Conscious consumerism has pushed the UK organic beauty and wellbeing market to an all-time high. There is an abundance of products to choose from and it is up to each consumer to make informed purchasing decisions based on their own values, needs and principles.
In a previous blog post we discussed natural beauty. Today we will explore the term “clean beauty”, which incidentally (like “natural” and “green”) has no official, standard definition and its use is not regulated. This can be misleading and allow it to be misused. Definitions are subjective and change from company to company, depending on their interpretation and brand values.
Claims such as ‘chemical-free’ should be treated with caution as basic chemistry tells us that all ingredients - whether natural or synthetic – are chemically based. Water, a pure element, is a chemical compound of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, H2O. We know that ‘non-toxic’ is implied but I find it untrustworthy if the importance of basic chemistry is lost and inaccurate.
At Florian Botanicals we have thoroughly researched this topic and will share with you the general definitions and perceptions along with our own views on the subject.
“Defining Clean Beauty”
Initially terms such as “natural” and “organic” were used to describe the origin of the raw materials used to create products. Our consumer needs have evolved to the point where these qualities are not enough anymore.
Demand for knowing what is in our products – a habit that developed from reading food labels – has led to consumers to decide which ingredients they want to embrace, and which to avoid. This awareness is also growing due to the rise in sensitive skin issues caused by increased exposure to pollution, stress and other external factors.
The non-toxic debate probably started in 2004 when Dr Philippa Darbre from the University of Reading discovered concentrations of parabens in breast tissue. This research was rejected and debunked by the cosmetic industry, yet it did cause a stir and opened debate around the safety of ingredients in products.
One of the main criteria of “clean beauty” is the safety of products without risking your own health. But what constitutes “safe”?
Many clean beauty advocates put the emphasis on the avoidance of specific ingredients. These include artificial colours and fragrance, silicones and mineral oils (Petroloeum, Petrolatum, Parraffinum Liquidum) – a cheap by-product from the crude-oil industry. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, phthalates, and parabens are also on the list.
Clean beauty is a spectrum, like so many of the unregulated buzzwords in the cosmetic industry, and each brand has to find the shade that best suits their values. Generally speaking, products containing clean ingredients - both from natural and/or synthetic origins - are accepted, as long as they are safe. There are common beauty ingredients of concern but some brands, for example, choose to avoid essential oils while others embrace them, arguing that they have been tried and tested over centuries with well documented therapeutic benefits.
There is also growing concern about the impact of certain ingredients on the environment. Isoamyl Cocoate, an emollient derived from sugar beets and coconut Oil, is produced using around 60% less energy and CO2 emissions than Siloxane (silicone) but delivers a comparative non-oily feel and light texture.
There are many aspects of clean beauty that resonates with us here at Florian Botanicals. We passionately believe that products must be safe. But there is a toxic atmosphere within the clean beauty movement that relies on scare mongering and poor science. Brands who vilify ingredients or recommend avoiding ingredients you can’t pronounce. Although being a starting point to better understand what is inside your products, it certainly doesn’t mean that anything difficult to pronounce is inherently bad.
Let’s take a look at this in a different way.
Every morning, I throw some Octadecenoic Acid and Hexadecenoic Acid, along with Arginine, Aspartic Acid, and Phenylalanine onto the frying pan. When it’s properly cooked, I put it on Phosphorus, Potassium, and Manganese. It is delicious! What am I eating?
Eggs over quinoa.
A healthy, good-for-you breakfast with plenty of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Fear of the unknown is basic human nature, however researching, learning and familiarising yourself with what’s unknown is far more productive and empowering.
We believe in celebrating the ingredients that are chosen, and being transparent about those choices, their benefits and the positive impact on your wellbeing. We believe you should not be forced to feel guilty for your product choices.
At Florian Botanicals we take a holistic approach in terms of clean beauty. Not only do we choose “clean” ingredients, but we also expect those ingredients to have a clean, traceable supply chain, social ethics and a sustainable environmental footprint. We acknowledge that clean packaging is challenging and that much innovation is needed in terms of sustainability.
Here we are starting to venture into the “green beauty” realm, which we shall discuss an upcoming blog post.
We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on clean beauty.
Photo by Daniel Oberg