Clean Beauty VS Natural Beauty: What's the Difference?
There's good news and confusing news in skincare. The good news is that more and more people care about what products they use and what they put on their skin. The confusing news is that there are too many terms such as clean, natural, organic, etc.
So many products carry these labels, but unfortunately there is not enough regulation making it hard to know whether they mean something or it's just marketing.
Today, we want to talk about the most common terms, clean beauty vs natural beauty and the fact that these two terms aren't necessarily interchangeable. While there are no official or legal definitions, knowing the main differences can help you choose products which work for your skin and suit your values.
What Is Natural Beauty?
Let's start with the natural beauty definition in the clean beauty vs natural beauty debate. Overall, the term ‘natural’ means that the product is free from synthetic chemicals and contains only pure naturally derived ingredients. Keep in mind that these ingredients can be plant, mineral or animal byproducts, so they're not necessarily vegan.
The most common all-natural ingredients are:
- Coconut, argan, jojoba oils
- Aloe vera
- Vitamin C
These work to hydrate the skin, reduce inflammation, promote healthy ageing, fight sun damage etc. Usually, these types of skincare products contain more than one natural ingredient.
However, it is important to remember that natural doesn't always mean better or organic. Often the ingredients don't have any actual benefits. There may be a tiny percentage of the component to make a difference, so it's vital to read the label and understand what is actually in the product. It is also good practice to read up on the brand and understand their values.
Lastly, because there's no regulation, pretty much anyone can add the word ‘natural’ to the label!
What Is Clean Beauty?
Clean natural skincare is also unregulated, but it is a more trustworthy option for those looking for sustainable, healthier and safe products.
Mostly, clean skincare relies on sustainable sourcing, non-toxic, green, plant-based ingredients and tends to have organic certification.
Choosing clean beauty means avoiding toxins and hazardous ingredients such as sulphates, parabens, formaldehyde, artificial fragrances, and phthalates in deodorant, shampoos, soaps, moisturisers etc. All of these have been linked to various irritations, allergies, increased cancer risk, and hormonal imbalances.
It's important to remember that clean beauty doesn't mean that there are no ingredients manufactured in labs. For example, there are highly effective ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide which are extracted from plants in laboratories.
Lastly, clean beauty usually means that they're cruelty-free and a more ethical choice in general. However, this can easily be confirmed by reading the label!
SCOUT Clean & Organic Beauty Range
The Difference Between "Natural" and "Clean"
So what is the difference between natural and clean? It's clear that, however vague, the terms are not the same, the main difference being that natural does not automatically mean a product is ‘clean’.
The key difference between clean beauty vs natural beauty is that natural ingredients are not always safer or healthier for the skin, while clean ingredients have the requirement to be non-toxic and are as safe as possible.
The Main Differences
Natural skincare and cosmetics contain naturally derived ingredients from plant or animal sources that are not necessarily proven to be safe for you or the environment and may be used together with synthetic ingredients.
Clean skincare and cosmetics are made with ingredients which are safe for you and the environment and do not contain parabens, phthalates, and other harsh chemicals. These ingredients may be naturally derived or made in a laboratory.
Remember, natural doesn't always mean good. You wouldn't apply poisonous plants or animal ingredients to your skin even if they're 100% natural, right? Poison ivy or cyanide in apple seeds are just a few examples!
Not All ‘Natural’ Is Clean
One of the most common misconceptions about natural cosmetics in the clean vs natural skincare discussion is that everything natural must be good or that natural ingredients must be clean. That's simply not the case.
Let's take squalene and squalane - both are completely natural; however, they may come from shark livers and contribute to the destruction of marine ecosystems. The same applies to other animal-derived ingredients and various botanicals if harvested and processed using unethical practices.
Another natural but harsh ingredient is mineral oil. It can be harmful to the skin by reflecting UV rays and contributing to skin damage. Mineral oil may also clog the pores and damage the skin's natural barrier.
How to Find Clean & Natural Beauty Products
And now we get to the question - how do we know which products are clean, natural, safe and work well?
Well, until there's clearer regulation, a lot of it falls on the shoulders of the consumer. The best thing you can do is read the labels, understand the ingredients, and check the brand's certifications.
This can be found on the label or the brand website. Here at SCOUT we have the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) certification, that's one of the largest, most well-known and perhaps most stringent accreditations for organic produce and products in Australasia. It ensures that the ingredients in your beauty products are ethically produced and genuinely organic.
We're also COSMOS certified. COSMOS requires that the percentages of Certified Organic ingredients be clearly displayed on the packaging and that a product contains no genetic modification or irradiated ingredients. Further, a COSMOS certification promises sustainable product packaging and contents that do not contain harmful plastics known as nanoparticles or animal testing.
So always look for transparent information and, when in doubt, choose something else.
The SCOUT skincare promise
We are committed to creating an Organic Active Beauty range that draws on the highest quality organic ingredients and ethical practices to empower you to look and feel beautiful with a clear conscience.
We know that using clean, natural ingredients and having stringent standards for organic beauty delivers genuinely pure and natural beauty products that are just as effective (and often even more effective) than traditional skincare and cosmetics.
Whether it's a face wash, moisturiser, serum, nail polish, foundation or lipstick, we want you to feel safe and calm using them!