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Consumers care about the toxicity of ingredients in their beauty products, and indie brands are meeting those demands in spades. That is the takeaway from “Tracking the Rise of ‘Clean’ Beauty” — a great read written by Vogue contributing editor Sarah Brown for The Business of Fashion.

Brown argues that regulatory oversight of the beauty industry is sorely lacking in the United States, where only 30 chemicals have been banned from personal care products compared with 1,000 in the EU. But smaller beauty brands have stepped in, and are catering to informed consumers by offering them “cleaner” alternatives.

“Clean is the new ‘natural,” writes Brown, though “it is not a regulated classification.” The meaning of clean can vary, as was true for designiations like “organic” or “natural.” There isn’t one official, regulated definition. To help, third-party firms like the Environmental Working Group and Think Dirty have stepped in to define what “clean” means, as have curation-based retailers like Follain, Credo and BeautyHeroes.

But smaller brands contribute to the public conversation, too, offering complete ingredient disclosure as part of what’s on offer. They realize customers want fewer ingredients, and to be able to pronounce their names. But in addition to clean, indie brands know customers also want a relationship, where they can engage brands about the what, where, how and why behind each ingredient used.

But they don’t want to sacrifice performance, which has historically beleagued small brands attempting to stand apart from business as usual in beauty. Today, though, ‘clean’ brands are putting to rest old myths that safety comes at the cost of efficacy. “Clean products can be — and the best are — stable, high-tech and high-performance,” notes Brown.

Bigger beauty brands, adds Brown, are struggling to keep pace with these consumer demands and the shift towards total transparency in the marketplace. Even still, smaller upstarts confess to how hard reformulating cleaner versions of common beauty products like deodorants and sunscreen can be. 

This rings true to our experience at Silk Therapeutics, where we invested two years into the research and development of our skincare lines. But in our case, we’ve been hard at work inventing an entirely new architecture from which to build clean, performance skincare.

Rather than formulating within the confines of conventional skincare chemistry and supply chains, and then just subtracting out known “no-no’s” like parabens and phthalates, we instead invented an entirely new class of ingredients from which to formulate skincare from the ground up.

Silk-based skincare obviates the need for entire classes of stabilizers, emuslifiers, preservatives and more. “We’re pursuing clean by way of innovation and a desire to disrupt skincare technology using silk,” our CEO and co-founder, Dr. Greg Altman recently said.

 “We offer skincare a new architecture with which to build clean products that truly support healthy skin. It marks a paradigm shift,” he added.

Brown notes that small brands are leading the charge where federal regulations aren’t protective of public health. In the end, both consumers — and public health — will benefit from the trend toward increased transparency in the beauty industry. And, proudly, we are a part of the movement marching the industry forward.



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