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“Clean” Beauty Products: A Do or Don’t for Your Skin?

It seems that everywhere we turn, “Green” products are popping up, from cleaning products, to the food we eat, to the skincare products we use. Celebrities, retailers, and the media are all hammering the idea that traditional products contain harmful chemicals, synthetics and additives that are harming our skin, and overall health. According to a study published in JAMA Dermatology, “From 2017 to 2018, the natural skincare market grew by 23% to 1.6 billion dollars, accounting for over 25% of the 5.6 billion dollars of annual skincare sales in 2018.” But are these “clean” products really clean? Should we be recommending these products to our patients or warning them to stay away?

Similar to the CBD products we discussed recently, there is little to no regulation around these “clean” products. The FDA has failed to define what makes a product clean or natural so it leaves it open to interpretation. Furthermore, a lot of the information that we have on these products is new in comparison to the products we’ve been using for many, many years. So we don’t have the same amount of historical data that we do with traditional products. More specifically, the products in traditional products have been more thoroughly tested throughout the years, as opposed to the “green” ingredients that are still relatively new and require more testing. Therefore, labeling something as clean and natural does not mean it is necessarily safer for consumers.

The ingredients that clean beauty product companies may use, can sometimes be more harmful. Many products contain botanicals, which can actually be some of the most irritating and allergenic substances for the skin. It has created a new epidemic of contact dermatitis. And because there are no parabens or preservatives, the products are more susceptible to bacteria and microbes.

Ultimately, more research is needed in the clean beauty industry, as well as the traditional beauty product industry. We should always be striving to better our products and services. Do your research into the products that you recommend to your patients and be prepared to explain to them why you choose certain products over others. Be prepared to discuss common ingredients in both traditional and newer “green” products and the pros and cons of each. When it comes to your patients, advise them to do their research as well. Every person is different and everyone’s skin is different so it really comes down to what is best for your patient and their skin. When it comes to treating more serious skin concerns, such as chronic acne, hyperpigmentation etc, it is best to stick with doctor-recommended treatments, which sometimes include prescription-grade treatments.