What is Clean Beauty?
No one begins their day looking for ways to damage their skin, hurt their health, or put animal lives in danger, but when we use some of our favorite everyday beauty projects, that’s exactly what we’re doing.
The clean beauty movement has turned the spotlight on toxic beauty, revealing the harsh chemicals allowable in American beauty products and inhumane animal testing practices and involvement.
Clean beauty, however, can be hard to define. Because “clean” isn’t a regulated term, it's really left up to beauty retailers' own discretion to define what clean means to them and to their products.
If you’re just starting your clean beauty journey, welcome. We’ve got some ground to cover in terms of what clean beauty is and how to choose clean beauty products that actually work.
WHAT IS CLEAN BEAUTY?
Just like clean eating, clean beauty can be a term that is very loosely defined.
While one company may claim they offer a clean beauty product solely because it contains some natural ingredients, another may hold themselves to a much higher standard, sourcing their ingredients in a sustainable manner, avoiding animal involvement, and eliminating certain toxic chemicals and skin irritants from any product they carry.
Ultimately, it’s you, as a consumer, who has to determine what clean beauty means for you. Consider it your own clean beauty manifesto.
With a little help, you can determine what clean beauty is, what you’re willing to use on your skin and body, and what kind of sustainability and animal involvement you feel is safest.
There are three major components to any product that is considered clean: ingredients, sourcing, and animal involvement. Let’s look at each a little more in-depth.
Whether it was the questionable dye in your favorite red lipstick that made you consider your beauty choices or the hard-to-read ingredients on your moisturizer, you began to wonder if the ingredients in your products were safe and if they actually needed to be there.
These questions about product ingredients are what started the clean beauty movement. In the United States, the beauty industry is woefully underregulated. In fact, the U.S. allows numerous ingredients in products that other countries have completely banned.
While it’s tempting to assume these ingredients may simply pose a low risk of mild skin irritation, the situation is much worse. These ingredients pose serious health risks like:
Malignant cells. There are numerous ingredients in cosmetic and beauty products that contain toxins known to be carcinogenic. Formaldehyde (found in nail products, eyelash products, and even soaps and shampoos), polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS” found in shampoos, body lotions, and moisturizers), and phenylenediamine (commonly found in hair dye) are all known carcinogens banned from products in other countries, but allowable in U.S. products.
Organ Toxicity and Neurotoxicity. Ingredients that fall into this category can negatively impact major organs like your heart, kidneys, eyes, and even your brain.
Reproductive and developmental harm. These ingredients may interfere with reproductive organs, negatively affect fertility and menstruation, delay puberty, put a user at risk of miscarriage, and further interfere with the development of a newborn.
Parabens, for instance, are able to mimic estrogen and have even been discovered in the tissue of breast cancer tumors.
Cell damage. Ingredients like nanoparticles (used in beauty products as UV filters or preservatives) can cause irreversible damage to your cellular structure, effectively changing your DNA.
- Allergens. A product that elicits an immune response from your body is an allergen. The response of your immune system can be mild (skin irritation that clears up once the product is discontinued) to major (inflammation, swelling, and irritation that requires medical attention).
This is really just the tip of the iceberg. Irritants like artificial fragrance, SLS and SLES, and sulfates are hiding in plain sight in plenty of go-to products, and many of them don't serve an actual purpose beyond extending the expiration date listed on your lotion bottle.
Clean beauty products avoid these types of toxic ingredients, opting instead to use ingredients that are largely plant-based, as close to their original state as possible with little to no chemical alteration.
Most clean beauty companies will have a list of banned ingredients that makes it easy for you to determine the safety and quality of their products.
Clean ingredients are the first step toward ridding our bodies of unnecessary toxins and cleaning up our beauty bags, but where and how these ingredients are also sourced matters. This is tricky because marketing plays a big part in how we feel toward certain ingredients and products.
