Have you heard of the Clean Beauty Movement? Perhaps you’ve heard whispers of cancer-causing ingredients in makeup or hormone disrupting dryer sheets? While still a very unofficial term, “clean beauty” arose out of a necessity to do the investigative work ourselves. This is due to the officially lacking regulation of products on the market by the industry leaders and the FDA. The FDA has a laissez-faire approach to regulation in the cosmetic and personal care sector. The last major regulatory bill was passed in 1938, (some amendments were made in 2022). But there are still only a sum of 11 nefarious chemicals listed as restricted ingredients by the FDA.
Beyond beauty products, all personal care products- from shaving cream to foot soaks- are highly unregulated. A sort of Wild West remains- where shady bandits of offenders roam freely and hide out in dark recesses of ingredient lists. The U.S is behind almost all other countries when it comes to product regulations. This includes limiting use of suspect chemicals or processing techniques that could result in contamination. Lead Acetate (see; LEAD) just got removed from the approved ingredient list in hair dye in January of 2022.
There are endocrine disrupting chemicals, (or EDCs) that can confuse our own hormones into responding and relaying false messaging throughout our body’s network. Like when someone waves at you, (or so you think) and you happily wave back, only to discover they were really waving at someone behind you. False messaging. Our bodies rely on such a sensitive network of our own chemical messengers, small amounts of these hormone mimicking chemicals can wreck a lot of havoc.
We can’t ignore the ever-increasing and devastating damage to our ecosystem either. Products have been made for far too long with little to no concern for their inevitable effects on our soil and water-ways. There are issues of bioaccumulation- which is chemical buildup in aquatic life. Also the siege of microplastics continues to build. Culprits like petroleum and its many by-products and silicones- are non biodegradable and omnipresent. Companies use these for their ‘performance enhancing’ properties- but there are safe and effective substitutes.
The Clean Beauty Movement has gained steam in recent years. A lot of this has been fueled by consumer demand, a sort of shared consciousness wake-up call. When we start reading between the lines- and particularly reading the ingredient lines- we start asking much needed questions. This holds companies accountable. But this has also fueled an epidemic of “greenwashing” that has sugar-coated product perception. Marketing phrases like; “non-toxic”, “clean”, and “all natural”… are not regulated terms. Companies can use these phrases to make false claims that make their product appear cleaner than it is. Beware of statements like “made with plant-based ingredients”. When you peruse the ingredient list you may find but two plant-based ingredients at the bottom (i.e smallest amount) on the list. The rest of the list- not so pretty. But they can say that claim because it’s kind of true. It’s made with plant based ingredients…. And a whole lot of non-savory stuff as well.
So what’s a concerned consumer to do? Read the ingredient labels. The FULL ingredient list, not the highlights. Ask questions. Use The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skindeep Database for personal care ingredients. They will give you a chemical toxicity score and the research on said ingredient. They also have pages specific to Household Cleaning products and Safe Sunscreen. These are two other notorious offenders. Consider downloading the Think Dirty App, which has an ever-expanding product list, and an option to scan barcodes of items as you shop.
Another solution is shopping here at Haskill Creek Farms! We’ve spent hours combing through ingredients and vetting our curated product lines to make sure that they line up with our rigorous ethos. Beyond clean, we also prioritize companies that are B Certified, (which means that they’re committed to continual improvement), Cruelty-Free, and Carbon Neutral. We prefer sustainable and recyclable packaging like choosing plastic alternatives. You can rest assured we will continue to learn and reevaluate our offerings to stay up to date on the latest information. For our customers, for the people and the planet- we Believe In Better.
Sarah is a HCF Buyer and specializes in Product Research and Ingredient Safety.