Clean Beauty: What It Is And Why It Matters
There are all sorts of buzzwords that make us feel good about the products we’re consuming: “green,” “natural,” “eco-friendly,” and “organic,” for example. But there’s one that’s getting a lot of attention lately and that’s “clean beauty.”
What does clean beauty even mean? And what does it have to do with you? Great questions!
At Babo Botanicals, we care about clean beauty, but we understand that it can be a hard concept to define. We’re here to help demystify it.
What Is Clean Beauty?
Clean beauty refers to cosmetic products created without synthetic chemicals and ingredients that could harm your body or irritate your skin — ingredients like parabens, phthalates, oxybenzone, and synthetic fragrances, just to name a few.
The reason clean beauty can be hard to define is that there’s no set list of ingredients that are banned from clean beauty products. In fact, it might be best defined as a movement.
There might be some other words that get thrown around the clean beauty movement as well –– words like organic, green, cruelty-free, or natural.
While some clean beauty products may not advertise these buzzwords, many of them do. We want to break them down for you.
For a beauty product to earn the organic label, it has to be composed of at least 95% organic material, free of GMOs, and marked by an official USDA Organic Seal. These products also abide by specific handling and manufacturing laws.
Many clean beauty products boast an organic status. If you think about it, the two often go hand in hand!
If you ever notice a small beauty company that labels their products as organic but is missing that USDA certified organic seal, keep in mind that a USDA certification is not cheap! Some brands opt out of the certification because they can’t afford it.
However, always double-check the ingredients list yourself before purchasing a product that claims to be organic but may not hold that quintessential seal.
In the same way clean beauty has pushed consumers to be kind to their own skin, many progressive beauty brands are pushing to be kind to animals, as well!
There has been a long, long history of animal testing in the beauty industry. Thankfully, that is slowly but surely changing.
Cruelty-free brands are becoming more and more common. To be considered cruelty-free, a brand or product may not test on animals at any point during its manufacturing, nor can it use ingredients that were taken from an animal at the expense of its health.
This doesn’t mean a product is vegan, though. For example, a product can contain honey and be considered cruelty-free (as extracting honey from bees properly does not harm the insect) but not vegan, since it uses ingredients derived from an animal.
This term gets paired with clean beauty often, and we’re happy about it! Because for a product to be green, it means it does no harm whatsoever to the environment.
From the manufacturing, ingredients, packaging, and usage –– all components of the product must have no ill-effect on the environment. This is a great step toward sustainable, clean, and green beauty that is good for us and our planet!
Of all the buzzwords, this one is probably the most misleading.
Natural ingredients usually refer to essential oils inside of products. Essential oils can be a slippery slope in beauty products, as the concentration of them can drastically change their effects on your skin and health!
Essential oils are, basically, extremely strong plant compounds. If they are not formulated correctly, they can seriously impair the protective barrier of your skin!
Often, essential oils incorporated within manufactured products go through a degree of regulation. You are likely safe here.
But if you ever want to incorporate essential oils into your routine in more concentrated amounts (or if you mix your own skincare concoctions), please check with a dermatologist or aesthetician to ensure you’re doing so safely!
When Did The Clean Beauty Movement Begin?
There is no hard start to the clean beauty movement or the emphasis on cleaner beauty in the cosmetic industry. Rather, brands are following the trajectory of a more general movement toward wellness and sustainable lifestyles.
Consumers across all markets are growing more aware of the products they use and what’s in them. By investing in their health and a greener, cleaner lifestyle, they’re prioritizing a healthier earth and healthier life!
The clean beauty movement is a huge part of this larger wave of awareness about the products we use and where our ingredients come from.
Another contributing factor to the increased prevalence of the clean beauty movement: the rise in sensitive skin conditions! Dermatologists have noted that compared to previous decades, more people than ever are being diagnosed with sensitive skin.
Although it’s not clear why, increased exposure to chemicals, stress, and pollution seems to be taking a toll on the condition of people’s skin across the world.
Increased sensitivity means an increased need to pay attention to the things that go into your beauty products (and therefore onto your skin!).
The clean beauty movement has been great in this way, by raising awareness of skin conditions and offering amazing options for people who want to prioritize their health without sacrificing the quality of their products.
