“Clean beauty” is a term generally used to describe products that are free from potentially harmful or controversial ingredients. Who wouldn’t want cosmetic and personal care products that are formulated with natural ingredients that are safe, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly? The trouble is, the specific criteria for what constitutes "clean" can vary depending on individual perspectives, brands, and regulatory standards.
In the United States, regulatory actions have been taken to restrict or ban certain harmful products in cosmetics. For example, phthalates are a group of chemicals used as plasticizers in many products, including cosmetics, to enhance flexibility and durability. Some phthalates, like diethyl phthalate (DEP), have been identified as potential endocrine disruptors. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the authority to regulate cosmetics but does not have specific regulations that ban or restrict the use of phthalates in cosmetics.
The FDA does require that all cosmetic ingredients, including phthalates, be safe for their intended use and that cosmetic labeling be accurate and not misleading. However, the responsibility for ensuring the safety of cosmetics primarily rests with the manufacturers. Experts agree that it is always advisable to check product labels carefully to learn exactly what you are putting on your skin.
Check The Ingredients.
Beauty product ingredients are typically listed on the label in a specific format, following certain regulations depending on the country. One thing they all have in common is that ingredients are listed in descending order of concentration. The ingredient with the highest percentage is listed first, followed by the rest in decreasing order. This order allows consumers to understand which ingredients are present in higher or lower quantities.
You may find ingredient labels are often in Latin or scientific terminology to meet international standards, and to help to ensure consistency and clarity across products. In addition to the formal name, however, many products also include common or familiar names for certain ingredients in parentheses. This helps consumers easily identify ingredients they may be familiar with, such as Aloe barbadensis (Aloe Vera) leaf juice. It's worth noting that ingredient lists can be lengthy and confusing, but “clean” products often include the familiar name so you can determine what’s really in your product. Familiarize yourself with commonly used harmful ingredients and conduct research to understand the potential risks associated with specific chemicals.
The formulation expert for Hines+Young, chemist Jessica Lutge, recommends that you also familiarize yourself with plant-based extracted ingredients and look for their most natural form, not diluted or any type of method that may have altered it from its natural state.
“So jojoba oil, for example, is better than hydrolyzed or better than fractionated, unless that specific form has a need to be in the ingredient. When reading your ingredient list, try to look for naturally derived whole ingredients. Also, the first ingredient listed is always very important because that's going to be the major ingredient that you're applying to your skin.”
Finding a Clean “Fit”
Here are the top recommendations for finding the best clean products:
1. Ingredient transparency
Clean beauty emphasizes transparency regarding the ingredients used in products. Brands that align with clean beauty values typically disclose their ingredient lists clearly, making it easier for consumers to make informed choices. In creams, for example, look for moisturizing ingredients that help hydrate and nourish the skin such as cocoa butter, aloe vera, jojoba oil, shea butters, and coconut oil. These natural ingredients provide effective hydration without clogging pores or leaving a greasy residue.
2. Avoidance of harmful ingredients.
Clean beauty products aim to exclude ingredients that may be potentially harmful to human health or the environment. This may include ingredients like parabens, sulfates, phthalates, formaldehyde, and certain petroleum-based ingredients. Opt for products that contain natural and organic ingredients. Look for plant-based extracts, essential oils, and botanicals that provide nourishment and hydration to the skin. Be cautious of "greenwashing," where products claim to be natural but still contain synthetic ingredients.
3. Cruelty-free and ethical practices.
Clean beauty usually promotes products that are not tested on animals and are produced with ethical and sustainable practices. This includes considerations such as fair trade sourcing, eco-friendly packaging, and supporting cruelty-free and environmentally responsible initiatives. Looking for the best scented candles made from natural ingredients? Shop here
4. Sustainable and eco-friendly.
Consider body creams that are produced using sustainable practices and packaging. Look for brands that prioritize ethical sourcing, use renewable ingredients, and employ environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Additionally, opt for products with recyclable or biodegradable packaging to reduce your environmental footprint. Our Pacific Isle bed linen spray, for example, is packaged in recyclable aluminum.
The safety concerns surrounding certain ingredients in skincare products, such as parabens, sulfates, phthalates, formaldehyde, and some petroleum-based ingredients, arise from a combination of scientific research, regulatory assessments, and consumer preferences.
It is always advisable to check product labels if you have specific concerns about the presence of phthalates or other ingredients in beauty and skincare products and to find your own natural fit.
Hines+Young – Making Luxury Effortless and Eco-Friendly
If you’re looking for a cosmetic company that cares about you and the environment, choose Hines+Young. We have a collection of fragrance candles, salt scrubs, body creams, lip balms, and soaps all made from naturals ingredients, beautifully packaged in recyclable materials. Shop your fave clean beauty products now.