Clean Beauty: A New Or Old Trend?
After hearing this argument and seeing this both online and in my personal life, I’m going to set the record straight. I’m against clean beauty* and in today’s post, I’m telling you why.
I started this blog recently and throughout my research about the beauty community I often see two sides: a more modern, trendy side to beauty with up-to-date skincare and the other side, which is clean beauty.
On Pinterest, you see DIY skincare and clean beauty pins and blogs everywhere. It’s quite a dated trend as well, the majority of the hype around DIY skincare died several years ago.
Thanks to the up rise of skincare youtubers and skincare on tiktok, people are now realizing natural doesn’t always equal good and synthetic ingredients don’t always equal bad.
But of course, there’s a resurgence in clean beauty, claiming things like that sun screen causes cancer and “toxic” ingredients will cause you harm.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Vogue Skincare Routine
I’m going to use her today as an example of how clean beauty can be more than just misleading. I’ll link her youtube video and article below so you check her out yourselves.
You don’t need to know much about her besides that she is a celebrity and owns a clean beauty line. Her inspiration is claiming that there was no clean enough brands for her, so she created her own. This’ll be important later.
She starts her video with typical things: green smoothie, dry brushing, meditation and the like. Once she gets to her first product, it’s her own exfoliator.
It’s applied very strangely: smearing onto one side of her cheek, patting in the rest near her other cheek and focuses on the left side of her nose. There’s no cuts as it was a sped-up portion of the video. None was applied to her forehead and it seemed very random where she was applying it.
She also avoids her forehead for the next product, again which is strange. But it isn’t until she gets to sunscreen where things go downhill.
Sunscreen Applied Like a Highlighter?
The main complain in her skincare routine- and the main reason the Vogue video has nearly half the amount of dislikes compared to likes, is that she applies her sunscreen like a highlighter.
In Vogue’s writer’s own words: “a surprisingly minimal touch of sunscreen.”
She also claims that you should use “clean” sunscreen and gives her recommendation, despite that same sunscreen having the same ingredients as other typical mineral sunscreens.
Then she applies sunscreen under her eyes, smile lines and chin. That’s it.
As you may have been able to tell by this point, I don’t think this woman know’s what she’s doing. She admits that in the past she wasn’t a skincare user, which I feel can be seen in the way she applies products. Even the ways she describes the products is very surface level, and I can tell she hasn’t researched much.
EWG: Clean or Sketchy?
She also mentions during her routine a site called EWG, a site known recommending clean products with a rating on how “clean” they are.
Although the site looks legit enough, there’s been proof of them approving ingredients they don’t approve of in other products if they are paid to.
Some of there sources warn more than just mild skin irritation, but claim common ingredients interfere with gene expression, endocrine issues and much more. Each ingredient is backed up by a person or organization, but there’s is no hyperlinks and in this person’s experience, they can’t find any of the sources they’re claiming.
They even go as far as listing a reference that argues against them, but listing that it supports them. The listings that do support them sometimes have major issues such as never being repeated studies, or based on assumptions that they didn’t bother to take into account.
Why am I going so in-depth based on a couple seconds mention in a twelve minute video? It represents fear-mongering.
What is Fear Mongering?
EWG and Gwyneth Paltrow support fear mongering, which encourages consumers to assume ingredients are bad in order to buy another businesses “clean” products.
Paltrow even admits that she created the brand from lack of luxury clean beauty, targeting an audience I believe is older women who have money and suddenly get into skincare.
I believe she herself falls into that category: an older woman who created a skincare company and got sucked into the believe that clean is the only way to go.
Of course, there is probably some truth to the EWG website, but a large portion of their ingredients are wrongfully labeled. Or, in a lot of cases, don’t take into account the percentages and amounts. I really liked this skincare youtuber (linked below) analogy: it’s okay to eat a pinch of salt every so often, but if you eat tons of salt then yes, you will run into health issues. The percentages are key.
One product I looked into had a score of a 2, a very good overall score but it still said ingredients cause “Non-reproductive organ system toxicity (moderate).”
Also, aloe vera leaf juice, probably the most agreeable ingredient for clean and normal beauty a like says: “Cancer (moderate), Developmental/reproductive toxicity (low), Use restrictions (low).” They cite a source about mice ingesting aloe vera, which is correct in that it can cause issues orally. But, topically wise is absolutely fine.
From Mayo Clinic,” Aloe gel is generally safe and can be effective in treating skin conditions such as burns and psoriasis. However, avoid using aloe latex orally. Unprocessed aloe latex contains chemicals that appear to have the potential to cause cancer.”
Another example of unrelated, misleading sources.
What This All Proves
This isn’t an attack against Gwyneth Paltrow, or people who believe in clean beauty, but a message to people to be aware of who you trust. Of course it’s difficult and you don’t really know who to trust but always try to see different perspectives.
Of course business owners will try to promote their own products in any way they can, and businesses will always take donations and do sketchy things for money.
This is another example encouraging you to check your sources. And, that somethings labelled as “clean beauty” will be the same as other products.
I hope you learned a bit from this post!
I apologize that it’s long, but I kept coming back with more sources and information. But regardless, I hope this gets us thinking.
I love some things considered clean beauty like fruit extracts and other plants, but clean beauty is a loaded phrase that needs some more explaining.
- Gwyneth Paltrow’s Guide to Everyday Skin Care and Wellness | Beauty Secrets | Vogue (Youtube video)
- Gwyneth Paltrow’s Guide to Everyday Skin Care and Wellness (Article)
- EWG website
- A Case Against the EWG (article against EWG)
- ALOE BARBADENSIS (ALOE VERA) LEAF JUICE (EWG’s ingredient analysis)
- Aloe (Mayo Clinic article)
- Everything Wrong With Gwyneth Paltrow’s Vogue Skincare Routine ✖ James Welsh (Youtube skincare influencer)