Beauty Cleanse Cheat Sheet
The Beauty Cleanse Cheat Sheet is our promise to create clean beauty products that are kind to your skin and kind to the planet. We are committed to only using ingredients that directly benefit the health of the skin & support the integrity of our formulations, without leaving a negative impact on the planet. But what we leave out of our products is just as important as what we put into them, so you will never find ingredients listed on this cheat sheet in any of our products.
Instead of focusing on Synthetic vs. Natural, OR Clean beauty vs. Green Beauty, we believe in only using those ingredients that are good for the skin and good for the planet.
One of the main reasons we do not include synthetic ingredients in our formulations is because they often contain plastic polymers/microplastics which never biodegrade when washed down the drains, and end up accumulating in our ecosystems.
Through our showers, baths, and sinks, microplastics in our everyday products (including skincare) flow into sewage systems, slip through the filters in water treatment plants due to their extremely small size and ultimately reach our rivers and oceans. Microplastics are not biodegradable and once they enter the marine environment, they are almost impossible to remove!
Therefore, we always ensure that along with being beneficial for the skin, the ingredients we use are also 100% plastic-free, so they do not pollute our oceans & landfills. After all, it does not make sense to use clean, skin-enhancing ingredients that are putting a strain on the planet. Here at Beauty Cleanse Skincare, we believe in feeding your skin with Nature’s safest superfood ingredients, that are supergood for the planet!
Moreover, we believe that Nature is always in harmony with our bodies and it provides us with countless high-performance, skin-loving natural alternatives that are both safe and sustainable – and it’s this knowledge about what to add and leave out is what makes our products so special.
Below are the ingredients/type of ingredients that you will NEVER find in our products. Use this cheat sheet to make choices that are clean, ethical, and sustainable!
For skin, there are good alcohols and bad alcohols, corresponding to high-molecular-weight alcohols and low-molecular-weight alcohols, respectively. Alcohols with low molecular weights—the bad-for-skin kind—can be drying and sensitising. They are commonly found in mainstream beauty products and are responsible for irritation and adversely impacting our skin’s natural regeneration. This Alcohol can damage your skin’s natural protective layer and seriously reduce the presence of the natural oils your skin needs to stay healthy. It help active ingredients like retinol and vitamin C penetrate into the skin more effectively, but it does that by breaking down the skin’s barrier—destroying the very substances that keep your skin healthy over the long term. Once alcohol is affected your skin’s natural barrier, your skin will not be as good at protecting itself from further damage. Research demonstrates that Alcohol harms your skin’s protective barrier, triggers free-radical damage, makes oily skin and redness worse, and is best described as pro-aging. You will never find drying alcohols in any of our products.
- How to Identify Drying Alcohols on INCI: Watch out for Ethanol or ethyl alcohols, denatured alcohol, methanol, isopropyl alcohol & SD alcohol.
One of the main reasons we do not use silicones is because they are usually from non-renewable sources which leave a lasting negative impact on our planet. Instead we use natural plant-based extracts, esters and oils for their skin conditioning properties. Since they are persistent in the environment, they may build up in the food chain, and are hard to biodegrade.
Linear silicones like Dimethicone do not biodegrade well (or at all). Depending on the size of the ingredient and your skin’s sensitivity, they may clog pores. So those with acne-prone and sensitive skin may want to avoid products that list silicones as an ingredient.
- How to Identify Silicones on INCI: Watch out for Cyclic Silicones such as Cyclotetrasiloxane (D4), Cyclopentasiloxane (D5), Cyclohexasiloxane (D6), and Cyclomethicone and Linear Silicones such as Dimethicone that are hard to biodegrade. Silicones usually end with [ane’s and one’s]
They are used to improve the shelf life of the products. Calcium Disodium EDTA, Tetrasodium EDTA, Trisodium EDTA, etc, are chelating agents, meaning that they bind to metal ions, which inactivates them. These ingredients are not linked to consumer health issues, but they might be a problem for aquatic life since they don’t break down in the environment and have been found in waterways.
- How to identify EDTAs on INCI: Watch out for disodium EDTA, Trisodium EDTA and tetrasodium EDTA.
These ingredients (including DEA/TEA/MEA/ETA) may be contaminated with chemicals like Nitrosamines, that are potential carcinogenic substances i-e linked to cancer.
- How to identify Ethanolamines on INCI: Usually end with DEA, MEA, TEA, ETA.
Mineral Oils are derived from Petrochemicals/Petroleum. They are used in the formulation for their occlusive properties, which means that they sit on the top of your skin to form a barrier and trap in moisture. Though they make your skin feel soft and moisturised, all they do is trap in existing hydration and moisture rather than replenishing it. Mineral Oils don’t give your skin any actual nutrients – like filling up on white bread instead of a plant-based meal – and is used by companies simply because its very cheap. Even though mineral oil is unlikely to clog pores on its own, it can trap other pore-clogging ingredients into the skin. So, if you use a product that combines mineral oil with another ingredient, the mineral oil can potentially trap that other ingredient in the skin. This is also relevant for those occasions where we layer tons of products on our skin on a daily basis. Also, the toxicity of the Mineral Oil is dependent on its refinement process (the more refined, the less harmful). Untreated and mildly treated mineral oils are known human carcinogens. We believe in using botanical oils that actually absorb into the skin and provide it with all essential fatty acids, omegas and antioxidants it needs to stay healthy, youthful and vibrant.