For instance, it’s easy to reach for a product that is labeled “organic” instead of its non-organic counterpart and feel we’re making the best choice, but just because a product is organic doesn’t mean that it has been harvested in a way that is ethical or sustainable.
For a clean beauty product to be ultimately respectable to the label, it should include ingredients that are:
Sustainably and responsibly sourced. This means that whatever ingredients are taken from nature are replaced, and the harvest method is safe for the environment, leaving it as untouched as possible.
Ethically farmed. If a product contains ingredients that come from animals, a clean beauty brand should ensure that the animals in use are being farmed with care and treated humanely.
- Environmentally safe. The harvesting and manufacture of ingredients include methods that can sometimes be unsafe for the environment. Pollutants can be leached into groundwater, and soil can become contaminated.
Clean beauty brands are responsible for ensuring that the harvesting of their ingredients and the processing they undergo prior to use do not negatively impact the environment.
Clean beauty is more than just organics. It’s the total impact that developing and manufacturing a product will have on the earth and the people and animals involved with the process.
We don’t like to think about animal cruelty or animal involvement with beauty products, but the sad fact is that animals are still frequently used in testing and developing beauty products.
Animal testing consists of testing on animals to determine if a product or a particular ingredient could be harmful to humans. Animals are used in testing to determine:
Acute toxicity. Short-term exposure to an ingredient to determine if it is toxic. Animals are exposed by force-feeding, forced inhalation, or injection.
Skin and/or eye irritant testing. These tests are performed to determine if a skin or eye irritation occurs from a product and includes the forced exposure of an ingredient on an animal’s skin and/or eyes.
Carcinogenicity testing. Over a period of time, an animal is forcefully exposed to an ingredient and studied to determine if that exposure leads to the development of cancer.
- Reproductive and developmental testing. Possibly the cruelest form of animal testing, this testing forcibly exposes animals to an ingredient by injection, feeding, or inhalation. Then, the animal is forced to reproduce so that it can be determined if the ingredient interfered with fertility, reproduction, or infant development.
There are numerous certifications available for companies who refuse to test on animals, including the Leaping Bunny seal that assures a product is cruelty-free.
HOW TO CHOOSE CLEAN BEAUTY PRODUCTS
It goes without saying, clean beauty is the better, healthier, safer, and more humane choice in beauty. Whether it's makeup or skin care products, lip balms, or serums, carefully examining your products' ingredient lists can make a big difference. However, clean products mean nothing if their formulas don’t perform when you use them.
At One Ocean Beauty, we create products that fill the gap between clean beauty and beauty that is clinically proven to work.
The ocean is at the heart of all we create, and we are committed to restoring and protecting it through our alliance with Oceana. As such, our ingredients are sourced using Blue biotechnology.
Blue biotechnology uses molecules from living marine organisms like plants and fish to reproduce them in a lab environment through bio-fermentation. This allows us to create products that are clean, pure, and include age-defying marine ingredients without causing harm or disrupting the marine environment.
By using Blue biotechnology, we can ensure our product ingredients are consistent, highest quality, and clinically proven.
CHOOSING ONE OCEAN BEAUTY
What do you get when you create products with ingredients that are clean and clinically proven to work? Cleanical ingredients. One Ocean Beauty developed cleanical ingredients, and they’re in every product we offer.
Choosing One Ocean for your beauty and wellness needs means you’re not just making a better and more informed decision about your product ingredients. It means you’re giving back to their source. Our partnership with Oceana helps us give back to the life-giving source of our most valuable product ingredients, the world’s oceans.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Clean beauty is a loosely defined term, but a reputable, clean beauty company will offer products with natural, non-toxic ingredients that have been sourced responsibly and without harm to the environment or animals.
One Ocean Beauty is the cleanical clean beauty brand, combining nature and science to deliver personal care products and skincare products that are effective and safe for you and the environment.
International Laws & Regulations | Safe Cosmetics
Chemicals & Contaminants in Cosmetics | EWG