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The Clean Beauty motion once considered a passing trend is coming as mainstream in Africa. With conscious consumerism swaying the skincare market and transforming the industry into a niche that resonates with toxic-free products, clean beauty garners the attention of the African skin-care industry.

Clean beauty redefines sustainable, green, and healthy skin care. While clean beauty is often misconstrued with all-natural or no-chemical products, encompassing virtuous practices, there is more to this rising trend in Africa than what meets the eye.

At its core, the idea of clean beauty encapsulates products that pose no risk to human health, which in general terms are considered ‘clean’. But what constitutes clean ingredients? Of all the ingredients ever used by the skincare and cosmetics industry, the ones that cause no hormonal disruption, are not carcinogens or do not cause skin irritation. So, as much as the terms ‘natural’, ‘green’, ‘hypoallergenic’ can become misleading, they will no longer be enough credentials to fit in the clean beauty vertical.

Driving this change is the consumer search for detoxification and their knowledge on skin aggressors, now prevalent in Africa. To add in the concept of clean beauty and staying away from mystery ingredients, beauty brands are further keeping their brand transparent with ‘what you read on the label is what goes inside the product’. So, while there will be brands promoting themselves with “eco” in an attempt to capture the crux of clean beauty, they are simply greenwashing their customers by hiding under the umbrella term.

For all African women and men, who wish to make this transition from beauty to clean beauty, it represents products sans toxic ingredients. The concept does not falsely talk about being 100% perfect, with the inclusion of both natural and man-made ingredients as long as they are safe and non-toxic.

The lack of FDA power over the beauty industry, even in Africa has had the most glaring consequence in the form of hiding mystery ingredients in the name of the fragrance on product labels. This loophole of secret label acts as the trojan horse for numerous harmful ingredients that a brand does not want its customers to see. Moreover adding essential oils, fragrances and other harmful ingredients in the name of natural has for a long time disrupted the African skincare market.

There is a reason, endocrine disruptors are scary for the skin and body. The parabens hiding in the similar-sounding labels are often the chemical known as endocrine disruptors, that have the ability to mimic the body’s hormones. They not only mess with your normal body rhythm but also alter the production level of hormones to cause long-term severe damage.

Staggering but true that of all the ingredients hiding under the mystery name, most carcinogens are not only legal but are frequently used as preservatives or for fragrance. A common example is of chemical formaldehyde, which is used as a preservative, sometimes hidden under fragrance and mostly not mentioned by its name on the label.

Eliminating Toxic Beauty for a healthy, sustainable eco-friendly approach in Africa

While there persists a debate on clean and green products, the idea of eliminating toxic ingredients flourishes skin-body health. However, the approach of clean beauty towards sustainable living has still a long walk to achievement.

Finding beauty options that are both clean and sustainable are hard, and not every brand has completely shifted to environment-friendly packaging. The impact of various ingredients on the environment still remains a concern, where they are responsible for higher CO2 emissions during their production. Moreover, the long-term effects of acrylics and non-recyclable plastics cannot be ignored, both on the environment and the body.

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