The phrase “clean beauty” is often associated with natural beauty and green beauty.  Because there’s no legal definition, many brands have defined it according to their own standards. The real meaning of clean beauty is a product that does not risk your own health. 

When beauty brands make an effort to list their ingredients and label them accordingly, they’re on the path towards clean beauty.  However, not all brands are that transparent.  In fact, many labels are misleading and are quite often “greenwashed.”

Clean beauty has been around for a while, but its movement is growing. As beauty and health become entwined, wellness seems to be gaining attention. Beauty research and observations across the country show that the U.S. consumer has a very broad definition of what wellness is about. The way the beauty industry and the retail market have adopted wellness is, in some ways, not bold enough, because retailers are looking at it from a narrow lens.

It seems young shoppers are willing to spend more for healthier products, especially beauty products. Naturally derived ingredients are a priority among those that equate wellness with consumption of “ clean products.”  Because wellness is not a trend, but a movement, it seems to be interpreted differently by every retailer. These days, everyone puts their own spin on it. Skincare seems to be beauty’s top selling category, since consumers associate it with wellness, which translates to clean beauty. They want luxurious, clean skin care products, combined with the next generation of beauty technology.   

For a long time, products labeled “natural and organic” were the stars of the industry. Preservative free is another buzzword that creates a common misconception. Clean beauty does not have to be all natural, because there are many synthetic, man-made ingredients that are safe, including certain preservatives. On the other hand, there are some natural ingredients found in the soil which are toxic. Also, all cosmetics need some form of preservatives to maintain the stability of their formulation. In the end, clean beauty is not about perfection and doesn’t necessarily have to be all natural, but it does have to be safe and non-toxic. Also, clean beauty does not have to be green (plant-derived, vegan, cruelty-free, or eco-friendly.) Although these catch words connotate that a product is a cut above, it’s just a marketing ploy and does not necessarily mean the product is clean. To clear up the confusion, bear in mind that words like natural, organic and green beauty do not necessarily translate to clean beauty. These types of myths have plagued the beauty industry for a long time.  The truth simply lies in the ingredient list and not the “greenwashing.”

What is greenwashing, you may ask? This is when a company uses marketing to convey a false message that a product is good for you or for the environment. This actually serves to capture consumers’ attention without delivering the promises companies easily get away with while using misleading labels. Because the beauty industry lacks heavy regulation from the FDA, many cosmetic manufacturers have full control about what they consider natural, organic etc., and it varies from one company to another.

Wellness seems to be broader than beauty and skincare. It’s about product, but it’s also about experience, information and a multifaceted approach. At the end of the day, it’s up to consumers to pay attention and have their voices heard. 

Risselle Naimark is a Professional Freelance Makeup Artist and Skincare Consultant. She carries an extensive line of personalized skincare, cosmetics, and anti-aging products. Risselle is also available for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, makeup lessons, and all of your beauty needs. She can be reached at 718 263-5517.