your guide to clean beauty

If you follow us on instagram (@perkbeautylab) then this ain’t your first rodeo.

It’s 2019 and I’m not taking “I’d rather not know” for an answer! It’s time to get real about what’s really in your go-to skincare products, why it’s important to know, and how to introduce new products into your routine (without much hassle).

I totally get it, diving into the clean beauty community can be a bit intimidating. Much like the vegan community, everyone seems to be an expert and it can make dipping your toes in overwhelming.

I know it seems like too much but I want you to hear this from me… it’s okay to not go cold turkey with your current routine. No, you are not hypocrite if you slowly incorporate clean beauty and I am not judging you if you don’t have the thousands of toxic ingredients memorized. Start in a way that makes sense to YOU, and I am proud of you for getting started in the first place!

Let’s get into the basics. There are three main categories that are on speed dial for cosmetic manufacturers:

  1. Parabens - commonly used for preserving cosmetics and maintaining long shelf-lives.

    • What’s the issue? Deemed an xenoestrogen or estrogen disrupter which has been linked to potential reproductive issues.

  2. Phthalates - a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products, such as toys, vinyl flooring and wall covering, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, blood bags and tubing, and personal care products, such as nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes and other fragrance preparations.

    • What the issue? “linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer, have been banned from cosmetics in the European Union, but still remain prevalent in U.S. products” (Safe Cosmetics)

    • The FDA continues to ban variations of phthalates for children’s toy manufacturers however they still allow them in baby body care. Study on possible sources of infant phthalate exposure

  3. Carcinogens - many forms can be used for the prevention of bacteria growth, smoother application of skincare/cosmetics

    • What’s the issue? May cause potential health issues such as cancer. Not enough long-term research to prove or disprove this claim. More likely to cause skin irritations or allergic reactions.


Now I’m about to play devil’s advocate on a touchy subject. Let’s talk about the hazard versus risk for some of these ingredients. Thanks to my college nutrition prof for introducing this concept, it has stuck with me. Alexa, this one’s for you!

The Difference Between Hazard and Risk

By definition, hazard is the potential for harm or an adverse effect while risk is the probability that said harm occurs. It is true! Previous research conducted has found remnants of some of these ingredients in toxicology reports after the use of certain skincare products. Lucky for us, there are also almost immediate signs of decrease in these amounts found in our bodies when these ingredients are cut out of people’s daily products. The American Cancer Society has stated that due to the lack of long-term studies “there is little evidence to suggest that using cosmetics, or being exposed to the ingredients in cosmetics during normal use of these products, increases cancer risk. Still, because there are no long-term studies, little is known about the health effects of long term exposure to many ingredients in cosmetics…”

During their studies with cell cultures and lab animals they have found that when exposed to large doses of common carcinogens found in everyday products, it has caused cases of cancer. However, it was emphasized that the dosage needed to prove cancer causing ingredients must be extremely high, and “doses are very important when talking about toxicity. For example, taking a couple of aspirin may help with your headache, but taking a whole bottle could put you in serious trouble. It's not always clear that the effects seen with very high doses of a substance would also be seen with much lower doses.

So can we categorize some of these ingredients as hazardous? Yes. Is the amount we are using enough to actually cause harm? Consistently over the course of years, it’s possible. Personally I don’t like to play with fire, if any of my products have the potential to cause me harm, whether it’s next week or in 20 years, I will do my best to avoid it.

Here’s how to introduce clean products into your routine — start small. No really…start small…with testers! Clean beauty can be an expensive investment and is often carried by some of your go-to destinations for make-up and skincare. Do your research on some brands and then hit up your local Sephora for a sample to give it a shot. Ulta also boasts a generous return policy that allows you to return your used product if it just wasn't working out for you.

Trying a do-it-yourself recipe gives you the chance to get your hands dirty and customize a product to your needs. The best part about a DIY? There’s no questioning what’s in there, because you chose every ingredient in it! Total control…just how I like it!

Again, get involved in a way that makes sense to you and be aware when re-purchasing some of your favorite products…you may just find yourself tossing your once tried-and-true products out the door!