On the one hand, the industry’s boom in “clean beauty products” feels like a wish-fulfillment, especially for those looking for greater ingredient transparency and wholesome formulations. On the other hand, it can feel incredibly daunting. What makes a product clean (or not), and how necessary is everything we put on our face to be clean? Since there is no official definition of clean (retailers and brands define the term themselves), we’ve hired six beauty industry experts to elaborate on clean beauty in
What it looks like.
Meet the experts
- Annie Jackson, Credo Co-Founder
Autumne West, Gome Director, Nordstrom
“Since there is no single definition of cleanliness, how far a company wants to live up to that promise really depends on its founders,” says Gucci Westman. With a similar perspective, Autumnne West explains that brands may define cleanliness by ingredients used or excluded; moreover, elements of production such as where and how ingredients are sourced also play a role. (Think about it: the EU bans or restricts more than 1,600 ingredients in cosmetics, while the US only restricts .) This flexibility gives founders the power to set cleanliness standards however they like, and market to consumers accordingly.
“We believe that ‘clean beauty’ means setting strict standards in the safety of our ingredients and formulas,” Westerman said of her brand when said. “For us, cleanliness is a state of mind. We’re focused on creating skincare that’s just right for your look. It’s about the highest level of performance, craftsmanship, and the luxury of knowing you can feel good about what you’re wearing.” When When we asked Sasha Plavsic Ilia how to define clean beauty, she emphasized that a better word for the category would be “thoughtful,” to encompass smart choices around formulation, packaging, marketing, and the planet. “For Ilia, clean beauty is defined as combining the best of natural and safe synthetic materials to create an effective product that performs beyond conventional expectations,” she says. Then, brands like evovletogether are offering new approaches to sustainability. Cynthia Sakai explains: “We pay special attention to the overall sustainability of our packaging, choosing single materials that are biodegradable, dissolvable, compostable, reusable or permanently recyclable wherever possible, to minimize Single-use plastic waste.” Transparency and proper disposal education are just two ways the brand is bringing this ethos to life.
How to shop for clean beauty products
“Consumers still need to do their homework to ensure brands are choosing products that align with their own definition of “clean,” says Dr. Iris Rubin, explaining that a “clean” or “natural” label on a product doesn’t mean it’s inherently better for you. To help shoppers stand out in the vast beauty market, retailers are also gradually demystifying clean beauty standards. In Nordstrom’s natural beauty category, one can find makeup that is “free of sulfates, phthalates, parabens, petrochemicals, mineral oil, silicone, and talc”; it’s also free of formaldehyde , Retinyl Palmitate, Oxybenzone, Coal Tar, Hydroquinone, Triclosan, Triclocarban, Gluten, Artificial Preservatives, Fragrances, Nanoparticles, EDTA, and DEA” as listed by West
There are also dedicated marketplaces like Credo that only sell products that have earned their popular Clean stamp of approval.”Clean is Safety, Sustainability, Ethics and Transparency at the intersection of the beauty industry—and it applies to the ingredients, the manufacturing process, the beauty product itself, and the packaging,” Annie Jackson shares the retailer’s attempt to lift the veil of cleanliness. Secrets long shrouded in the beauty industry. “We’re at 600 created the Credo Clean Standard – a document that defines Credo Clean Beauty – and 600+ Brands we work with are required to sign up and adhere to our standards. ”