How to Tell If Your Beauty Products Are Clean

clean beauty products website

Finding a new beauty staple is the best feeling. This post will teach you everything you need to know about how to tell if your beauty products are clean and how to quickly find clean staple products you’ll love for years to come.

Before we begin, let’s talk about buzzwords. Clean, green, natural, and organic are all words that get thrown around when it comes to clean beauty. According to the FDA, these terms are not regulated.

What is Clean Beauty?

Clean beauty products are evaluated for safety and may or may not be created with synthetic materials. As long as these materials do not pose a significant health risk, these materials are considered clean.

However, not all clean products are created equally. Your clean beauty website won’t always differentiate between safe and moderately safe products.

How are Clean Beauty Products Evaluated for Safety?

Clean product databases provide a safety rating for popular products on the market. Each ingredient is evaluated for safety. However, the quantity of ingredients identified as “dangerous” is not always included in the database evaluation. For example, a small amount of blue food coloring could result in a product receiving a moderate safety rating but the consumer won’t know exactly how much food coloring is in the product.

Essential oils and fragrances, even organic cocktails, affect the rating of products. A product might receive a moderate rating for having orange oil, or another essential oil. Also, bands are not required to disclose the ingredients in perfumes and fragrances. Some brands seek certifications to show consumers a commitment to quality without revealing trade protected formulas. Even so, it’s not always possible to determine all of the ingredients in a fragrance.

This is why it’s best to cross check products and look into why a product receives a moderate safety rating. Just Clean Style does the work for you, investigating and cross checking the rating of products for safety. Then you can decide if products meet your criteria.

Common Product Evaluators:

The Clean Beauty Spectrum

Clean beauty is not a one size fits all cure for healthy choices. Some ingredients in products pose a slight risk of irritation (such as essential oils) and some ingredients known to cause irritation such as phenoxyethanol receive a safe rating on sites such as EWG depending on the concentration in a specific product.

Clean beauty websites are a guide. The EWG rates products on a scale of 1-10 for safety while Think Dirty has a similar system. CosDNA evaluates the safety of each ingredient.

Green Beauty Products

green beauty
© mizina/Adobe Stock

Green beauty is an elusive term due to the common phenomena of “green washing,” a marketing technique designed to make products sound clean and environmentally friendly even if they might not be.

According to Harper’s Bazar, green beauty indicates the products are environmentally friendly. However, the term is not regulated. Cosmetics companies can use the term even if products have a negative effect on the environment.

Green beauty refers to sustainable products that have a lighter environmental footprint. Packaging, travel emissions, and production are all aspects to consider when choosing green beauty products.

How Do You Know If It’s Green?

According to Waste Advantage Magazine, the best place to start is by exploring whether or not your products have naturally sourced (and organic) ingredients.

Also, ingredient database sites such as CosDNA are a great place to examine products. Some scientific names can be misleading and may sound like synthetic ingredients. That’s where databases like CosDNA come in.

Think Dirty and the Environmental Working Group are also great places to look at ingredient lists. Please keep in mind that you will need to look beyond the “safety” rating of the product and examine the specific ingredients listed.

Research is key to determining whether or not ingredients are clean because the term is not regulated or standardized. Until this is regulated, research is absolutely neccessary to sort through deceptive marketing and assessing the environmental impact of cosmetics.

Natural Beauty Products

Natural Beauty
© lily/AdobeStock

Natural beauty is free of synthetic materials. However, natural products are not necessarily healthy or beneficial for your skin care routine.

Dacy Knight, a writer for Byrdie compares natural skin care to our natural environment, telling readers to: “Think of it this way: Poison ivy is natural, and it absolutely causes irritation, right? Surely there’s no poison ivy in your skincare products, but the comparison is to prove natural doesn’t always mean good when your skin is concerned.”

Natural beauty is also not always vegan beauty. Natural brands use beeswax and other naturally occurring materials to create natural products.

Quick Guide to Beauty Labels

Know which products to leave on the shelf based on your personal standards. Here are a few key tips for shopping and finding products that work for you.

Organic Beauty Products

organic beauty
© Pixelbliss/AdobeStock

“Organic” is not a regulated term by the FDA. Cosmetics companies are free to use the term as they please. This is misleading for consumers who are shopping for green, or sustainable cosmetics.

Just as cruelty free companies can label themselves as cruelty free and outsource animal testing, organic companies do not need a certification to use the term organic in their marketing. There are several organic certifications for brands that meet certain criteria. So id you see a certification, that’s a good way to see what criteria that product meets.

Common Organic Certifications

USDA Organic

USDA Organic certifications require products to contain pure, organic ingredients. According to 100% Pure, a certified organic company that discusses the certification requirements, 95% of the product must be organic in order for the USDA Organic Seal to appear on the package.


According to EcoCert, the EcoCert COSMOS Organic Certification is presented to companies that have “at least 20% of organic ingredients are present in the total formula (10% for rinse-off products)” and if “95% minimum of the plants it contains are organic.”

COPA: California Organic Products Act

COPA, instated in 2017, is a strict requirement for organic products. According to Juice Beauty, a clean beauty brand in compliance with USDA and COPA requirements, products sold in California must meet COPA requirements and have at least 70% organic ingredients. According to the FDA Law Blog, “Under COPA, cosmetics with organic claims must contain at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients. Unlike OFPA, which may be enforced only by USDA, COPA is enforceable by any person who may bring an action for injunctive relief.”

BDIH Certified

BDIH Certified Natural Cosmetics Seal examines each ingredient to assess product safety, organic quality, and how natural the ingredients are. According to the International Organic and Natural Cosmetics Corporation, “the aim of the BDIH Standard is to define the term natural cosmetics in a factually correct and comprehensible way and to create transparency to benefit the consumer.” If you are looking for natural products, the BDIH certification seal is a good one to look for (more below).


CCPB European Organic Certifiers Council is based in Italy and uses an Organic IT System to certify organic cosmetics, The CCPB, also known as the EEOC does not allow for animal testing. All cosmetics products must undergo an inspection and meet the Organic Production Standards of the CCPB.

Other Considerations

An important consideration is that many organic brands cannot achieve a certification because the pigment used in makeup products is not organically grown.

According to RMS Beauty, a brand known for organic ingredients, “Color minerals used in color cosmetics can not be certified organic because they are not grown. Skin care lines without color can apply for USDA Certification.”

Brands that are completely organic besides the use of pigment label themselves as organic because their products contain natural ingredients.

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Sorting through the buzzwords in the cosmetic industry is not easy if you are new to clean beauty. It is so important to take time to research products before using them.

I hope you enjoyed learning about the differences between clean, natural, organic and green beauty. I’f love to hear what you think and how your products are working for you. Don’t forget to save to Pinterest for later.

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