top of page

Cosmetic Terminology 101: Clean Beauty

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

The term “Clean Beauty” has become mainstream in personal care. When I first came across the term, its antonyms came into my mind too. Interestingly, as per The Washington Post, the word already came into vogue in the 1970s, with CoverGirl’s Clean Make-up campaign, a reference to the fresh-faced, no-makeup look.

What is the definition of “Clean Beauty” in personal care or cosmetics?

With the lack of a formal definition, people interpret the term differently. Thus, some may refer to products made without ingredients suspected or proven to be harmful to human health. Whereas some others may refer to products without use of synthetic chemicals. The broadest definition is products that are natural, toxic-free, harmless to humans, cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and sustainable.

Blue Beauty and Green Beauty are sub-sections of Clean Beauty; the former are ocean-friendly products / brands whereas the latter refer to environmental-friendly lines.


Why Is Clean Beauty Important?

If Clean Beauty means harmless to the earth, then it is undeniably essential. After all, who does not want to live on a healthy planet! However, some ingredients, although used for a long time, have been found to cause some health issues to human bodies. Among most common items are parabens, formaldehyde donors, SLS, etc. For instance, paraben has been confirmed to mimic estrogen in the human body and is linked to hormone-related issues, while formaldehyde donors are carcinogenic.

Despite such findings, these items are not banned everywhere because they are claimed to be safe under certain levels. Hence, the question: Why take risk of using such items when there are safer options available?

Does Clean Beauty truly exist?

We think there are always conflicting issues in the beauty industry. As an example, natural brands source ingredients from nature. However, whether a plant or animal, they would be killed. Either way, there is damage. And, if these are effective, demand will grow, and they then are likely to be over-harvested.

Further, Clean Beauty doesn’t come from the producers only; consumers also must play their complementary roles. Thus, if an unfinished product is thrown away, Clean Beauty would become Dirty Beauty; conscious shopping is also equally important.

Five misconceptions about “Clean Beauty” products

Given the lack of universally accepted standards to define Clean Beauty, there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about the term. We list the top five here.

“Clean Beauty” means the same to all brands

It does not; as there is no formal definition of “Clean Beauty,” it is subject to determination by each brand. Check with the brand the real meaning of their claims.

“Clean Beauty” is allergic-free

While “Clean Beauty” should have avoided ingredients that are harmful to human bodies, it does not rule out the possibility that some users can still be sensitive or allergic to other ingredients. So, do not just go by their claims and always check the ingredient list.

“Clean Beauty” is better than conventional beauty

While Clean Beauty is supposed to be harmless to human bodies, the claim does not guarantee the quality and suitability of those products for every skin.

We at JAN provide bespoke service to customers, under which specific needs of individuals are considered in the product formulation.

“Clean Beauty” uses sustainable packaging

It supposedly is. Some beauty brands claim to be eco-friendly by using paper packaging. It is true that paper is far more biodegradable than plastic and is easily recycled. However, most cosmetic paper packets contain hidden plastic in the form of laminations or adhesives to prevent diffusion. Such containers, with hidden plastic, are nonrecyclable.

“Clean Beauty” is good for the planet

Using non-toxic and non-plastic ingredients benefits the planet. However, sourcing natural ingredients with low germination rates could yet impact the species or the environment. Therefore, it is important for beauty brands to source from sustainable growers or suppliers. Thus, we at JAN source our Sandalwood and Buddha Wood essential oils from a traceable and sustainable supplier in Australia. While Sandalwood has been facing extinction in India, Australian Government has a sustainable plantation plan for Sandalwood trees.


For a consumer, while there are different claims by various brands, the safety and suitability of the skincare products are the #1 priority. It is, therefore, very important to always check the ingredient list to ensure there are no harmful ingredients in general and no ingredients that you may be allergic to. If in doubt, check with someone knowledgeable in this area.

Use the chat function on JAN’s website or WhatsApp us. We are very happy to answer any questions that you may have.


bottom of page