How to Identify Clean Beauty Products

How to Identify Clean Beauty Products

August 27, 2019

Shopping for the right clean beauty products requires some research. These days, many products are labeled with marketing buzzwords like “natural,” “pure,” “botanical,” or “eco,” even those these claims are not regulated by the FDA. Neither are things like “Free of” or “Benefits include,” so it’s difficult to know what you’re really getting unless you take the time to learn about what makes a product truly clean

Here’s our guide to clean beauty, including understanding your ingredients, what to watch for, and how to keep your skin care routine healthy and beneficial.

What are Clean Beauty Products?

Clean skin care products are designed with non-toxic ingredients. The movement fully embraces both natural and synthetic ingredients, but steers clear of harmful ingredients from each group, such as poison ivy or parabens.

The FDA has limited authority with beauty and skin care products, TODAY Style discovered, so consumers need to know their stuff when they start shopping. Luckily, consumers have started to demand cleaner products, and brands are starting to make them more accessible to the general public. Until regulations become more strict, however, it’s best to be aware of what to avoid. We can help.

The Difference Between Clean and Natural Beauty

Assuming that “clean” and “natural” mean the same thing in the beauty world is a common misconception. With all-natural, organic, eco-friendly products becoming mainstream, following healthy and ethical guidelines can get confusing. Especially with sheer volume products available. Product choice can affect both skin and overall health.

  • ‘Natural’ describes the purity of ingredients. Natural products are sourced directly from nature, synthetic-free.
  • ‘Clean’ ingredients can be natural or man-made, but are either proven safe or have shown no signs of being unsafe.

True clean products value safety over source. Natural products value source. Clean, natural products are safe and naturally sourced.

An important note: even the word ‘clean’ is unregulated by the FDA. You need to know what ingredients are safe or toxic so that you can evaluate a product by reading its label rather than trusting it’s marketing and design.

Why are Clean Skin Care Products Important?

Our skin is designed to absorb the ingredients in our skin care products, whether the ingredients are healthy or not. Harmful ingredients absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin could potentially disrupt the endocrine system and affect your health over time. The more extreme cases can even lead to possible carcinogen exposure.

What to Look For in Clean Beauty Products

The best way to ensure a healthy, clean skin care routine is to know what’s on the label. Stamps for things like “USDA Organic” don’t always guarantee safety-- just that the product passed certain guidelines. We’ve touched on what ingredients to avoid before, so we’ll keep this section brief.


  • Parabens
  • Sodium lauryl / laureth sulfate
  • Fragrance
  • Triclosan
  • DEA
  • TEA
  • Formaldehyde
  • Oxybenzone

Be dubious with claims of:

  • Natural
  • Organic
  • Non-toxic
  • Botanical
  • Clean
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Physician-approved
  • Simple
  • Safe

Always research and double-check organizations who approve products. Make sure you can trust them before following their advice.

Swapping Out the Bad for the Clean

“But wait!” Some might argue. “Companies use these ‘bad’ ingredients for important reasons! We aren’t experts!” Many companies will insist the ‘unclean’ ingredients are necessary for efficacy or preservation, and assure us that their products are still safe. 

However, the risk is likely not worth it. Skin care experts on the quest for clean beauty products have identified safer substitutions for dubious ingredients so that we can have effective and clean products.

Bad: Parabens
Good: Radish root ferment
Bad: SLS
Good: Coconut- or palm-derived surfactants
Bad: Fragrance/parfum
Good: Essential oils
Bad: Dimethicone
Good: Broccoli seed oil
Bad: Oxybenzone
Good: Zinc oxide
Bad: Aluminum/Aluminium
Good: Baking soda or arrowroot powder
Bad: Synthetic dyes and colorants
Good: Plant extracts like beetroot juice and indigo extract

It’s possible to have the best of both worlds. In fact, Theoderma products were created in response to what we felt was a lack of truly effective, clean beauty products on the market that fell into the right price point. We made our product line for consumers who aren’t fooled by marketing buzzwords, but instead want to truly care for their skin.

Find Clean Beauty Products at Theoderma

Here at Theoderma, we’re dedicated to natural, vegan, cruelty-free products—and clean to boot! When you shop with us, you can trust that what’s going on your skin is safe and healthy.

Want to keep up with the latest in information for healthy skin care? Keep following our blog! We’re dedicated to providing the best in skin care products so that you can have the best in skin care routine. You deserve to know what you’re putting on your skin, so browse our product line and see that we’ve listed ingredients and key benefits for each item.

Savy Guthrie is a dermatology PA with 17 years of patient care experience and is the founder of Theoderma Skin Care.

Savy with her dog

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