Deepika Padukone's self-care brand, 82E, was ranked as one of the top clean beauty brands in India for its vegan and cruelty-free skincare products. (Image: DC)
Recently, Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow explained what clean beauty means to her and her wellness empire. In an interview, the 51-year-old founder of Goop referred to the trend as an "umbrella term" and stated, "I think it means something different to everybody, and for us, it means non-toxic." Meanwhile, back home, actress Deepika Padukone’s self-care brand, 82E, was ranked as one of the top clean beauty brands in India for its vegan and cruelty-free skincare products.
To raise consumer awareness, skincare labels are increasingly emphasizing specific key terms that reflect their commitment to ethical and sustainable practices. These terms include ‘ethical,’ ‘vegan,’ ‘organic,’ ‘paraben-free,’ and ‘non-toxic,’ generating significant interest on social media. We have asked experts to explain what other relevant terms one must understand to join the ‘clean beauty’ bandwagon.
The term ‘clean beauty’ refers to a skincare philosophy that prioritizes the use of products formulated with safe, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly ingredients. It involves avoiding potentially harmful substances, such as synthetic chemicals and additives, while favouring natural, ethically sourced, and sustainable components, as explained by Dr. Chytra Anand, a dermatologist and the founder of SkinQ. She emphasizes, "The central goal is to promote skin health while minimizing the impact on the planet. There is a growing awareness of the potential health risks associated with certain skincare ingredients, such as parabens, phthalates, and sulfates. Clean beauty products are considered safer for both the skin and overall well-being. Additionally, the emphasis on environmental responsibility plays a significant role in consumers’ preference for clean beauty. These brands often implement sustainable practices, avoid animal testing, and use eco-friendly packaging, which resonates with environmentally conscious individuals. By choosing clean beauty products, consumers can contribute to reducing their ecological footprint, aligning with their values of sustainability and ethical consumption."
The clean beauty movement is driven by a combination of health awareness, environmental consciousness, and the demand for transparency. Mini Sood Banerjee, assistant director at AmorePacific India, explains why consumers are increasingly drawn to clean beauty brands such as Innisfree. She says, "Firstly, clean beauty brands provide detailed information about their ingredients and sourcing practices, fostering trust and helping users make informed choices about the products they use. The products are formulated with natural and organic ingredients, which are perceived as gentler on the skin and less likely to cause irritation or allergies. The brand prioritizes sustainable and environmentally conscious practices in packaging, and the products are developed with a focus on achieving results with years of studies and clinical lab tests. In an age where health and wellness are becoming a lifestyle choice, ‘clean beauty’ aligns with customers’ desire to lead a healthier, more mindful life."
Good for the planet
Young consumers are increasingly conscientious and scrutinize labels, giving significant importance to ingredient composition and application methods before making a conscious choice. Richa Agarwal, founder of Faith & Patience, highlights that clean beauty is a growing trend that champions plant-based and eco-friendly alternatives. She points out, "Brands are pushing the boundaries by incorporating unique and sustainable ingredients into their products. They’re using innovative ingredients such as camel milk, seaweed, and algae in skincare products, bakuchiol (derived from the Babchi plant) as a natural alternative to retinol, and cactus extracts in moisturizers and serums. These innovative ingredients are transforming the beauty industry, offering consumers a wide range of natural options to address various skin concerns and enhance their skincare routines."
Read the label
By checking for important clean beauty terms, consumers can make more informed choices that align with their values and the environment. Dr. Preeti Seth, founder of Shaping Holistic Wellness at Pachouli Aesthetics and Wellness Clinic, explains the top terms to look for before purchasing a product. She says, "The rise of clean beauty brands has revolutionized the way we approach our skincare routines, prompting us to delve deeper into ingredients and labels. When buying formulations like face wash, brightening masks, and face serums, opt for vegan, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and alcohol-free ingredients, and select products that not only nourish your skin but also uphold the principles of clean beauty." The commitment to clean and transparent formulations from a clean beauty brand resonates with users who seek effective and safe skincare solutions.
Common terms on skincare labels today include "ethical," indicating the brand’s commitment to social responsibility. Terms like "vegan" signify the absence of animal-derived ingredients, "organic" means ingredients grown without synthetic pesticides, and "paraben-free" indicates the absence of preservatives. According to Ritika Jayaswal, founder and CEO of Nourish Mantra, "While these are the top terms to look out for when buying skincare, one can also check for ‘non-toxic ingredients,’ which state that the products are free from potentially harmful or toxic ingredients like parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances. Choose products from brands that prioritize ingredient ‘transparency’ and provide detailed information about their ingredients, sourcing, and purpose. Lastly, products labelled as ‘cruelty-free’ indicate that they have not been tested on animals, aligning with ethical and animal-friendly practices."
While these are the top terms to look out for when buying skincare, one can also check for ‘non-toxic ingredients,’ which state that the products are free from potentially harmful or toxic ingredients like parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances. Choose products from brands that prioritize ingredient ‘transparency’ and provide detailed information about their ingredients, sourcing, and purpose." — RITIKA JAYASWAL