"Clean beauty" "Sulfate Free" "Non-Toxic" "Paraben Free" "Organic"
We always want to be using the safest, most effective products available, but marketers these days are kind of duping us. You see, there aren't really any regulations around anything labeled "Clean Beauty", and the term "Clean Beauty" and what you'd expect from such a product is likely different for every person.
So keeping the labels aside, how do we find accurate info about the ingredients in our products?
Well, the FDA provides a lot of info on particular products but we're only made aware of it through marketing and the media, and many americans don't trust the FDA alone.
In our search for more info on cosmetic ingredients we started looking for independent sources. One source that is very popular is the EWG (Environmental Working Group). What made us stop trusting the EWG is the fact that they don't employ anyone with actual experience in cosmetic chemistry, that means when they evaluate ingredients in a product they are unable to take into account how the ingredients in the formulas interact with each other or how the amount of the ingredient effects the product. Companies also pay for their products to be EWG verified, which then gives the product better placement on the ewg website (so essentially it's advertising). Given that they allow companies to pay for advertising on their website and the fact that they don't employ anyone knowledgeable in actually formulating cosmetics, it is hard for us to believe that they are giving us the most accurate information. All of these things make it feel like EWG is capitalizing on consumer fears rather than actually advocating for safer products.
Another popular option is the Think Dirty App. Similar to EWG they have a "pay to play" option where they tout helping brands with sales by giving them exposure through the app. Think Dirty doesn't list their team members or their qualifications but a linkedin search doesn't show anyone with a scientific or chemistry background on their team. This again makes it feel like they may be capitalizing on consumer fears rather than truly trying to help consumers find the truth through the advertising.
So, if the two most popular resources aren't good. who should we be listening to?
We love the Beauty Brains podcast. They are a tiny team of two cosmetic chemists. The only funding they receive for their podcast, is from their listeners on patreon. Both hosts have worked for large cosmetic companies and know the ins and outs of how ingredients work together. They'd also be able to to read scientific studies and determine if they were done in a way that actually provides valuable information or if they were done just to push a marketing story. The downside is that it's a podcast, so it can be harder to find the exact information you're looking for, but they do answer listener questions and have a large database of previous episodes that cover a lot of topics.
Ultimately, if you are using a product and love it. You should probably keep using it, but if you're worried about the safety or efficacy of the product, try searching the Beauty Brains podcasts for more information on the specific product or ingredient.
MOST importantly, let's not let companies capitalize on our fear.