Why Is The Clean Beauty Movement Necessary?
If clean beauty is a bit undefined and ambiguous, why is it necessary and why did it come about? The answer is that the cosmetics industry is practically unregulated.
The last time cosmetics regulations were passed by Congress was in 1938. That’s a long time ago! Since then, the government has not defined safety standards for ingredients used in cosmetics.
What does this mean for the cosmetics industry? Basically, anything goes. There aren’t many ingredients that are off-limits.
That means some pretty yucky stuff is making it into the products you use on your skin every day!
Since there’s no regulating body to keep harmful ingredients out of cosmetics, clean beauty is the effort of health- and earth-conscious companies to provide safe, healthy, honest products even without FDA regulations.
This is where you come in, too!
Clean beauty is also about individuals who don’t want to use products made with harmful chemicals and are ready and willing to read ingredient labels in order to pick through the questionable products and opt for clean ones.
Fortunately, you’re not alone in your efforts. Nonprofits like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) help consumers choose products by providing ratings based on the ingredients of any given product.
Now that you understand a bit more about the clean beauty movement, let’s look at why it matters for your health and for the planet.
Why Clean Beauty Matters For Your Health
While the industry may argue that questionable ingredients are not harmful in small amounts, clean beauty advocates don’t think it’s worth the risk!
We don’t, either. That’s why Babo Botanicals and other clean beauty companies are leaving those ingredients out.
We won’t talk about all of the ingredients that clean beauty says a big, fat “No!’ to, but we’d like to go over a few of them and how they could negatively affect your body.
Here are four ingredients that are typically kept out of clean beauty products and always kept out of Babo Botanicals products.
Parabens are used as a preservative to increase the shelf life of cosmetics. The problem with parabens is that they can cause allergic reactions and skin rashes.
And, even more concerning, they are an endocrine-disruptor, mimicking your body’s hormones and interfering with the way your body works.
This funny-sounding ingredient is used in your cosmetics to make the fragrance (which is probably full of chemicals itself) bind to the product. This might make your lotion smell lovely, but there’s nothing good about it.
Like parabens, phthalates can irritate your skin and negatively affect hormones. They may damage sperm, increase premature delivery, cause genital defects, and lead to early puberty. Phthalates can also be a trigger for those with allergies or asthma.
You know that sudzy, bubbly lather most shampoo brands showcase in their commercials? Those bubbles are usually from sulfates, a harsh cleanser that’s often derived from synthetic ingredients (although sometimes they can come from coconut or palm oil).
One particular sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), is particularly rough on your skin, teeth, and hair, which is why you should avoid it like the plague!
Although SLS isn’t toxic or detrimental to your health in the long term, it can be very drying to your delicate skin and hair and can even cause breakouts if your toothpaste drips onto your chin!
More concerning than SLS is its cousin, sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), which is converted from SLS by a method called ethoxylation. The issue here is that once converted to SLES, the compound can become contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a noted human carcinogen.
SLES has gotten a lot of attention in the clean beauty community over the years, which has helped consumers like you stay safe and keep producers accountable.
It’s been popularized by David Suzuki’s Dirty Dozen list, and even major distributors like Sephora require their brands to test for these carcinogens.
With all this bad press, you’re probably thinking, “I don’t want to go near that stuff!” And we agree!
That’s why all of our products are made sulfate-free.
Formaldehyde is another preservative used in cosmetics. While it might increase shelf-life, it’s carcinogenic, meaning that it can cause cancer — that doesn’t sound like a good trade to us.
Cancer is the most concerning risk of formaldehyde, but this ingredient, like most of these other chemicals, is also just plain irritating to your skin.
While formaldehyde has earned itself a notoriously bad reputation and has since been banned from many cosmetic products, its effects are mimicked in other similar ingredients: formalin, methanal, and methylene glycol.
When mixed with water, these chemicals emit the same carcinogenic compound released by formaldehyde. The problem? These names are much less well-known!
We always encourage you to read the labels on your products and monitor your hair, skin, and nails whenever trying out a new product to make sure you don’t have a bad reaction.
Oxybenzone is an ingredient that’s commonly used in chemical sunscreens to block the sun’s harmful rays. Unfortunately, it’s a chemical that simply doesn’t jive with the human body.