Petrolatum and Paraffin
Petrolatum is a semisolid mixture derived from processed petroleum. Mineral Oil, Paraffin Wax, Liquid Paraffin, and several other ingredients are also petroleum distillation by-products. The concerns with these ingredients are unsustainable sourcing and possible PAH contamination. PAH (which stands for Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons) are linked to cancer – they are the same hydrocarbons you find in the petrol that you put into your car. Although it is possible to obtain certification that there is little-to-no trace PAH contamination, we do not use any of these in our products as we think why take a risk when there are better alternatives available? Also, these ingredients are cheap which is one of the main reasons of their inclusion in the mainstream products. Instead we use high quality natural plant oils, waxes, butters, and technology-backed extracts which help strengthen natural skin barrier & provide same moisturising effects to the skin without clogging the pores.
- How to identify Mineral Oils, Petroleum & some of their common Derivatives on INCI: Watch out for Mineral Oil, Paraffin Wax, Liquid Paraffin, Paraffinum Liquidum, Cera Microcristallina, Petrolatum, Microcrystalline Wax, Ozokerite, Ceresine Isoparaffin, Propylene Glycol and Synthetic Wax.
Typically used for skin lightening reasons and heavily marketed towards women of color. Usually found in skin lighteners, facial and skin cleansers, facial moisturizers, hair conditioners or finger nail coating products. It inhibits melanin synthesis, causes skin irritation, and may cause discoloration of the skin. Hydroquinone is a metabolite of the carcinogen Benzene.
It is banned from cosmetics in the European Union; restricted use in Canadian cosmetics. The U.S. Cosmetics Ingredients Review Panel indicates that hydroquinone is unsafe for use in products that are left on the skin, but because of lax enforcement, directions for skin-lightening products containing hydroquinone encourage frequent and consistent use on the skin.
We suggest to always choose 100% plant-based alternatives for skin brightening properties. Our formulations only contain nourishing plant-based alternatives, such as Broccoli Seed Oil (for its extremely high Vitamin C Content), Rosehip Oil (Vitamin-rich remedy for blemishes and UV damage), Carrot Seed Oil (Rich in Beta-carotene, Natural alternative to Retinol and Potent Antioxidant), Microalgae Plankton (Neuroscience-backed Ingredient that Improves Signs of Premature Aging and Promote Skin Radiance), Cranberry Seed Oil (packed with potent antioxidants that help prevent free radical damage), Bisabolol (soothing and calming ingredient derived from Candeia Tree) etc.
- How to identify Hydroquinone on INCI: Watch out for Hydroquinone or tocopheryl acetate as hydroquinone is a possible impurity of tocopheryl acetate (synthetic Vitamin E) which is very common in facial and skin cleansers, facial moisturizers and hair conditioners. Consumers should check with companies to confirm the purity of tocopheryl acetate, due to concerns about hydroquinone contamination.
Ethoxylated Ingredients / SLS
These ingredients are synthetically produced using Ethylene Oxide, a carcinogen. 1,4-Dioxane, another carcinogen, often contaminates the Ethoxylated ingredients, but 1,4-Dioxane itself doesn’t appear on ingredient labels.
To avoid Ethoxylated compounds look for these common ingredients listed on labels (although many more exist too):
- How to identify Ethoxylated Ingredients on INCI:
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, and most ingredients ending in “-eth”
- PEGS: (Polyethylene Glycol): There is also one more ingredient that sound similar, Propylene Glycol compounds. There are over 1000 PEG ingredients listed in the International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients Database. Polyethylene Glycol do not appear to pose a safety risk for most people, but they may irritate sensitive skin.
- Propylene Glycol:is also another synthetic petroleum substance that is derived from non-renewable sources. It consumes oxygen needed by aquatic organisms, which can result in unhealthy environment for life in sea and rivers.
Formaldehyde releasing agents
Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas used in a wide range of industries and products including building materials, walls, cabinets furniture and personal care products. Formaldehyde although typically not listed as an ingredient, formaldehyde “releasers” or “donors” often are listed on ingredient labels.
Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs) are used in many personal care products, particularly in shampoos, hair-smoothing products, nail polishes and liquid baby soaps. These chemicals, which help prevent microbes from growing in water-based products, can be absorbed through the skin and have been linked to various allergic skin reactions.
In personal care products, formaldehyde can be added directly, or more often, it can be released from preservatives.
- How to identify Formaldehyde Releasing Agents on INCI: Formaldehyde although typically not listed as an ingredient, formaldehyde “releasers” or “donors” often are listed on ingredient labels. Some of the ingredients that likely have Formaldehyde tagging along include formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal.
