The word is out. The beauty products you have been using on a daily basis could be toxic. As we’re putting more attention on the toxicity of ingredients included in your products, “clean beauty” has become all the rage. You are now seeing major beauty companies shouting from the roof tops “clean beauty” and “natural ingredients”, but what exactly does it mean?
Thankfully, you do not have to do the work to find out. There are many beauty companies out there that have done the work for you. Beauty companies and retailers alike have launched programs, such as “Clean at Sephora”, to help guide you in the right direction for all things clean beauty. But is this buzz really something to get all worked up about? Before you restock your bathroom cabinets or go tossing out every beauty product you own, you might want to do some more digging.
Why is clean beauty important?
First things first – clean beauty is important! Why, you might ask? Well, let’s start with the products you are already using. Hop on over to your bathroom and start counting all of the beauty products (also known as personal care products) that you use on a daily basis. You might need to use your fingers and toes to count them all. You likely use a bunch of products each day to achieve your dewy glow and leave smelling absolutely delicious. From body wash to face wash, moisturizer, toothpaste, and deodorant, we also have perfume, lipgloss, mascara, and more on our lists. On average, women use about 16 personal care products a day. And then each product has its own list of ingredients.
Pause for a second. Are you still in your bathroom? GOOD! Grab one of those fancy products you use daily and flip it over. Start reading the ingredients list. You might want to put your glasses on for this task. Do you know how to pronounce all of those ingredients? If you were in a spelling bee, could you successfully spell each ingredient on that list? Do you know what each one of those ingredients is used for, how it is sourced, or what it actually is?
If the answer to each of these questions is no, you might want to learn a bit more about those 14 syllable ingredients you are slathering all over you each morning. Are you asking yourself, “but where should I begin?” Don’t worry. You will be excited to know that there are a ton of resources already out there to support you in both educating yourself as well as making a shift to a future filled with cleaner beauty.
Laws and regulations
But before you jump straight into the products, you might want a quick back story on why clean beauty is important. Did you know the personal care (beauty) industry, who are responsible for creating products you use on a daily basis, is virtually unregulated? No big deal, right? Well, not quite. There are a few problems. Without regulation, the industry has the ability to put almost whatever they want into all of those products you use on the regular.
The US Food & Drug Administration prohibits 11 ingredients from being included in your personal care products. Canada’s Hotlist includes 500 ingredients that are prohibited or restricted for use in cosmetics, while the European Union’s list includes 1000+ ingredients that cannot be used in cosmetics. And while it is against the law to put harmful ingredients products, your products are not as safe you think they might be without more strict regulation.
Studies have shown that the ingredients in your beauty products can cause allergic reactions, hormone disruption, infertility, and even cancer. Yep! That scary C-word that you hear all too often. In fact, these ingredients you are putting on your skin, the same ones that your bloodstream is absorbing, could be making you really sick. YIKES!!! And the scariest part of all is that you were doing it unknowingly.
Unfortunately, you cannot trust the manufacturers when they include words like “all natural” or “clean” on their packaging. Those terms are not regulated either and are really just a way to draw your attention and convince you that you need the product. When shopping for your clean beauty products moving forward, you really want to make certain that the products you are purchasing have all ingredients listed with what they actually are. If you see “other natural ingredients”, “essential oils”, or “fragrance,” you really have no idea what is actually being used in that product.
The point is that there is a reason why Canada and the EU’s list of banned ingredients are long. And although the US is a bit behind that ball on regulation, you still have tools at your disposal to assist you with “going clean.” No need for exhaustive research or jumping down the Google rabbit hole out the gate while searching for all things clean beauty. Programs like “Clean at Sephora” have done the work for you.
What is “Clean at Sephora”?
In short, “Clean at Sephora” is a program that provides products a seal of approval based on the standards set by Sephora. Sephora has recognized the need to provide customers with an easy way to shop for cleaner products. “Clean at Sephora” has created a list of ingredients that are excluded from the products that have been given their seal.
Some ingredients on that list include Parabens, Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Lead, and Coal Tar. These ingredients along with many more toxic ingredients can be hidden in that long list of ingredients you struggled earlier to read without your glasses. Products are variously categorized into clean makeup, skincare, hair care, and fragrance products that are all given the Clean at Sephora seal. Products given this seal are created by companies who have made it their mission to provide cleaner beauty products to consumers as well as more transparency with the ingredients they use.
While “Clean at Sephora” is not the authority on all things clean beauty, the program is definitely a step in the right direction. The list of ingredients excluded from the products covers a lot of well-known troublemakers in beauty products today. Some clean beauty fan favorites you will find given the Clean at Sephora seal include: Counter+ Overnight Resurfacing Peelby Beautycounter, Squaline + Vitamin C Rose Oil by Biossance, and Hanami Eau de Parfum by Phlur.
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How to go clean?
You might find it a bit overwhelming to start your clean beauty journey. And unless you are ready to make a bit of an investment, you might want to take baby steps as you begin your own clean beauty journey. Your shift to cleaner products should be a process and definitely should not be a race to the finish. If you are about out of your deodorant, shampoo, or foundation, then it is the perfect time to make the swap. Before you choose your cleaner substitution, read reviews on the products you are looking to switch to. See what others are saying before taking the plunge.
Prepare yourself for some trial and error. Just as it took you some time to find that favorite moisturizer you have been loved since college, it might take you some time finding the perfect, cleaner substitute. Have no fear. You will soon discover a new, cleaner favorite. So be patient with yourself and the process.
Your health is your investment
Clean beauty products do come in varying price points. Not all clean beauty is cheap, but it is not all super expensive either. Just remember that your health and well-being is an investment. You might want to consider creating a budget for your transitioning out of toxic products and into cleaner, safer products. In the long-term, your body will thank you for this change.
Also, check the products you are already using. You might unknowingly be using the best in clean beauty already out there. Read through the ingredients list of the products you already have. If there are some ingredients that are unknown to you, check the clean at Sephora list of excluded ingredients. If you do not find them on there, do a quick Google search or check out Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) research on the ingredients. Through EWG’s groundbreaking research, you can take a deeper and more thorough dive into living a cleaner lifestyle.
To sum up, your journey to cleaner beauty is personal. Be patient with yourself as you navigate through this new territory. Embrace the change and know that you’re making an impactful choice; this will also help you to enjoy sharing your knowledge with your loved ones.