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Beauty / Eco / Health and wellbeing | 08.11.2019

Coming Clean - What does Clean Green Beauty mean?

 

The terms clean and green beauty have been bandied about in the last few years and of late have literally snowballed into buzz words with many brands adopting the term as part of their key marketing message. 

It’s no surprise that the conventional beauty industry has slowly adopted the "clean” concept into its current product pipeline heeding the call toward improved ingredients and further company transparency.  

Despite the rapid rise driven by consumer demand and marketing, the clean beauty space has also become quite controversial with an increasing backlash from industry peers who feel that the movement is mainly fuelled by fear mongering and naïve science. Naming and shaming "good” and "bad” ingredients based on a personalised company philosophy and ethos has become industry practice further adding to consumer confusion.

As there is no official standard or clear definition for these trending terminologies, both brands and retailers have adopted their own definitions with a variety of flavours to rival a gelato bar. Debunking some of this confusion and mythology was one of the key reasons that lead me to write my book "Truth in Beauty” – A consumer’s guide to navigating how and why to make the switch to "cleaner” beauty products.

Terminology

CLEAN / GREEN / NATURAL

There are no regulatory bodies that define the terms – natural, clean and green in cosmetic labelling. Based on assumption, these terms are used synonymously, interchangeably and are highly subjective.  

ORGANIC

Like "natural”, there is no specific definition for "organic beauty” or "organic cosmetics”. These terms are used loosely and again, are not subject to regulation. One would assume that it refers to an agriculture product produced in accordance with organic farming. But every organic standard has different allowable inputs so as a consumer, your only guarantee is to look for third party certification from an organisation you have researched, verified and can trust. As such I would be looking towards COSMOS, ACO or USDA whose labelling guidelines for organic products are a little more rigid and state:

If you make a product and want to claim that it or its ingredients are organic, your final product should technically be independently certified. If you are not certified, you must not make any organic claim on the principal display panel or use the organic seal anywhere on the package. You may only, on the information panel, identify the certified organic ingredients as organic and the percentage of organic ingredients. Again – not subject to regulation.

Once certified, cosmetics, personal care products, and body care products that fall under the above certification are eligible for the same four organic labelling categories as all other agricultural products, based on their organic content and other factors:




100 percent organic

Product must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically produced ingredients. Products may display the Organic Seal and must display the certifying agent’s name and address.

Organic Product

Must contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Remaining product ingredients must consist of non-agricultural substances approved on the National List or non-organically produced agricultural products that are not commercially available in organic form, also on the National List. Products may display the Organic Seal and must display the certifying agent’s name and address. 

Made with organic ingredients

Products contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients and product label can list up to three of the organic ingredients or "food” groups on the principal display panel. For example, body lotion made with at least 70 percent organic ingredients (excluding water and salt) and only organic herbs may be labelled either "hand lotion made with organic aloe vera, lavender and rose” or "hand lotion made with organic herbs.” Products may not display the Organic Seal and must display the certifying agent’s name and address.

Less than 70 percent organic ingredients

Products cannot use the term "organic” anywhere on the principal display panel. However, they may identify the specific ingredients that are certified as being organically produced on the ingredients statement on the information panel. Products may not display the Organic Seal and may not display a certifying agent’s name and address. (Water, salt and minerals are also excluded here.)

CHEMICAL-FREE

This term is deemed irrelevant as everything can be referred to as a chemical or consists of chemical elements. The composition of water as an example includes chemical elements of two hydrogens covalently bonded to oxygen. So, when brands or products claim that they are "chemical-free”, scientifically speaking, there is no such thing. Period.  

NON-TOXIC

This is self-explanatory and means free of harmful chemicals and not known to cause any adverse physiological effects in animals, plants, humans, or the environment. All countries have different regulations when it comes to the use of ingredients and what they deem as acceptable for human safety. Often relying on scientific data that states "the dose make the poison" and not taking into account many different ingredients, their interactions and their accumulative effect.

SYNTHETIC

Refers to an ingredient that is synthetically processed or manufactured. Keeping in mind that some of the most effective ingredients such as vitamins and peptides happen to be of synthetic nature and are laboratory synthesised. A manufacturer may process a synthetic ingredient by taking liberties from nature. There are "safe synthetics” that can be incorporated into products that the body can recognise, utilise, assimilate and eliminate. 

When choosing ingredients, safety data sheets (SDS) contain information regarding toxicity and environmental impact. Misunderstanding of data can add fuel and further controversy to the clean beauty debate. 

PRESERVATIVE FREE

Unless the product is an oil or combination of oils and has absolutely no water or other ingredients added, then I would advise extreme caution using a product that claims to be preservative free.

A typical example would be a plant or botanical based serum the processing of which requires solvent extraction, a medium or carrier such as a glycerol/glycerine and the final product should most definitely be preserved before being sold. This would be the minimum responsibility of the manufacturer. I would be extremely concerned about the microbial load if the product stated otherwise such as a "100% pure plant or fruit extract”.

In Australia, there is no regulatory body or enforcement for the manufacturing of personal care products which means unless the facility is of GMP standard (enforceable in the EU but not the US or Australia), the products you are using may not have been independently tested for common microbes, moulds and yeasts which can multiply tenfold given the right environment.

Company ethos

The clean beauty philosophy should incorporate several other pillars that ultimately revolve around enhancement of wellbeing such as:

As science continues to evolve, more comprehensive research pertaining to botanical ingredients versus synthetic ingredients, enable us to make more sound decisions in both formulation and product selection. What is deemed safe today may be considered detrimental or harsh tomorrow as industry findings and transparency progress.

To find out more about ingredients that are red flagged in countries such as Europe, Canada and Japan you can download my free pocket reference guide here.

To delve deeper and arm yourself with the facts, my book "Truth in Beauty” is available for purchase at half price when you spend $99 from now until December 24. 

what does clean beauty mean to you? leave a comment and be in the running to win a Mukti Mini Travel kit of your choice. congratulations to l.Hanlon who won 3 months supply of our bioactive collagen booster.

@bymukti

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