Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Hasina (Beauty Expert) on 22nd Aug 2020
‘Natural’ doesn’t mean ‘Clean & Safe’ - Truth Vs Marketing Tactics
The beauty industry has grown dramatically over the past few decades into a multi-billion industry with multi-faceted beauty products, powered by technology and research.
As the industry continues to grow in size, environmentalists, beauty enthusiasts, and other stakeholders are demanding more accountability and social responsibility from manufacturers.
It has compelled the industry to clean up its act and pay more attention to sustainability and the right ingredients.
The concept of ‘clean beauty’ has arisen from this scenario. We have a plethora of online shopping destinations that offer clean beauty products; eminent brands have a demarcated range called ‘clean beauty,’ and prominent celebrities claim that they only use clean beauty products.
But what does the term clean beauty mean? Does it really exist? Or is it mere rhetoric used by brands as a marketing mechanism?
People have the vague idea that clean beauty is synonymous with ‘green,’ ‘organic,’ or ‘natural’ products free of chemicals. But does clean beauty refer to any of these terms, to all or none of them?
What clean beauty means?
While there is no standard, universally accepted definition of clean beauty, the term generally refers to beauty products that are free from harmful toxins, with brands religiously abstaining from the use of certain ingredients in their products.
While each brand has its own individual list of ingredients that they avoid using, clean beauty widely calls for a commitment to the creation of products with good-for-you ingredients (non-toxic), transparent labeling, sustainable packaging, and the use of natural extracts without the depletion of natural resources.
Clean beauty is an initiative to cater to a new demographic of empowered, socially conscious consumers who are careful about what they buy.
These customers are also concerned about the environment and the process that goes into manufacturing a product.
At Minimalist, we encourage consumers to carefully read product labels beyond buzzwords like ‘ green’ , ‘natural’, ‘organic’ etc.
It's natural for the consumer to be confused and awed by fancy packaging and exotic ingredient lists. Paula Beth Begoun, also known as ‘The Cosmetics Cop’, has offered an online Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary. She lists a wide range of ingredients used in beauty products and the research about their effective use and possible side effects.
Though this may seem like a daunting task at first, it gets easier as consumers become familiar with common ingredients used in products. After all, what you apply on your skin is as crucial as the food you consume.
Awareness can go a long way to avoid problems of irritated and inflamed skin. Minimalist believe that the transition into clean beauty products is the best gift you can give yourself.
How Minimalist defines clean beauty
Minimalist has been founded on the principle of creating effective and clean formulations with the best that science and nature have to offer. We are serious about our shared responsibility towards our planet, and we pay careful attention to ingredients, efficacy, and packaging.
We pick the most effective ingredients, both natural and those created in a lab. Our emphasis is on creating products that are most effective for healthy and balanced skin.
Taking cues from our moniker, Minimalist offers a pared-back approach to clean beauty. Contrary to popular opinion, minimalism doesn’t mean blindly cutting back on ingredients but keeping that which is necessary.
We focus on maintaining healthy pH levels that enable the skin to combat harmful microbes and free radicals that cause most skin issues. But what we put into our products is just as important as what we leave out.
You will never find the following six ingredients that are widely used by many other skincare brands who often claim themselves as clean.
Our 6 Clean Beauty Promises
- Essential Oils:
Essential oils are derived from the bark, stem, and roots of fragrant plants; essential oils are a highly potent mixture of compounds containing up to 60 elements, not all of which are good for the skin.
These oils, having unique fragrances, are created from plant-extracted compounds and are known to cure skin problems because of their antioxidant or antibacterial properties.
However, the benefits are often exaggerated, and just because it is natural doesn’t mean it is safe.
In fact, several components in lavender, peppermint, tea tree oil, and cinnamon oils can irritate or damage the skin. Fragrant plant oils often contain ingredients such as limonene, citronellol, eugenol, and linalool that can irritate the skin.
Also, oils extracted from citrus fruits can cause burns when exposed to the sun. If you wish to enjoy essential oils' therapeutic benefits, you can use them in scented candles or oil diffusers.
At Minimalist, we avoid using these oils in our products because of their potentially harmful effects on your skin on the longer run.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS):
Widely used in most skincare products, SLS creates lather and gives the impression of greater cleansing power. However, this ingredient has been put under the scanner due to its ability to irritate skin, eyes, and lungs, especially with long-term use.
