Are Clean and Natural Beauty Products Actually Better For Your Skin?
In today's society, skincare has become an essential part of our daily routine. As consumers, we are inundated with various skincare categories such as medical grade, pharmaceutical grade, conventional, luxury, natural, clean, and conscious beauty. These categories are designed to appeal to our individual preferences and convince us to purchase their products. However, do these categories actually provide any real benefits, or are they just marketing tactics? In this blog, we will define each category, analyze its impact on consumer behavior, and argue that regardless of the marketing claims, all skincare products share a common focus on generating revenue rather than prioritizing skin compatibility and health - even 'CLEAN'!
But First, Let's Define Skincare Categories
Most brands would fall under one of the following categories:
Medical Grade: 'Medical-grade skincare' is one of the most misleading claims in the industry. It is generally formulated to treat specific skin conditions. The products are o marketed as containing high concentrations of active ingredients. This might very well be the case, but that's not ultimately what the skin needs to thrive and be healthy. Powerful actives after cause irritation and chemical reactions on the skin leading to hyperpigmentation, sensitivity, and a disrupted lipid barrier. Consumers have been inundated in recent decades by marketing messages conveying that the more powerful the product, the faster the result. While the fast result could be an aggressive exfoliation, what these brands fail to share is that with fast results, come more sunburns, chemical burns, drier skin, a compromised lipid barrier, and sensitive skin.
Pharmaceutical Grade: Similar to medical-grade skincare, Pharmaceutical grade skincare products are often recommended by dermatologists and other healthcare professionals to treat specific skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea, and eczema. We often see the claim 'backed by science', which is often a true statement. For example, research has clearly proven that Retinoids are effective in reducing wrinkles and acne. That's a fact. However, that doesn't mean that these products are without side effects, or that they are safe for long-term use.
Conventional or Mainstream: Conventional skincare products are readily available over-the-counter at drugstores, supermarkets, and beauty retailers. These products are formulated for general skincare concerns such as cleansing, moisturizing, and sun protection. Many are still using various questionable ingredients such as parabens, pegs, fragrances, mineral oils, etc. Many of these brands are losing market-share to emerging natural and clean brands, and are now updating a few ingredients to catch up to the trends. This often leads to clean-washing or green-washing. Formulas can still be toxic or irritating, but hey- they're vegan or Paraben-free. Sadly, we all know that consumers fall for these claims easily.
Luxury Beauty: Luxury skincare products are marketed toward consumers willing to pay a premium price for exclusive ingredients, packaging, and marketing. These products often claim to provide anti-aging and skin-rejuvenating benefits. These, in my opinion, are the worst choice in beauty, as ingredients are often similar to drugstore formulas, but with more sparkle, perfume, and fancy packaging, and a higher price point consumers often forget that the purpose of s is to 'CARE' for their 'SKIN', not apply irritant packed cream on their skin just because a fashion house from Paris packaged it a fancy $500 jar and claimed a secret proprietary formula within. Skin needs are no secret. The skin ultimately needs water, oil, antioxidants & sunscreen. Well-formulated ones that truly care for the skin. That's it!
Natural Beauty: Natural skincare products are formulated using ingredients derived from natural sources such as plants, fruits, and essential oils. These products are marketed towards consumers who prefer organic and environmentally friendly products. Although many have good intentions, but natural skincare is often packed with irritating botanicals. Many natural brands replaced synthetic fragrances with essential oils, which are not that much better. In fact, they are worse in many cases, and major causes of issues such as contact dermatitis, and hyperpigmentation.
Clean Beauty: Clean skincare products are formulated without certain ingredients such as sulfates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances. These products are marketed toward consumers who prioritize ingredient transparency and avoid potentially harmful chemicals. The clean beauty market has gotten very confusing for consumers as brands and retailers create their own definitions of what clean is, one that fits their product claims. Clean skincare, however, is far better than other categories discussed so far, as it pays close attention to toxic ingredients. However, it misses the mark big time as it's laser-focused on what INS'T present in the product, versus what's actually IN it. So, it's a start, but toxic chemicals aren't the only problem skincare has, natural ingredients that aren't toxic, can still wreak havoc on the skin. a few examples are essential oils, citrus ingredients, cinnamon, and other natural non-toxic ingredients that do NOT belong on human skin.
Conscious Beauty: Conscious beauty products are formulated with a focus on sustainability, ethical sourcing, and social responsibility. These products are marketed toward consumers who prioritize ethical and environmentally friendly products. Like, clean beauty, they're off to a good start, but again, skincare should be formulated primarily with skin compatibility in mind, and environmental friendliness can be the bonus. One prime example here is package-free bar soap. These are definitely better choices for the environment because they don't contain water in a glass bottle (heavy to transport from facility to facility and then to the consumer), but bar soap is simply one of the worst products that can be applied to human skin. It is highly alkaline, and hence, disruptive t the delicate skin barrier.
Regardless of the marketing claims, most skincare products contain irritants, allergens, and aggressive ingredients that are not compatible with long-term use, even those marketed to sensitive skin types. This is because most skincare brands prioritize generating revenue over prioritizing skin compatibility and health. The skincare industry is trend-driven, and new products are constantly being launched with new ingredients and claims. Consumers are stuck in a perpetual cycle of trying new products that ultimately do not work, and the cycle continues as they keep looking for the latest and newest trend and shiny jars.
