• Clarissa Laws


So, you’re ready to start Cleaning It Up! Welcome to the second installment of the five part clean beauty series, which is all about the meaning of clean beauty and why we need it.

There is no clear, cut and dry definition of “clean” when it comes to personal care product classification. There are no exact guidelines for manufacturers to follow to be able to legally call their products “clean.” We will talk more about the pitfalls of personal care legal regulations in part three of Clean It Up. When we think of a “clean” product, we often think of qualities like natural, organic, chemical-free, non-toxic, eco-friendly, cruelty-free and others. The optimist within us wants to believe that companies advertising themselves as “clean” have all of the above mentioned qualities. However, because the definitions of all of these terms are unregulated, brands frequently manipulate the use of those words to benefit their own agendas. This is not good news for the consumer, and does not make finding safe products easy.

Most sources are in agreement that at a fundamental level, clean beauty is synonymous with non-toxic beauty. This is the definition we will be focusing on and what I will be prioritizing, for the purpose of this series. Something shocking about this popular take on clean beauty is that it does not have to do with “natural,” “green,” “organic,” or any of the other buzzwords we’ve been talking about. These things are great and still important, but it’s the toxins found in some products that are the big red flags. The non-toxic definition means that as a consumer, we are accepting that there is no such thing as clean beauty perfection. Clean products can have man-made ingredients (synthetics) and preservatives, as long as said ingredients are proven to be non-harmful and non-toxic. The number one priority of the clean beauty movement is to eliminate as many known, harmful toxins from our daily self care routines as possible. Are “all-natural” beauty products great? Sure! Do we love organic cosmetics? Absolutely! Should we be excited about green/plant-derived/vegan/cruelty-free/eco-friendly/sustainably sourced/biodegradable products? We are thrilled by them. However, none of these product claims are regulated by the FDA and do not necessarily make a product “clean.” Only a total and complete lack of harmful toxins (which can only be verified after reviewing the entire ingredients list. More on this in a future installment) earns a cosmetic the clean crown.

Making themselves completely transparent is the most important thing a brand can do to prove to consumers that its products contain no known harmful toxins. It is impossible to know if a product is toxic if they do not list all of their ingredients somewhere that is readily accessible to potential buyers. There must be no hidden ingredients under umbrella terms such as “fragrance,” which is common practice when a brand doesn’t want to reveal an unattractive component. True clean beauty brands are completely up front about their ingredients and do not present themselves in any way that is misleading. A product’s “clean” identity can only be proven by thoroughly reviewing its ingredients list. There are dozens and dozens of chemicals proven to cause harm that appear in personal care products. In the past 10 years, 600 different cosmetics manufacturers have reported using 88 chemicals in over 73,000 products, all of which have been linked in some way to cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. 12 products, commonly known as “The Nasty Nine,” make up that majority of the problem. Here’s a quick cheat sheet to refer to when researching beauty products:

One clean beauty brand I’ve been loving lately is Versed. They make clean beauty accessible to everyone with their reasonable price point, and their products feel so luxurious. I mentioned their vitamin C powder in this post, and it seriously has been such a great addition to my morning routine. Vitamin C is SO SO good for your skin!!! My other favorite Versed product is their Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum. It is seriously a steal for a retinol, and it is so gentle. Retinols sometimes irritate my skin, which is why most people apply them at bedtime to give their skin time to recover, but this product does not cause any redness. I put it on every night before I moisturize! One of the BEST parts of Versed is that you can get most of their products at the world’s most magical place, TARGET!! Such a great new product line for Target. Shop some of my favorite Versed products below:

At the end of the day, a celebrity dermatologist, Elizabeth Warner, says "As you look to overhaul your bathroom cabinet, don’t panic or feel overwhelmed. We don't want to be putting our hands up over our heads running in circles screaming ... because the stress of panic is probably more toxic than the exposure of the molecules.”

Stay tuned for part three!

XX, Clarissa