How to Ease into Clean Beauty, According to 3 Chicago Experts
By now, clean beauty is less a trend and more a movement. But it’s also a little confusing, since the FDA has yet to regulate exactly what the term means. So we spoke with three Chicago entrepreneurs who know the space: Parisa Morris, who founded vegan skincare line Town & Anchor and sustainable shopping pop-ups BIDE Market; Jenny Duranski, the powerhouse behind green spa and boutique Lena Rose; and Shama Patel, of facial bar/skincare brand Clean Your Dirty Face. They sounded off on what clean beauty means to them and what you should look for on an ingredient label so you can find the products that will work best for you.
What does clean beauty mean to you?
Jenny Duranski (JD): “Clean beauty, to me, means that products are crafted with intention so that ingredients, packaging and lifecycle are good for both people and planet.”
Parisa Morris (PM): “I think of beauty that doesn’t end the moment a customer uses the product. From production to use to completion, there’s no dirty business going on, just true green, clean beauty.”
Shama Patel (SP): “It means being transparent about ingredients. Sometimes ‘clean beauty’ gets used solely for marketing purposes, so it’s important to read the ingredient label on the back of the bottle. If something doesn’t make sense, look it up and educate yourself. For example, an ingredient may seem questionable, but further investigation may reveal that it is a necessary, stable preservative. Transparency allows consumers to make decisions about what’s right for them.”
WHAT INGREDIENTS, LABELS OR OTHER INDICATORS DO YOU TRUST FOR CLEAN BEAUTY?
PM: “Specifically for products consisting of carrier oils, I always make sure they’re cold-pressed. Carrier oils are stripped of their natural antioxidants, vitamins and flavor when extracted any other way. I am a firm believer in using products with at least 80 percent organic ingredients. Organic certification can become quite pricey for small indie beauty brands, so I usually look at the ingredients and see how many are actually organic instead of looking for the certification alone. If I ever feel like I need more answers, I make sure to send an email or DM to the brand; oftentimes, you’ll get all your questions answered. As consumers, we deserve answers, especially when using products on our skin. Another thing I look for is packaging: recyclable material, refillable options, etc. How can a product claim to be ‘clean’ if ends up in the landfill?”
JD: “I trust the Skin Deep database and Think Dirty app to a point, but the issue is we just don’thave enough research around ingredients for personal care products and we need more. Some other good tools are the Ecocert indicator and the Made Safe certification, which is the strongest standard as it comes to ingredients. I also look for B Corp certification.”
SP: “I look at how a skincare brand develops its products. We formulate our products exclusively with aestheticians, and we test rounds on willing participants of our membership base at our facial bars before they go to bottle. Our products have been used by licensed aestheticians on more than 50,000 facials, so we can stand behind our clean products and say that they actually work.”
What got you into the clean beauty space?
PM: “I couldn’t find anything that would heal my complexion from constant irritation, redness and blemishes, so I got really desperate. In 2014, natural products weren’t as available as they are now, so it took a lot of DIY experimenting to see if I could fix the issue myself, and that’s truly how Town & Anchor was born. It was shocking to find that even replacing my makeup remover with an all-natural, alcohol-free one could make all the difference.”
JD: “After becoming sick working as a nail technician in the traditional beauty world, I sought out answers to why I didn’t feel well and what I could use instead to create a healthier nail experience. ... I knew there had to be people like me who wanted a cleaner experience and not have to worry about what they were buying. So I opened Lena Rose in 2016 to be the one-stop beauty shop it is today.”
For someone just getting started, how would you suggest they begin to incorporate more clean beauty products into their regimen?
PM: “Start small and slow! I always recommend starting with the products you use the most and making small swaps. The last thing you want to do is shock your skin. If you change everything too quickly, you’ll end up breaking out and be afraid of including new conscious products into your regimen. I like to recommend swapping your facial cleanser first with a gentle, sulfate-free one. Oftentimes if you’re experiencing breakouts, it could simply be caused by a too-strong cleanser stripping your skin of all its natural sebum production.”
JD: “Find a local retailer where you can go in and test products in person or get color matched when you start switching cosmetics. This will help save a tremendous amount of money on trying and buying.”
SP: “I highly recommend getting your skin analyzed by a licensed aesthetician—let the experts tell you what you need. The biggest misconception for people new to clean beauty and skincare alike is that they think they’re a certain skin type (typically, oily skin) but once they see our aestheticians, they learn they’re not that skin type and they’ve been using the wrong products or going about caring for their skin in the wrong way their entire life.”