The term “clean beauty” has seen a 500% keyword search increase in the past 12 months, so it is likely you have heard some of the buzz surrounding this phrase. But what does it actually mean? Is it important? Can you make changes without completely disrupting your way of life and finances? The solution may be simpler than you think.


Let's start with a few important facts.

The terms “clean beauty,” “natural” and/or “botanical” are not regulated by the FDA. “Organic” means only 95% of the product has to be organic, and “vegan” and “cruelty-free” may not apply for the supply chain used to formulate the product. To put it into perspective, lead falls under the terminology that may be found on product labels: it is natural, vegan, organic and cruelty-free. But is it safe? That is a resounding no.

The lack of transparency in the industry is problematic, but perhaps the most troubling of all is the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has little power to regulate personal care products. In fact, the FDA cannot order a recall when products are found to be contaminated with asbestos, as in the case of the popular clothing store Justice and the accessories store Claire’s. Another startling fact is that the U.S. only bans 30 ingredients from formulation in personal care products, as compared to 600 in Canada and 1,400 in Europe. 

At this point in time, the gatekeeper of product safety in your home is you. While there are many factors that go into choosing a safer product, please push the overwhelm aside because there are some quick steps you can take to immediately clean up your routine (you know, besides becoming a chemist).


5 simple steps to choose safer products:

  1. Download the Healthy Living App and use it to scan products you own or want to purchase. If the product is in the database, you will receive a score for the product in question, along with scores of each individual ingredient. Bonus? The app is free.

  2. Look through the Environmental Working Group’s SkinDeep database. A more thorough version of the Healthy Living App and equally free.

  3. Contact the company and ask. Does everything look clean but you want to know more? Contact the company directly. Yes, it will likely be a pain and yes, you will probably not get the answers you are looking for, but it's worth a shot! You may be pleasantly surprised.

  4. Watch documentaries. Of course, do so with the full understanding that they will be biased, but they're a great place to jumpstart your awareness. A few good ones are "Stink!," "Toxic Beauty" and "Mica."

  5. Start small. As with any change in lifestyle, small changes that you can stick to will add up more than changing directions completely. Running out of your foundation and need to switch? Choose a safer foundation. Then a new shampoo. Then a new lotion. It will add up over time.

Perhaps the most important tip of all: Do not lose hope and do not get discouraged. This is a lifestyle change to be made for the long haul, and you can do it!


Heather Disarro is the author and creator of Heather’s Dish, a blog focused on clean living, food and fitness, and she is the social media boss of Content Titan, a digital content powerhouse. Heather loves spending time with her husband and two kids doing almost anything outdoors, eating good food and laughing. Always laughing.