The Evolution of Clean Beauty Standards: Love and Nourish Your Skin!

Written by: Lisa Benner


As the years go by, we've seen a dramatic shift in beauty standards. Rather than looking to synthetic methods and unsustainable products, more and more women are turning towards clean beauty — an emphasis on natural ingredients that can nourish the skin without sacrificing efficacy or quality. The beauty landscape has transformed. And with it, our understanding and expectations have too. We're not just looking for quick fixes anymore. We want products that respect us - and the planet we live on. We all want to look good while feeling even better about ourselves.

Welcome to the era of clean beauty and your skincare routine - everything from your favorite lip balm, eye cream, or super serum! The demand for clean, natural, organic skincare and all safer alternatives without harmful chemicals is booming. But what does 'clean' really signify when it comes to beauty products? In this journey, you'll learn about toxic ingredients traditionally used in cosmetics, their natural alternatives, and how to navigate genuine claims amidst greenwashing attempts by brands trying to cash in on the trend – everything you need to know!

So, let's dive into the evolution of this modern movement and explore how far it has come in just a few short years.

The Shift Towards Clean Beauty

Remember when we used to buy beauty products based solely on brand popularity or advertising hype? But times are changing. The rise of organic skincare signals a seismic shift in consumer preferences and awareness.

This evolution towards clean beauty isn't just a fleeting trend but an informed move by consumers who have become increasingly aware of what they put on their skin. A survey in the Journal of Consumer Behaviour uncovered that shoppers now look for more clarity from beauty brands and are ready to pay for it.

Emergence of Organic and Natural Products

Natural doesn't always mean better - poison ivy is natural, too. Organic skincare has evolved beyond questionable DIY concoctions into scientifically backed formulations packed with nourishing botanicals.

Global sales of organic personal care products hit $11.5 billion in 2023, highlighting our growing appetite for healthier alternatives. With such growth comes increased innovation as companies compete to create effective yet gentle solutions using nature's best ingredients.

Consumer Awareness & Demand for Safer Products

If knowledge is power, then today’s beauty lovers must be superheroes because they've been flexing their muscles at cosmetic counters worldwide.

A survey conducted by Kari Gran revealed that over half its respondents read ingredient labels before buying a product – showing how savvy consumers are about potentially harmful substances lurking within their favorite body wash, hair care, creams, and lotions.

Also, 75% of women surveyed by the Environmental Working Group said they read product labels to avoid certain ingredients – further proof of a heightened awareness around safe skincare.

It's also doing wonders for our overall health. It’s creating a demand for products that are not only effective but safe and environmentally friendly, too.

Key Takeaways:

The rise of organic skincare signals a shift in consumer preferences and awareness towards clean beauty. Global sales of organic personal care products have grown significantly, reflecting increasing demand for healthier alternatives.

Consumers are becoming savvier about potentially harmful substances in their personal care products and are looking for clarity from beauty brands. Safer products that are effective and environmentally friendly are now more sought-after than ever.

Defining 'Clean Beauty'

The term 'Clean Beauty' has been floating around in the skin care and cosmetic world for a while now. But what does it really mean? Let's dig into its definition and learn about common clean beauty certifications.

The Debate on What Constitutes 'Clean'

At its core, clean beauty refers to mindfully created products without any proven or suspected toxic ingredients. These items should be made with the health of our bodies and environment in mind. However, since there is no regulated definition of 'clean,' this term can vary widely among brands and products. 

To clarify this topic, here's an analogy: think of clean beauty like eating organic food. You wouldn't want pesticides or synthetic fertilizers in your food; why would you want potentially harmful chemicals on your skin? This is why brand reputation and loyalty are important - finding the right brand that consistently uses the best clean, botanical ingredients so your skin receives the nutrients it needs to look its best.

Common Clean Beauty Certifications

You might ask yourself how we can trust these so-called "clean" labels when a standard definition has not yet been established. This question brings us to another potentially helpful element of clean beauty - product certifications. While not guaranteed, the following certification can help women when researching and selecting skin care products for their daily beauty routine.

Ecocert: This independent French organization has made a name for itself as a global leader in the certification of organic cosmetics, setting strict standards and guidelines for the industry. When you choose a product with the Ecocert logo, you can be confident that it's not only environmentally friendly but also ethical and socially responsible.

COSMOS Standard AISBL: This global standard organization sets rules and regulations for manufacturing cosmetic products. Their focus on safety, efficacy, and sustainability means you can feel empowered to make informed decisions about the products you use and feel confident in the results they'll deliver.

USDA Organic Seal: By choosing skincare products with the USDA Organic Seal, you empower yourself to prioritize your health and well-being. Trust that your skin is receiving the best care with products containing pure and natural ingredients.

These certifications help to navigate through products and brands claiming to be clean by providing a set of criteria they must meet. The certification process involves stringent testing and verification methods, ensuring only genuinely clean beauty products earn these labels.

