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Beginners Guide to Green & Clean Beauty

Written On 10/16/2021

Let's be real, there are so. many. fcking. different kinds of beauty products these days and I am lost.

What do all the different labels mean? Between non-toxic this, and clean that, it seems as though every single brand is competing to be the best with absolutely nothing to back that sht up. How am I supposed to know what is actually good for me? I’ll take greenwashing if it relates to my succulents, but def not to my beauty. Don’t get me wrong, I want products that are good for my skin and the environment, I just don’t want to be lied to. If you’re like me and want to find products that treat the earth just as great as they treat your pimples, here is a breakdown of all the buzz words of green & clean beauty and everything you need to know about them. 

Clean: Simply put, clean beauty is defined by products that are good for both the person and the environment and are made without any proven or suspected toxic ingredients. But it differs based on the brand. The biggest example of this is Sephora Clean, which by their standards means “beauty without toxic ingredients (including parabens, sulfates, phthalates + more.)” As a clean brand ourselves, these are our turn-offs, aka the ingredients we never, ever use: parabens, sulfates, phthalates, harsh, drying alcohols, nanomaterials, microplastics, and formaldehyde.

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Organic: Unlike many of the other green beauty terms, this one is regulated by the FDA, meaning if it has the label, the ingredients are organically farmed. But be cautious, a product only has to contain a certain percentage of organic materials to declare “made with organic ingredients” on its label. 

Non-Toxic: A beauty product that is labeled non-toxic likely means that nothing inside the product is shown to cause adverse health effects at any level. But because really anyone can claim this on a product thanks to little regulation, it can be a bit confusing as to what it actually means. Just to be safe, you’ll want to stay away from anything that is labeled toxic, if Britney didn’t already make that obvious in 2003.

Natural: When a product is truly natural, that means that the ingredients are delivered in their natural form and are unaltered in any way. One common misconception about natural beauty is that because it is natural, it is better for you, which is not always the case. Think about it this way: poison ivy is a natural ingredient, but you wouldn’t rub that all over your face. So remember, just because something is natural, does not mean it is better for your skin. In fact, oftentimes, products with synthetic ingredients are actually better for you. 

Naturally-Derived: A product with naturally-derived ingredients means that some of the ingredients derived from nature have been used to artificially create a product that is delivered in an unnatural form. This statement is often misleading because consumers believe they are getting a natural product when it may actually be closer to, or even completely synthetic.

Vegan: When a product is classified as vegan, that means it doesn’t contain any animal by-products or ingredients sourced from animals. This is often confused with cruelty-free, which means that the product is not tested on animals. But it is important to know that they are not interchangeable. A product can be vegan, but not cruelty-free and visa versa. If you want to know for sure, make sure it has the Certified Vegan logo

Cruelty-Free: Cruelty-free beauty is beauty that has not been tested on animals in any capacity. This does not necessarily mean it is vegan, as mentioned above. One way to know for sure whether a brand is cruelty-free is to look for a certification, like the Cruelty Free International Leaping Bunny symbol (which we have, btw!)

Ultimately, there is no rulebook on what it means to be a green beauty brand. And that’s what makes it such a tricky subject. But for us, our definition is simple: we design with the earth in mind. Full stop. From our packaging to our formulas, if it’s better for the earth, we know it will be better for you. Want to know more? Check out our full page on sexy sustainability here.

stay golden

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