Clean Beauty: 7 Key Characteristics to Look For

We know a thing or two about clean beauty. Pharmacopia has been all about clean beauty since before clean beauty was a thing. I founded Pharmacopia in 1999 with the goal of creating a better-for-you beauty brand without any toxic and potentially harmful ingredients. I wanted to find plant-based products that I, and you, could feel comfortable using — knowing that they won’t cause potential problems with our health.

Pharmacopia Verbena bottles in bathroomAt Pharmacopia, we’re all about better ingredients, better results, for a better you.

So What Exactly Is Clean Beauty?

Clean beauty, in a nutshell, is beauty — from body care and hair care products to makeup and skin care — that’s free from toxins that can be harmful to health. But, at Pharmacopia, we take clean beauty a step further: we believe that clean beauty encompasses better-for-you products, as close to nature as possible, that are also not toxic or harmful to the environment — or to the animals that live here.

Better for Health

Here’s why this is so important: Around the time I was thinking of creating a clean beauty brand, researchers from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine discovered that so many of the chemicals in our environment and in the products we were using and ingesting every day actually remain in our blood, our urine, and even in breast milk.

Another study, spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group, found that newborns also have chemicals in their bodies, transferred to them from their mothers through their umbilical cords. In fact, the researchers found that newborns have approximately 287 chemicals in their umbilical cords!

These chemicals stored in our bodies are referred to as our chemical body burden. Scientists have begun to understand the effect these chemicals have on our bodies and on the development of chronic diseases and disorders. In our mind, there is simply no reason to be selling products that could be potentially harmful to our health. Ever.

Better for the Environment

Then there’s the environmental part. At Pharmacopia, treating our planet with respect has been in our DNA from the beginning. We’ve been aware of the environmental impact of packaging since we first launched with aluminum bottles and glass jars back in 1999. In fact, we were one of the original plastic-free brands.

Why it matters: Today, 60 million bottles are thrown away every day in America. These are what are referred to as single-use plastics (SUPs). These plastics take 700 years—or more than 7 generations—to break down in the environment. They end up in landfills and in our ocean, lakes, and rivers, harming animals and plants.

This is why we use 100% PCR (post-consumer recycled) plastic in both our hotel amenities and our retail-sized bottles. We continue to evolve our packaging and practices to be the most sustainable possible.

7 Key Characteristics of Clean Beauty

These characteristics are how we define clean beauty—and how we decide what goes into making our products that you use every day.

  • No parabens. Parabens are man-made chemicals often used in small amounts as preservatives in cosmetics and other products. Most people in the United States, according to the CDC, have some levels of parabens in their urine. Women have higher amounts than men. Some studies suggest that parabens are endocrine disruptors, which means they can disrupt the body’s endocrine system. It’s our endocrine system that regulates all the hormones in our body. By disrupting this system, ingredients like parabens could potentially increase your risk of cancer, affect fertility, and so much more. No thank you.

  • No phthalates. This group of chemicals is used to make plastics more durable, but crazy enough, they’re also used in personal care products! DBP, or di-n-butyl phthalate, is found in nail polishes, while DEP, or diethyl phthalate, is found in personal care products to enhance the fragrance and make the scent last longer. Many times, you won’t see this ingredient on a product label; you may just see the words “fragrance,” “perfume,” or even “patented formula” listed. We’ve never used phthalates in Pharmacopia products and never will.

  • No synthetic fragrances. Phthalates are one reason we don’t use synthetic fragrances in any of our Pharmacopia products. The other reason: scents derived from plant-based essential oils are so much more potent—and all natural. That’s why we use essential oils like lemongrass and spearmint leaf oils in our Verbena Body Care and Hair Care products, grapefruit and orange peel oils in our Citrus Collection, and comfrey and chamomile root extracts in our Argan Oil Hyatt Hotels Collection.
  • Cruelty free. We are, and always have been, vegan and cruelty free. We don't test on animals and don't ask 3rd parties to do animal testing of our products or ingredients. In fact, we’ve had the "Beauty without Bunnies" seal from PETA for 20+ years. There is no reason to harm animals just so we can get beautiful every day. And as we’ve found, there are plenty of cruelty-free, plant-based ingredients like shea butter, jojoba oil, aloe vera, and coconut oil, that can get the job done as well as—and sometimes better than—any animal-based products.

  • Reducing harm to the environment. Sustainable ingredients and packaging reduces our carbon footprint. By using 100% PCR (post-consumer recycled) plastic in our packaging instead of new plastic, we’re able to upcycle and divert over 150 tons of plastic from landfills each year. And our bottles are BPA free and can be recycled again.

Clean beauty is beauty you can trust. It’s beauty that you know is safe to use. And it’s beauty you can find every day in each and every one of our Pharmacopia products.