Key Takeaway:

Many skincare brands are becoming fully committed to this mindful approach. They carefully select their ingredients, prioritizing health and the environment. The lack of a standard definition for 'Clean Beauty' can be confusing, but certifications from reputable organizations such as Ecocert, COSMOS Standard AISBL, and USDA can help.

The Role of Ingredients

Discover the potential risks lurking in your skincare products and know how to identify the good and bad ingredients. While the safety of certain ingredients is up for debate, it's crucial to be aware of commonly discussed harmful substances and what safer alternatives are available.

Potentially Harmful Ingredients

Many ingredients used in skincare have come under scrutiny for their potential health concerns. While the safety of these ingredients can be a subject of debate and may depend on concentration and individual use, the following are five commonly discussed potentially harmful ingredients:


Parabens: These preservatives, like methylparaben and ethylparaben, could disrupt hormone function, potentially increasing the risk of breast cancer and fertility issues.

Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-releasing agents: Carcinogens used to preserve cosmetics may also trigger skin irritations and allergic reactions.

Phthalates: Enhancing the flexibility of plastics, these compounds can be found in fragrances, nail polishes, and more. However, they're associated with endocrine disruption, breast cancer, and reproductive birth defects.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): Commonly used in shampoos and cleansers, these detergents may irritate the skin, cause acne, and might be contaminated with a potential carcinogen.

Synthetic Fragrances: That pleasant scent might hide many chemicals, including phthalates. These fragrances can trigger allergic reactions, dermatitis, and respiratory issues and impact reproductive systems.

Remember, the presence of these ingredients doesn't automatically make a product harmful. The formulation, concentration, and how you use the product, all play a role in its safety. Always research and patch-test new products, especially if you have sensitive skin or specific concerns. Stay informed and protect your skin.

Clean Beauty Alternatives

Discover natural and healthier alternatives to potentially harmful ingredients in beauty and skincare products. Clean beauty brands are leading the way by incorporating these safe alternatives:

Parabens can be replaced by:

   Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant and preservative.

   Rosemary Extract: A natural preservative with antioxidant properties.

   Grapefruit Seed Extract: An antimicrobial ingredient that also acts as a preservative.

Formaldehyde and its releasing agents can be substituted with:

   Phenoxyethanol: A popular alternative to formaldehyde-based preservatives.

   Sorbic Acid: A naturally occurring compound used as a preservative.

   Benzyl Alcohol & Dehydroacetic Acid: Broad-spectrum preservatives often used together.

Say no to phthalates (especially in fragrances) and explore these alternatives:

   Essential Oils: Natural fragrances sourced from plants.

   Natural Plant Extracts: Aromatic alternatives to phthalates.

   Fragrance-free or phthalate-free fragrance options.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) can be replaced by:

   Decyl Glucoside: A gentle surfactant derived from sugar.

   Coco Glucoside: Derived from coconut oil and fruit sugars, creates a gentle lather.

   Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate: A gentle surfactant derived from coconut oil.

Bid farewell to synthetic fragrances and opt for these natural options:

   Essential Oils: Lavender, chamomile, and rose provide lovely natural scents.

   Hydrosols: Floral waters are produced as by-products of essential oil extraction.

   Botanical Extracts: Fruity, floral, and plant extracts can add a natural fragrance.

While these alternatives are great, always check product labels, research ingredients, and consider patch tests for new products. Stay informed and experience cleaner and safer beauty.

Navigating Clean Beauty Claims

Have you ever read a label on your skincare product claiming it's "eco-friendly" or "all-natural," only to find out it's not quite what it seems? In the skincare industry, greenwashing can take on many forms, from using buzzwords like "organic" or "vegan" to packaging their products in a way that suggests they're eco-friendly. It's important to educate yourself on what to watch out for and remember that just because a product appears green doesn't necessarily make it so.

Navigating the world of clean beauty can be overwhelming, especially when faced with many product claims. That's why it's important to turn to trusted brands that prioritize label ingredient transparency and educate consumers on the ingredients used. Not only will this help you better understand the products you're using, but it will also ensure that the ingredients are safe and effective. Plus, by choosing brands that prioritize nourishing and healthy skin, you can feel confident in your beauty routine and empower yourself to make informed choices about your skincare. With so many great options, finding quality products that meet your needs is easy.

Here is a helpful guide to assist you in distinguishing what terms to look for, including what 'natural,' 'organic,' 'clean, 'green,' and 'cruelty-free' really means.

Key Takeaways:

Greenwashing is a big hurdle in the clean beauty industry, with brands claiming to be 'natural' or 'organic.' Yet without regulations, these claims can mislead customers. Some brands fight back by getting certifications from independent bodies like ECOCERT and COSMOS. However, understanding these labels still poses challenges for shoppers. Looking ahead, we might see more emphasis on sustainable packaging and other eco-friendly practices becoming mainstream trends.

