Should we be avoiding clean skincare?
Livia Cockerell speaks to skin-care expert, Amy Allen, while she helps us to navigate the maze of Clean Beauty products
Clean skin care seems to be an ever-evolving fad in the beauty industry, but what do we actually mean by Clean Beauty? The truth is, we don’t really know, and it is difficult for professionals to define the term as it seems to vary from brand to brand. But, in a nutshell, clean beauty products tend to contain naturally sourced ingredients rather than chemically formulated substances.
So, if natural products are clean, does that make all other beauty products dirty? This has been the debate dividing dermatologists and skin care professionals; some argue that natural ingredients are inherently better for your skin, whereas others say that chemical formulas have been created with the health of the skin in mind.
Ultimately, as a consumer, when it comes to skincare, we have two questions: is this product good for my skin and is it produced ethically? We know we have a duty to shop sustainably, but unfortunately, these good intentions are often exploited by clever marketing strategies which lead us to believe that clean equates to sustainability. Yes, often Clean Beauty brands will have policies in place that ensure that their ingredients are cruelty-free, however due to these products’ demand for natural resources, other issues such as over-extraction arise.
To help us answer the question of whether we should be avoiding Clean Beauty products, I spoke to Beauty Therapist and skin-care expert Amy Allen who gave some crucial advice to help us navigate ourselves within the maze of beauty products.
Q: So, to kick things off, do you use any Clean Beauty products yourself?
A: I use Decléor skin range which are 96% natural – they don’t test on animals and they don’t use synthetics, so they are getting there. But I have used them for years anyway, way before this revolution of Clean Beauty came about. As there is such a high demand for natural products, some of the bigger companies like Decleor have begun to produce more naturally sourced products.
Q: But does a product being labelled as clean necessarily mean that it is better for our skin?
A: Some dermatologists and cosmetic chemists believe that it is better for your skin while others believe that this is a way of corporations taking advantage of consumers’ good intentions. I think we need to be open to new information that is given to us and do what we feel is better for us personally. Some products will work for some and some won’t, so we just have to use our own discretion.
Q: Obviously within the Clean Beauty movement, ingredients such as parabens and silicones have been villainised to some extent, do you believe that we should be actively looking for products without these in?
A: I don’t personally agree with the scare-mongering of the Clean Beauty industry as there are currently arguments on both sides regarding whether it is better for you or not. Many ingredients have different pros and cons to them when used in different ways. Some ingredients that are being put on the ‘nasty’ list, for example, are only hazardous when used in a certain way or in a certain environment, so you have to look into each ingredient and decide on whether you think it is good for you personally. Also, these ingredients are used very minimally in products so, although they can be harmful in some circumstances, in beauty products they are refined – you are not getting them directly on your skin as it’s in a blend with essential oils and other ingredients.
Q: So, on the other hand, would you say there are any natural products that we should be avoiding?
A: If you put citrus products on your skin, it attracts UV so it can make you tan (which is what some people like it for), but on the flipside of that, it can give you brown spots or pigment damage. I think the problem is that people are trying to put all ingredients into two columns – your nice column and your nasty column, but that’s very hard to do because all of these ingredients have pros and cons. I wouldn’t want to say that any ingredients were totally good or bad.