Smart “Clean” Beauty

woman shopping for skin care

In the world of beauty, the words “clean,” “all-natural,” and “organic” are so overused it borders on the absurd. But because everyone wants to believe the products they use live up to some aspect of what those words represent, skincare companies are adding their perspective of what they mean for their brand. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not entirely a bad idea, it just too often seems disingenuous (even for so-called “clean” brands).

In truth, and truth is always best, the words “clean,” “all-natural,” and “organic” are often meaningless. There are no universal standards that everyone agrees to or adheres to. Companies and regulatory boards are really just making it up as they go, basing their decisions on information that isn’t supported by the totality of the research.

What I find most frustrating are the number of brands claiming to be “all-natural” but plain as day, their ingredient labels clearly include synthetic ingredients. It’s not that these synthetic ingredients are necessarily bad for skin, it’s just the misleading marketing that pisses me off!

From my perspective, what is a whole lot worse is when these companies include natural ingredients that are bad for skin. Many natural extracts cause inflammation, increase sun damage, or they are endocrine disruptors, among other issues. But no one in the cosmetics industry wants to make anyone afraid of a plant. It is far easier to instill fear about “synthetic” or “chemical” ingredients and declare “natural” products special. Sigh, the insane world of skincare.

What Is Smart “Clean” Beauty?

At the heart of everything I’ve written over the past 35 years and every product I’ve formulated for the past 25 years has been based on my passion for consumers to only use safe, effective skincare products that are proven by published research to work as claimed. I call this approach, SMART CLEAN BEAUTY. This means that the best products are the ones that contain the most beneficial blends of natural ingredients plus a smart selection of safe, effective naturally-derived and synthetic ingredients (don’t let companies fool you about naturally derived being the same as all-natural because they aren’t).

The reason this approach is vitally important is because it’s what the research shows is best for having healthy, beautiful skin in the short term and long term. Everyone needs to avoid any ingredient, whether synthetic or natural, that research has shown can cause irritation, inflammation, or can damage skin in any way.

Ingredients to Avoid

Here is a short summary of ingredients that should NEVER be used in skincare products:

  • Synthetic Fragrance
  • Natural Fragrance
  • Essential Oils
  • Synthetic Dyes
  • Triclosan
  • Phthalates
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Nanoparticles (as defined by EU standards)
  • Alcohol (SD, denatured, isopropyl, or ethyl)
  • Abrasive particles
  • Formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing ingredients
  • Witch Hazel (in any form)

What to Expect from

Based on the established growing scientific research, these are the skincare and tenet standards that form the basis of what you will be reading throughout this site.

* Science & Truth – Even when the research and truth is unpopular (parabens, silicones, mineral oil come to mind), I will still tell you what is proven to be true.

* Highly Effective – Products need to live up to their claims and must contain proven blends of ingredients used at effective levels and packaged for stability deliver ideal results every time. Marketing stories, fad or gimmicky ingredients, and fear of synthetic ingredients are never important, the research is.

* Environmentally Conscious – I am committed to being part of the need for reducing the world’s carbon footprint and I support any brand seeking sustainable ingredients and recyclable packaging if it is proven to be great for skin. I also love making that a part of my life wherever I am in the world.

* Non-Irritating as Humanly Possible – Every product you use must not inflame or irritate your skin. I can’t stress that enough, it’s far more important than all-natural! It is the very essence of skincare from birth and every day of your life.

* Multi-Faceted Formulas – Everyone wants a magic bullet and it is a major driver of how skincare products are often marketed, but the absolute truth is one ingredient, no matter how brilliant, just isn’t enough to address skin’s complex needs. Almost without exception, products must use an array of ingredients proven to hydrate, defend against environmental pollutants, aid in barrier repair, restore a youthful look, help skin fight signs of aging, reduce acne and clogged pores, and fight inflammation. You must holistically address your skin’s exposome or you will not get the best results for your skin.

* No Animal Testing – I do not support the testing of beauty products on animals at any stage of product development and never will. I am offended when the only research used to assert an ingredient is bad for skin is based on studies where the ingredient is fed to animals, injected into animals, or used on animals bred to get cancer or some other type of disease.

* No Jar Packaging – You’ll get tired of my repeating this one too. (Those who have been reading my work for a long time are probably already tired of it!) But, because research clearly shows that most bio-active ingredients, predominantly antioxidants and plant extracts become less effective when they are exposed to air and light, jar packaging causes those ingredients to deteriorate once the lid is removed.

* No Fear, Just Facts – For certain there are ingredients I want you to stay away from. Not because they are killing you or destroying the world but because they aren’t good for your skin and some are really bad for you skin. I’m committed to sharing with you a balanced analysis of independent, peer-reviewed, and industry-relevant research to help you create the best skincare routine possible to help you have the best skin of your life.

* Transparency – Most importantly I will always be transparent about what I write. I’m never making it up as I go and will include the research I use and update what I write as new I discover new research. One of my favorite obsessions is keeping up with the latest research about skin physiology, skincare ingredients, and medical issues related to skin in general.

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