There is no official definition of “clean beauty” but we take it to mean that a beauty product satisfies two simple criteria:
The ingredients are non-toxic and safe. Now, there’s a lot of debate over what, exactly, “non-toxic and safe” are. We broadly take it to mean any substance over which there are no health concerns. This makes it easy to Google and see if an ingredient is safe or not.
The ingredients are clearly labelled. “Fragrance” is not an ingredient. It’s a catch-all term which could be any of a thousand chemicals. You should also be wary of claims of “natural” or “clean” – with no official standards for these terms, anyone can say their products are natural or clean as long as they imagine themselves to be.
Clean Beauty Isn’t Perfect
Clean beauty, unlike say veganism, isn’t about achieving a standard of perfection.
It’s about trying to cut out, wherever possible, toxic ingredients and trying to replace them with clean ones.
It’s not interested in buzzwords and it’s not about virtue signalling.
It’s a recognition that the beauty industry is badly regulated but that we are free to become informed consumers that can buy or reject any product on any basis at all.
Clean Beauty Doesn’t Need To Be “100% Natural”
There is no legal definition as to what “natural” means in a beauty context.
Wasps are natural. Would you be pleased to open up a product and find it full of dead wasps with their stingers pointing at you?
Almost all cosmetics contain some ingredients that aren’t 100% natural (in the sense of they grew in the garden).
That’s OK in the clean beauty world as long as those ingredients aren’t toxic.
Clean Beauty Doesn’t Need To Be “100% Organic”
The clean beauty movement often appreciates organic ingredients but there’s no requirement for ingredients to be organic.
Again, the ingredients just need to be safe with no toxicity.
But there’s no need for clean beauty products to be green and let’s be fair about this – there are plenty of “green” products that don’t really have any green credentials, they’ve just been greenwashed.
So, for clean products, we still just mean non-toxic ingredients and if they’re green? So much the better.
Clean Beauty Means Asking Questions
The biggest way to benefit from clean beauty is to start asking questions. Ask for explanations of the ingredients in your beauty products when buying in store.
If the explanations aren’t good enough or clear enough, Google the questions.
Make sure that the products you buy aren’t toxic and that they’re safe for you and your family to use and won’t have any nasty health problems attached.
And keep doing it! Put the “sustain” in sustainable! What appears safe today may not be safe tomorrow.
What Is The Opposite Of Clean Beauty?
It ought to be obvious now but the opposite of clean beauty is toxic beauty. It’s any product that contains something that isn’t good for you or for those around you.
The good news? With a bit of effort, it’s easy to find clean beauty products that suit your need and the needs of your family.
Final Thoughts On Clean Beauty
What is clean beauty? It’s beauty products that are, to the best of our knowledge, free of toxic ingredients.
It’s simple and easy to understand and we can all read a list of ingredients and Google them to see if they’re toxic or not and whether there’s any hidden context behind a word (such as “fragrance”) that we should be wary of.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to clean beauty and we think you might enjoy our list of organic beauty boxes too.
Whole People is dedicated to publishing the best ideas and tools for sustainable living.
Whole People is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.