Does Clean Beauty Really Matter?
What is "clean beauty?" Is it really that big of a deal? Does Clean Beauty really matter?
We've been asking these questions about organic food for a decade or so. We've wondered these things about the non-toxic cleaning solutions when those began to surface. It has even taken some of us (*cough me cough*) a while to catch on to the importance of the clean eating, non-toxic cleaning trends. But now there's clean beauty, too?
Maybe you've even thought "if I can buy it at the store, it must be safe, that's why we have an FDA."
I wish I could give you a standard definition of clean beauty shared across the board, but unfortunately, there isn't one. Which is, ironically, why the term "clean beauty" exists! You see, there is no standard for clean beauty. The last time a federal law was passed concerning the beauty industry was 1938. That's right: the year nineteen hundred and thirty-eight. I wrote it both ways so you would understand that I didn't list a typo. It's been over 80 years now. Let that sink in.
So, no, just because it's on a shelf doesn't make it safe for you. In fact, the FDA only partially restricts or bans 30 chemicals from use in our personal care products. Which is downright embarrassing next to the European Union's standards. The EU bans or restricts 1400 ingredients from use in their personal care products for human health safety reasons.
Adding insult to injury, the FDA doesn't even have the power to mandate a product recall when a product is discovered to be unsafe. The most the FDA can do is issue a consumer warning not to use that product and hope it puts enough pressure on the company to "voluntarily" recall the offending products.
"Oh, but my mascara says it's paraben free and that it's green beauty."
Unfortunately, there is no standard for clean beauty marketing/advertising either. There is a lot of greenwashing out there. Since there is no regulated standard of clean beauty throughout the industry, every company can say their product is "green" or "clean" and it means NOTHING when everyone is making up their own rules. Yes, of course it is good to remove parabens from your products. But there are over 80,000 chemicals out there and very few of them have safety data in regards to the impact on human health. There are known carcinogens, chemicals tied to birth defects and infertility, and endocrine disruptors in our personal care products. Not only is it common to find these chemicals in your personal care products, it's perfectly legal. This is why there is a clean beauty movement.
Or maybe you roll your eyes and think, "they are just saying 'chemicals' as a scare tactic to get me to buy their products."
Okay, let's talk about the use of the word "chemicals." For some reason, many people think chemicals are only created in a lab. That is false. Water is a chemical. Water is found in nature and is good for you, except in excessive amounts. Everything is a chemical. So whether a person is saying "chemical" or "ingredient" we are talking about the same things. What clean beauty advocates are concerned with are the toxic chemicals. An ingredient is toxic if it is hazardous to human health, or it is considered a questionable ingredient if it has a risk of being hazardous to human health but there isn't enough testing done to know for sure. So let's say goodbye to ingredients that are known carcinogens, that are often contaminated by carcinogens, that are neurotoxins, or that are hormone-disruptors; so on, and so forth. Let's get the toxic out and use safe chemicals as our ingredients!
Remember, that just because something is natural, that doesn't make it healthy for you (poison ivy is natural and we don't rub it on our skin). The opposite is true for synthetic ingredients, too: Just because it is synthetic doesn't make it harmful or bad for you. That is what safety testing is used to determine.
So then what IS clean beauty?
Clean Beauty is about making sure that the personal care products you use on yourself and your family are free of ingredients that are known to be harmful or questionable.
Clean Beauty is about fighting to raise the standard across the industry. To make the health of consumers just as important a goal as making a profit.
Clean Beauty is about fighting for transparency in the ingredients lists of our products. Did you know that the word "fragrance" can mask a multitude of chemicals and that companies can claim "fragrance" as proprietary information so they don't have to share what is used to create that fragrance?
So in the end, I have to say, Clean Beauty really does matter to me. I am proud to be a clean beauty advocate and my standard for clean beauty has been defined by Beautycounter's standards.
Beautycounter has a growing Never List comprised of 1500 harmful or questionable ingredients that will never be used in their products.
Beautycounter promotes transparency by listing every ingredient either on the product (if there is space) or on the product's packaging, including every known component of what makes up the product's fragrance. Not to mention they take precaution via a 5-step ingredient selection process.
Beautycounter is a certified B Corporation, which means they consider people, the planet, and profits as a business.
Beautycounter is also Leaping Bunny Certified as cruelty-free and verified by the EWG.
And most importantly of all, Beautycounter advocates in Washington for stricter safety regulations to be passed in the beauty industry! They are going after the root issue: poor regulation. A lot of companies are promoting their idea of clean beauty products, but very few are working to see that clean beauty standards are set in place across the industry.
Am I saying that Beautycounter is the only company that is doing clean beauty right? No, but I am saying that Beautycounter is one of the few companies trying to make things right. Beautycounter's mission is to get safer products into everyone's hands. That's why they have my support.