The skincare industry is marked by the continuing rise and fall of beauty trends, which include products and routines. Over the years, many personal care products have hit the shelves of stores promising lots of benefits for your skin ranging from anti-aging to skin tightening. It wasn’t until brands started marketing their products as “clean” and “natural” that a large number of consumers started paying attention to the ingredients present in their daily skin essentials.

This result shaped the skincare industry.  But what is about the “clean” label that has attracted the masses? And is “clean beauty” here to stay or just another trend? TABIIB finds out for, below.

What Is Clean Beauty?

There’s no regulatory definition for clean beauty. Broadly speaking, it refers to skincare products formulated without the use of harmful chemicals and non-FDA approved toxins. Beauty brands use the term “clean” to show that their products don’t contain ingredients (natural or synthetic) that they consider harmful or unsafe to use.

Most of these products avoid sulphates, parabens, and silicones while focussing more on natural elements.
It’s important to note, however, that just because an ingredient is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe.

How Did The Term Originate?

The phrase was first used in the 1970s by CoverGirl with their “Clean Makeup” campaign, referencing the trendy, fresh face look. The general consensus is that the growing popularity towards eco-friendly, clean products is due to the rise of sensitive skin.

Victoria Buchanan, senior futures analyst at The Future Laboratory says, “Dermatologists are reporting a growing phenomenon of sensitized skin caused by increased exposure to pollution, stress and digital aggressors”. This has caused a shift in perception by turning skincare into an essential need, rather than a conscious choice. 

What Is The Difference Between Natural And Organic In Clean Beauty?

The difference between the two terms comes down to regulation. Anything that has been advertised as “organic” has to fulfill the strict criteria of being free from pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers or growth hormones. A “natural” product isn’t under the same level of scrutiny.
Natural products contain ingredients that have been taken straight from plant source and with minimal processing. Organic takes this one step further: all the products are made with non-genetically modified ingredients that have been grown and harvested without the use of synthetic pesticides. This is also why organic costs more.

Steering clear of anything that has been processed heavily allows for the plants’ natural healing properties to come through and remain active. Buying local products is imperative: the longer the shelf life, the more additives the product has which is what should be avoided.

The Impact Of Clean Beauty On The Environment

Many skincare experts admit that the biggest challenge to clean beauty is the packaging of the products. Since most of them are liquid based, they need to be packed in materials that don’t disintegrate, such as plastic, which is energy and water intensive.
The non-biodegradability of plastic means that it keeps on polluting the environment further, not to mention that the chemicals used in lotions and moisturizers severely damage the waterways.

Many skincare brands such as Aveda and Neal’s Yard Remedies are taking steps towards ensuring that their packaging is environmentally conscious and sustainable. The brand “Green Queen” uses glass bottles and boxes which can be reused. This can decrease the disposal of unnecessary packaging significantly.

Where Can You Start?

Dermatologists suggest that it is usually best to take a simple approach to clean beauty.  If you’re using a product that will stay on your skin all day, such as a moisturizer, then it’s a good idea to switch that out first for a cleaner alternative. Once you’ve set up a good routine, you can then transition towards swapping out your shampoo,conditioner and deodorant.

How You Can Get A Clean Beauty Routine?

Everybody’s skin care needs are different. There’s no hard and fast rule where one type can fit all. We all have our personal set of standards and requirements when it comes to choosing beauty and hygiene products. If you’re looking to switch to a more eco-friendly routine, here are a few tips for you:

Find Trusted Brands
Every brand caters to different skin types and concerns. It’s important to do your own research and find brands that fit your requirements. Once you’ve got that down, you can use that as a starting point for when you need to find new products.

Check The Ingredients
If you come across an ingredient that you’re unfamiliar with,  do a casual Google check to make sure that it’s safe to use.
You can also consult resources such as Skin Deep, which gives you all the background information you’d need about an ingredient.

Aim For Less Packaging
As discussed above, packaging is the major pollutant from the skincare industry. The less packing your product has, the better for the environment. Whenever possible, aim for buying products that have less components and which can be recycled or reused.

Make Your Own
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also make your own creams and soaps. The Internet has amazing resources and DIY recipes which you can follow. Plus, making your own products from natural ingredients means you know exactly what you’re applying to your skin.
You can make it in big batches and use it throughout the year, if need be. Lighter on your conscience, as well as your wallet!


To sum up, there’s no right definition available for what constitutes clean beauty. The widely accepted one is what advocates for toxin-free, skin friendly beauty and involves the use of sustainable and recyclable products to lessen the harmful impact on the environment.

If you’re looking to adopt the clean beauty approach but are unsure where to start, it’s always a good idea to consult the experts. With TABIIB, you can find the right dermatologist who could help you with your clean beauty routine. Click here to know more.

I am a writer, covering the sprawling expanse of healthcare, among many other things that I love writing on. I write on healthcare because I want to do my part in informing people about the health industry, When I am not blogging about research and medicine, I enjoy reading, playing squash and backpacking around the world.