Simply put, the meaning of "clean beauty" is confusing AF. Some brands define it as being free of chemicals like petroleum and phthalates, while others have extensive ingredient and packaging standards. “My definition of clean is creating responsible formulations that use safe ingredients, whether they come from synthetic or natural origins,” says cosmetic chemist Gloria Lu. A more holistic viewpoint: “We take into account the sourcing, safety, sustainability, ethics, and transparency of the brands we sell,” says Credo cofounder Annie Jackson. (And yes, there is a difference between "clean" and "natural.")
There is no “clean” certification (at least not yet), but many companies have their own standards, and some retailers position themselves as gatekeepers. Read on for the head-to-toe clean beauty products worth adding to your arsenal.
Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is the ingredient that gives you that golden cast in clean beauty products. “It’s a fermented sugar that reacts with your skin to darken its top layer,” says Lu. Australian Glow's Self Tan Mousse (Buy It, $20, ulta.com) uses sustainably sourced sugar beets to produce its DHA, and the product’s refillable packaging cuts plastic use by 83 percent. Just pour a refill of the solution into the original recycled ocean-plastic container when it’s empty. (Before you slather on the tanner, study these application pointers.)
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By Kate Sandoval Box and Erin Reimel