What is Clean Beauty and Why is it Important?

 The clean beauty movement is really starting to gain popularity - but what actually is clean beauty? And why do we need it? I'm breaking it down for you right here, right now.

What is clean beauty?

At its most simple, clean beauty is beauty products formulated without ingredients that have been shown to (or are suspected to) harm human health. Many clean beauty companies are also working towards sustainable packaging as a part of their mission to be better

How are beauty products regulated?

Here in the US, there's not a lot of regulation at all. The last major legislation for beauty and personal care products was passed in 1938 - 83 years ago! And think of all that has changed from then to now. Crazy, right?

Further, the US bans the fewest products from use in personal care products. You can view the FDA's banned ingredients list right here, and compare it against the EU list here.

When researching this post, the following quote from the FDA website concerned me quite a bit: "Under U.S. law, FDA does not have the authority to require cosmetic manufacturers to submit their safety data to FDA, and the burden is on FDA to prove that a particular product or ingredient is harmful when used as intended"

I also recommend this hearing from the Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. It's a bit lengthy, but skip ahead to about 30 minutes in. It gets interesting quickly, but here's the spark notes version for you. Dr. Susan Mayn of the FDA testified in front of this committee that the FDA has no ability to issue a recall of a product that has been found to be harmful, and they have little to no data on the long term effects of products on human health because companies aren't required to submit it. They can certainly issue a warning to the public if a product has been found harmful, and most companies will work with the FDA to recall (for the sake of saving their brand image) however these companies are not forced to recall a harmful product.

The Fragrance Loophole

Look at any of the products in your shower or under your sink and I bet most of them will include the word "fragrance" or "parfum" somewhere in the ingredients list. While this innocent sounding ingredient doesn't sound like a big deal, let me assure you, it is. Companies state that their fragrance is proprietary and they don't want to disclose it because their formulas are trade secrets. And while I get not wanting to share the exact recipe of your super expensive, best selling perfume, in this day and age where people are looking for transparency, it should be given. Personally, I like knowing I'm not spraying myself with endocrine disrupting or cancer causing chemicals, don't you?

So why is this all so important?

Just recently, a company named Valisure ran tests on dozens of sunscreens available on the market today. They found significant levels of a chemical called benzene in many brands (including some very well known ones like Neutragena) Benzene is a contaminant (not listed on the ingredient list) that has been linked blood cancers. If this is what they're finding in sunscreen, what other harmful chemicals are in our products that we don't know about?

Where do I find safe products?

This is where it gets tricky! Many companies are starting to realize that consumers are looking for "green" "clean" or safer options are are adjusting their marketing towards this new shift. I broke down all the swaps in my low tox living guide - grab it right here!

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