Clean Beauty Resources
What is " Clean Beauty?"
Clean beauty, though not a regulated term, is meant to suggest personal care aka beauty products that are free of potentially harmful ingredients or toxins.
Why Care About Clean Beauty?
What you put on your skin is almost as important as what you put into your body. Just like food, products have the power and ability to either nourish you or not. Since your skin is your largest organ and absorbs up to 60% of what you put on it, it’s important to be mindful of the products you’re using.
The EU bans over 1300 ingredients from use in cosmetics, while the US only bans 11, and legislation here is roughly a one-page document that hasn’t been meaningfully updated since 1938. Source: The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics safecosmetics.org
Who's keeping an eye out?
The FDA does not regulate the cosmetics industry, anyone can make a product and take it to market, so it’s important as the consumer to do your own research when determining products to use for you and your family. This understanding can be upsetting, or you can feel empowered to make healthier choices.
Small choices = big impact
In a 2016 study at UC Berkeley, participants were switched to natural products and in just three days noticed significant drops in various chemicals found in their urine. Read more about the HERMOSA study here. The moral of this story: you're never too late to make a difference, and even small choices add up.
Take a Closer Look
All the information you need to know is on the ingredients panel, typically found on the back or the bottom (sometimes under sticker) of a product. If the product comes in a box, then the ingredients will be printed on the box and usually not the product itself. If you no longer have the box a particular product came in, do a quick google search with the product name + ingredients. Be sure to look at "full ingredients list" and not just any hero or marketing ingredients the brand may be calling out.
Think Dirty is a free app you can put on your phone. It allows you to look up products by either entering them in manually or scanning the barcode. While this is not an exhaustive directory of every single product available, it is a wonderful resource to get an idea of the cleanliness of many products. Products are rated for safety on a scale of 0-10 (0 = clean, 10 = dirty). Ideally your products will be 3 and under, but use your best judgement when determining what works for you. Learn more here.
EWG Skin Deep
The Environmental Working Group has long provided a free resource to look up products and ingredients for safety. Their Skin Deep database is the first place I go to look up individual ingredients. If you are browsing products online, it's easy to copy and paste those sometimes long ingredient names right into their site.
Available to stream on Netflix, Stink! is one of my favorite free tools to share the message of this movement. From the website, "STINK! opens with a foul smell and a pair of kids pajamas. And a single father trying to find out what that smell could possibly be. But instead of getting a straight answer, director Jon Whelan stumbles on an even bigger issue in America, which is that some products on our store shelves are not safe — by design." Watch Stink! now if you haven't already, it will really open your eyes to the chemicals that are lurking in our homes. Watch the trailer here.
Toxic Beauty Documentary
The latest feature length film to tackle the subject of clean (and not-so-clean) beauty is Toxic Beauty, a documentary by Phyllis Ellis. Take a deeper look into the class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, and the victims involved in the case. Toxic Beauty is available to rent on Amazon Prime or iTunes. Watch the trailer here.
The Silent Spring Institute also has a free app where you can find helpful tips on products and ingredients to look for and avoid spanning the categories of personal care, home, children, cleaning, and food and drink. Check it out here.
Where to Shop
Here is a list of some of my favorite trusted clean beauty retailers.
Follain - stores in Boston, MA, Seattle, WA, Bethesda, MD, Dallas, TX & New York, NY; online
Credo - stores in Boston, MA, San Francisco, San Diego, & Los Angeles, CA, New York & Brooklyn, NY, Plano, TX, Chicago, IL; online
The Detox Market - stores in New York, NY, Los Angeles, CA, Toronto; online
True Botanicals - one of my favorite high-powered and clinically trialed brands, online
CAP Beauty - store in New York, NY; online
AILLEA - stores in Atlanta, GA, Denver CO, Charleston, SC, Charlotte & Raleigh, NC; online
Citrine - store in Phoenix, AZ; online
Face Food - store in Newburyport, MA; online
The Verdant Maiden - store on Nantucket, MA; dm for orders @theverdantmaiden
Integrity Botanicals - online
Safe & Chic - online
Cambridge Naturals - stores in Boston & Cambridge, MA
Target has more and more clean beauty, but again keep an eye on ingredients and watch out for fragrance.
Whole Foods has a nice selection of products, just watch out for fragrance.
Beautycounter - store on Nantucket, MA; online
CVS/Walgreens -- while there is not a ton of clean beauty at the drugstore yet, it's a good place to buy Burt's Bees products.
Greenwashing is a type of marketing that leads you to believe a product is natural by using all white packaging, the color green, natural elements such as leaves & flowers, or just plain misleading marketing text such as fresh, clean, natural, etc. None of these terms are regulated so they are essentially meaningless and anybody can use them on the front of a bottle. You must always flip a product over, look at the back, and read the ingredients to truly understand what is contained in the formulation. See examples here.
If hope you find this information helpful. If you have a favorite resource that I didn't mention, leave a comment below or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
v. 3, updated 5/08/2020.
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