As I run out the gate on this HUGE topic I want my purpose of this article to be clear. It’s complex and I want to simutaniously celebrate the incredible brands behind the clean movement AND to shine a light on how a corrupt industry has hijacked a meaningful word for profit.
To get off to a good start, let’s establish really clear communication in this article. As you read on, my use of the word clean is referring to the movement only. Clean beauty isn’t a brand, a label, a product or store. It’s a commitment we make as individuals to work together to dismantle the broken systems that created harm to every aspect of life on this planet. The clean beauty movement is driven by principles and motivated by the community that guides it. More recently we started buying into clean beauty as a business entity, and the culture becomes lost in rhetoric and hashtags. With the clean movement shifting where people drop their money, inevitably the word started to get hijacked by people whose commitment was still to profit, not change. This is why things have gotten so confusing. I feel frustration with you. So much so, that the first draft of this article was a very unhelpful rant that I’m deeply thankful that I didn’t publish. I understand the responsibility of my choice to conduct business from a role model/leadership position means I need support my clients as they navigate through the HUGE amount of (mis)information floating around only aa internet search away. Now, that also includes looking at the biased, fear & shame based marketing that now exists in the “clean beauty movement”. These business practices are not true to the movement and are disempowering the community that drives it.
I hope that explaining how I got involved with the movement and breaking down the aspects of the movement will help you see the word is used more as an umbrella to encompass multiple aspects. Since it is a movement, it is not regulated by any governing body. It is a process that has hiccups and unlearns and relearns because even the leaders in it are in the process too….. we have simply made a deep commitment to carve as clear a path as we can.
Back in 2015 when I was bringing The Green Vanity to life, I was a very hardened and resentful refugee from the conventional beauty industry (back then we called it mainstream beauty.) For 20 years I had steeped (and participated) in its shrouded and ethically corrupt culture. This perpetuated an “us versus them” mentality for me as I started formulating a business plan to do better. I was angry, sick and experiencing shame for my many inactions in key moments when I knew better. At that time one of the industry words being used that best explained the commitment I wanted to make to my clients and the world around me was “clean” beauty. I dove into the deep end of business completely ignorant to how brain washed I was and how my plan was still based in profit. That’s when I pushed myself into the discomfort of movement driven business. That meant the principles behind the choices I make in my business had to stay aligned with the movement, not driven by profit. That was a hard mindset shift since my whole 20 years career had me grinding and participating in normalized exploitive behaviour in the name of profit.
So what DOES the clean beauty movement represent?
The movement is a response to the unethical, irresponsible and deceptive practices of the [conventional] beauty and health industry. In essence, it started because people finally stopped turning a blind eye to the truth and took charge of creating solutions and alternatives. A new language has emerged and the words can be a bit ambiguous and much can be assumed if customers and their trusted retailers don’t remain diligent. Obviously this is a BIG topic, so I have broken it into a few sections which I have written additional articles so we can deal with it in little bites so we don’t get overwhelmed.
Animal testing, cruelty-free, vegan and ethical
Many of us feel that all those words should all equate to the same thing. No harm. Unfortunately that is not the case and what’s even more challenging, is that words like “ethical” are up for interpretation based on the morals and principles behind a business. So mutually exclusive gets tossed out the window. >>Click Here<< to read a blog that helps explain how to identify the differences and how to identify them so you are informed when you make your purchasing choice.
Sustainability & environmental impact
There are so many aspects to sustainability so it’s understandable that it becomes overwhelming. The simple truth is we need to buy WAY LESS and freeing ourselves from the consuming mindset that has been deeply washed into our brains is the place to start. Over purchasing and filling our cupboards (and landfills) with products we buy from a place of fear, trend/buzz or trial and error shopping methods leads to waste, not to mention the unhealthy feelings (shame and guilt) that inevitably comes with it. It’s no wonder I find myself repeatedly reminding my clients that >>Sustainability is a Practice not a Product << as they are learning what sustaining means to them and how their choices have a rippling effect. Check out my most read blogs >> 6 Truths of Sustainable Beauty<< and >>Liberated Beauty is Rooted in Sustainablity<<
As we dig more into our personal accountability we then begin to seek to invest our money into companies that choose to invest in not only the innovations needed to create real change, but are also invested in helping to clean up the environmental crisis at hand and are active in dismantling the oppressive systems that continue to prioritize profit. The last section of >>This Blog<< talks about companies who have taken it next level to actually become legally accountable for their choices through B Corp Certification. B Corps are businesses that act in ways that benefit society as a whole. What defines them is their belief that the purpose of a company is not just profits, but also social and environmental good.
Unhealthy or toxic ingredients
ThIs is one of the BIGGEST topics of “clean vs dirty” as we wade through the oceans of both scientific AND biased information. YES! There are regulatory bodies as part of our government that are responsible for ensuring that prohibited and restricted ingredients are appropriately managed. Unfortunately country to country these ingredient lists vary and it leaves many people feeling unsafe. >> This Blog << digs into the alarmist marketing language of “chemicals” and unbiased observation of independent sources like EWG and Think Dirty as responsible resources for [consumers] to do their own research.
With in those categories are many important attributes that need to be addressed individually. As the movement progresses, more layers of the oppressive and exploitive system continue to be revealed so it is adapting constantly as new information comes forward. Since it’s a movement, there are not rules of engagement. It is up the the community and it’s participants to support and acculturate each other. Some retailers, beauty brands and consumers focus their attention on one or two of categories or aspects, others, like myself, all of them. The thing we need to focus on, is the majority of the people using #cleanbeauty are sincerely trying to contribute to an overwhelming task. We are all (un)learning and change needs to start with one thing… inevitably the rest will come because all if it is interconnected.
“Clean” is movement that has many entry points for those who are motivated to participate. I welcome you to paticipate how it moves you. Integrate it into your life how it makes sense. You DON’T have to “pick sides” because integrative living allows us the liberty of choosing what works for us AND honor our wellness, while commiting to this planet and all of its precious inhabitants. Thank you for joining this shift in industry, your choices are fueling accountability, truth, innovations in waste management and are supporting the necessary shift we need to reclaim eco existence, humanity and personal health and vitality.