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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

The beauty industry is self-regulated when it comes to the term “clean beauty.” You should always do your research before seeking out cleaner products. But what is “clean beauty?” According to a Harper’s Bazaar article, “The Ultimate Guide to Clean Beauty,” “clean beauty is a spectrum, but a case can be made that some ingredients should be avoided altogether.” The label of “clean” is to emphasize products that improve human and environmental health. They are formulated with a nontoxic baseline ingredient.

When I define clean beauty, I describe the term to be products that are packaged sustainably and not formulated with harmful chemicals. Products checking off both these requirements are particularly hard to find, so I offer the alternative: use products that don’t contain harmful ingredients and recycle finished products correctly. 

Engin Akyurt via Pexels
Some of the more known ingredients to avoid are parabens, fragrances, formaldehydes, and silicones. These ingredients have been tested to see the effects to the body, linking many negative side effects to using these products on your body. Based on these ingredients, it’s easy to choose products that don’t contain them. First look at a bottle of moisturizer. It will tell you if it is formulated without the aforementioned ingredients. Although these statements are great to know, you should still look at the rest of the ingredients before purchasing. Beauty companies know that these ingredients are more commonly known, therefore will include them in the front of the bottle.

But how does this relate to environmental health? In addition to the label of “clean,” you should find products that are found to be sustainable. Sustainable products start with the ingredients being sourced and the packaging itself not being harmful to the environment and planet. When you wash off products, those ingredients are washed down the drain into the water system. “Truly sustainable ingredients are those that are ethically sourced and proven to be safe for the environment, with sustainable or no-waste packaging being defined as glass packaging, biodegradable packaging, post-consumer recycled packaging, or the ability to recycle empty bottles appropriately through a TerraCycle program.”

eye shadow product
Photo by freestocks from Unsplash
One thing to watch out for is the label of clean beauty in stores like Sephora and Ulta. These stores have implemented a label on their online sites that depicts “clean beauty” products in line with the store’s regulations. Again, make sure to read the ingredients list and do your research before purchasing! 

I am not telling you to switch out every single one of your beauty products out to clean, sustainable ones right at this moment, but be aware of the harm you could be doing to yourself and the environment when purchasing your next product. Beauty products are to enhance your best self and you should do it with products that will not harm you. 


Sandra is a senior at UC Davis who enjoys dancing, cooking, and vlogging. She is currently a statistics and communications double major with a minor in economics. She used to be a writer for the Junior Writer's program at Korea Daily Newspaper, a local Koreatown newspaper in Los Angeles. She has high ambitions with big dreams. You can find her everyday life vlogs and creativity on her Youtube channel, sysandyl and sysandylife.
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