Discovering the meaning of Clean Beauty
In 2011 while working at a large wellness company focused on cleaner ingredients, we could see a demand coming for more transparency in ingredient selection, sourcing and processing. There had always been a niche category of products that were botanical focused, some organic, smaller ingredient list – more “clean” so-to-speak, but that desire for cleaner products was shifting and my expectation was that it would become more mainstream.
Helping shape the meaning of Clean Beauty
There was no definition of clean beauty from the FDA or other regulating body, and there still isn’t today. The FDA bans only 11 ingredients in the cosmetics category (skincare falls under this category) while the European Union (EU) has a much larger ban of 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics. We felt it was important to develop an ingredient policy that would guide our product development and serve as a consumer facing document that would inform and create transparency on the ingredients we would allow in our products. This was certainly not an easy task for the team because it is not an easy task for scientists, physicians, ingredient manufacturers and consumers to agree on what is deemed “clean”. One of the challenges is that there is the misconception that if an ingredient seems “clean”, then it must be considered “safe” and vice versa. Those two words are not interchangeable and that is one aspect of what makes creating an ingredient policy complex without sacrificing product performance. Essential oils from plants are a great example, they sound clean because they are from plants but they are potent because they are concentrated extracts from the different parts of plants but they can cause skin irritations depending on the concentration level and how they are used.
What Clean Beauty means to Act of Wellness
We think there are several important things to consider when developing a clean beauty ingredient policy and it is how we approached our policy at Act of Wellness. The important aspects are government regulations, scientific human health (Cosmetic Ingredient Review) and environmental impact and consumer input. Ingredient policies should also be considered living documents meaning they are revisited and re-evaluated as science and other factors are constantly evolving.
After creating one of the first clean ingredient policies, we were so happy to see more brands and retailers also publish their own clean policies. Like any policy, they vary by brand and retailer and not all parties may see eye-to-eye on the types of ingredients that are banned. This puts the responsibility on the brand to explain their choices but also on the consumer to determine whether they accept those ingredient choices.
We formulated Act of Wellness products with a combination of botanically derived ingredients and safe synthetic ingredients. We referenced the Environmental Working Group ingredient database as a checkpoint when finalizing the ingredient choices. While Act of Wellness is not currently distributed in Europe, we also followed the EU ban on ingredients since Europe has always been more proactive on the ingredient review and ban. Our products are formulated without animal derived ingredients and never tested on animals or using ingredient suppliers that test on animals. You can learn more about ingredients we mindfully selected to use in Act of Wellness products here.