How to ‘clean’ your beauty routine

There may be a lot of confusion around what exactly clean and green beauty is, but what we do know is what it’s not.

By Ingrid Wood

Clean, green, vegan, natural, organic, plant-based, sustainable, environmentally conscious… there are so many terms bandied about that it’s difficult for the conscious beauty consumer to know where to turn. Understanding the difference between the terms and knowing the ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ ingredients, is the first step in embarking on a new beauty journey.

A brand might claim to be organic, for example, but can only be labelled organic if it is certified as such, which means regulations (ingredients must be grown, processed, and manufactured under strict guidelines that include things like no pesticides and elimination of certain chemicals) and annual audits. In the same vein, brands can only claim to be vegan if they are certified. Vegan products do not contain any animal ingredients or by-products and are not tested on animals. Plant-based skincare is generally vegan-based but doesn’t always exclude all animal by-products, such as honey or beeswax, for example, while clean beauty refers to products that do not contain ingredients that can cause a toxic response (irritation, for example) such as parabens, phthalates, dyes, oxybenzone and synthetic fragrances. They typically also abide by environmentally friendly and cruelty-free principles, as do green brands which source from nature. Finally, natural brands source from nature with minimal processing of the ingredients to preserve their natural integrity. If this is a new journey, start with your skincare and haircare.

High tech meets clean

A brand that I love, and which is now available in South Africa is Novexpert. It was founded by Cyrille Telinge in 2008, a clean pioneer, researcher and ardent surfer who was intrigued by the number of healthy Japanese centenarians he encountered on a surf trip to Okinawa. “Research showed that their diet (rich in fish), a calorific restrictive approach to food (eating up to 80 per cent of your hunger, not until you are full) was shown to activate a specific youth gene which produces proteins called citrines that help you to live longer,” says Marie Avril, Head of Scientific Communication and Training Manager at Novexpert. The activation of that youth gene is known as epigenetics, which is how your environment, how you respond to life and stress, can act on your genes, explains Marie. Cyrille started investigating a molecule which could similarly activate the youth gene in the skin. The resulting discovery of Novaxyline led to the brand becoming the first in the world to own a patent in epigenetics. In addition to the magical ingredient, the drive was to create a clean brand. Novexpert is vegan and organic, of 100 per cent natural origin (it excludes a whopping 1 600 ingredients), 100 per cent biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding women. It has a range for every skin concern and type. Must-try: Beauty Oil Booster which contains five omegas – 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 – for intensely concentrated nutrition.

Put care into your hair

Created in 2001, Pureology has a simple approach: to create the best products for colour-treated hair, with beauty and integrity – that means a transparent commitment to sustainability. With purity at the forefront, the formulas are 100 per cent vegan (no animal products or by-products) with ingredients sourced from nature, and are sulphate-, mineral oil- and paraben-free. Raw and recycled materials are used for the packaging which is 100 per cent recyclable. Because the formulas are so concentrated (you should be able to do at least 70 shampoos with one bottle), less water is used in the manufacturing process. The range includes products to hydrate, nourish, strengthen, defrizz, and colour-tone. Must-try: Miracle Filler Treatment, a leave-in treatment that fills in gaps and smooths the hair cuticle. It also helps seal split ends for the perfect finish. Available at leading hair salons and retailers.

For bath and body connoisseurs 

The Molton Brown range is cruelty-free and 100 per cent vegetarian and its Elsenham manufacturing facility has been carbon neutral since 2021. The hand and body products are super luxe and come in a variety of scents and can now be purchased in made-to-last 100 per cent recycled aluminium bottles. The goal is that by 2030, 50 per cent of what the brand sells will be reusable or refillable. Must-try: Infinite Bottle Coastal Cypress & Sea Fennel Bath & Shower Gel. With its scents of fig leaves, cardamom, bergamot, marine notes, and cypress, it’s a super fresh way to start the day.

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