What is clean beauty? Unfortunately for consumers, the answer depends in large part on who you’re asking. Here at West of Wild, clean beauty is the skincare, make-up, and hair-care products that don’t contain toxic ingredients that could be harmful to your health.
In other words, clean beauty products are made without the “dirty” ingredients that the American cosmetics industry has allowed us to slather on our skin—the body’s largest organ—for decades.
Clean Beauty: The E.U. vs. The U.S.
While the European Union has banned over 1,000 chemicals for use in personal care products, the FDA has banned a mere 11, leaving over 990 chemicals available for legal use in the American-made products we apply to our skin. Therefore, if a brand chooses to use these chemicals in their products, they don’t have to include a warning label. However, thanks to clean beauty advocates and conscious consumers like you, the tide is turning.
The Toxic Free Cosmetics Act
California Governor, Gavin Newsom, has recently signed the Toxic Free Cosmetics Act (AB 2762) into law. This is the nation’s first state-level ban of 24 toxic ingredients. Some of the banned ingredients include:
- three types of formaldehyde,
- certain parabens
- certain phthalates, and
- PFAS (fluorinated compounds)
These newly banned chemicals have been linked to harmful health outcomes such as: cancer, birth defects, damage to the reproductive system, organ system toxicity, and endocrine disruption. Astonishingly, while these ingredients are already prohibited from cosmetics and other personal care products sold in the European Union, they are still used in personal care products sold throughout the U.S.
Putting the onus on the consumer to read labels carefully and do their own research.
How To Go Clean In Your Beauty Routine
To help you take the guess work out of clean beauty, we’ve put together this guide on affordable clean beauty. We also advocate for the exclusive use of clean beauty products when it comes to your skin. Which is why you won’t find anything that is suspected to be harmful to your health on our site.
However, this doesn’t mean that all the products on our site can accurately be labeled “all natural” or “organic”; science has come a long way in formulating effective and safe ingredients that do not fit under “natural” or “organic” labels.
That’s where we come in.
Here at West of Wild, we heavily vet each product featured on our site: We research each ingredient and it’s EWG rating, to make sure you’re getting clean skincare that is both good for your skin and effective at addressing your concerns.
After all, fusing modern technology with ancient plant wisdom is kind of our jam.
The Price of Clean Beauty
Each day the average American woman uses around a dozen personal beauty products. Products whose active ingredients add up on your skin and whose prices take a toll on your wallet. That’s why we like to talk about both ultra luxurious clean beauty options and more affordable ones.
It’s all about giving you the power of choice.
Luckily, the clean beauty space is filling up with affordable options that we can’t get enough of. Case in point: the affordable clean beauty products brought to us by our friends at Bioclarity.
Bioclarity Clean Beauty
Bioclarity: The Most Affordable Clean Beauty?
Bioclarity has won us over with their gentle and good-for-your-skin formulations. Their vegan, plant-based, and non-toxic products are one of the most affordable options in clean beauty. They’re also fun to use and effective at improving the look and feel of your skin.
If you’re not sure which products are right for your skin, their skin quiz will point you in the right direction. To make shopping for skincare even easier, they’ve bundled their most popular products into ready-made routines tailored around specific skin issues.
Bioclarity Beauty Routine Bundles:
In each routine, you’ll find products packed with natural and effective ingredients that blend a plant-based ethos with non-toxic ingredients as a baseline for achieving healthy skin.
We love that Bioclarity has harnessed the power of one of our favorite anti-oxidants in their calming products: Chlorophyll. We already know that chlorophyll is one of the most detoxifying ingredients you can take for your health, but adding it to your skincare regime is a game changer.
You can find chlorophyll in every Bioclarity product that contains Floralux: an active ingredient with powerful anti-oxidant benefits. Floralux is derived naturally from chlorophyll, and can help visibly improve your skin by fighting free radicals.
One of our favorite Bioclarity products is their Brighten Up, Sunshine exfoliating mask.
If you’re looking for an added boost of hydration, try:
As surfers and skiers, our editors are always on the look out for affordable clean sunscreen, which is why we love Bioclarity’s:
Preservatives in Clean Beauty
Preservatives are somewhat of a necessary evil in clean beauty as they help to keep bacteria out of your products —making them toxic by nature. However, some preservatives are much more toxic than others.
The preservatives you want to look out for are the ones that release formaldehyde such as:
- diazolidinyl urea,
- DMDM hydantoin,
- imidazolidinyl urea, and
- sodium hydroxymethylglycinate,
How To Avoid Greenwashing in Clean Beauty
The best way to avoid greenwashing claims is to look for transparent products where you are able to read all the ingredients —without having to rely on labels such as “clean”, “natural”, or “organic”. You can use resources such as the Made Safe Hazard List and the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep database for a list of ingredients to avoid. Also look for specific claims such as “formulated without…[parabens, dyes, or fragrances]”.
To help, we’ve listed some of the most common clean beauty labels and their implications.
“Natural” or “All Natural”
A product labeled Natural implies that is has been made with ingredients found in nature (i.e. not synthetic). These are plant, mineral, or animal products that are minimally modified. It’s important not to confuse natural with healthy because some natural substances can be harmful or cause allergic reactions for certain people.
Certifications: Products that contain at least fifty percent of plant-based ingredients may feature an Ecocert Natural Cosmetic Certification.
Naturally derived ingredients have generally undergone some chemical processing. With this label, t’s helpful to look for the percentage of ingredients that are naturally derived in the context of the complete ingredient list.
If a cosmetic label includes the word “organic” it generally means that ingredient has satisfied the definition of organic under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirements which requires that the product is made from ingredients that were produced, handled, and packaged under certain agency standards. This generally means the product’s ingredients were produced without harmful pesticides.
While the USDA regulates the word organic, the FDA does not have a definition for the word organic, and therefore the label has no meaning under the Federal Food and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).
That said, when a package states that the product is USDA-Certified Organic, it must contain at least 95% organically cultivated ingredients). When a package states it’s NSF Organic Certified, it must contain at least 70% organic ingredients.
This type of label generally implies the product doesn’t contain harmful chemicals such as lead, toluene, or formaldehyde. However, all chemicals should not be written off as toxic or harmful, as most ingredients (even natural ones) are made up of certain chemical compounds. When reading a product label, it’s important to look for the exclusion of specific chemicals such as parabens.
“Green” or “Sustainable”
Green or sustainable product labels generally indicate the product was created little to no harm or impact to the environment. This includes everything from how a product is created, packaged, distributed, and recycled.
Fragrances are a type of scape-goat in the cosmetics industry, as the FDA allows brands to list “fragrance” on their product – but does not require them to disclose the ingredients that the fragrance is made of. So it is often unclear what ingredients are in these products.
That said, there have been great advancements in the safety of fragrances in recent years, as scientists have begun to develop safe synthetic fragrances. Many clean brands choose to use natural fragrances in their products, however, similar to essential oils, people may have sensitivities to natural fragrances.
In general, we recommend choosing products that are fragrance and dye-free as these products have fewer ingredients and are generally better for the environment.