Synthetic Fragrance /Phthalates
Phthalates are plasticizing chemicals. Some appear on product ingredient labels, but many may remain undisclosed, hiding under the term “fragrance/Parfum.”
There are several types of synthetic musks used as fragrance ingredients. Two types, Nitromusks and Polycyclic Musks, have health and environmental concerns ranging from suspected endocrine disruption to widespread environmental persistence, so we prohibit them out of caution. Moreover, up to 95 % of chemicals used in perfume can also be derived from petroleum.
Since some phthalates have been linked to hormone disruption, we avoid using synthetic/artificial fragrances altogether. Instead on rare occasions, we only use gentle natural essential oils in very low quantities for 2 key reasons.
- Where a specific essential oil brings huge aromatherapy benefits to the formulation that could not be replaced with any synthetic alternatives,
- In case we need to mask the smell of some of the very potent and strong natural plant or herb oils in our formulations.
Since we only use cold pressed & virgin plant oils in our formulations, this means they always come with unadulterated natural aroma. Most of the oils in cosmetic products these days are obtained from a method called Chemical Extraction. In this method, raw materials are heated at high temperature to refine and make it commercially available for longer shelf life. They are then distilled to remove the chemical solvents, bleached to remove impurities, and deodorised to remove smell and color. However, Cold-Pressing Extraction Method don’t involve use of any chemicals or high heat that can alter their composition or weaken the natural aroma. This means some ingredients in their purest form could be little too intense in smell for face application purposes.
In both cases, we always choose lower than professionally recommended quantities and pick only those essential oils that are suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin, followed by rigorous testing for a few months before the launch.
- How to identify Phthalates on INCI: Usually hiding under the term “fragrance/Parfum.” Watch out for phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and term fragrance.
Triclosan and Triclocarban
These ingredients are used as antibacterial or anti-microbial agents. They’re persistent in the environment and may be associated with hormone disruption.
- How to identify Triclosan and Triclocarban on INCI: Watch out for Triclosan (TSC) and triclocarban (TCC)
Certain Parabens have been linked to health concerns. Out of caution, we prohibit all Parabens, including Butylparaben, Isopropyl paraben, Methylparaben. They are found in widely used synthetic preservatives in cosmetic products. We either choose alternative ECOcert preservatives systems, or make our formulations waterless/anhydrous with safe packaging options, which means they don’t require a strong preservative that could pose a risk to the health of your skin and the planet.
- How to identify Parabens on INCI: Butylparaben, Isopropyl paraben, Methylparaben, BHT.
No Animal Derivatives
As a brand that believes in all things plant-based and is always against animal suffering, we suggest reducing the demand for ingredients that contain animal derivatives, such as Collagen, Lanolin, Beeswax. Instead try to opt for vegetable or plant-based alternatives that are nutrient-rich skin emollients with almost same skin conditioning properties which are also easily absorbed into the skin.
- How to identify animal derivatives on INCI: Collagen, Lanolin, Beeswax, Squalene with an ‘e’, not Squalane, Albumen, Lactic Acid (check source), Allantoin (Uric acid from cows, but check source as it also found in many plants, specially comfrey), Bee Pollen, Carmine, Cochineal, Carminic Acid, colors, dyes, Hyaluronic Acid. If unsure, always check sources as majority of these comes from plants too.
Lastly, we would like to share Plastic Soup Foundation’s RED FLAG category ingredients to ensure this cheat sheet becomes a thorough guide to help you make clean choices!
Because of the extensive list of more than 500 known microplastic ingredients, this list was created by Plastic Soup Foundation (an organisation which is fighting plastic pollution in oceans with a goal: no plastic in our water or our bodies!) to help you quickly recognize whether there are microplastic inside your products.
Red Flags by Plastic Soup Foundation
Methyl Methacrylate Copolymer
Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer
Propylene Copolymer or Polypropylene
Vinyl Acetate Copolymer
Click here to read the entire guide containing all other categories, such as Orange, Green, and Zero – The brands on Zero List carry the Zero Plastic Inside certification logo because they have publicly declared that their products are totally free of microplastic ingredients.
Behind the Name
The reason we didn’t name this guide ”Clean Beauty Cheat Sheet” is because rather than focusing on “clean”, we encourage consumers to look for transparency & sustainability – the brands who are willing to disclose exactly how their products will help our skin without damaging the planet and where, precisely, their ingredients come from, because they have no reason, whatsoever, to hide it. Read our entire blog on ”Decoding Clean Beauty Myths & Buzzwords” to understand our stance on clean beauty.
At Beauty Cleanse Skincare, we always design our products keeping the health of your skin and planet in mind. Read all about our Ingredients by clicking HERE. You can rest assured that our products DO NOT contain any of the controversial ingredients listed in this guide/cheat sheet.
Beauty Cleanse Skincare
Superfoods for the Skin, SuperGood for the Planet!