Is clean makeup just a hoax?

Mark A. Carlson

There is a lot of talk about clean makeup (or clean cosmetic), but does clean makeup really make a difference or is it just a hoax or even a marketing strategy by brands?

This is honestly not that easy and simple to answer and I wish we could just fast forward 10 years because I bet by then we know the correct answer. But for know we have to work with the information we have!

So, here comes my opinion. Please built your own opinion upon your own research.

1. I do believe that clean cosmetic does matter because of this scary study

The researchers tested in the study 231 products purchased from retailers like Ulta, Sephora, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond in the United States and from Sephora and Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada and found forever chemicals (PFAS- Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in 48 percent of the products!

PFAS are man-made chemicals commonly used in nonstick cookware, cell phones, furniture, and commercial aircraft. They are referred to as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment. Because cosmetic is often applied to the eyes and lips, it can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. PFAS have been linked to birth defects, liver and thyroid disease, hormone disruption, and a range of other serious health problems, including cancer! These stay literally FOREVER in our body! I don’t think we should apply this on the biggest organ of our body- the same like we should not eat preservatives and put them inside our body.

Since most companies do not clarify this on their label, here is a clue on how to know if your product contains PFAS: products advertised as “wear-resistant” or “long-lasting” including foundations, liquid lipsticks, and waterproof mascaras almost always contain PFAS!!! 

2. However the word “clean” is confusing

The reason why many Influencers, Youtubers or even dermatologists claim that clean cosmetic does not matter is the following: the word “clean” really has no meaning as it is not regulated by the FDA (the same as “natural” is not regulated and means literally nothing). So, if we buy a product with the label “clean” it can individually mean totally different things- whatever the brand associates with “clean”. In some cases it might not be “clean” at all- according to your own standards. So, yes! In some cases “clean” truly is only a marketing strategy because consumers like the word. It sound so… *cough CLEAN!

Ulta has for example a different approach to label products as clean as Sephora does (Ulta is much more strict and does not include products as clean if they contain forever chemicals (PFAS)- however, Sephora has their own Clean label on products that contain these forever chemicals.) Another great source is the which has really strict guidelines for their brands.

To sum it up: yes, clean cosmetic matters if you want to avoid Forever chemicals and other toxic ingredients, however, we can not be sure which product truly is clean. Parabens are another example where the last word is still not out if they are toxic or not. 

So, that is where we are at! Even if we want to avoid toxic ingredients and especially forever chemicals, we can never be sure, if the product is in fact clean.

I have been blogging for 9 years and my conclusion is these days, that the first thing why you buy a product should be really that you have a lot of trust in that brand. 

So, what does make a brand trustworthy? This is ultimately up to you! 

For me personally I prefer a brand that:

  • preferably has been around for a couple years (it gives the brand more credibility) 
  • has shown integrity 
  • delivers good quality products, gets good ratings and reviews
  • charges fair prices
  • treats its customers well
  • treats employees well
  • does not create ads that sound to good to be true (“removes wrinkles within 7 days”)
  • Added bonus: gets involved in causes and issues I feel related too or has cruelty-free status.
I trust personally for example: , , Cover FX, , , , , , Pür. I have a list of brands that do not use PFAS, PARABENS, PHTHALATES. 

I think it is wrong to just simply claim: Clean makeup does not matter because it is a lie. It does matter and we just have to find out who is telling the truth or better understand labels and ingredients. Or get the FDA involved to regulate what a clean product means.

Do I switch now completely to clean makeup or cosmetic? No, I do not. But I do like to explore clean options and if they work great then yes: I will continue to use that!

Disclaimer: Contains Affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.

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