Is Clean Beauty Good For You?

Is Clean Beauty good for you?

Clean Beauty is the current…aspiration…in beauty right now. And I genuinely think it’s trying to come from a good place – the desire to create better products for consumers.

However, by far the biggest problem with Clean Beauty is that there is no internationally recognised standard based on science that helps regulate what is put onto the market: all we are seeing right now are slogans with a smattering of science to back up some claims, and brand-driven scientifically-debunked narratives to instil fear into consumers to buy into their brands (and therefore their products – ideally the entire range).

For example:
Even between these lists of “cleanliness” there are -*conflicts as to what each brand deems “clean” – Drunk Elephant’s #SuspiciousSix includes essential oils, meaning you shouldn’t find essential oils in their products; whereas Omorovicza’s “Nasty 9” includes essential oils, but excludes synthetic fragrances/oils – so you WILL find essential oils in Omorovicza’s products because it’s natural and not synthetic (which in an of itself is appalling, because they are implying that “synthetic” is a bad word because it’s associated with the current bad rap around the word “chemicals”, which is one of a few codewords for “harsh on skin, bad for you, scary” – when natural stuff and organic stuff are all chemicals too, y’know? #justsaying).

These brands are demonising words – silicones, synthetic, parabens, CHEMICALS, to name but a few – in order to make you afraid to buy any other products but theirs, because “since their products are FREE FROM…they of course can’t possibly harm you”.

Wrong.

Worse still, Drunk Elephant is known for bullying customers for having problems and bad reactions to their products, and for deleting any remotely negative review or comment, even if it’s simply a “this didn’t work for me but it could work for you in these situations, X Y and Z”, across all social media platforms, in order to drive their strong marketing narrative and to polarise their audience into undying, cultish loyalty. (I guess I can kiss goodbye to any future sponsorships with them right now #byegirlbye). You wanna see how they treat customers and professionals who don’t tow the party line? Have a look through Emmy Award-winning Pro MUA Kevin James Bennett’s Instagram feed to around the beginning of August 2019. Not. Good.
To me, the thing that grates the most about the whole Clean Beauty movement is that is it’s being used as virtue-signalling – that by using these “clean” products, you will not only look better and be healthier (allegedly), you will somehow be A BETTER PERSON than someone who does not use Clean Beauty products. It becomes YOU…vs “The Un-Clean Others” – YOU are superior.
I am wholly against this kind of deliberately divisive, privileged, elitist narrative and language. We’re not in the school yard anymore, peeps! Grow up y’all!

DOES THIS MEAN THAT ALL THESE “CLEAN BEAUTY” BRAND PRODUCTS ARE BAD FOR YOU?

Hell. No.

I use Briogeo haircare and have found their hair repairing lines and RosArCo lines to be brilliant for my hair – seriously, their hair masks and leave-in conditioners are what saved my hair when I had masses falling out at the beginning of the year (along with Sisley’s eye-wateringly expensive hair oil – more on that another day). It works…for MY hair.
Much like Sisley, Omorovicza’s products are fantastic – if you’re not too sensitised to essential oils, or you at least know which ones you need to avoid and simply check the labels before you buy. I have enjoyed their thermal mud mask once in a while and found it very deep-cleaning whilst still brightening and leaving my skin soft and healthy, although because of my own sensitivities I can’t use it often, probably once every 3 weeks at most.
Drunk Elephant’s products are supposedly great – I’ve not tried any yet although I’m looking at trying their face soap bars. I sure won’t be going to their customer services or social media if I have any issues, but I will let you know when I’ve bought them and tried them.
And! As I stated at the beginning, there is a smattering of science to back up a few claims – SLS (banned in all 3 example brands) can be an irritant to some people (like me); essential oils are known irritants to the skin and when ingested; fragrances (which are derived from essential oils) are known irritants for some; alcohol can be irritating and drying on skin, but it’s a good carrier for other ingredients…

Bottom line: you have to know what you can safely handle and what you can’t. You have to know your skin, your scalp, your hair, your mouth, your eyes – because each of us have individual tolerances and issues. Find what ingredients work for you. Find what products work for you.

And as for brand narratives? Give them the Mrs Brown treatment, “That’s nice…” Because that’s all they are – nice. Emotive? Sure. But true? Not always.