A once niche beauty movement, mainly supported by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop and often met with an eye roll by some, has gone mainstream and is gaining more and more steam. Almost entirely driven by consumers newfound appreciation for wanting to know what they are spending their money on and putting into and onto their bodies, the tide has turned towards sustainability and wellness. Moves by big players include Clarins introducing a new vegan skincare offering that includes packaging made from recycled material sourced from sustainably managed forests, and Wella Professional launching a plant-based hair colour, are a sign that the clean beauty movement is here to stay.
That said, there is zero regulation around clean, green or any of these beauty claims. Anyone can label his or her beauty product ‘green’ as there is no established industry-wide definition for clean or natural beauty claims. How then do you navigate the world of clean when there are no rules?
More than ever the onus is on the consumer to know what they are buying. Understanding what you’re spending your money on and what is in the product will make navigating this whole new world much easier. Also, common sense and a healthy dose of scepticism will serve you well. Brands will often make wild, promising claims, all of which means very little if not backed up by scientific evidence. Just because it said so on the box, does not mean it is true!
So then, what does ‘clean’ beauty mean?
Beauty brands use the word 'clean' to indicate that their brand or product does not contain ingredients, natural or synthetic, that is considered unsafe or controversial, like parabens, talc or SLS. The problem with no regulation is that almost anything can be labelled 'clean' – whether proven safe or not.
How can you clean your beauty routine?
Do your research
Doing a simple Google search on a beauty brand will very quickly give you an indication of who they are and what they believe in and if they will resonate with your values.
Do an ingredient checklist
Decide what ingredients are a no-go for you, for whatever reason, and when you choose a new product run through your list.
Choose fragrance- and dye-free
Fewer ingredients are by nature better for the environment. Fragrances and dyes are two of the main sensitivity causing culprits. Even fragrance from natural sources can cause reactions. Plus brands are not required to list ingredients in the ‘fragrance’ on labels, so more often than not there is no way for you to know what is really in those products.
Buy fewer products with less packaging
You don’t need a box, in a box, wrapped in plastic with a leaflet. The fewer components to a product the better and also look for packaging that can be recycled or is refillable.
Support brands that give back
Look out for brands that give back or donate a portion of their profits to environmental or sustainable projects.