When used in a concentration of less than 1%, it may not be harmful, as long as it is rinsed off immediately. The problem occurs when SLS is present in products that are left on the skin for longer as sulfates can react to the ingredients in the other products that touch the skin afterward or cause skin barrier damage as per a research.
SLS is also used in conjunction with animal testing and is often tested on mice's eyes and skin to observe skin reactions.
At Minimalist, we stand against this inhuman practice. Our formulations undergo cruelty-free testing to assess the microbiological quality and effectiveness of the raw materials and the finished product.
Beauty products use silicone as a water-resistant agent that fills in the skin's crevices, giving it a smooth, velvety texture.
However, these are the very reasons to avoid silicone products as they trap in sweat, dirt, and bacteria.
They do not clog the skin pores but increase the skin penetration to no small extent; thus, any non-comedogenic product followed up may clog the pores.
Our products say no to silicone because of its potential to cause breakout or acne in some cases. In addition, it is non-biodegradable and non-recyclable.
Fragrances are commonly added to skincare products to impart a pleasant odor and mask the smell of some ingredients.
Fragrances enhance the sensorial experience, and one is less likely to use products that don’t smell good. However, there are many reasons why it is always safer to use fragrance-free products.
Fragrances have been known to cause allergic reactions in some people. While the skin may not show any apparent damage outwardly, fragrances can cause cumulative damage to the skin that can surface much later.
Even natural fragrances don’t serve as an exception, as certain plant compounds can be extremely volatile for the skin. So while it may make your nose happy, your skin won’t be thanking you in the long run. When choosing any skin care product, it is always best to read the label of ingredients.
There are many wonderful ingredients that are beneficial for the skin, so we never add volatile fragrances.
We create our products after extensive scientific research, which entails minimizing your exposure to potentially harmful fragrances.
Artificial dyes are used in beauty products to enhance visual appeal. But they can cause considerable damage, particularly in the case of leave-on cosmetics.
The skin is a delicate ecosystem, and any harsh chemical can cause breakouts and acne. Moisturizers and face masks containing toxic dyes are absorbed by the skin, leading to serious harm in the long run.
Even natural dyes are popularly used in several products and can cause harm when inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin.
At Minimalist, we are of the firm opinion that even natural dyes should not be added as they don’t serve many purposes beyond mere sensory appeal.
Parabens are commonly used preservatives in beauty products to increase shelf life. They are very effective preservatives and often found in many food items.
But recent studies have found a link between Parabens and cancer. Although the research is insufficient to prove a direct relationship and more studies need to be conducted.
Parabens are also associated with increased risk of sun damage when exposed to sunlight. A toxicology study showed that when exposed to high sunlight after using skincare products with paraben, you can experience sun damage.
Since there are many potent, safe preservatives, we chose to stay away from Parabens.
Natural or lab-created extracts?
The past decade has seen astronomical growth in the sales of natural products. Several websites allow consumers to shop for products via ingredients and natural ingredients as one of the options.
Harper’s Bazaar, a popular American fashion magazine, surveyed 1,000 women of different ages, races, and ethnicities, and 60% of the women said that they preferred natural products and were prepared to pay more for their favorite brands.
Should we keep away from chemical products and buy only natural products that are ineffective in solving skin issues? The fact remains that not all-natural products are good and sourced in an ethical manner. A natural product can be farmed with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
To conclude the debate of natural versus human-made, it must be said that both have their place in skincare products. Minimalist believe that improving the structure of the skin requires certain ethical chemicals.
For instance, a synthetic version of our DNA enzymes repair cells can be made in the lab, which can cure pigmentation, wrinkles, and sagging of skin. The use of synthetic ingredients is also beneficial as long as it is backed by scientific proof. The rule of thumb is to distinguish between what is useful for your skin and what is harmful.
Minimalist consciously chooses raw materials that do not endanger the biodiversity of the region. Sustainability is a complex issue and involves ethical choices between what is readily available but harmful in the long run or its lab-created counterpart.
Our Popular Clean Skin Formulations
The Bottom Line
It’s time to give clean beauty its rightful place under the sun.
At Minimalist, we are passionate about reducing the harmful impact on the environment while creating quality products backed by science. Since your skin absorbs a large part of what you put on, it’s vital to make smart choices.
By choosing products that are kind to your skin, you will wear it with pride for the rest of your life.