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What is Clean Beauty and why are we talking about it?

Clean Beauty is a philosophy for making personal care products that has been defined in numerous ways by brands, retailers, and consumers. Not unlike the Naturals movement, it is increasingly popular, unregulated, and difficult for companies and customers alike to understand. Clean Beauty hero brands are gaining consumer trust, leading a new movement, and acquiring market share. In addition, Clean beauty is associated with (although not equivalent to) other macro shifts the industry has undergone including natural, sustainable, and eco-friendly.

How is Clean Beauty defined or regulated?

While the term is not regulated, brands and retailers have both made tremendous progress in defining this term and setting standards.

  • Clean at Sephora: This beauty retail giant has defined a list of restricted ingredients. Brands or products that do not use these restricted ingredients have the chance to earn the Clean at Sephora seal.
  • Credo: This is a US clean beauty retailer who also has a defined list of restricted ingredients. Their list, called "The Dirty List", is the foundation for a comprehensive program called the Credo Clean Standard which is seen as the gold standard for clean formulating
  • EWG & Think Dirty App: The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an organization who has released a system of rating ingredients for potential health risks. Apps like 'Think Dirty' make this rating system extremely accessible to the average consumer.
  • EU regulation: Clean Beauty brands worldwide often reference EU regulation as a guiding light and/or starting point for their own formulation standards. This exemplifies how regulation can be influential even outside of the region it regulates.

Who are the consumers of Clean Beauty?

  • The Wellness Enthusiast: some consumers associate 'clean' with being safer and healthier for the body by eliminating or restricting ingredients that they feel have insufficient data to conclude they are safe
  • The Conscious Consumer: some consumers associate 'clean' with being safer for the environment by eliminating traditional ingredients that have questionable environmental profiles
  • The Careful Caregiver: some consumers associate 'clean' with being safer for their families by avoiding perceived potential risks

Formulating Clean: A state-of-mind, not a rulebook

Formulating without certain questionable ingredients is largely the result of many clean beauty definitions or restriction lists. However, when we get down to the foundation of why those ingredients are restricted, some key philosophies arise:

The foundations of Clean Beauty

  1. Consumer safety: choosing safer alternatives; eliminating ingredients with questionable safety profiles
  2. Efficacy without excess: using actives at effective use levels; streamlined packaging
  3. Low environmental impact: choosing sustainable alternatives in ingredients and packaging
  4. Radical transparency: sharing ingredient details, specifically feedstocks; sharing processing details; third-party certification and verification; going beyond regulatory standards
  5. Incorporating ethics & corporate social responsibility: choosing vegan & cruelty-free; incorporating a social mission

Is Clean Beauty here to stay?

It's unclear if the term "clean" will stick around long term. However, the foundations of Clean Beauty are CERTAINLY here to stay. Formulating according to these foundational principles will become another consumer expectation. Luckily, the ingredient technology is available to replace those ingredients that are not considered clean. In other words, there really isn't any reason to use ingredients like coal tar, parabens, MITs, and mineral oil anymore.

If you want to formulate according to the fundamentals of the clean movement, look for our Clean Beauty Preferred seal on INOLEX products.

A Clean Beauty Glow-up

Safe Preservation

Replace phenoxyethanol, parabens, MITs with alternative preservation systems

Plant-Based Hair Care

Replace BTAC and CTAC with non-quat natural cationics

Sustainable Silicone Alternatives

Avoid cyclomethicones altogether with plant-based, planet-safe emollients

Featured Clean Ingredients for High Performing Formulas

LexFeel™ WOW

100% Plant-Based Cyclomethicone Replacement
  • 100% natural cyclomethicone replacement
  • High absorbing, fast spreading
  • Excellent for hair care applications
  • NSF approved & biodegradable
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LexFeel™ WOW DT

100% Plant-Based Cyclomethicone Replacement
  • 100% natural cyclomethicone replacement
  • Soft, powdery afterfeel
  • Excellent for particle dispersing
  • NSF approved & biodegradable
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Lexgard® MHG Natural MB

100% Natural Preservation & Anti-Soaping Agent
  • Anti-soaping effect for silicone-free emulsions
  • Odor protection for natural deodorants
  • 100% plant-based & COSMOS approved
  • Strong protection against bacteria & yeast
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ProCondition™ 22

Natural-Derived Sustainable Conditioning System
  • Sustainable quat alternative
  • Brassica-derived cationic conditioning
  • Replacement for BTAC, CTAC, or SAPDMA
  • Green chemistry designed
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Spectrastat™

Versatile Broad Spectrum Preservation System
  • Protect against bacteria, yeast, and mold
  • Pass industry standard tests at wide pH range
  • Alternative to traditional preservatives
  • Widely used in the market
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Spectrastat™ G2 Natural MB

100% Natural Broad Spectrum Preservation System
  • Plant-based preservation system
  • NATRUE approved & 100% biobased content
  • Broad spectrum performance
  • Pass industry-standard challenge test
View Product

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