Parabens are on the watch list too, but the European Commission has banned them outright in cosmetic production. 

Often it’s not about what clean products do contain - it’s more what they don’t. So while the ingredients replacing these suspicious or harmful chemicals might be better for you, they aren’t necessarily organic or vegan. It’s for this reason that we want to see clean beauty go a whole lot further… 

How you can raise the bar, every day 

Aspiring to live a clean lifestyle is great. In fact, we love it. But we’re aware that buying one product with a certain label doesn’t just flip the switch on our lives. Non-toxic makeup isn’t the only thing that makes us feel great. Diet, exercise and mental wellbeing impact how we function everyday. That’s why clean beauty should be viewed in context of other choices. 

Meanwhile, we’re eager to see more people talk about sustainable practices, as well as products. Organic makeup, for instance, isn’t the same as clean skincare. You have to meet strict criteria for Organic certification. Pesticides, fertilisers and wasteful manufacturing should be nowhere in sight. And that’s before we’ve got onto the topic of packaging. 

Finally, remember that ‘naturally derived’ doesn’t equate to ‘good for nature.’ All that seaweed, crushed crystal and plant oil has to come from somewhere. So, when you’re shopping, think about the source of your new picks; whether they’re kind to the earth as well as you. Need a little help? We can steer you in the right direction with products [LINK: Beauty] you can really trust.