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Watch Out For These Common Clean Beauty Mistakes

Sometimes clean skincare can be so disappointing, but there are ways to do research and find the best skincare products for you!

Written by
Kaila Basile

For skincare lovers, making the swap to natural, clean, and zero waste products can be an exciting and meaningful process. The natural beauty industry is expanding rapidly and there are so many amazing products out there. 

However, “all-natural” skincare isn’t always good for you, and there are a lot of things to keep in mind as you look to transform your beauty cabinet. Being good to the environment shouldn’t come with the sacrifice of your own health so becoming informed is incredibly important for natural beauty junkies. 

Misleading Labels

The label “natural” or “all-natural” can be misleading. The term “natural” is not regulated at all meaning natural products can still contain chemicals. Natural ingredients can be harmful to the skin or body (arsenic or poison ivy are obvious examples). A natural label alone cannot be trusted. 

Similarly, the term “clean” suggests that a product does not have any toxic ingredients. However the US only bans 11 ingredients (while the EU bans over 1300), so you should take this label with a grain of salt.

We see the same phenomena happen with "organic" products. An organic label must be accompanied with a certification to be meaningful. An organic certification is much more trustworthy because it is significantly more regulated.

Use Caution with DIY

DIY skincare is one of the most popular forms of natural skincare. However, when not being careful, these products can develop bacteria and cause breakouts or infections because they do not have preservatives. In addition, DIY-ers may not be aware of how the ingredients in their recipes react when combined.

If you are going to DIY: Opt for opaque packaging over clear packaging, and go for packaging that reduces the possibility of contamination from scooping your fingers into the jar.

Keep in mind that these DIY items have a shorter shelf life and should be used quickly. It’s always good to be cautious when venturing to make your own products and do your research beforehand. 

Remember, Synthetics Aren't Inherently Bad and Natural Isn't Inherently Good

Some synthetic ingredients are actually better for the planet! While we might assume the natural version is better, in some cases it is actually more labor-intensive to produce natural ingredients.

A great example is essential oils - essential oils can require hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds of material to make an incredibly small amount of product. This is not only labor-intensive, but it places incredible demands on natural resources. Palm oil is another example - while it's natural and not harmful to the skin or body, it is devastating to rainforests.

Synthetic replacements can actually be better for the environment in many cases. Synthetic ingredients are also more stable, making them a better choice for some formulations.  

Natural Ingredients to Look Out For

Essential oils are having a moment in the sun in the world of natural skincare. While essential oils have some beneficial aspects which may be emphasized by brands, they can also be incredibly irritating to the skin in large amounts. Some essential oils can also be demanding on the environment. If you are buying or making products with essential oils, do your research or search for alternatives. 

Pure oils are commonly recommended in lieu of moisturizers. However, pure, undiluted oil can create a film on the surface of your skin. Many oils are also non-comedogenic and can clog pores and cause breakouts. Again, do your research and make sure a product’s ingredients suit your skin type.

Lemon juice, along with citrus-derived essential oils and ingredients, apple cider vinegar, raw eggs, baking soda, and scrub ingredients, such as cinnamon, sugar, salted walnut shells, and coffee grounds can all also be abrasive and harmful to the skin when not careful.

So, What Can I Put On My Skin?

From personal experience, I know how frustrating it is to get excited about natural beauty only to find out that the product you bought was greenwashed or the DIY mask you made isn’t actually good for your skin. It’s even more frustrating when you do harm to your skin. I’ve been there. 

The best thing to do is conduct your own research. Look into skincare certifications or guidelines brands have created for themselves. Compare products against the EU standard of clean beauty. Find reliable sources such as dermatologists or scientists on ingredients or products you aren’t sure about. Do a deeper search on the claims being made by brands or influencers. 

And remember to keep learning and forgive yourself for skincare mistakes! Skincare is an ever-evolving field and experts are learning new things every day. It’s an incredibly confusing process to search for reliable information on skincare. Remember that its OK to make mistakes and it’s a constant process! Also, there’s no pressure to learn every ingredient right away- start small!