What the Clean Beauty Movement is (and Isn’t)

women holding clean beauty lip balm

The term “clean beauty” is a fairly recent marketing term that’s been making waves in the beauty community, but the concept is not so new. It’s a term which further expands upon the “natural” and “organic” trend that has overtaken beauty aisles all over the world.

But what is clean beauty? Is there even a clear cut definition? And who came up with it? Let’s start from the beginning:

What is Clean Beauty?

Clean beauty at its core is the formulation of cosmetics and skincare products without harmful ingredients. It’s not organic - organic implies that everything that is listed on the product label is a naturally occurring substance and has been created using environmentally ethical means. Organic is its own unique category—one of the few terms in the beauty arena that has an official definition.

Clean beauty isn’t strictly natural or organic, although there is some overlap. Clean beauty is willing to use ingredients that have been tested to be safe and not have long term effects on the skin or health of the user.

It’s all about consciousness. Being transparent in ingredient labeling and being more aware of what you’re putting on your body.  This is advantageous for today’s consumers who are interested in learning more about the ingredients that make up their favorite products. Still, it’s important to note that being one google search away from learning about an ingredient doesn’t always translate into knowing the whole story, or reasoning for using an ingredient. Trained cosmetic chemists have years of experience and insight formulating products that an average person wouldn’t have, so this needs to be taken into account when deciding if a product is safe or not.

Trends & Regulations in Clean Beauty

According to this article, NPD Group (a market research firm), found there was a 10% growth in the natural beauty market, meanwhile, prestige products only grew 3.8%. This indicates a large shift in the market and every brand is responding to it. 

Clean Beauty isn’t so much a trend but a movement. Consumers are demanding more of brands by the day. What’s different about Clean Beauty is that it recognizes the pros of man-made ingredients. Preservatives meant to protect the consumer from bacteria, or derivations of other natural ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, are considered from a benefit and safety standpoint.

Here are a few  things that typically don’t go into a “Clean” product:

  • Phthalates
  • Parabens
  • Sulfates
  • Talc
  • Aluminum salts
  • BHA
  • Formaldehydes
  • Animal-derived products

So is Clean Beauty Really Clean?

There is a lot of controversy in the industry regarding the terminology and whether the science behind certain ingredients is definitive, especially “free of” claims on products.ss--Melissa, I wasn’t sure if you were going to re-write this part...I included it in a stream of consciousness form but think it needs to sound more professional--what do you think? Many times,  brands will use the terminology loosely. A brand is less likely to get in trouble for falsely claiming to be “clean” than claiming natural. Interestingly, the EU is cracking down on using “(Ingredient) free” claims, which could be considered misleading.

The reason using “Clean Beauty” as a label can be misleading is that companies stopped using these “dirty” ingredients years ago! Many brands have already removed things like phthalates and parabens from their products, they’ve just started advertising it better. (or maybe they never used them at all).

At the end of the day, the best way to maintain a clean beauty routine is to simply use less and use only what you need.  Decide what’s most important to you and learn how that translates on the label, then make your decisions accordingly.   

Most of all, don’t forget to relax and enjoy a few moments as you indulge in the experience of using your favorite beauty products. 

Learn more about Provision Scents’ approach to common sense/clean beauty, along with transparent labeling.