Going clean extends beyond meal choices for me. I not only want to nourish my body with whole, nutrient-dense foods, but I also prefer to use personal care products that complement my skin's chemistry and the preservation of this beautiful world I live in. I keep hearing the term "clean beauty" used by some of the brands I trust and decided to dig in to learn more.
What Is Clean Beauty?
Clean beauty is an ethical movement to choose cosmetics, body soaps, and other personal care products that are created with ingredients that work in harmony with the body's systems while being mindful of how the ingredients are sourced from the Earth.
After doing a little research, I discovered that the definition of clean beauty extends a bit further to include how beauty products are processed and packaged. Are factories using renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power? Are manufacturers choosing minimal, recyclable packaging that puts less strain on our landfills? Personally, these approaches align with my green lifestyle and how I want to support the beauty industry as a consumer.
How Going Clean Is Going Green
A study in the Visegrad Journal on Bioeconomy and Sustainable Development focusing on sustainability practices for producing eco-friendly products opened my eyes to the idea of "life-cycle thinking." It's basically the equivalent of ethical, farm-to-plate, clean-eating practices, but in this instance, maybe it's best to call it farm-to-palette.
The idea is that we should consider how our eco-friendly products are created—how materials are sourced, produced, formulated, consumed, and, finally recycled or disposed of—because it all has an effect on the long-term health of the planet. Are we choosing products made with naturally derived ingredients from renewable sources such as plants, seeds, and trees? Or, are we buying products with ingredients sourced from our dwindling stores of fossil fuels? For example, petroleum jelly and mineral oil often found in conventional beauty products are byproducts of the petroleum refining process.
I've been mindfully reading product labels to ensure I'm choosing beauty products made with sustainable, naturally derived ingredients and packaging that can land in my recycle bin instead of the landfill. Tom's of Maine is a brand that publicly shares its Stewardship Model to help consumers understand how they select the ingredients used in their personal care products and how they work toward ways to improve the sustainability of their packaging.
Clean Beauty Benefits You, Too
Clean beauty isn't just about promoting environmental health; it can make you feel better about your personal care product choices, too! Each time I add new makeup, soap, or deodorant to my shopping cart, I want to make sure it's going work to work with my body's natural chemistry. I manage bouts of eczema on occasion and have discovered that the topical products I use need to be free of artificial fragrances or dyes if I want to avoid an itchy situation.
Personally, I gravitate to clean beauty products formulated with plant-based oils, such as coconut or jojoba. A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences explains that the topical application of some plant oils (including olive, coconut, sunflower seed, almond, rose hip, shea butter, and more) can have anti-inflammatory properties and be beneficial to our skin by aiding in the repair of the skin barrier and promoting wound healing. Nice!
In an article by Northwestern Medicine, a dermatologist explains that "knowing your skin and treating it well" is the secret behind effective skin care. If you're exploring clean beauty options as a way to manage a skin condition, it's a good idea to also loop in a dermatologist for expert advice and tips.
Just last month I chatted with my dermatologist about my shaving habits, and she said my decision to use pure coconut oil as a shaving cream was a good option to avoid skin irritation. Knowing that my simple choice is also a sustainable option makes me feel good.
5 Ways You Can Pursue Clean Beauty
Are you starting to rethink how you stock your bathroom? I sure am. As I work to green my lifestyle, here's what I've been doing that you might also find helpful.
- Read labels. Look for ingredients that are ethically derived (fair labor, legal harvesting) from renewable resources. If you don't know what something is, look it up!
- Review company websites. Go to the manufacturer's website and see if they explain their production process, share ingredients lists, or discuss the type of energy they use at their facilities.
- Ask questions. More than once, I've emailed or messaged a company via social media to learn how they create their products and where they source ingredients.
- Evaluate packaging. Can the outer wrapper and product container both be recycled (perhaps through an alternative program such as TerraCycle)? Or, if not, can they be upcycled into another use around your home?
- Do your research. There's a lot of science behind what's best for our skin. So, I leave it to the pros to sort that out and help guide my choices. Check out the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database and the Food and Drug Administration's primer on cosmetics ingredients.
What is clean beauty to you? Remember: you have choices. Each time you shop for personal care products, you're choosing what's best for your body and environmental views. All it takes is one mindful purchase to get on a path of making cleaner beauty choices.
Learn more about switching to natural on the DIY Naturally board from @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!
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The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.
Why It's Good
Choosing cosmetics and skin care products made from naturally derived ingredients at facilities powered by clean energy sources is better for the environment and your health. Win-win! Taking a clean beauty approach not only aligns with your eco-conscious lifestyle, but also your desire to choose products made with ingredients you can feel good about.