If you are familiar with the beauty industry, you’re probably aware of the terms “clean”, and “non-toxic.” If you’re a consumer of beauty products, you’ve certainly heard terms like “all-natural”, and “free from [insert scary ingredient here]”. Many emerging brands are singing the praises of products that are chock full of nothing but goodness- botanicals, no preservatives, small batch made. It left us wondering- have we really been endangering ourselves with toxic, unclean products all along, and are just now finding that clean beauty is the solution? Not exactly. And what we learned surprised us.
Since the marketing of beauty products began, the focus has always been on what the benefits are for the consumer. In other words, what the product will do FOR you. Now that science has established the efficacy of certain ingredients, and debunked the myth of others, it’s not novel to talk about what certain ingredients can do for you. Instead, companies have gone in the direction of marketing based on what people should avoid, making certain ingredients “toxic” or putting them on a “no-no list” due to reasons ranging from causing breakouts to potentially causing cancer.
But when we took a deeper look at some of these “no-no” ingredients, we found that some are actually essential to the efficacy and shelf life of beauty products. When we set out to formulate Sweet and Kind products, we gave our skin care lab a list of ingredients that we didn’t want, first. One that kept popping up was EDTA, a preservative used in many skin care and food products. It’s a compound that is known to remove heavy metals (good, right?), and add stability to a product’s shelf life (even better!). We’d read some brands reasoning for not using it, and about it’s supposed toxicity, so were unsure about using it in our formulations.
In the process of hiring experienced chemists to formulate natural and effective anti-aging CBD skin care and body products, we received a real education about the hype, and the reality, of an ingredient like EDTA. When we asked about the pushback we might get from consumers about it, they responded with, “Well, you know what’s worse? Mold. And a product that doesn’t do anything but sit on top of your skin.”
Here are a few truths we learned about ingredients in skin care-
-If the FDA has approved something for use in cosmetics, it means that the ingredient has been tested and found NOT to be harmful in the concentrations used in those kinds of products. In other words, even if it’s toxic in very high concentrations (which describes a lot of ingredients), it can’t be sold that way. For reference, water is considered toxic if ingested in very large amounts.
-According to MD Anderson Cancer Center, “there is no known link between personal care products and cancer.” Aside from the potential for talc that contains asbestos to be dangerous when used intimately by women, there haven’t been any documented cases of skin care products causing cancer. This is likely because, again, each ingredient is typically in such low concentration, those levels are never considered toxic.
-Most beauty retailers have developed standards for what they call “clean”. Each retailer’s standard varies, but for larger retailers like Sephora, the concentration of an ingredient (not just the presence of the ingredient) drives the designation of whether or not a product is considered clean.
-Just because something is “natural”, doesn’t mean it can’t be harmful. And just because something is pharmaceutical grade, doesn’t mean it should be avoided. In fact, we believe that science and nature can work in harmony to create products that are safe, as well as being effective for their intended purpose (anti-aging, hello!).
Look, we love trying new beauty products as much as the next guy or gal. We also believe that when checking out new products, consumers should make sure they are getting a product that is reviewed or recommended by people who are using the standard of “does it work?” and not just “is it clean?” Because clean is truly in the eye of the retailer.