Spoiler alert: No, it’s not, although it can be a bit of a minefield. Clean beauty products are being advertised everywhere these days, so it definitely pays to be an informed consumer who understands what exactly clean beauty is, what the benefits are and how to spot genuinely clean beauty brands.
What Does Clean Beauty Mean?
What defines clean beauty in the skincare world is a subject of some debate, though there are some common denominators. The most universally agreed upon factor is probably the ingredients used in the production of these products; they should not contain any ingredients that are either confirmed as being harmful to the health of humans or are believed to be. What we’re talking about are ingredients that contain carcinogens, which can irritate the skin or hair, or can disrupt the body’s production of endocrine.
You’d think that there would be regulations in place to stop companies from using those kinds of chemicals, and there is to a certain extent, but the reality is that the current legislation is somewhat insufficient. Let’s take a look at the use of Formaldehyde as an example.
Formaldehyde is pretty nasty stuff. It’s a known carcinogen and it frequently finds itself either being used in a variety of beauty products and cosmetics, or it gets released when other chemicals have water added to them. The Current EU regulation, which Britain has decided to keep post-Brexit, is (EC)1223/2009 and states that hair and skincare products are allowed to have a maximum formaldehyde concentration of less than 0.2%. However, studies have shown that people with sensitive skin can have an adverse reaction and be irritated by a concentration as little as 0.006%. It’s quite clear that this isn’t a chemical you want anywhere near you.
Is Clean Beauty really better?
Any serious clean beauty brands in the UK and elsewhere would not make their products with harsh ingredients that come from or produce the aforementioned formaldehyde, nor would they allow the use of things like sulfates or parabens in their products. You may have noticed brands that make a big deal about being paraben-free and this is for good reason.
Parabens are known to be endocrine disruptors, which are essentially chemicals that throw your body out of whack. The disruption comes from the fact that they imitate hormone production in our endocrine system (effectively the system of the body that controls how our hormones are naturally released and sent throughout our bodies). As you can imagine, this is quite a serious thing to mess around with and endocrine disruptors have been linked to serious long-term health issues, including cancer and birth defects.
Suffice to say, genuine clean beauty brands are preferable to companies that use cheap and potentially dangerous ingredients in their products, but what about the other end of the spectrum? Are entirely natural beauty products the best way forward?
Clean Beauty vs Natural Beauty
There is certainly a clear distinction between clean beauty and natural beauty products. As previously mentioned, the main idea behind clean beauty products is that they do not contain chemicals or ingredients that are known to be harmful. This doesn’t mean that all of the ingredients are strictly 100% natural, though, as many brands like to take advantage of the latest clinically-safe technology and techniques in order to create the highest performing products that they can.
Natural beauty products, on the other hand, eschew the use of anything that isn’t almost entirely organic. That is, they do not include synthetically derived ingredients or even ones that are a blend of nature and technology. The real downside of this is that focus is not on the effectiveness or product performance, but rather its selling point is simply that it's made from natural ingredients.
This is where the difference between clean beauty products and natural ones lies. Clean beauty skincare is about using all the modern tools and techniques available to make healthy products that are sustainable and most importantly, effective. Natural beauty products are solely focused on ingredients that come from nature, which can easily lead to poor performance.
What to take away
All in all, it makes a lot of sense to do your research on the hair and skincare products that you buy and use. There are different factors that will have different levels of priority for different people - some might be overly focused on price, whereas others will look for performance above all, it really depends on what they value.
I think it’s fair to say that as a person, you should prioritise your health above all and avoid the harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals found in certain products. After that, it’ll all come down to what you want from the products you use. If you’re looking for a safe, healthy product that will give you a high level of performance, then clean beauty could well be the way to go - it’s definitely not a hoax!
Here at Nereus London, we’re proud to call ourselves a clean beauty brand - if you’d like to find out more about how we do things, check out our approach to beauty care and of course, our hair care and body care ranges.