It’s no secret that skincare trends closely follow those of the food sector, from organic farming to reclassifying ingredients such as quinoa or blueberries as superfoods. It’s no wonder then, that we’ve gone from “clean eating” to “clean beauty” in a relatively short time. But when all is said and done, are “clean beauty” products actually safer than conventional ones?
Without actively demonizing synthetic ingredients, together with the fact that, at time of press, there’s no official governing body to implement some form of legislation, “clean beauty” products have become a safer alternative to traditional ones in the eyes of most consumers.
However, in my opinion, I believe all products that contain synthetic and/or natural ingredients that do not interfere with our health should be classed as “clean beauty”.
We are very fortunate in Europe to have official organisations tasked with watching out for our health by testing and verifying the safety of ingredients used in the beauty industry. (https://www.cir-safety.org/) Although there are those who look to discredit these organisations and the information they provide, they offer a good benchmark as to what we should include in our formulas and which ingredients are best avoided.
Natural ingredients in themselves present many challenges, the most important of which is their ability to be reproduced continually, something which is linked to external factors such as climate. Availability is also a concern, as there is already talk of shortages of certain ingredients. Another point to consider is their stability when used in formulas. Skincare products containing natural ingredients are known to be more susceptible to oxidation. Some can even become quite harmful in cases where advanced degradation is present.
Although there is no official definition or legislation for the clean beauty movement, what we can do is choose our skincare brand wisely, opting for products created by formulators who are well-known for their high standard of ingredients and expertise when formulating.
I also believe that ingredients should be studied separately, like in the case of silicones, as not all of them are harmful. Don’t get me wrong, by this I’m not saying that “clean beauty” is a misconception, on the contrary. If we compare, for example, vegetable oils with ones obtained in a lab, plant-based oils provide greater benefits for our skin compared to synthetics ones, which are more inert.
On a final note, in spite of it being a marketing department buzzword, what I do like about the “clean beauty” movement is its ever-increasing link to transparency. However, unfortunately we will have to wait for an official definition of this trend before we are all on the same page.