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What does Clean Beauty really Mean? Decoding common ingredients in skincare and our strict 'No List'.

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What is Clean Beauty and Why is it important?

Clean Beauty in 2022 is not just a buzzword or a trend anymore, but a movement. It is a conscious choice to use products that are mindfully crafted and produced. To simply put it, it avoids the use of potentially harmful ingredients and chemicals that conventional skincare products such as soaps, shampoos and creams are full of. While it may be difficult to digest the fact that it is common practice for beauty brands to use ingredients that could potentially harm the body, it is even more alarming that they are legal in many countries, including ours. These ingredients may seem harmless, but can potentially damage the skin in the long term by upsetting its natural balance, disrupting hormone levels and even causing cancer.

Clean Beauty, on the other hand, focuses on ethical and sustainable products that are created with zero compromises on quality or efficacy. It is a simple practice that uses safe and effective ingredients that are good for us. Clean Beauty products are often confused with 'natural' or 'organic' products while they may not be all-natural and preservative-free. Clean Beauty at its core is simply synonymous with green or sustainable beauty. As consumers, it is of paramount importance to educate ourselves about the commonly found ingredients and to be cautious of what we use on ourselves. Sublime Life is born out of the mission to help consumers not only choose better products but make more conscious choices.

What are the common ingredients found in skincare and how do they harm us?

Common ingredients found in skincare and cosmetic products can cause potential health problems in the long run. This is why, at Sublime Life we have a strict ‘No List’, that ensures that we only partner with brands that are free from the following ingredients: 

1. Parabens

Parabens are a group of antimicrobial chemicals and preservatives that are used to extend the shelf life of a product and prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria in them. They are used in most skincare and makeup products, including deodorants. It has been scientifically proven by the International Journal of Molecular Science that Parabens can mimic estrogen in our bodies, which can potentially lead to reproductive damage, thyroid disruption, obesity issues and hormone-related cancers.

Parabens are commonly found using the names Ethyl Paraben, Methyl Paraben, Butyl Paraben, Propyl Paraben.

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2) Sulphates 

Sulphates are compounds that are created using a combination of Petroleum and plant sources such as Coconut Oil or Palm Oil. They are  found in most personal care products using the abbreviations SLS or SLES. Not only is the Petroleum and Palm Oil production process a cause of concern for the environment, but also are detrimental to human health. Upon prolonged use, they can make the skin feel tight and cause irritation to the skin, eyes and lungs. If you have sensitive skin, Sulphates can potentially clog up your pores and trigger acne too. It is best to avoid them in your shampoos and hair products too, as they can strip off the natural oils from your hair and make it dry and brittle (unless you have an oily scalp).

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate & Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLS) & Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate SLES are different forms of this ingredient.

ALES or Ammonium Laureth Sulphate on the other hand is considered as a safe and effective cleansing agent and is rapidly biodegradable. Virtually 100% of this base is immediately removed from the skin or hair by the simple act of rinsing with water, hence we haven’t excluded it from our list.

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3)  Phthalates 

Phthalates are plasticising chemicals that are found in nail paints, hair sprays, shampoos, lotions and soaps that can potentially disrupt the human endocrine and reproductive system, and hinder their development. They may also lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, infertility or a reduced sperm count. They are generally used to help fragrances last longer, and to keep products pliable. 

Look out for them in the form of DMP, DEP, DBP, DEHP or fragrances.

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4) Heavy metals

No, this is not the heavy rock music we love to groove to! Heavy metals are any metallic chemical elements, which could be poisonous in the lowest of concentrations. These include metals such as Lead, Arsenic, Mercury compounds, Zinc, Chromium and Iron, which are dangerous owing to their tendency to bioaccumulate. Bioaccumulation is essentially an increase in the concentration of a chemical in a biological organism (such as humans) over time, in comparison to the chemical's concentration in the environment. These are normally used in sunscreens, lip products, moisturisers, nail polishes, blushes etc and can potentially lead to cancer, developmental, reproductive and organ system toxicity.

When decoding a product label, stay away from Lead Acetate, Chromium, Thimerosal and Sodium Hexametaphosphate.

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5) Resorcinol 

Resorcinol is a compound that is commonly found in hair dyes, where it manifests as a hair colourant. It has been proven to cause skin sensitisation and allergies, which can lead to the contraction of dermatitis. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Report confirms that this particular ingredient is a human skin toxicant and when inhaled, it can get deeply absorbed into the skin and cause severe irritation to the nose, throat and lungs. 

This compound is not only potentially harmful to human health, but also to the environment and aquatic life as it leads to endocrine disruption in their bodies. So we steer clear from this, always!

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6) Coal tar

Coal Tar is a keratoplastic, which is heavily utilised by the personal care industry in products to treat both dandruff and psoriasis - a condition where skin cells build up and cause itchy and dry patches. It is also often used as a dye in lipsticks. Moreover, the CIR has claimed that Coal Tar causes adverse biological effects when used in OTC anti-dandruff products, which is currently being reviewed by the FDA. 

The 2008 Cosmetic Ingredient Review Report has proved that this ingredient is an allergen as well as an irritant. Moreover, The PAH (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) found in Coal Tar is potentially carcinogenic towards humans and can prove to be extremely harmful.

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7) Toluene

Toluene is popularly used as an antioxidant or as a solvent in nail polish removers. Daily exposure to this ingredient may cause its accumulation in fat tissues, which can ultimately lead to dizziness, headache or even vision impairment. Toluene may lead to temporary damage of the nervous system too. Something we would definitely want to avoid.

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8) Aluminium Chlorohydrate

While it is a common compound that we all may be familiar with, having used it in the form of cans, foil, kitchen utensils, etc. However, when used in shampoos, lotions and deodorants, it may have adverse health effects. It is generally used in antiperspirants to stop the sweat ducts from releasing heat to the skin's surface. This process can disturb the natural hormonal balance in the body, and lead to breast cancer, bone disorders and Alzheimer's disease.

Hence, it is best to avoid products with the ingredients Aluminium Chlorohydrate and let your pores breathe, especially in the cases of deodorants.

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9) Animal fat 

Animal fat includes compounds like glycerides, sterols and phospholipids. They are a favourite in the cosmetics industry typically being used in emollients, as texture enhancers and when mixed with glycerin - as cleansing agents. Certain saturated animal fats, such as those found in red meat, can trigger inflammatory issues in the body, which can cause damage to the heart, the circulatory system and the joints. They may even worsen some skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. As our pledge towards Clean Beauty is of utmost importance, none of our products contain animal fat or lipids.

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In today’s day and age, it is best to be mindful of what we are putting on our skin, and be aware of cleaner alternatives out there. Clean Beauty is essentially an ingredient game, so decoding a product’s ingredient label carefully can go a long way. Remember, staying safe while looking at your best and consuming the best is the underlying philosophy of Clean Beauty.

-Krisha Jhaveri

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