5 mins read
July 21st, 2023

Navigating The Complex and Confusing Landscape of Clean Beauty

Navigating The Complex and Confusing Landscape of Clean Beauty


  • Clean beauty has gained popularity due to increased consumer awareness and concern for skin health and well- Brands are capitalizing on these trends by offering products that adhere to social and environmental standards, and do not contain alleged harmful ingredients.
  • However, the concept of clean beauty is subjective and lacks a standardized definition. Certification bodies like Ecocert, Natrue, EWG, and Cosmos have their standards for certifying clean beauty products which differ in many aspects.
  • Therefore, brands need to develop their own consistent and well-reasoned position on clean beauty, based on their goals, values, and target market.
  • SanderStrothmann can help brands to create their own clean beauty philosophy and products, by providing comprehensive guidance on the advantages and disadvantages of various ingredient groups, trends, certificates, and limitations.


Clean beauty has surged in popularity in the personal care industry, driven by a global rise in consumer awareness and concern for skin health and overall well-being. The market for clean beauty products is expected to expand rapidly, from USD 6.46 Billion in 2021 to USD 15.29 Billion by 2028, with significant compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.1% projection from 2022 to 2028. Notably, Asia stands out as the fastest-growing region, with 90% of the Chinese consumers stating the importance of buying clean beauty products. The ongoing climate and environmental crisis have heightened consumer attention towards sustainable practices and environmental concerns, further propelling the clean beauty movement.

The concept of clean beauty, however, can be complex and subjective, encompassing various ideologies and philosophies. This article aims to delve into the world of clean beauty, shedding light on its various facets and providing guidance to brands navigating this dynamic landscape. As consumer demands for more eco-friendly beauty products continue to rise, it is essential for brands to prioritize efficacy, evidence, transparency, and safety while incorporating clean beauty principles.


What is Clean Beauty and How Has It Changed Over Time?

The term “clean beauty” is not regulated, and experts have yet to align on its clear definition. The existence of various certification bodies, including Ecocert, Natrue, EWG, and Cosmos, adds to the complexity of the clean beauty landscape. Each of these bodies has its own set of standards for certifying clean beauty products, further contributing to the diverse interpretations and definitions within the industry.

The concept of clean beauty has also evolved over time, as consumers have become more aware and demanding of their personal care products. In the past, clean beauty products were often seen as inferior to conventional products in terms of scent and texture, and they mainly focused on avoiding alleged harmful ingredients like parabens, sulfates, silica, and phthalates. However, thanks to technological advances, clean beauty products today can offer high-quality performance and sensory experience, as well as address sustainability issues such as fairtrade certification, vegan options, biodegradable packaging, and plastic-free alternatives.


Debunking Clean Beauty Myths

Clean beauty is often misunderstood, and it is essential to clarify some misconceptions. Firstly, an effective clean beauty formulation does not necessarily mean it exclusively using all-natural or organic ingredients. Many natural ingredients are scientifically modified to enhance its safety and efficacy – a good example is Vitamin C, which is stabilized with synthetic ingredients to elevate its effectiveness and be used in higher concentrations without compromising safety. Synthetic substances, safely developed in a laboratory, can therefore be less risky and offer more superior performance than their natural counterparts.

The second common misconception about clean beauty products is that they have shorter shelf lives because of using eco-friendly preservatives. However, it is not the shelf life but the PAO or “period-after-opening” that is compromised by such preservatives. The PAO indicates the number of weeks or months a product is safe for use after opening. The PAO of a product is influenced by various factors, including the presence of antioxidants that prevent the degradation of lipids and vitamins caused by exposure to oxygen.

While eco-friendly preservatives, such as organic acids, effectively prevent bacterial growth, they have limitations. These preservatives require a low pH value, sometimes below 5, to function optimally. This lower pH, unfortunately, can be harsher on sensitive skin than a neutral pH value achieved with synthetic preservatives. Moreover, there are many synthetic preservatives proven to be hypoallergenic and safe on sensitive skin.

Thirdly, clean beauty products are widely misconceived to have gentler formulation on the skin. The truth is, common causes of skin irritation are often the very same natural ingredients frequently found in clean formulas, such as essential oils, citrus extracts, and natural fragrances. According to an editorial in JAMA Dermatology, high concentrations of natural ingredients, such as botanical extracts, can cause skin irritation and allergies. When a synthetic ingredient is formulated in a laboratory, the scientists have the capability to extract the allergenic component of the substance, thereby enhancing its skin tolerance.


clean beauty formulation

Explore the dynamic landscape of clean beauty as it undergoes a revolutionary shift as consumers make meaningful choices driven by a desire for healthier, more sustainable personal care products. Credit: Shutterstock.


Clean beauty is a valuable pursuit that should be balanced with considerations of efficacy, evidence, and safety in product formulation and development, while reflecting consumer expectations. At SanderStrothmann, we understand the complexities of the clean beauty landscape. We work with brands to help them navigate this ever-evolving landscape and ensure newly developed products reflect its brand’s philosophy. We help by providing comprehensive advice on the advantages and disadvantages of various ingredient groups, beauty trends, certificates, and their limitations.


Transparency and Sustainability in Clean Beauty

Consumers’ demand for transparency and sustainability play a pivotal role in the clean beauty movement. According to a global survey, over two-thirds of the millennials stated that the quality and source of the ingredients are of high importance to them. Brands should actively prioritize communications about ingredient transparency to better connect with their consumers.

With the existing environmental crisis, consumers are feeling the impact of climate change and adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. Brands must recognize the growing importance placed on sustainability and similarly adopt sustainable sourcing throughout its value chain. It is now a necessity for brands to integrate sustainability into their clean beauty formulations and manufacturing processes, aligning products with environmental values for a greener future.



Clean beauty products are gaining traction among the educated consumers, who are increasingly well-informed about the complexity of the evolving clean beauty landscape. Brands today need to transparent in their communication on clean beauty philosophy and sustainability standards they espouse. This includes evaluating their entire value chain to ensure it incorporates sustainable practices in every step of the product development journey – transparent sourcing, using safe and effective ingredients, and environmentally friendly packaging.

Brands can easily navigate this complex landscape by partnering with SanderStrothmann. We provide the know-how to brands seeking to develop a consistent and well-reasoned position on clean beauty. SanderStrothmann has supported many brands to deliver products that are safe, effective, transparent, and sustainable. Working with many of the clean beauty certification bodies ensures obtaining the status of “certified clean beauty” in a smooth and speedy process.

SanderStrothmann also offers unique advantages, such as its global network of raw materials and packaging, its cutting-edge technology and innovation, and its high-quality standards. We invite you to explore our services and embark on a journey toward a safer and more transparent beauty solutions.

A flexible approach, customized to meet your requirements

We develop exclusive science-based products at the shortest time

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A flexible approach, customized to meet your requirements

We develop exclusive science-based products at the shortest time

Back to Home