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The Clean Beauty Revolution: The Truth Behind Beauty Products and Your Health

Emma Watson. Anne Hathaway. Gwyneth Paltrow. Jessica Alba. What do these celebrities have in common – aside from their successful acting careers? They are all in the forefront of the “clean beauty” movement, putting recognizable faces to a trend that is gaining considerable steam in the marketplace.

Clean beauty is finally becoming mainstream. It can be difficult to fully comprehend what the term “clean beauty” actually means – because the marketing that cosmetics companies are permitted to use can be so misleading. Buzzwords on packaging, such as “organic,” “natural,” “pure,” “botanical” or “green” aren’t legally required to adhere to a specific definition, so they may not necessarily mean what consumers think they mean. And when you’re slathering the ingredients in these products onto your skin and in your hair, they may actually prove to be detrimental to your health.

Buyer Beware

Wait. You may be asking, “Aren’t these products regulated? Doesn’t the FDA approve beauty and skin care products?” In fact, the last piece of regulation on the personal care industry was passed in 1938, which handed the cosmetic companies themselves the responsibility to declare that their products were safe. This means that today there is practically no government oversight on cosmetic industry claims and packaging. If you contrast cosmetic ingredient bans here in the US versus those in Europe, the contrast is chilling: where the European Union has prohibited the use of 1,300 cosmetic ingredients and Canada has outlawed 500, the United States has only disallowed 11.

Despite the fact that many of us just assume that the products we use are safe – with 70% of cosmetic users believing that these ingredients have been tested by credible government agencies according to a survey conducted by the Mellman Group and American Viewpoint – the reality is that those assumptions are just wishful thinking on our part. And that puts the responsibility on us, the consumer, to read labels and know what we’re actually buying.

However, that assumes that we know what ingredients are potentially harmful. Here are just a few of the offenders to look for in your beauty products, each of which are suspected of causing health or environmental problems:

  • Formaldehyde can cause contact dermatitis and is most commonly found in nail polish.
  • Microbeads were completely banned last year as an environmental threat. If you own older products with microbeads, do not flush or rinse them down the drain.
  • Parabens and Phthalates are used to preserve cosmetics, linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Petroleum Jelly is considered a threat to the environment and the human endocrine system.

Enter the Clean Beauty Movement

At the core of the clean beauty movement is the concept of safety. This doesn’t mean that all of the ingredients used in these skin and beauty products are natural – some, in fact, are still man-made. But the companies creating these cosmetics avoid anything that can cause harm to the user, including toxins. These products are ethically sourced and formulated with the idea of both physical and environmental health in mind.

Health is the number one reason why people are switching to cleaner choices. There are accounts of patients whose health have been compromised by conventional beauty products, and whose doctors tell them to avoid particular ingredients. Others are concerned about the potential of what may happen to them as they grow older. A Harris poll found that 59 percent of women over age 35 feel choosing products that promote wellness is important to them, while 73 percent of millennials agree.

Yet our personal health is only one aspect of clean beauty. There is rising consumer demand for more sustainably packaged products. The industry is a known polluter, filling landfills with some 2.7 billion plastic bottles a year. Demographics show that younger millennials are particularly compelled to adopt products that reduce such hazardous waste.

The movement toward clean beauty is gaining definite momentum. In addition to the list of celebrities who are promoting it, millennials with their copious use of social media help to discover and share clean beauty brands among their circles – as well as call out those that cause harm to either body or environment.

A Growing Market

It used to be difficult to find clean beauty products, and often the only place they could be bought were speciality and health food stores. But clean beauty is enjoying an economic boom, with brands finding their way into the mainstream marketplace. For example:

  • Sephora, who has specialized in botanical, chemical-free cosmetics for several years, now features these products in a special section of their website and provides consumers with a bulleted list of what products are “formulated WITHOUT.”
  • Target hopes to launch a new “chemical strategy” by 2020, eliminating items with phthalates, formaldehyde, and parabens from their stores. This will not only change what’s available in the beauty aisle, but will be carried into the baby, personal care, and household cleaning sections.
  • Nordstrom is expanding its clean beauty offerings as well.hile CVS has committed to removing all products that are potentially toxic by 2019. This will have a profound impact on some 600 of the cosmetics sold in nearly 10,000 US stores.

This is not always an easy route for brands or stores because ingredients are often sourced from distant areas of the globe and are oftentimes more expensive to find and produce. Many clean beauty brands have a considerably shorter shelf life than common cosmetic brands like Maybelline and Revlon – generally expiring after six months compared to two or three years.

White there are still fewer options available when it comes to clean beauty products and ingredients, choosing to take part in the clean beauty movement requires a sense of commitment on the part of the consumer and brands alike.

Looking Forward

In 2017, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California introduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act, which would give the FDA greater authority to regulate the cosmetic industry. Feinstein appeared before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to testify that certain products can have dire health consequences, contributing to such issues as reproductive health, fertility problems and miscarriages, as well as cancer.

If this act is made into law, the hope is that even more companies will begin to provide consumers with safer beauty products, eliminating toxins before the FDA outlaws them.

MrSteam and Clean Beauty

As a company committed to making wellness a way of life, MrSteam has always considered both health and the environment of paramount importance – which is why all of our products, including the Chakra and Essential Oils used in aromatherapy, as well as TALA® Bath & Body Rhassoul Lava Clay, are formulated with completely natural, non toxic ingredients.

And, of course, as we have written about many times before, steam bathing can provide restorative skin and beauty qualities that transcend the use of cosmetics. If you are planning to adopt the clean beauty movement, there is no better place to start than in your own steam shower.

 Steam Shower Checklist 


Topics: Health & Wellness