Due to the climate crisis, people are trying to reduce their personal influence in various ways. Others just want to eliminate ‘toxic’ materials from their lifes. Many start in the bathroom and end up at ‘clean beauty’. But what is clean beauty and how useful is it?
My skincare journey
Beauty products and me have had quite a journey since I started using them as a teenager. Most of the journey took place only theoretically. As a student you don’t buy that much. I don’t want to describe this in too much detail here, so I’ll give you a short version.
I really began to think about what I’m putting on my skin when I explored the Zero Waste movement for the first time. So, I started to do everything myself and almost exclusively used oil. My skin didn’t really like that. Apart from that, I wondered how useful it is to mix my oils at home. Without preservatives, which ultimately protect us, and without the hygienic conditions that guarantee that a product is durable.
For the love of my skin, I stopped doing that and bought natural cosmetic products instead. But then it took a different direction. Influenced by the general skincare trend, I thought I needed all kinds of products to make my skin look perfect. My skin didn’t like that either.
In order to soothe my skin, I delved deeper into skin care and have now found a solution that works for me. For the sake of the climate and my skin, I now wonder whether a product has useful active ingredients, whether I need the product at all and whether it is sustainable(ish).
And that brings us to clean beauty and my problem with it.
Clean beauty is not a synonym for organic beauty
The term ‘clean’ is very imprecise and can mean anything. Therefore, the term is often used by companies, because this enables them to reach another target group with their products. Mostly this term is used to suggest that ‘bad’ chemicals are not used in the products. The term clean beauty is often used by companies as a synonym for natural or even organic cosmetics. Companies use this term to create the impression that their products are organic. (Attention: greenwashing!)
Watch out for Greenwashing
This is possible because terms such as organic, clean and natural are not regulated. That’s why brands use good product design and clever marketing strategies to distract consumers from what’s really in their products. And the customers don’t question that.
To get to my next point, it’s important to distinguish those three terms but as you can imagine by now, it is almost impossible to distinguish between clean, natural and organic beauty. I found one that I quite like (however, I do not agree with everything the author writes in the article):
Natural Beauty – Ingredients sourced from nature.https://www.amaliah.com/post/47757/trying-to-practice-clean-beauty-here-are-the-6-ingredients-to-avoid
Green [Organic] Beauty – Sustainable and environmental responsibility towards the planet.
Clean Beauty – Products containing non-toxic ingredients both natural and/or synthetic.
Now that we’ve established that the term clean beauty is vague, and not a guarantee for environmentally friendly products, let’s focus on organic beauty. Here it seems that the raw materials are sustainable, right?
How sustainable is organic beauty actually?
Like I said, I try to buy (certified)* organic beauty products to make sure that the ingredients don’t harm the environment. But lately I’ve been wondering how sustainable these products really are. As much as I like natural cosmetic certification standards to find out whether the raw materials are simply plant-based or have actually been organically grown, they have little or no significance as far as sustainability is concerned.
How sustainable can it be, if we use raw materials from the other side of the earth and for example use a lot of water for essential oils and masses of prickly pear plants for a few drops of prickly pear oil? The working conditions and the impact of the cultivation of natural raw materials on the environment and local people are also not taken into account by certification standards.
You also have to ask yourself if you are really supporting someone by buying your product, or if you are jointly responsible for creating a shortage of the raw materials in your product, or if those raw materials will become so expensive that the locals can no longer afford them.
As already mentioned, the transport route of the materials also has an impact on the environment. But the packaging should also be taken into account for sustainable products. Just because the packaging is not made of plastic it does not mean that it is automatically better. Eliminating plastic without a sensible alternative is no solution!
Just because it’s organic, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you
Now we have to determine whether ‘natural’ products are at least better for humans. That’s not easy to say either. Take my mother, for example, who is allergic to almost anything that can be allergic. This means that she is allergic to many raw materials in natural cosmetics, in other words she cannot tolerate them.
What I’m trying to say with this example is that synthetic ingredients exist not only because they are cheap, but also because they are (mostly) well tolerated by a wide range of people and are formulated to be safe. In addition, they have a consistent performance, as they are not dependent on solar radiation, the soil or the like.
Of course people are allergic to them and there are also substances that are harmful to humans (as well as nature). But just because a substance is synthetic, it is not a ‘toxic’ chemical substance. All I can say is that everything is chemical and everything is toxic in a certain dose, even oxygen.
What can you take out of this blog post? It depends on a certain ingredient whether it is good for humans and the environment, not whether it is synthetic or of natural origin. And just because something is organic it doesn’t mean that it’s sustainable.
Products I use
So, now I want to show you some of the products I’m using. But first, here are some things I’m trying to look out for in cosmetic products:
1. Ingredients that are potentionally harmful to humans like fragrances (synthetic and natural)
2. Ingredients that are potentionally harmful to humans like certain UV-filters (e. g. oxybenzone)
3. Regional production
4. Products that are not manufactured by large corporations that are polluting the environment
In the morning I wash my face with lukewarm water. Afterwards, I usually use the Hyaluron + Bloom Tropical Hydration Nectar from Lovely Day Botanicals, but unfortunately it’s empty. Therefore, I will probably try the Hydration Booster Serum by A. Florence. In the winter months this is folowed by a little bit of my face cream. Then, I apply a sun cream (skin cancer is real!). At the moment I use the Anti-Age Face SPF 30 by Muti, but I’m not really satisfied because it’s a bit grainy when applied. However, I tolerate it very well, and unlike most other sun creams, my forehead doesn’t get greasy.
In the evening I wash my face with lukewarm water and the Nø MKP gel to oil cleanser (only available in Germany and the Netherlands). If I wear makeup I use an oil to remove it before using the cleanser. I still have some left overs from my ZW try outs, but so far I think that a mixture of hemp and squalane oil works best for me. Afterwards I would normally apply the same serum as in the morning, but as I said it is empty. So, I just put on my face cream and mix in some oil as well as my skin is quit dry during the winter months. I use the Incipedia Vitamin C Creme, but first, it’s sold out and second, it’s only available in Germany and Austria. I heard good things about the A. Florence face creams though.
I have very dry skin, so I also apply cream to my body both in summer and winter. I use a simple, low-irritant cream from the drugstore, which moisturises very well. Unfortunately it does not available in the UK. If you live in a (European) country with ‘dm’, you can look out for the body lotion Ultra Sensitive Dead Sea.
This is my personal skin care routine and apart from the sunscreen I’m really happy with the products and I repurchased all of them more than once. But I am not an expert in this field and only researched what works for me, so please inform yourself independently. If you have skin diseases, please consult a health professional.
Actually, now I wanted to say something about my makeup products, but the post is long enough already. That’s why a post about my makeup products will follow next week.
Remember that you decide what you put on your body, not me or any company. If you are happy with doing nothing with your skin, do that. If you like to use a plethora of products, do that. I just want you to remember that what you do has an impact. And if you decide to use ‘green’ beauty, you should at least make sure it is (certified)* organic cosmetic.
At the end though, the most sustainable product is no product.
*keep in mind that not all raw materials or products can or need to be certified according to the western standard
[ad | brand visible]