Clean beauty FAQ image

Clean beauty FAQ

From mindful ingredient lists to cruelty-free certification, here’s how to select more thoughtful options for your beauty cabinet

Clean beauty is a concept that’s constantly growing and evolving — and it can be overwhelming to navigate. Many of us are looking for skincare, haircare and makeup options that are safer, more natural and better for our bodies and the planet, but with different definitions for what is categorized as “clean beauty,” it can seem confusing. It’s important to understand how each brand or retailer defines “clean” to ensure it aligns with your expectations. The Thoughtful Choices at Shoppers Drug Mart™ collection features products that are, at a minimum, paraben, phthalate, SLS/SLES, formaldehyde, BPA and aluminum salts-free. Products in this lineup are also cruelty-free and considerate of the environment by either being partly-to-fully recyclable1 and/or ethically sourced. To make understanding the world of “clean beauty” even easier, read on for answers to common questions.

What does “clean” even mean?

The term “clean beauty” isn’t one that is regulated, which means it’s up to brands to define what their definition of “clean” is. For the most part, clean products are free from controversial additives such as phthalates (found in some fragrances) and parabens. Keep in mind, a clean product may contain natural ingredients but not be all-natural; for instance, it might include a synthetic preservative to keep bacteria at bay. The key is to read up on a brand’s values and commitments to ensure its products meet your own needs.

What should I avoid on ingredient lists?

Health Canada has a Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist of ingredients that are prohibited or restricted in Canada for safety reasons, but clean beauty products often go the extra mile by excluding ingredients that are thought to be harmful at high concentrations. Take, for instance, parabens, which many choose to avoid due to their potential impact on the reproductive system and certain organs2. Or sulfates, such as SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate), which create the lather in products like cleansers and shampoo and may be irritating, at higher concentrations, to the skin3. Keep in mind that the evidence isn’t conclusive on how these ingredients could impact your health, and the concentrations in most personal care products is very low, though some are concerned that cumulative exposure to many different products may add up.

What’s the difference between vegan and cruelty-free?

An increasing point of concern for many of us is how a product has impacted animals in its formulation. If a product claims to be “cruelty-free”, it means it has not been tested on animals. Keep in mind, some cruelty-free products may contain animal-derived ingredients. If a product is vegan, it means it doesn’t contain any ingredients sourced from animals, such as beeswax (a common binding ingredient), honey or lanolin. Many clean products tick off one or both of these boxes: Look for logos on packaging from organizations such as Leaping Bunny or PETA to be sure brands have committed to a particular set of standards.

Where does packaging come in for clean beauty?

Many people who care about what’s in their products also care about how the packaging impacts the environment. Happily, many beauty brands are working hard to ensure their clean formulas are housed in more eco-friendly packaging. Look for bottles, tubes or jars that include post-consumer recycled materials, are recyclable, and/or are made using sustainable practices. As demand for these options increases, so will the innovations — this is how cleaning up your routine can also be better for the planet.

The opinions shared in the articles featured are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of Shoppers Drug Mart® / Pharmaprix® or its affiliates.

1 Where facilities exist; check your local guidelines.

Looking for cleaner beauty options? Shop the Thoughtful Choices at Shoppers Drug Mart™ lineup: