Clean eating – consuming a diet primarily made up of natural, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and fats – is being increasingly adopted by those looking to improve the nutritional value of their food intake.
But it doesn’t stop there. Clean eating isn’t a fad – it’s simply about making healthier and more nutritious choices – and as a result many are experiencing a range of physical benefits, which covers everything from improved sleep and hydrated skin to reduced inflammation and a stronger immune system. And it’s these benefits that have expanded clean eating into a clean lifestyle, with many opting to use clean cosmetics products, too.
What’s Driving Market Growth?
The clean cosmetics market is growing at a rapid rate, and a portion of this growth is driven by the numerous advantages of removing chemical-based cosmetics from the daily routine. While still popular, these products could introduce potential health risks.
Some areas of concern relating to chemical-based cosmetics include:
- Dermal Absorption
While there is longstanding debate over the efficacy of topical products, the World Health Organization confirms that ‘dermal absorption can occur from occupational, environmental, or consumer exposure to chemicals, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products’. After all, dermal absorption is exactly how modern transdermal drug delivery systems work, with patch-based birth control and nicotine doses being very common.
In terms of dermal absorption, cosmetics products are particularly worrying. Research suggests that surfactants such as fatty acids, and solvents such as alcohol – both of which are regularly found in cosmetics products – can act as penetration enhancers, making it easier for chemicals to penetrate skin and be absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Body Burden
Body burden – the concentration of chemicals in the body – is something that affects everyone. Regardless of cosmetic usage, environmental factors play a role here, and it’s estimated that average body burden is between 30 – 50mg. However, what’s concerning about cosmetics is the possibility of cumulative storage from daily use.
In the Pesticide Biotransformation and Disposition study referenced above, methylparaben was found in 99% of research participants. This paraben, considered by regulatory bodies to be safe has also been linked to the development of breast cancer due to its estrogenic effects.
- Chronic Exposure
As many know, cosmetics labels list ingredients in order of concentration, with base ingredients such as water listed near the top, and low quantities of chemicals listed near the bottom. This implies that chemicals are used in low concentrations, and indeed many are. However, experts are keen to communicate that there is a notable difference between low level exposure and chronic exposure of low toxicity products.
Even though many chemicals are used sparingly in cosmetics products, these products are often advised for regular or daily use for maximum effectiveness. Low toxicity chemicals can have adverse effects when the body is exposed on a regular basis.
As a result of these potential health risks, there has been an increasing shift to clean cosmetics over recent years. However, the current state of the clean cosmetics industry is messy and complex.
A Messy Industry
A main concern with the current clean cosmetics market is that it is a largely unregulated industry. Cosmetics labels are not always indicative of ‘cleanliness’.
Natural labels suggest that naturally-derived ingredients are healthier than synthetic alternatives. This isn’t always the case, with research showing that a number of natural clay samples intended for use in cosmetic products contain quantities of lead and cadmium, both of which are considered to have carcinogenic properties.
Organic labels can be used in the EU for trace amounts of organic ingredients. As a result, it is “very difficult for consumers to know they are making the right choice when doing their shopping” says Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett. It has been reported that more than three quarters of consumers feel misled by organic labelling.
Free from labels could previously be used to signify the occlusion of common cosmetic ingredients, regardless of whether they were determined to be safe or not. As a result, some EU countries have now banned the use of ‘free from’ labels on cosmetics products in a last ditch attempt to reduce the complexities of cosmetics labelling.
However, the cosmetics industry is keen to use labels to educate consumers and inform them of product benefits. There are also standards in place to govern labelling for cosmetics products, including the EU Cosmetics Regulations (1223/2009), while the industry itself has developed COSMOS, which sets a standard for organic and natural cosmetics, certifying amongst other things that the ingredients used truly are organic, natural and where possible, sustainable.
Time for Change
The clean cosmetics market is at a turning point. Consumers are becoming smarter; they’re cut through the ‘greenwashing’ and are making more informed decisions. Today’s consumers are actively looking for clean cosmetics that really are ‘clean’.
The industry is responding to this demand. And one of the biggest ways they’re doing so is by working from the inside out. The future of the market is reliant upon manufacturers taking a closer look at internal processes to enhance the body’s own natural abilities. Cellular bioenergetics research is being utilised to help identify the building blocks of beauty, and what it’s showing is that nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, is key.
NAD is found in all living cells, and it’s understood to be responsible for all cellular behaviours. However, natural levels of NAD within the body decline with age, with experts believing that both increased consumption and decreased synthesis play a role in this decline. Reduced levels of NAD have been shown to increase sensitivity to UV light, and create DNA damage. This can explain why there is such prevalence of age-related skin conditions, including wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and skin sagging. Low levels of NAD in the body are also shown to increase the risk of skin pigmentation.
What can reasonably be expected of the clean cosmetics market of the future is a newfound focus on treating beauty-related concerns at the root of the issue through enhancing natural internal processes, rather than simply masking problems through the use of chemicals. The introduction of NAD-based cosmetics is anticipated to be the driving force behind this change, creating a more transparent, more effective industry that really does help today’s savvy consumers to live a healthy and clean lifestyle.