The Clean Beauty Conundrum

So what exactly is “Clean Beauty?” I’m a huge fan of Drunk Elephant products – they are touted as part of the “clean beauty” lineup at Sephora and they give my skin amazing results. I’ll be honest, the packaging and reviews were more attractive to me than the stamp of “clean” approval from Sephora, but it did make me wonder what exactly constitutes clean beauty?

During my research (a.k.a a google search), I stumbled upon the most amazing resource: the Good Face Project (GFP) is “on a mission to make cosmetic ingredient transparency a standard for the beauty industry.” The GFP analyzes product formulations and analyses the ingredients based on their toxicity to the human body. The look at research that determines which ingredients cause irritation, are probable or known toxins, and class ingredients according to the following metrics:

· Allergen

· Irritant

· Hormonal disruptor

· Carcinogens

This all seemed pretty comprehensive, so I thought I’d investigate the slew of products I put on my face every day:

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser

SK-II Skin Essence

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Vitamin C Day Serum

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

Drunk Elephant T.L.C Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Antioxidant Face Oil

With the exception of my retinol product, every Drunk Elephant product had the GFP seal of approval. While the Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream had mainly safe ingredients, it’s the retinol itself that the GFP rated as a mild irritant and has been thought of to be carcinogenic when exposed to sunlight... Since I love the results I get from the retinol, I guess I'll stick with it, but I'll keep looking into the research as it emerges.

Then we have the SK-II Skin Essence, while this is an AMAZING product, it was rated fairly low on the GFP scale due to having allergens, irritants, being a hormonal disruptor and carcinogens. This is certainly a product that I’ll look to replace if I can find a suitable alternative.


And as for the Sephora "Clean Beauty" stamp of approval:

A recent InStyle article stated that "The recent “Clean at Sephora” stamp came under fire for allowing PEGs, which are widely considered a clean beauty no-no. PEGs are made through ethoxylation, and a carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane is often a byproduct of that process. (Sephora is now, however, requiring brands that want its stamp to make sure 1,4-dioxane is kept to trace amounts.)"

At the end of the day, I’m not sure if the levels of these toxic products are affecting my body in a negative way, but I’d rather err on the side of caution and be as safe as I can with the products I put on my body. And as consumers, we need to remember that there isn’t an industry or government standard for what constitutes clean beauty, and the beauty industry is one that likely won't be regulated to that level any time soon. Whether a product is "clean" is something that founders and companies themselves define. So it’s important to get informed - do your own research into ingredients to determine how “clean” products actually are.

Resources:

https://thegoodfaceproject.com/

https://www.instyle.com/beauty/what-is-clean-beauty

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