These days, beauty products need to do so much more than simply catch our eye with pretty packaging. Even delivering impressive results isn’t always enough to guarantee that a formula will earn itself a coveted spot in our carefully curated beauty regimens. We want products that work, but we also want them to be clean.
But what does clean beauty actually mean and why should we consider making the switch? We spoke to Vanessa Megan Gray Lyndon who has been a pioneer for clean beauty in Australia for the past two decades and has proven that clean beauty can be just as effective through her namesake skincare range, Vanessa Megan.
What is clean beauty?
Clean beauty refers to products that are free from harmful ingredients. While they may contain chemicals, they only contain synthetics that are deemed safe for people and the planet.
The problem is, not everyone agrees on which synthetics are safe and unsafe.
For Vanessa, the chemicals she avoids in her formulas are based on scientific evidence that has proven them to be harmful for the body. These include mineral oil, alcohol, phthalates, PEGS - polyethylene glycol, SLS and SLES - the sulphates, parabens, silicones, and formaldehyde.
“Clean beauty is a new term that is taking over the beauty industry. To us, here at Vanessa Megan, clean beauty means that it has to be good enough to eat.”
Vanessa Megan Gray Lyndon, founder of Vanessa Megan
Other brands may have their own list of known nasties that they choose not to include in their formulas. That's where the term 'clean beauty' gets a little murky - there's no one set of rules that outlines ingredients that must be omitted for a product to be officially called 'clean'.
Why are chemicals in beauty products anyway?
It seems crazy that beauty brands would fill their products with chemicals that have been proven to be unsafe for our bodies, but sadly many do. “Chemical substances often replace natural ingredients in our household products because they are cheaper, they act as preservatives (which is convenient because we want our products to last), they mimic smells that we like, they inhibit bodily functions we don’t like (sweating, for example) or because they make things foam. Generally these synthetic substances are less expensive and easier for manufacturers to get in bulk,” explains Vanessa.
How harmful chemicals can impact your health
“When we apply products onto our skin, it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream,” explains Vanessa. “So it is vital for our health to use natural products in our skincare regimen.”
“There have been studies that have found links between chemicals found in cosmetics having effects on our endocrine system. The bloodstream sees some of the chemical molecules in these products as hormones and then distributes these through the body which have been shown to affect fertility, sexual function and can contribute to hormone-related cancers such as breast cancer.”
The clean beauty trend
Natural and organic beauty has been a hot topic for a while now, but clean beauty has mostly been flying by under the radar until now. “As the industry is evolving rapidly, we now have a world of information at our fingertips and are constantly being educated on the ingredients to avoid and why. With this education we have come to expect more, especially from our skincare,” shares Vanessa.
“Natural and organic isn’t enough anymore; we want results without all the harsh toxic ingredients. We are now also more aware of the long-term effects some beauty products can have on our health. The beauty industry however is yet to make significant changes that would prevent toxic chemicals being allowed in our beauty products which is why I think clean beauty is on the rise. We are more informed than ever and we are looking to live a happy, healthy long life.”
For Vanessa, she was first driven to launch a clean beauty range after her best friend Mel passed away from cancer. “Being with her through her treatments I learnt about what these synthetics can do to our bodies. From there it became my mission to educate others about what we put on our skin, which became one of the driving forces in creating the Vanessa Megan brand.”
Clean vs natural skincare
Clean and natural are two beauty terms that are easily confused. “Clean beauty is defined as products produced without any proven toxic substances. Which means it is free from many of the man-made ingredients that have been on the market for decades however it isn’t necessarily all natural,” says Vanessa. “A natural product is a formulation of compounds or ingredients that have been found only in nature.”
“An easy way to look at clean beauty is natural can be clean but clean isn't always natural; it is just free from many of the man-made ingredients that are on the market today.”
Vanessa Megan Gray Lyndon, founder of Vanessa Megan
The benefits of clean beauty
Besides the obvious - not filling your body with known harmful toxins - there are other benefits to embracing a clean beauty routine. Clean beauty products are free from preservatives, fragrances and stabilisers which can impair your skin’s natural barrier and sensitise skin. These toxins can also damage the skin’s microflora and affect its appearance, along with your skin’s overall health.
Additionally, clean beauty products take into account their impact on the environment, too.
How to know if a product is ‘clean’
The best way to identify whether a product is clean or not is to read the ingredients label. “We encourage everyone when purchasing products to read the ingredients carefully so they can make informed decisions about what they are putting onto their skin,” says Vanessa. Also, do your research. New studies are constantly being done to prove or disprove the safety of ingredients in beauty - the clean beauty space is constantly evolving and knowledge is power when it comes to protecting our skin and health.
- Vanessa Megan / @vanessameganskincare