Clean beauty up close: how to navigate the all-natural trend.

by Afterpay
Aug 12, 2023      6 min read

Has the clean beauty movement piqued your interest? Like Korean skincare, this compelling beauty trend continues to create a buzz on socials, prompting many of us to reconsider the products we slather on our bods every day. 

But what does clean actually mean? Are natural products always better for us? And when it comes to ingredients, how do we tell the healthy from the harmful?

In this article, we go beyond the buzzwords for a closer look at the clean beauty trend and how it can help you create a feel-good skincare routine. We also showcase some mindfully made Aussie products that are worth the switch.  

Getting clear on clean beauty.

Generally speaking, clean beauty refers to cosmetic and skincare products made with non-toxic ingredients that are safe for our bodies and the environment. You may find that some of your go-to’s already fall into this category, like your Eco Tan Face Tan Water or Weleda Skin Food Body Butter (phew). 

But pinning down exactly what makes a product safe is not easy. In Australia, cosmetics are subject to some pretty lax regulations. For example, there’s no single list of chemicals that are banned or restricted for cosmetic use. The Therapeutic Goods Administration governs products claiming to provide therapeutic benefit (e.g. sunscreen), and the Poisons Standard is a thing, but that’s about it. 

Without any legal definition for what makes a product ‘clean’, brands are free to decide for themselves and label their products however they fancy. 

The case is similar in the US, where the government has no power to recall toxic beauty products in a largely self-regulated industry. The sitch is only slightly better in Europe, where they’ve banned more than 1,000 chemicals from personal care products.

This all means that the secret to clean beauty rests with you. The first step is to get informed (look at you go), then take a closer look at what’s in the products you’re considering.  

Why clean skincare is better than other formulations.

From a health perspective, common sense tells us that clean products prevail, especially when it comes to skincare. Think of it this way: the facial moisturiser and body oil you apply each morning will soak into your skin all day. Opting for clean alternatives gives you peace of mind that your products contain safe ingredients that nourish your body rather than toxic ones that might hurt it.

Since brands can set their own standards for ‘clean’, it’s important to zoom in on the ingredients list of products and use it to guide your buying. 

A word to the wise: just because an ingredient is natural, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better for you – or more effective – than something synthetic. For example, some essential oils may cause skin irritation or headaches, while hyaluronic acid is a lab-made undone skin staple that’s safe as houses. 

The trick is to prioritise personal safety above all. Whether natural or synthetic, opt for ingredients that work best for your skin and jive with your personal beliefs and ethics.  

The no-go list (ingredients to avoid). 

A good way to pick the right clean beauty products is to be alert for widely considered ‘dirty’ ingredients.

From slightly suss to totes toxic, these are some of the top offenders to steer clear of: 

  • Sulphates – sodium laureth sulphate is very irritating and may disrupt the endocrine system, while sodium lauryl sulphate can cause allergic reactions 
  • Formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers – common in eyelash glue and other cosmetics, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and hormone disruptor
  • Parabens – present in cosmetics, parabens are associated with hormone disruption and certain types of cancer
  • Triclosan – found in face wash, triclosan may disrupt thyroid and reproductive hormones 
  • Triclocarban – used in face wash, hand soap and body wash, triclocarban may mess with the reproductive system 
  • Phthalates – nail polish and hair spray may contain phthalates linked to cancer and hormone disruption
  • Fragrances – products with fragrance can be irritating and trigger allergic reactions, and probably contain phthalates
  • Diethanolamine and triethanolamine – used in many skincare and hair products, these nasties are shown to be carcinogenic 
  • Octinoxate and oxybenzone – chemical sunscreens containing chemical UV filters like these may be harmful to our health 
  • Hydroquinone – found in complexion whitening products, this is linked to organ toxicity and cancer
  • Talc – white talcum powder carries a risk of asbestos contamination (yikes)

Thanks to the rise of clean beauty, it’s now super easy to get your hands on thoughtfully formulated lotions and potions that are free of nasties. KORA Organics is a leader in this space with its ultra-rich Turmeric Glow Moisturizer flying off shelves. After something to plump and purify? MAAEMO’s Purifying Gel Cleanser is full of organic botanicals that do just that.

Australian clean beauty brands that slay.

Want more clean beauty recs? We got you! Let’s take a gander at some Aussie brands making magic in this space. 

  • Mukti Organics – Offering science-driven certified organic products that deliver results for all skin types, Mukti Organics focuses on skin health, wellbeing and function. Their vegan Antioxidant Facial Oil Omega 3-6-9 is a best-seller for a reason!
  • endota spa – Renowned for its nurturing natural skincare range, endota spa is a purpose-led brand focusing on full-body wellness and environmental sustainability. Their beautifully balancing Charcoal Detox Mask is vegan, cruelty-free and made with care. 
  • KORA Organics – Created by Miranda Kerr, KORA Organics crafts powerful certified organic products that follow strict global safety standards, consider the planet and deliver impressive results. No artificial colours or fragrances in sight!
  • Dr Roebuck’s – Deeply rooted in family heritage, Dr Roebuck’s uses minimal ingredients to maximise your skin's benefits. Their Barrier Reef Daily Facial Shield SPF50+ is a clean mineral sunscreen that provides reliable sun protection while sitting comfortably under makeup. 
  • Eco Tan – Get a sun-kissed glow the kind way with Eco Tan’s organic self-tanning products. This environmentally conscious brand is committed to responsible sourcing and only uses ingredients that do no harm (to you or the planet). 
  • INIKA Organics – Born of a desire to make clean beauty products without toxic chemicals, INIKA Organics only works with pure, organic ingredients that hydrate and nurture the skin. Their cruelty-free, sustainably sourced formulas are free from synthetic chemicals and animal products for total peace of mind. 
  • Sodashi – Celebrated for its holistic approach, Sodashi specialises in handcrafted skincare made with ethically sourced natural ingredients and botanical extracts. Its velvety smooth Calming Face and Neck Moisturiser contains healing camellia, rosewood and calendula oils to soften and replenish dehydrated skin. 

Clean up your beauty routine with Afterpay. 

Congrats – you’re now a clean beauty expert. Time to detox your skincare routine with carefully crafted, Aussie-made products that will do you a world of good.

With Afterpay, you can stock your beauty shelf with a fresh batch of healthy alternatives without worrying about upfront payments. Split your total into easy, interest-free instalments and get those questionable creams and sketchy sprays outta your life today.

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