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What is Clean Beauty? Why it Matters

In the vast and ever-evolving realm of beauty and skincare, there's been a considerable paradigm shift towards 'clean beauty'. Amid the glossy ads and polished shelves, a more conscious and ethical trend is emerging, one that emphasizes the health of our skin, body, and planet. Yet, what does 'clean beauty' mean? Why is it becoming more significant in our daily lives? This article aims to shed light on this relatively new term, its importance, and why we should be more inclined toward it.

What is Clean Beauty?

Its products are those made without ingredients shown or suspected to harm human health - you would think it would be the standard but it's not. To give you an idea of where we are, consider that there are 11 cosmetic ingredients currently banned by the FDA, while in the EU, over 1,300 ingredients are banned. 

In a nutshell, clean beauty refers to products that are mindfully created and produced without any proven or suspected toxic ingredients. They combine the best of science and nature to deliver effective results, sans health risks. These products are made with consideration for the health of our skin and the environment, often cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and devoid of harmful chemicals and toxins.

However, 'clean' isn't just about what's not in your products, but also about what is in them. Clean beauty champions ingredients that are ethically sourced and natural, often organic, and always non-toxic. They are products that aim to nourish your skin, body, and hair while maintaining respect for nature.


Why Does Clean Beauty Matter?

There are several reasons why clean beauty is becoming increasingly essential in our beauty regimen.

  1. Health and Wellness:

The skin, our largest organ, absorbs approximately 60% of what we put on it, which can enter the bloodstream and potentially harm our overall health. Many conventional beauty products contain chemicals like parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, which are often linked to health concerns ranging from skin irritation and allergies to more serious issues like hormonal disruption and cancer. Clean beauty eliminates these harmful ingredients, ensuring that the products we use daily are as safe as possible.

A Big Offender:  "Fragrance" in Ingredient Lists

When it comes to deciphering the ingredient labels of beauty products, one term that often proves to be a wolf in sheep's clothing is “perfume,” "fragrance" or "parfum." Fragrance is considered a trade secret, which means companies aren't legally obliged to disclose the myriad of chemicals that constitute a particular scent. This loophole allows manufacturers to hide potentially harmful ingredients behind this innocuous term.

This lack of transparency makes it difficult for consumers to make fully informed decisions about the products they choose. When seeking clean beauty products, it is advisable to look for those that clearly state they are "fragrance-free" or those that specify the use of natural essential oils for scent. Many clean beauty brands claim to be green or clean but you have to look at the ingredients to make sure you don’t see any type of fragrance.

How fragrance can harm our health:

There are many studies showing they cause skin allergies.[1][2]

Exacerbations of asthma and COPD can be triggered by fragrance exposure.[3][4][5]

Neurological impacts such as migraines have been associated with fragrance.[6][7]

Women have 2-3 times greater risk of fragrance skin allergies than men.[8][9]

  1. Environmental Impact:

Clean beauty brands often prioritize sustainability, both in their ingredients and packaging. They're more likely to use biodegradable ingredients, avoid harmful pollutants, and implement practices that minimize carbon footprint. Traditional cosmetics can have a severe environmental impact, with microplastics and harmful chemicals leaching into our waterways and affecting marine life. By choosing clean beauty, we can reduce this harm and contribute to the protection of our planet.

Growing use of fragrance worldwide has led to global environmental contamination by certain fragrance ingredients:

Fragrance ingredients such as synthetic musks have been detected in rivers and lakes[10], drinking water[11], sediment[12], air[13], and all kinds of wildlife from fish[14] to birds to harbor seals.[15] Musks are also commonly found in human blood[16], fat tissue[17] and breastmilk.[18]

  1. Transparency and Ethical Practice:

Clean beauty is also about honesty and transparency. Brands in this domain are open about their ingredients, sourcing, and manufacturing processes. They stand against animal testing and strive for ethical sourcing and fair trade. As consumers, choosing clean beauty allows us to support businesses that align with these values. This is why we show you all the information you need on purity, safety, and potency of our ingredients on our ingredient page

  1. Efficacy:

Finally, clean beauty products can be just as effective, if not more so, than their traditional counterparts. Natural ingredients can offer potent and beneficial properties for our skin and hair. The science-backed formulations ensure you're not compromising on results while maintaining a safe and healthy routine.

In a world increasingly conscious of health, wellness, and environmental impact, clean beauty is more than just a trend. It's a movement towards more mindful consumption, better products, and a healthier planet. As we become more educated and aware, the demand for these products will only grow. Clean beauty matters because our choices matter - for our well-being, our environment, and our future. As the saying goes, "Beauty is more than skin deep," and it's time our products reflect that. 


How We Define Clean Beauty at K Sahai

At K Sahai, our clean beauty philosophy is guided by rigorous standards that influence our own product lines, all the clean beauty & wellness products we stock, and the editorial stories we publish. Our definition of clean revolves around producing items free from an extensive, constantly updating list of ingredients that are associated with detrimental health effects - from hormonal disruption and cancer to mere skin irritation - and adverse environmental consequences. Some of the culprits we consciously sidestep include parabens, phthalates, resorcinol, PEGs, ethanolamines, chemical sunscreens, BHT, PFAS, and compounds containing heavy metals.

We rely on established as well as ongoing scientific research to guide our decisions about the ingredients we accept and those we reject. 

