3 MIN READ
The word "clean" has become a buzzword within the beauty community. Most new brands that launch claim they’re a “clean” brand. Generally, the words "clean beauty" are used to describe products made without ingredients that may be harmful to your health. Some brands have overused this term, falsifying the safety of “dirty” ingredients. This has confused consumers of what clean is and the fear-mongering style of selling products is just no good. Why is this happening? Well, “clean” is self-regulated by the brands themselves, the term can be used anywhere without compliance to any greater standard.
Regulations Around Clean in Personal Care
In short, there are no regulations around “clean” and very little around cosmetic safety in general. The role the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has played is more reactive than proactive. In the US, the cosmetic regulations are 81 years old, and the FDA has little-to-no authority to recall unsafe beauty products unless a brand volunteers to do so. Outside of the US, the European Union has banned more than 1,000 chemicals from being in personal care products. In contrast, the US has banned just 11. We know—not great. The responsibility and cost of launching a safe beauty product falls onto the brand making the product.
Defining Clean as a Brand
Most brands will define their version of “clean” on their website. Some brands do this by saying they avoid “x, y & z ingredients,” others will put all the ingredients they don’t use in the form of a “no” list and other brands will have a brand glossary of ingredients they do use in their products. There is no right or wrong way to deliver this information, but there are a few tips that can save you digging through a brand’s site to validate their clean claims.
Identifying a Clean Brand
The first quick tip if you’re looking to shop a brand that is truly clean is to look to see if that brand sells into the EU. The EU, as we mentioned, bans many more ingredients from cosmetic formulations and also requires the brand submit product information through a PIF (product information file), which includes product safety testing that has been completed.
Second tip, look to see if that brand sells into a retailer. Most retailers have their own clean certifications, like Clean at Sephora, which requires the brands to legally sign that they forgo the use of certain ingredients in their products.
In short, it’s up to you as the consumer to have your own definition of clean that you go by and find brands that agree with your standards. We hope to help provide you the information you need to make safe choices with Susteau and with other brands you choose to shop as well.
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