“Clean Beauty” Skincare – What does it REALLY mean?


What are clean skincare products anyway? Why do I care? What’s the difference between ‘clean’ and ‘natural’ products? What is the big deal with parabens and sulfates? So many questions and we definitely get it. The words “clean” and “natural” have been plastered on so many skincare products and have been used interchangeably, but most of us may not even know what that means, or what the difference between the two is. So, let’s dig into it!


What is “natural” skincare?

The Food and Drug Administration, who regulates the cosmetics industry has not defined the term, “natural” and has not established a regulatory definition for the term in cosmetic labeling. So that means that any company can call their products natural, regardless of how many potentially harmful or-at the least-questionable ingredients are found inside the formula. Because of this, the word natural doesn’t carry much weight if you see it on a cosmetic product.

The United States bans and restricts 11 chemicals. Chemicals in this category are likely to be harmful to human health-or worse-to cause cancer. These chemicals include ingredients like Hexachlorophene (HCP) and Halogenated Salicylanilides – which are both thought to cause serious toxic effects to human skin.


What is “clean” skincare?

“Clean” skincare is not a regulated term either but is usually equated with safe cosmetics, excluding a long list of toxins and questionable ingredients-like parabens and formaldehyde-releasing agents. Clean skincare does not shy away from synthetic (or lab-created) ingredients – like, hyaluronic acid, which is a highly effective humectant, and alpha-lipoic acid, a powerful antioxidant, which both occur naturally in the body, but synthetic versions are used as there is just not enough readily available. Since the FDA only bans 11 chemicals in cosmetics, it is up to both the brands and consumers to define clean for themselves.

Here, at Cashmere Moon, we pride ourselves in formulating every single product to the highest standard. So, we use natural and skin-safe synthetic ingredients (remember that not all natural ingredients are good, and not all synthetic ingredients are bad). We conduct research and tests, to formulate what works. Each of our products are cruelty-free, with our number one priority being healthy, glowing, nourished skin. We stay away from dyes and a long list of toxins. 


How do you know what products are safe to use or effective?

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what ingredients we should look out for as different clean companies’ host their own internal naughty list of bad chemicals and those chemicals do not necessarily overlap with other lists. “There’s a lot of disagreement in this space, even among ingredient experts,” according to Cindy Deily, Sephora’s vice president of skin-care merchandising, adding that the Sephora program is not static and continues to evolve. 

Unfortunately, most of the legwork is up to the consumer. If you’re unfamiliar with a brand or product, then it may be best to do some research. Look at the brand’s website, read the ingredients labels, and become familiar with their stance on what they put in their products.

Check out our full list of prohibited ingredients here.