Natural Skincare Products Aren't Any Better Than Mainstream ones. Here is why;
A large majority of skincare brands decided ti avoid using synthetic fragrance due to their association with hormonal imbalances only to replace them wih fragrant essential oils. While not all essential oils are harmful, when used in very small amounts, many can have detrimental effects on your skin. The worst offedoes are citrus oils.
Citrus products contain a group of compounds called psoralens, which can make the skin more sensitive to the sun and lead to a condition known as phytophotodermatitis. When the skin is exposed to both psoralens and sunlight, it can cause an inflammatory reaction that leads to hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation is a condition where patches of skin become darker than the surrounding skin. It can occur on any part of the body but is most commonly seen on the face, neck, and hands. In the case of citrus-induced hyperpigmentation, the affected areas will typically be where the citrus product has come into contact with the skin.
To prevent citrus-induced hyperpigmentation, it is essential to avoid getting citrus products on your skin when you are going to be exposed to sunlight. This includes avoiding touching your skin after handling citrus fruits or using products that contain citrus extracts. If you do get citrus products on your skin, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and avoid exposing it to sunlight for at least 24 hours.
How to Avoid Citrus on Your Ingredient Label
Some commonly used citrus-derived ingredients in skincare include citric acid, lemon extract, lime extract, grapefruit extract, petitgrain essential oil, neroli, mandarin oil, orange extract, bergamot oil, and tangerine oil. Avoid all these, especially if high on the ingredient list.
Common Allergens Found in Natural and Clean Skincare
Allergens are substances that can cause an allergic reaction in some people. In natural skincare, fragrance chemicals are commonly used to enhance the scent of the product. However, some fragrance chemicals are known to be allergens, and exposure to them can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.
According to the European Committee of Health and Consumers, there are two classes of allergens found in natural beauty products:
List A includes fragrance chemicals that are well-known allergens and frequently reported by consumers. These chemicals include amyl cinnamal, amylcinnamyl alcohol, benzyl alcohol, benzyl salicylate, cinnamyl alcohol, cinnamal, citral, coumarin, eugenol, geraniol, hydroxycitronellal, and hydroxymethylpentyl-cyclohexenecarboxaldehyde. Isoeugenol is also included in this list.
List B includes fragrance chemicals that are less commonly reported as allergens and thus less well-documented. These chemicals include anisyl alcohol, benzyl benzoate, benzyl cinnamate, citronellol, farnesol, hexyl cinnamaldehyde, lilial, d-limonene, linalool, and methyl heptine carbonate. 3-Methyl-4-(2,6,6-trimethyl-2-cyclohexen-1-yl)-3-buten-2-one is also included in this list.
In addition to these fragrance chemicals, two natural mixtures, oak moss and tree moss, have also been identified as potential allergens.
Now What? How Do I Find Non-Irritating Skincare That's Compatible With Human Skin?
The answer starts with the consumer - You're in control!
What most brands overlook is skin compatibility. Human skin has basic needs that will never change regardless of the trend. The skincare industry needs to prioritize consumer needs by providing safe, effective, and compatible skincare products that prioritize skin health. Similarly, consumers need to prioritize skin health over falling for well-crafted marketing messages.
By changing our mindset, we can break the cycle of trying new products and instead prioritize the health of our skin. We can do this by educating ourselves on ingredients and their effects on our skin, reading user reviews and researching products before purchasing, and being consistent with a skincare routine that works for us.
As consumers, we have the power to demand transparency and accountability from skincare brands. Brands need to be transparent about their ingredient sourcing and manufacturing processes, provide accurate information about their product claims, and prioritize consumer health over profits. By doing so, they can build consumer trust and loyalty, which ultimately leads to long-term success.
The Beauty Doctrine is Where Beauty Meets Health!
The Beauty Doctrine stands out as a platform that prioritizes skin health above all else. While other beauty blogs, retailers, brands, and influencers may focus on the latest trends or products, The Beauty Doctrine takes a more holistic approach to skincare. Each product is thoroughly tested and each ingredient list is meticulously reviewed to ensure compatibility with long-term use on human skin.
While the clean beauty movement has gained momentum in recent years, The Beauty Doctrine takes it a step further by considering other important factors such as ingredient sourcing, manufacturing processes, and consumer education. By filling in the missing gap in the beauty industry, The Beauty Doctrine offers a unique perspective that empowers consumers to make informed decisions about their skincare routine and prioritize the health of their skin.
End the perpetual search for the right skincare - book a consultation today for an expertly-curated skincare routine!
The skincare industry is constantly evolving, and new categories and products will continue to emerge. However, as consumers, we should not be swayed by marketing claims but rather focus on our skin's basic needs and prioritize products that are safe, effective, and compatible with our skin. The skincare industry needs to prioritize consumer health and transparency to build trust and long-term success. It's time to break the cycle of perpetually trying new products and focus on what really matters - the health of our skin.
Be well. Be safe. Be beautiful!