Today’s beauty lovers are savvier than ever. Long gone are the days when we’d be impressed with quick fixes and glossy packaging. Now, we not only want beautiful, highly effective products, but we also need to know what we’re putting on our skin and where it comes from. Open any social media platform, and you’ll be faced with this “clean and green” explosion that’s taking over the beauty world.
Suddenly, our eyes are open and we’re asking questions. “Are my products organic and sustainable? Are they vegan and cruelty-free? Are they harming me or the environment?!” Phew! It’s enough to have you breaking out into a sweat, and clearing out your bathroom drawers in a frenzied panic. If you’re as confused as a chameleon in a bag of Skittles, then grab a cuppa, read on and let Tish Tash clear things up for you.
What Does “Clean” Really Mean?
From “clean”, “natural” and “organic”, to “green”, “ethical” or “eco-friendly”, you’ll be surprised to know that these terms are completely unregulated and their meanings change from one company to another.
To complicate things even more, the FDA doesn’t require brands to test or preapprove cosmetic ingredients, with the exception of color additives. The European law governing cosmetics is slightly stricter in its approach, as all products must be clearly labeled, listing ingredients in descending order of percentage.
Nowadays, there’s a general consensus in the industry that “clean” refers to products that prefer naturally-sourced ingredients, but often include synthetics that have been deemed safe for people and planet. In other words, “clean” doesn’t necessarily mean chemical-free, which is what sets it apart from brands that claim to be “natural.”
Natural can be clean, but clean isn’t always natural; it’s just free of certain controversial ingredients — like parabens or formaldehydes.
So, What’s the Difference Between “Clean” and “Green”?
In a nutshell, products claiming to be “clean” will generally never contain synthetic fragrances, parabens, phthalates, SLS and SLES, formaldehyde, mineral oil, or lead. On the other hand, a “green” beauty brand will ensure that its ingredients and business practices are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible.
We often wrongly assume that all-natural ingredients are safe and better for your skin than synthetic ones, which isn’t always the case. For example, petroleum jelly and essential oils are perfect examples of natural ingredients which can be harmful to some. On the flip side, many man-made substances have been carefully engineered to cater to the most sensitive of skins. It’s a delicate, and sometimes complicated scale to balance.
Beware of Greenwashing!
There’s no denying that green beauty is big business. So, it’s not surprising that brands are now looking to jump on the bandwagon. But when a company spends more time and money claiming to be ‘green’ through advertising and marketing than actually implementing ethical business practices that minimize their impact on the environment, this is what’s known as “greenwashing.”
The only real way to avoid being ‘played’ by greenwashing is to ask questions and do your research. A brand that’s genuinely concerned about the environment and ethical business practices will be transparent and make all its data readily available on its website or other public platforms. If a brand seems like it’s all talk and no action, then it’s probably worth diving deeper to find out where they really stand on the issues that matter most to you.
So how do you decide? In reality, there really is no right answer. It’s a matter of preference and personal priorities. Whether you’re looking for no-nasties ingredients, wow-factor results, or ethical trade practices, many “clean” brands now offer products that will satisfy your needs, wherever your priorities lie on the scale.
Looking for some clean beauty alternatives to beat the heat, click here to read more.