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What is Clean Beauty?

Clean beauty has been a huge trend in the cosmetics industry over the last decade. This trend has not only pushed established cosmetic and skin care manufacturers to reevaluate their ingredients, it opened the door for smaller startup companies to create entire brands based on cleaner, safer ingredients. 

There’s just one problem: defining what “clean beauty” actually means. It seems there’s really no one-size-fits-all description of what clean beauty is, and what it isn’t. 

In addition, there’s also a slew of other buzzwords that often get thrown into the clean beauty conversation. Words like natural, organic, non-toxic, vegan, and green can all make the search for clean beauty products even more complicated. 

Why is there so much confusion around clean beauty? 

Part of the reason is likely because cosmetics and skincare don't have to be approved by the FDA, they are simply regulated by the FDA. 

Essentially, this means a cosmetic product can pretty much contain any ingredient, provided it:

  • Doesn’t contain a toxic ingredient as defined by the FDA
  • Isn’t marketed with a claim it can cure or treat a disease

Those are pretty loose definitions, especially considering that the FDA has only banned eleven ingredients from cosmetics and skin care products over the past few decades. 

Considering the massive amount of ingredients available for inclusion in cosmetics and skincare products, that’s a scary number. 

In fact, many cosmetic and beauty products available in the U.S. are banned in other countries because of tighter regulations. 

Loose regulations, an endless source of information about ingredients available on the web, and the general desire to use more natural products on our skin have all contributed to the burgeoning clean beauty movement. 

We want products that are safe, as close to natural as possible, and effective. 

Feeling lost? We understand.

The Detox Market was founded on the belief that everyone should have access to clean, safe, and effective beauty and cosmetic products. 

We strive to not only be a source of clean beauty products, but also your trusted information source. Got a question about an ingredient you see on the label? We’re crystal clear about what goes into our products, and what doesn’t

We’re here to help you decode clean beauty, and so you can see for yourself why clean products are better for you.


If only it were as simple as slapping a definition on the term “clean beauty” and looking for products that fit the definition! 

As previously mentioned, there are so many other terms involved in defining clean beauty, it’s hard to decide what is clean and what isn’t. 

Let’s start with some terms that are a bit easier to define.

  • Organic. Organic products are strictly regulated by the USDA. For a product to be considered organic, the ingredients have been grown, processed, and manufactured under strict guidelines that include things like zero use of pesticides and certain chemicals. 
  • Vegan. A vegan product must be certified by the Vegan Action board in order to bear the vegan label. A vegan product doesn’t contain any animal products or byproducts, and no animals were used in creation, testing, or manufacture of the product. 

    Vegan differs from cruelty-free. Cruelty-free is a non-regulated term that can be loosely interpreted. If you truly want to ensure that animals weren’t involved in any part of the creation, testing, or manufacture of the product you purchase, look for the Leaping Bunny seal. 
  • Non-toxic. This terminology isn’t regulated by any agency. For a product to bear this verbiage, it usually means the product doesn’t contain any ingredient that may be linked to producing a toxic response when used by humans.
  • Natural. This is another unregulated term that is typically used to describe products that contain ingredients derived from nature. Additionally, the ingredients are usually processed as little as possible, to preserve their natural integrity. 
  • Clean. Every company that markets clean beauty has their own definition of what “clean” means. To generally define it, a clean product will be made with ingredients that are safe, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and cruelty-free. 
  • Green. Green beauty is an all-encompassing term that refers to products that are mindfully created to surpass all standards of expectation. This means products that don’t include ingredients that are toxic, or even questionable. Green beauty products are safe for the environment, and never ever involve animals in the creation, testing, or manufacturing process. 

In an underregulated beauty industry, how can you determine who’s selling you a quality product, and who’s simply using marketing hype to sell you a product that might be harmful? We can help. 

Clean Beauty Standards

It may be true that clean beauty definitions vary between brands, but there are definitely some standards you should look for when searching for clean beauty products. 

  • Pure ingredients. Any company can adhere to a list of banned ingredients, but what goes into a product is just as important as what doesn’t go into it. Many companies include ingredients that are essentially “fillers.” These ingredients don’t have redeeming value to the user, and are usually added to extend shelf life, or give the product a certain feel or texture. Clean beauty products contain ingredients that are intentional. 
  • Exceptional performance. If a product doesn’t perform, it doesn’t really matter if it’s clean. Clean beauty products should deliver on their promises of performance. Finding clean beauty products that perform isn’t usually an issue due to increased competition across brands. Demand for products that perform within the clean beauty movement is high; consumers want products that are safe and effective. 
  • Zero-cruelty. There’s never a need to involve animals in the creation, production, testing, or manufacture of products. Clean beauty products should leave your conscience clean, too. Beauty products should create joy and inspire creativity. Beauty should never cause harm. 

These are standards you should look for when examining clean beauty products, but if you want to learn a little more about ingredients that we feel no beauty or cosmetic should ever contain, read on. 

Ingredients Not Allowed in Clean Beauty

Get familiar with your products’ ingredient lists. 

Clean beauty products shouldn’t contain ingredients that could cause you harm or leave your skin irritated, red, or otherwise unwell. 

Additionally, we believe ingredients shouldn’t harm the environment either.

We’re careful when we ban ingredients. As such, we ban ingredients if they go against any of our eight standards:

  1. Carcinogens. Any ingredient that has the potential to cause cancer in living tissue. Carcinogens can be absorbed through skin, ingested, and/or inhaled.

  2. Reproductive harm. If an ingredient is linked to changes in sexual behavior, damage to reproductive organs (in either males or females), menstrual changes, interference with puberty, premature births, or reproductive cancers, it shouldn’t be in a beauty product. 

  3. Neurotoxicity. Ingredients that interfere with proper neural function and disrupt central nervous system activity. 

  4. Environmental contamination. Any ingredient that could potentially harm water and/or soil, including micropollutants.

  5. Organ toxicity. Any ingredient that could harm organs fed by the circulatory system (i.e. heart, kidney, brain, and eyes). If it can cause harm by getting into your bloodstream and affecting an organ, it shouldn’t be in a beauty product. 

  6. DNA damage. If an ingredient has been linked to damaging the structure of our DNA, it shouldn’t be in a cosmetic or beauty product.

  7. Known allergens. If an ingredient is known to produce a response from the immune system, it doesn’t belong in your products. 

  8. Endocrine disruption. These are ingredients linked to interference with the endocrine system that can potentially cause damage to reproductive, developmental, neurological, and/or immune responses. 

The Detox Market examines every ingredient of every product we offer to ensure they do not violate any of these eight standards. We know our standards are some of the strictest in the industry, and we stand by our decisions to exclude ingredients based on these guidelines.

When you purchase a product sold through our stores or online marketplace, you should feel confident that your purchase:

  • Is safe and free from any ingredient that could harm you or your family.
  • Didn’t hurt another living being in the entire process of creation, development, production, testing, and manufacture.
  • Won’t harm the environment when it is consumed.

Making the Clean Beauty Switch

If you want to start detoxing your shelves and begin using safer, cleaner products, we applaud you, and hope you consider us your trusted resource for clean beauty products that have been tested to our strict standards of performance, ingredient quality, and animal kindness. 

Not sure where to start? Our Detox Box is a great way to sample some of our favorite products and brands, so you can decide which is best for you. 

The beauty industry is underregulated, but we’re taking the guesswork out of finding products that are safe and effective. We make it easy for you to get products that really work and only include the ingredients you need; nothing else. 









Talking about clean beauty is our love language.