Why the Clean Beauty Switch Matters Head to Toe - Part I

You’ve heard of the clean beauty movement – a commitment to embracing beauty and self care products that are safe and non-toxic with a focus on efficacy. It was the natural evolution in a lifestyle shift that’s already impacted nutrition and household cleaning supplies – a rational response to known carcinogens in products that we routinely use. Now, with consumer demand driving major changes in the beauty industry, more and more brands are launching products that are ethically sourced, non-toxic, and organic. In other words? Clean. In a two-part series, we’re sharing exactly why the clean beauty switch matters, from head to toe, and what you need to know about industry standards, testing, and the labels that actually mean something.

Surprise – There is No Standard

If you’re like the average consumer, you probably assume that any beauty and intimate-care products you can buy at the store have been tested for safety and efficacy. That’s not the case in the United States. And even if you’re in the habit of scanning ingredients, it’s unlikely that you’ll recognize – or can even pronounce – most of the chemicals used. But understanding exactly what you’re putting on your skin, near your eyes, or around your intimate areas is absolutely critical.

As of 2009, more than 1300 ingredients were banned for use in beauty products in Europe. As of 2018, the US has a banned list of just 30 ingredients. The difference boils down to a preventative approach in Europe compared to a more evidence-based path in the US. In other words, here in the US, there is a greater expectation of evidence that specifically shows the harmful effects of a chemical before regulations are put into place. And since many of the effects of toxic chemicals can take months and even years to appear, the American wait-and-see practice means any safety regulations that are established often come far too late.

Fortunately, there are American brands taking a European approach. Arôms Natur Skincare is one of them. Chemicals that are believed to cause harm to people in any amount have no place in our products, and our company ethos and certifications are evidence of that promise. It’s why we use only whole essential oils in our products – the kind that comes directly from the plant through cold pressing, with no engineering or added isolates.

Looking beyond ingredients into a company’s philosophy and professional standards is a good habit to develop when you’re considering beauty and personal care products. That’s because they fall under the jurisdiction of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, which means that with the exception of color additives, there’s no requirement for government review before they go to market. Instead, it’s up to individual companies to ensure the safety and efficacy of their products, and there’s no mandate for reporting adverse side effects. If recent lawsuits like the staggering Johnson & Johnson asbestos-cancer case are any indication, that’s not something you can automatically count on, even with high-profile, long-established brands.

When you get right down to it, that’s why the clean beauty switch really matters – from head to toe, and everywhere in between.

What Is Your Skin Absorbing?

Our skin is our largest, fastest-growing organ, and dermal absorption can represent the most significant pathway to potentially dangerous exposure. Studies have shown a 100 percent absorption rate through skin beneath the arms and in genital areas, as well as 100 percent absorption of fragrance ingredients in particular.

The science is clear – what we use on our skin ends up in our bodies, in our blood and lymphatic systems. And as it stands, harsh chemicals, toxic ingredients, artificial dyes and fragrances, allergens, irritants, even carcinogens are present and measurable in many mainstream beauty and personal care products.

Opting for beauty and personal care products that are not only truly clean but beneficial means becoming a more discerning consumer. Get in the habit of scanning labels and looking up anything you don’t recognize. Become familiar with individual brands and companies beyond their marketing pitch. And don’t be fooled by generic catch-all terms that don’t really mean anything (“all-natural,” we’re looking at you). It’s also helpful to learn which ubiquitous ingredients to avoid, starting with:

  • Phthalates – Added to many fragrance mixtures, this ingredient is toxic to the reproductive system.
  • Formaldehyde releasers – A preservative used in hair care and personal care products, formaldehyde is recognized as carcinogenic. According to the Environmental Working Group, a 2010 study found that close to one fifth of cosmetic products on the market contained a formaldehyde releaser.
  • Parabens – Another preservative, this ingredient can pose as estrogen and disrupt hormones. Avoid “long-chained” parabens as well, including propylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben, and isobutylparaben.
  • Triclosan and triclocarbon – These bacteria-killing chemicals are used in body washes and liquid hand soaps, and they’ve been linked to disruptions in thyroid and sex hormone signaling.
  • Retinyl palmitate and retinoic acid – These related chemicals can be found in anti-aging creams, even though they’ve been shown to increase the development of cancerous lesions.

  • But knowing which ingredients to avoid in any product you use on your body is really just the beginning.  Becoming a clean consumer means recognizing that some labels are meaningless and some actually mean something, and being aware enough to know the difference.

    Read part two in our series about why the clean beauty switch matters from head to toe, and what you need to know about industry standards, testing, and the labels that actually mean something.

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