Are we passionate about crafting luxurious, exquisitely scented, highly effective, richly pigmented beauty & wellness products? Absolutely. We not only create, sell, and write about them but also acknowledge the challenges - the increased difficulty and cost in producing cleaner products.

But is it worthwhile? Unequivocally, yes.

Clean beauty no longer requires trading off quality, efficacy, or luxury; it's an amalgamation of all these. Our ultimate ambition? To encourage more consumers to vote with their spending power (at K Sahai or elsewhere) to create a future where we no longer need to question the contents of our products, as everything will be clean and safe.

The Rationale Behind Our Clean Beauty Products

Our range of award-winning skincare & wellness products are all conceived with high-performance clean ingredients. We ensure that each product is safe enough for our children, robust enough for those who have overexposed themselves to the sun, indulgent enough for luxury lovers, and transformative enough to make a noticeable difference in our appearance and feel.



[1] Schnuch, A., Lessmann, H., Geier, J., Frosch, P.J.and Uter, W. (2004) Contact allergy to fragrances: Frequencies of sensitization from 1996 to 2002. Results of the IVDK. Contact Dermatitis. Vol. 50. pp. 65-76. 2004.

[2] Schafer, T., Bohler, E., Ruhdorfer, S., Weigl, L., Wessner, D., Filipiak, B., Wichmann, H.E. and Ring, J. (2001) Epidemiology of contact allergy in adults. Allergy. Vol. 56. pp: 1992-1996. 2001.

[3] Sama SR, Kriebel D, Gore RJ, DeVries R and Rosiello R. (2015) Environmental triggers of COPD symptoms: a cross sectional survey. COPD Research and Practice (2015) 1:12

[4] Ritz, T.R., Steptoe,A., Bobb, C., Harris, A.H., and Edwards, M. (2006) The Asthma Trigger Inventory: validation of a questionnaire for perceived triggers of asthma. Psychosomatic Medicine. Vol. 68. pp: 956-965. 2006.

[5] Kumar, P., Caradonna-Graham, V.M., Gupta, S, Cai, X, Rao, P.N. and Thompson, J. (1995) Inhalation challenge effects of perfume scent strips in patients with asthma. Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Vol. 75, pp: 429-433. November 1995.

[6] Peris F, Donoghue S, Torres F, Mian A and Wöber C. (2017) Towards improved migraine management: Determining potential trigger factors in individual patients. Cephalalgia. 2017 Apr;37(5):452-463.

[7] Silva-Neto RP, Peres MP and Valenca MM (2014) Odorant substances that trigger headaches in migraine patients.  Cephalgia, Vol. 34 (1) pp 14-21. (2014)

[8] Schafer, T., Bohler, E., Ruhdorfer, S., Weigl, L., Wessner, D., Filipiak, B., Wichmann, H.E. and Ring, J. (2001) Epidemiology of contact allergy in adults. Allergy. Vol. 56. pp: 19992-1996. 2001.

[9] Nardelli, A., Carbonez, A., Ottoy, W., Drieghe, J. and Goossens, A. (2008) Frequency of and trends in fragrance allergy over a 15-year period. Contact Dermatitis. Vol. 58: pp: 134-141. 2008.

[10] Baldwin AK, Corsi SR, DeCicco LA, Lenaker PL, Lutz MA, Sullivan DJ and Richards KD. (2016) Organic contaminants in Great Lakes tributaries: Prevalence and potential aquatic toxicity. Science of the Total Environment. 554-555, 42-52. 2016

[11] Wombacher WD and Hornbuckle KC. (2009) Synthetic Musk Fragrances in a Conventional Drinking Water Treatment Plant with Lime Softening. J Environ Eng (New York). 2009 November 1; 135(11): 1192

[12] Peck AM, Linebaugh EK, and Hornbuckle KC. (2006) Synthetic musk fragrances in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario sediment cores. Environmental Science & Technology. Vol. 40(18):5629-35. September 15, 2006.

[13] Peck AM and Hornbuckle KC (2004) Synthetic musk fragrances in Lake Michigan. Environmental Science & Technology. Vol. 38(2):367-72. January 15, 2004.

[14] Ramirez AJ, et.al. (2009) Occurrence of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in Fish: Results of a National Pilot Study in the United States. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Vol. 28, No. 12, pp. 2587-2597. 2009.

[15] Kannan K, Reiner JL, Yun SH, Perotta EE, Tao L, Johnson-Restrepo B and Rodan BD. (2005) Polycyclic musk compounds in higher trophic level aquatic organisms and humans from the United States. Chemosphere 61, pp: 693–700. 2005.

[16] Hutter H. et.al. (2009) Synthetic musks in blood of healthy young adults: Relationship to cosmetics use. Science of the Total Environment. Vol. 47, pp: 4821-4825. 2009.

[17] Kannan K, Reiner JL, Yun SH, Perotta EE, Tao L, Johnson-Restrepo B and Rodan BD. (2005) Polycyclic musk compounds in higher trophic level aquatic organisms and humans from the United States. Chemosphere 61, pp: 693–700. 2005.

[18] Reiner JL, Wong CM, Arcaro KF and Kannan K. (2007) Synthetic Musk Fragrances in Human Milk from the United States. Environmental Science and Technology. Vol. 41, No. 11, pp: 3815-3820. 2007

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