CHENNAI: Welcome to another edition of Sad but True: Beauty Edition. Ask yourself: what does clean beauty mean? Does it mean transparent labels and manufacturing processes, safe preservatives and “clean” ingredients? Then what is green beauty? Is it plant-derived, vegan, sustainably sourced? All these things sound great, but what happens when a product is all these things and still contains animal-products, like honey, beeswax, and silk proteins? In a world where there is no legal or official definition, no Master List of “clean” and “toxic” ingredients, brands have taken it upon themselves to define what clean and green beauty is.
This is surprisingly easy, actually, considering the fact that the Food & Drug Administration doesn’t specify what “clean” is, no regulating body in India test these claims, and any brand can stamp “clean” on the label no matter what’s inside. Who decides what a “safe” ingredient is anyway? Some scientists say parabens may contribute to breast cancer. Other scientists say they pose no threat to the body. If the white coats can’t agree with each other, what is an average consumer supposed to go by? Another effective example of transparency issues in the industry is fragrance.
Technically, fragrance is not an ingredient, and companies can hi d e wha t eve r sne ak y ingredients they choose under the umbrella term. Bakuchiol, touted to be clean beauty’s answer to retinol, is actually an endangered plant, grown in areas with questionable farm laws. My point here is not that clean beauty doesn’t mean anything, it’s that nothing means anything. The reassuring stamps on the back of your product that say “Dermatologist tested” mean nothing. You could give your product to a dermatologist who could simply throw it across the room, it would still be “Dermatologist Tested”.
Are we looking for a label which says “Dermatologist approved”? The point is, who is testing this and how? What are the points and considerations that are being made? Is this information being made public to the consumers? I know, these things make my beauty-obsessed brain question everything on a regular basis too. Since it’s clear that you can’t trust a product based on it’s packaging and marketing, what you need to do next is flip it over and take a closer look at the ingredient list.
If you wanted to understand the safety and toxicity profiles of every cosmetic ingredient, it would likely turn into your fulltime job. My lovely readers, this advice stands tall for no matter which beauty wagon you choose to be a part of; the clean/green/ organic/natural beauty or science - backed beauty. Question everything, know your resources and look up ingredients that look shady. Beauty products are there to be loved, enjoyed and critiqued. If you choose to be a critic, understand this: beaut y sometimes means, nothing.
Saumya R chawla
Beauty behaviour with a side of dessert