Oxybenzone soaks through skin easy-peasy. In fact, it’s commonly found in breastmilk, urine, blood, and amniotic fluid. Oxybenzone can also block or mimic hormones and is an irritating allergen.
Why Clean Beauty Matters For The Earth
Many companies that create clean beauty products are concerned not only with your family’s health and safety but also with creating products that are safe for the planet.
That includes how the products are made and what happens to the earth when we use them.
How Products Are Made
One example of why the manufacturing of products is so important: the number of entities involved. We’re talking about farmers, suppliers, the community, consumers, and the environment.
Some companies, like Babo Botanicals, want to care for everyone involved and have chosen to become a Certified B Corporation.
According to the Certified B Corporation website, these “are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.”
Another example of the importance of how products are made is the way ingredients are sourced. Here at Babo Botanicals, we’ve chosen to source our eucalyptus from a farm and wildlife sanctuary called Down Under Enterprises.
By growing eucalyptus trees, this farm has created a place for koalas to eat and travel safely. Not only that, but they also use 100% renewable energy on the farm. That’s what we like to hear!
What Happens When Products Are Used
A product keeps impacting the earth even after it’s been manufactured. One example of this is how chemical sunscreens affect the oceans and coral reefs.
When you and your family lather up with sunscreen then splash in the ocean, the sunscreen that washes off your body affects aquatic life, including coral reefs.
Common chemical sunscreen ingredients, such as oxybenzone, can bleach and damage coral reefs. That’s a big “no” from us, especially when reef-safe sunscreen ingredients, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, exist!
Clean Beauty Products
We think that safe, non-toxic skincare products are essential! That’s why we created a line of clean beauty products that includes a foundation as well as lip gloss and lip balm.
Expert tip: Keep in mind that “clean” goes way beyond beauty and cosmetic products. It should be for the whole family — babies, kids, and parents alike! — and includes foundation, lotion, sunscreen, and everything in-between. Don’t leave anyone out!
To give you an idea of our favorite clean beauty products, we’ve listed them below. We hope they become your favorites as well!
Daily Sheer Tinted Facial Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
Our Daily Sheer Tinted Facial Mineral Sunscreen isn’t just a sunscreen. This sheer, lightweight, and non-greasy formula also adds luminosity to your skin, making it the perfect protection for everyday wear.
This clean product makes you shine and is free of fragrances, parabens. phthalates, and oxybenzone. Good for your skin and good for the coral reefs!
Plus, it’s not just about what isn’t in this tinted moisturizer — it’s also about the good stuff we put in! It’s got our Nutri-Firm™ Complex of kahai, sea buckthorn, and argan oil and anti-aging hyaluronic acid. Time to shine!
Lip Tint Conditioner SPF 15
Keep your lips soft, pretty, and protected with our Lip Tint Conditioner! This lip balm comes in five colors to fit your style and mood. And, with SPF 15, it protects your delicate lips from everyday sun damage.
Made with shea butter, cocoa butter, avocado oil, and jojoba oil, this lip balm bathes your lips in all sorts of goodness. And rest assured — it contains no sulfates, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde, or oxybenzone.
Nutri-Shine™ Luminizer Vegan Lip Gloss
Make your lips shine naturally! Our vegan and hydrating Lip Luminizers nourish and soften your lips while leaving a super high-gloss finish.
These EWG-Verified™ lip glosses are enriched with natural coconut oil, cocoa butter, and soothing organic calendula for soft, smooth, healthy lips!
What makes our lip gloss clean? First of all, it’s colored with minerals, not artificial dyes! And it’s free of synthetic fragrances, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, and more.
Good For You, Good For The Planet
When it comes down to it, clean beauty is about saying no to ingredients that can be harmful to you, your family, and the environment. Instead, say yes to cosmetics with natural ingredients that work!
Decide how to incorporate clean beauty products into your life, starting with the cosmetics you use every day, like foundation and lip balm. Opt for our Daily Sheer Tinted Facial Mineral Sunscreen to make your skin glow and Lip Tint Conditioner to keep your lips soft and kissable.
You’ll start each day with a smile knowing that you’re taking care of yourself as well as the planet!