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October 22, 2018 3 min read

There are many buzzwords being thrown around in the beauty industry and consumers are often confused by what things really mean. Clean beauty, which is the latest trend in the beauty world, is another add-on to this list. Here, we will give a simple but comprehensive explanation as to what clean beauty really means.

Even though there is no official definition to this term, most skincare experts agree that this simply means that a particular skincare range does not contain ingredients that are thought to be harmful to the body and environment.

Here is a list of harsh and potentially toxic cosmetic ingredients commonly found in most conventional skin/body/hair care products:

  • PEG compounds
  • Phthalate
  • Triclosan
  • Preservatives
  1. Formaldehyde ( Dmdm Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Quaternium-15, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol, Polyoxymethylene Urea, 5-Bromo-5-Nitro-1,3 Dioxane, Glyoxal, Methenamine, Benzylhemiformal)
  2. -BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
  3. -BHT ( Toluene-based)
  4. -Parabens
  5. -Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone
  6. -Phenoxyethanol
  • Parfum (fragrance)
  • Synthetic Thickener
  • Sulfates eg Sodium laureth sulfate
  • Chemical Sunscreen
  • Silicones
  • EDTA
  • Ethanolamines (DEA/TEA/MEA)
  • Hydroquinone
  • Nanoparticles
  • Any form of petroleum derivatives
  • Microbeads

It is also interesting to note that clean beauty embraces both natural/plant-based and lab-made(synthetic) safe ingredients. You may contend that lab-made ingredient should not be found in clean beauty range. Consider this scenario: if all ingredients from nature are safe, then how about mercury or poison ivy? On the other hand, citric acid, which is widely used in food, is a lab-made ingredient.

So, here is the conclusion, not all natural ingredients are safe and not all synthetic ingredients are unsafe. Hence, as long as a certain ingredient, whether found in nature or lab synthesized, has an impeccable safety profile, then it can be used in a clean beauty range.

Furthermore, many clean beauty brands go the extra mile to source for ingredients and packaging that are eco-friendly, sustainable and, ethically sourced whenever possible. This is done in order not to impact the environment in a negative way.

In conclusion, clean beauty refers to skin care brands that do not contain potentially harmful ingredients to the body, as well as to the environment. If you watch what you eat and are careful about reducing the number of toxic chemicals used in your home, you may like to think seriously about what you use on your skin as well. Having an understanding of what clean beauty means, and knowing that there are available clean beauty alternatives is a good place to start.


Here are two good habits to develop when shopping for skincare, body care, or hair care products:


  • read the labels before making a purchase. Look out for potentially harmful toxins and further research on them. Pure, natural, or organic claims cannot be taken at face value due to the prevalent greenwashing. An organic skincare may even contain one of the toxic ingredients listed above, so read the labels!
  • Shop at retailers or brands that are totally committed to clean beauty. Do check out their website and read about their skin care philosophy.



R., Siti Zulaikha, et al. “Hazardous Ingredients in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products and Health Concern: A Review.”Public Health Research, Scientific & Academic Publishing, 2015, article.sapub.org/10.5923.j.phr.20150501.02.html.

Suzuki, David. “‘The Dirty Dozen’ Cosmetic Chemicals to Avoid.” David Suzuki Foundation, 2018, davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/dirty-dozen-cosmetic-chemicals-avoid/.

“Chemicals of Concern.” Safe Cosmetics, www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chem-of-concern/.

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