It seems a new “clean beauty” line hits the market every week offering naturally-sourced, chemical-free skincare products claiming to improve acne, uneven skin tone, dark spots, wrinkles, and many other skin concerns. Is it too good to be true that organic, natural plants and oils alone can drastically improve your complexion? Simply put – yes, it is too good to be true. “Natural” ingredients are not as effective as synthetic ingredients.

There are many contradicting articles about ingredients in skincare products, which makes it hard to sort through all the noise and find the truth. Finding effective, safe skincare products takes some research. Hopefully by the end of this post you will feel more comfortable in your knowledge about “clean beauty.”

The Word “Chemical” Debunked

Chemicals have gotten a bad rap in the skincare industry. Basically, the word chemical means “a compound that is prepared or purified.” Technically the water we drink is a chemical because hydrogen and oxygen compounds have been purified to create safe drinking water. For skincare products, many of the chemicals created in labs are natural compounds or plant-derived ingredients that have been prepared specifically for our skin. Many of these so-called “chemicals” on skincare labels are actually naturally occurring plants or compounds, which is basically what the “clean beauty” trend is promoting. Also, creating these chemicals in labs is a good thing because cosmetic chemists are working to remove allergens from the natural form of the ingredient to reduce irritation on our skin. So, don’t be afraid to see chemical compounds listed on your skincare products – many are actually natural.

Toxicity Ratings

As a consumer, if you are not a science expert, sometimes the ingredients listed on beauty products can be overwhelming and are names you have never heard of and don’t know exactly what it is and what it does. There are some websites that have been created for consumers to look up these ingredients to know if they are safe and non-toxic. These toxicity ratings can be a helpful resource, but not always accurate. Some of these websites don’t list the dosage, which can drastically skew the results of the toxicity rating. Just because the ingredient is listed with a high toxicity, doesn’t actually mean the dosage in your skincare product is toxic. Many chemicals used in skincare products aren’t at a high enough dose to be harmful.  Essentially, every natural and synthetic ingredient could be toxic at a high enough dose. Even water can be toxic at a high enough dose, but we aren’t afraid of drinking water!

The “Dirty Dozen”

Also worth noting, regulations have been put in place to ensure companies are creating safe products. According to the FDA, cosmetic and skincare companies have a responsibility to create safe products using ingredients that have been widely researched and tested for health issues and safety. Many beauty products created today don’t include what many refer to as the “Dirty Dozen,” such as parabens, sulfates, BHA, formaldehydes, and petroleum based elements in their products. However, always double check the product label to be sure there are no harmful ingredients listed.

Sourcing of Natural Ingredients

Another concern in researching “clean beauty” products is to be aware of where and how companies are sourcing their ingredients. Some companies may use all natural ingredients, but are sourced from an unsanitary lab or a farm using chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers – not making your products as natural as you may think. Also, sourcing natural, organic ingredients can be difficult and costly for a company, which may create inconsistent supplies necessary to maintain the quality of the product.

Be careful in choosing an all natural skincare line that doesn’t have any preservatives. A beauty product without a preservative can cause more harm than good. There have been natural beauty lines that have been recalled due to mold and bacteria growing in their products. As a consumer you don’t know how long the products have been stored before being shipped out, and natural ingredients can go bad quickly. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think rubbing mold on my face will improve acne or aging skin!

Beware of Pore-Clogging Ingredients

Just because the product has natural ingredients, doesn’t mean it won’t irritate your skin. Many “clean beauty” products use oils as their main ingredient, and if not paired with other ingredients like ceramides and cholesterol, the oil-based product could compromise your skin causing irritation and clogged pores. So, be sure to check the ingredient list on your skincare products for pore-clogging culprits.

Here are some common pore-clogging ingredients that may be in your clean beauty products: Algae Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol, Chlorella, Coconut Butter/Oil, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Kelp, Potassium Chloride, Red Algae, Shea Butter, Stearic Acid, Wheat Germ Oil/Glyceride

Skin+ –  Safe and Effective

With all this said, it is important to check the labels of your beauty products for harmful ingredients, and to use science-based resources to determine whether the product you are using is safe. There are many “clean beauty” products that are safe and contain high quality sourced ingredients. Ultimately, at the end of the day natural ingredients are not as effective as synthetic ingredients. The synthetic ingredients created by cosmetic chemists are specifically used to target and combat skin issues, effectively! And many of these synthetic ingredients come from natural Earth elements and compounds. These compounds have been tested, studied, and researched extensively to create the most potent, safe products for your skin. I mean do you really think cosmetic chemists are out to harm you?

At Austin Skin+, we are trained in the science behind both natural and synthetic ingredients. With our expertise and knowledge, we have created the Skin+ line that is effective and safe. The Skin+ line does not contain any harmful or toxic chemicals, so technically you could consider Austin Skin+ “clean beauty.” With all the scientific research available and hundreds of skincare lines to choose from, it can be overwhelming to say the least. Having an expert Skin Coach that understands your concerns, is knowledgeable about products and ingredients, and knows how to specifically tackle your skin issues with noticeable results is worth it!

To learn more about “clean beauty” from a scientific perspective check out Perry Romanowski’s blog Chemists Corner. He has a couple great articles on the truth about EWG and the challenges of creating natural beauty products.

Carly @ Austin Skin+