Enhance Your Beauty Routine with Clean Skincare

If you're looking to upgrade your beauty routine, clean skincare might be the answer you're searching for. These products are formulated with gentle, natural ingredients and avoid using harmful chemicals that can harm your skin in the long run. By incorporating clean skincare into your routine, you'll empower yourself to control your skin's health and beauty. 


From nourishing serums to refreshing cleansers, there are various clean skincare options that enhance your natural beauty without relying on harsh chemicals. With clean skincare, you can confidently enhance your beauty routine while prioritizing the health of your skin.

Cleanse With a Moisturizing Face Wash

Cleaning your face is key to start your day and prepare for sleep at night. A gentle face wash will remove dirt and impurities without stripping away essential oils or disrupting the skin’s natural pH balance. Look for a face wash containing botanical ingredients such as honey, coconut milk, jojoba oil, and vitamin E; they are known to calm the skin while providing a thorough cleanse.

A study published in Skin Research & Technology Journal, showed that using mild facial cleansers with honey can lead to significant improvements in overall skin appearance compared to harsher ingredients.

Nourish with Natural Serums

The next step after cleansing is nourishing the skin with serums packed with vitamins and botanicals. These concentrated formulas penetrate deeply into the layers of our skin, providing hydration and nutrients where we need them most.

According to research from Clinical Nutrition Experimental, applying vitamin C serum daily significantly increases collagen synthesis, helping keep our complexion radiant and youthful. Other popular serum ingredients include hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and rosehip oil.

Maintain Hydration Using Clean Moisturizers

Your next layer should be an all-natural moisturizer designed to lock in moisture without clogging pores. A moisturizer is a barrier, preventing water loss from our skin and keeping it hydrated throughout the day. Other popular daily moisturizers include anti-aging formulas with retinol, eye moisturizers specially formulated for the delicate skin around your eyes, and a hand cream with safflower oil and vitamin E.

It's also worth noting that natural ingredients like jojoba oil or shea butter can effectively provide hydration without causing any pore blockage - so you can keep your skin hydrated without the risk of breakouts.

Protect Skin From Sun Damage

It's a beautiful day outside, and you want to enjoy the sun. However, you know that the sun can cause some serious damage to your skin. That's why it's so important to protect your skin daily with sunscreen. Not only will it help prevent burns and skin damage, but it can also help reduce the risk of skin cancer. Daily sunscreen lets you take control of your skin's health and empowers you to enjoy the sun without worry. 


Plus, there are plenty of fantastic options out there that are "clean" and good for your skin. So go ahead and enjoy the sun, but make sure you're protecting your skin with a daily application of high-quality sunscreen.

Clean Beauty FAQs

What is clean beauty? 

Clean beauty refers to products made without ingredients that are considered harmful or toxic. These products prioritize safety and transparency, often focusing on natural and organic ingredients. 

How does clean beauty differ from organic or natural beauty?

While all three prioritize safer ingredients, "clean" focuses on eliminating harmful substances, "organic" emphasizes ingredients grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, and "natural" means ingredients are derived from nature but not necessarily organic.

Why are clean beauty standards important?

Clean beauty standards ensure consumers use products free from potentially harmful ingredients, promoting healthier skin and overall well-being. They also advocate for transparency in the beauty industry.

What ingredients are typically avoided in clean beauty products?

Commonly avoided ingredients include parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, and mineral oil. However, the list can vary based on brands and certifications.

What does "greenwashing" mean in the context of clean beauty?

Greenwashing refers to brands misleadingly promoting their products as more environmentally friendly or natural than they truly are, capitalizing on the clean beauty trend without adhering to its standards.

Are clean beauty products always better for the skin?

While clean beauty products avoid certain harmful ingredients, individual skin reactions can vary. What works for one person might not for another. It's always recommended to patch-test new products.

How can I verify if a product truly adheres to clean beauty standards?

Look for third-party certifications, read ingredient lists, research the brand's transparency and values, and check for unbiased reviews or consumer reports.

Is clean beauty more sustainable?

While clean beauty prioritizes safe ingredients, it doesn't always equate to sustainability. However, many clean beauty brands also focus on eco-friendly practices, from sourcing to packaging.

Are clean beauty products more expensive?

Clean beauty products can sometimes be pricier due to the quality of ingredients and ethical sourcing. However, with the rise in demand, more affordable, clean beauty options are emerging.

Can I DIY clean beauty products at home?

Yes, many people make their own clean beauty products at home using natural ingredients. However, it's essential to ensure ingredient safety, proper storage, and to be aware of potential allergens.


So, you've taken a deep dive into the world of clean beauty. It's not only a phrase; it's about making informed decisions.

You've learned what 'clean' really means in this context and how to spot authentic claims amidst greenwashing attempts. The importance of ingredients? That was highlighted, too.

Organic skincare not only benefits us, but it also shows consideration for the environment. Clean beauty isn't just an industry trend – it’s becoming the norm.

Your next steps are practical: make small changes to your routine using cleaner products, starting today!

Clean beauty is empowering - here’s to safety meeting luxury in your daily self-care regimen!