Is Clean Beauty a Scam?
A lot of us love the idea of using clean, natural products. Clean beauty products are generally defined as those that are made with non-toxic, natural, and/or organic ingredients. Instead of using potentially harmful chemicals, they often use ingredients such as plant extracts, essential oils, and minerals.
But, as of this writing, there is no official standard or regulatory definition for clean beauty in the United States. The beauty industry is largely self-regulated, which means that brands and manufacturers can make their own claims and definitions for terms like "clean," "natural," or "organic." In other words, if something is labeled as “clean”, it’s possible that it isn’t.
The Idea Behind Clean Beauty
The goal of clean beauty is to provide consumers with safe, effective, and eco-friendly alternatives to traditional beauty products that may contain potentially harmful ingredients. Clean beauty products tend to be more environmentally friendly, with many brands focusing on sustainable sourcing, packaging, and production practices. They may also be cruelty-free, meaning that they do not test their products on animals.
Even though there is no official standard in the US, some organizations have developed their own guidelines and certifications for clean beauty products. For example, the USDA has established the National Organic Program (NOP) for agricultural products. This includes some cosmetic ingredients and certifies products that meet their standards. But without an official definition or regulation of what constitutes a “clean” beauty product, it is up to consumers to do their own research and make informed choices.
What about Organic Skincare?
Organic skincare refers to the use of products made from all-natural, non-toxic, and chemical-free ingredients. Here is the tricky part; the products themselves are not organic, but the ingredients that make up the product can be. If a cosmetic, body care or personal product is made of agricultural ingredients and can meet the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) organic production, handling, processing, and labeling standards, it may be eligible to be certified organic.
The USDA's regulations primarily focus on organic food products, but many skincare products and cosmetics contain edible plants and extracts. Common organic skincare ingredients include aloe vera, tea tree oil, jojoba oil, chamomile, lavender, and rosehip oil. Organic skincare products are often preferred by those with sensitive skin or allergies, as they are less likely to cause irritation or adverse reactions.
There are different levels of organic so skincare companies can make claims depending on the ingredients their products contain. The levels are as follows:
100 Percent Organic: All of the ingredients in the product are certified organic, excluding water and salt. Products may display a USDA seal and must list the certifying agent’s name and address.
Organic: When you see this label on a skincare product, it means that 95% of the ingredients used to make it are certified organic. The remaining 5% must consist of non-agricultural substances. Products may display a USDA seal and must list 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. These products do not have a seal, but must contain the name and address of the certifying agent in order to make this claim.
Less than 70 percent organic ingredients: Products cannot use the term “organic”
anywhere on the principal display panel. But, they can identify specific ingredients that are USDA certified as being organically produced.
Not all organic skincare products are certified and some products may make false claims that are not regulated or verified. There are private organizations that can certify products as organic, but they may have different standards than the USDA. Some of these organizations are honest, while others may not be credible.
European Union Standards
Although the US has no regulations defining clean beauty, the requirements for cosmetics and skincare products in the European Union (EU) are considered to be stricter than those in the US.
One of the key differences between EU and US cosmetic standards is the use of certain ingredients. The EU has banned or restricted the use of more than 1,300 ingredients in cosmetics, while the US has banned or restricted only around 11.
Here are some examples of common ingredients that are banned or restricted in the EU but are still used in cosmetics in the US:
Phthalates - These are a group of chemicals that are used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastics. They have been linked to a number of health issues, including endocrine disruption and reproductive problems. The EU has banned the use of certain phthalates in cosmetics, while the US has only restricted their use in certain products.
Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives - These are used to prevent bacteria growth in cosmetics. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen, and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives can cause allergic reactions. The EU has banned the use of formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives in cosmetics, while the US has only restricted their use in some products.
Mercury - This is a heavy metal that can cause damage to the nervous system and other organs. The EU has banned the use of mercury in cosmetics, while the US has only restricted its use in some products.
Parabens - These are preservatives that are used to prevent bacterial growth in cosmetics. Some studies have suggested that parabens may be endocrine disruptors, although their safety is still a matter of debate. The EU has restricted the use of certain parabens in cosmetics, while the US has not banned or restricted their use.
The US allows the use of potentially dangerous ingredients in cosmetics because of differences in regulatory standards and priorities, as well as the lack of scientific consensus on the safety of some ingredients. In the US, the regulation of cosmetics falls under the authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has limited power to regulate the safety of cosmetic ingredients. Unlike drugs, which must undergo pre-market approval before they can be sold, cosmetics do not require pre-market approval, and the burden of ensuring safety falls primarily on the manufacturers.
The EU also requires that all cosmetic products sold in the EU be tested for safety and undergo a thorough safety assessment before they can be placed on the market. In the US, cosmetic manufacturers are not required to conduct safety testing on their products before they are sold, although they are responsible for ensuring the safety of their products.
Additionally, the EU has stricter labeling requirements for cosmetics. All cosmetic products sold in the EU must be labeled with a list of ingredients in descending order of weight, and the labeling must also include certain warnings and instructions.
Another factor is the cost and complexity of conducting safety testing on cosmetic ingredients. Conducting safety testing on ingredients can be expensive and time-consuming, and the results are often subject to interpretation and debate.
Overall, the US allows the use of potentially dangerous ingredients in cosmetics due to a combination of regulatory limitations, economic factors, and scientific uncertainty. But some US cosmetic manufacturers voluntarily avoid using certain ingredients that are banned or restricted in other countries, and there is increasing consumer demand for safer and more environmentally friendly products.
Qyral’s Stance on Clean Beauty
Because there is no US standard, Qyral has decided to stay away from labeling or marketing any of our products as “clean.” If a definition is ever agreed upon or a certification process is adopted, we may look into it. We feel that right now calling something “clean” may be misleading since anyone can use the term without ramifications.
Instead of advertising our products as clean or organic, we want our customers to know that we follow EU standards when it comes to our products. We don’t use any over-the-counter cosmetic grade ingredients that have been banned in the EU. Because our ingredients follow EU standards, we are confident that they are safe.
If you have any questions about clean beauty or the ingredients we use, don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. We also have an easily accessible database on our website where you can see what goes into our products as well as the studies that support them.