When it comes to beauty and especially skincare, there’s an endless number of terms, chemicals, and ingredients to take note of. Especially when it comes to clean beauty. Cruelty free, vegan, organic, green etc – do they mean what you really think they mean? Here’s a list of some important beauty terms you need to know so you can make the best beauty choices for your skin.
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Text: Joyce Cheo
This term is one of the most loosely used terms when it comes to labelling beauty products. All it means is that the product contains ingredients that are derived from natural sources. Plus, there are no legal regulations about the amount of natural ingredients a product needs to contain before it can use “natural” on its label. Besides, natural beauty products also doesn’t necessarily mean that the ingredients they contain are organic, nor does it mean that the ingredients are not animal-based. For example, product containing beeswax, fish scales or oils derived from animal fat can all be called natural beauty products.
One of the buzzwords making waves of late, clean beauty refers to beauty products that are made without hazardous or potentially hazardous ingredients. Though not legally regulated, some major retailers have created their own definitions to help customers understand the beauty industry better. For example, Sephora US refers to clean beauty products as those that do not contain SLS, SLES, parabens, formaldehyes, phthalates and mineral oil etc.
Generally speaking, green beauty refers to beauty products that are made while minimising the environmental impact throughout the production process. From using renewable energy sources, to recycled packaging and sustainable farming, these are all examples of the efforts taken by green beauty brands.
As the name suggests, cruelty-free beauty simply means these products were made without causing any harm or death to animals. In other words, these products are not tested on animals. However, it is important to note that cruelty-free doesn’t mean vegan as some cruelty-free products still contain animal-derived products like beeswax, without harming the animals, of course.
When products are labelled “organic”, it doesn’t necessarily mean the entire product is made of organic ingredients. All it means is that some of the ingredients it contains are indeed organic. But what are organic ingredients? There are several organic certification bodies worldwide including USA’s USDA, Switzerland’s Bio-Suisse and the United Kingdom’s Soil Association that can certify a product as organic. That said, the criteria required varies from country to country so it’s still best to do ample research.
Vegan Beauty is defined as beauty products that are produced without using any ingredients of animal origin or animal-derived by-product. Interestingly, vegan beauty doesn’t necessarily mean natural or organic because vegan products can also contain synthetic ingredients.