Clean Beauty Products Can Be Very Effective if You Choose Wisely

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In the last few years, the skincare world has become far more conscious of our effect on the planet, and by extension, what we’re putting into and onto our bodies. We’re forever looking for products that are going to do us good, rather than bad. Of course, eco-friendly, toxin-free products can only fall into the good category, but with so many buzzwords and misinformation surrounding the clean beauty movement, it’s important we’re aware of the distinctions and what it all means. 

The term clean beauty itself is unclear, however, it generally refers to products that are free from toxic ingredients considered to be harmful to human beings or the planet. Simple enough, yes? If only we could leave it there. 

We’ve been conditioned to think that because something is made in a lab, and is classified as synthetic, it is automatically bad — but this isn’t true. Everything is made up of chemicals, after all, water is a chemical, as is the air we breathe. Chemicals aren’t the enemy; it’s about being knowledgeable and taking a closer look at labels to understand the ingredients you want to add to your routine.  

Is natural better? According to Dr. Burcu Kim, Specialist Dermatologist from Quayside Specialists, “Depending on the formulation, naturally-derived ingredients can provide us with many potent active ingredients. It comes down to knowing what you’re putting on your skin and whether it might be right for your skin type.”

Having products that are all-natural, all-synthetic, or even a mix of both aren’t mutually exclusive, and some synthetic ingredients — such as SPF and hyaluronic acid — are skincare enthusiasts’ ride or dies. And just like with natural ingredients, some man-made ingredients are best avoided or used in minimal quantities (for example, formaldehyde). A mix of natural and synthetic ingredients can work together for safe and effective use, if formulated well, and at the end of the day, what we really want are products that deliver results. The key is choosing wisely.  

So how do we know what to look for and what to choose if we’re wanting to make our beauty cabinets a little cleaner? It’s all about ingredients. We’ve put together a short list of ingredients that champion both natural and man-made ingredients to demonstrate that skincare participating in the clean beauty movement can still be supported and backed by science.  

Pineapple Extract

The popularity of pineapple fruit extract as a skincare ingredient has risen in recent years, in part, thanks to its antioxidant (in the form of vitamins C and E) and exfoliating properties. “The vitamin C found within pineapple fruit extract has antioxidant benefits, helping to protect against free radical damage,” explains dermatologist, Dr. Marisa Garshick. “In general, pineapple is known to be a rich source of vitamin C and this combination helps to brighten the skin. Pineapple extract is also thought to be good for those with sensitive skin, making this form of vitamin C a good option even for those with sensitive skin.”

Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extract is a versatile plant extract found in many skincare products around the world. It’s renowned for having antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which means it works to purify and deeply cleanse the skin with ease, making it loved by all skin types. It naturally contains high levels of antioxidants, vitamin E, and omega fatty acids, which aid in reducing redness, fading pigmentation, and improving overall radiance.  

Watermelon Extract

While Koreans have been using antioxidants and free radical-fighting watermelon as a way to treat inflamed and bothersome skin for years, the rest of the world is only now starting to catch up on its benefits. “Watermelon extract contains lycopene, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, which protects the skin from the effects of the sun, as well as citrulline which helps maintain the skin’s natural moisturising factor,” Kim tells POPSUGAR Australia. It’s an incredibly soothing, amino-acid rich extract that works well with synthetic ingredients like hyaluronic acid to flood the skin with ultimate hydration for plump, juicy skin that has an instant glow. 

Hyaluronic Acid

A favourite amongst beauty lovers, hyaluronic acid is an active ingredient classified as a humectant, meaning it helps the skin hold on to moisture. In a nutshell, it’s a powerhouse ingredient that can hold 1000 times its weight in water and works to hydrate the skin’s dermis, which in turn improves the skin’s appearance. Hyaluronic acid assists in reducing fine lines and wrinkles, as well as improving the skin’s radiance — all while giving you plump skin that’s all glow. 


SPF is the MVP of skincare and really is the most important and hardest working product in your routine. Not only is it beneficial to treat concerns like pigmentation, but it’s also imperative in maintaining skin health and protecting your face (and body!) from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. SPF is synthetic, thanks to these things called UV filters, which are found in both chemical and mineral sunscreen formulations.

When it comes to SPF, everybody has a lot of questions. The main takeaway from Dr. Burcu Kim is, “Man-made ingredients have a long history of safe use. [They] are most consistent and predictable with regards to their quality, safety, and effects on the skin.” At the end of the day, it’s important to find one that works for you and one you will wear every single day!

Cannabis Sativa Seed 

Of all the natural ingredients available in the realm of skincare, cannabis sativa seed is one you’ve probably heard of due to its popularity.  It is derived from cold-pressed hemp seeds and is packed with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s an emollient that’s rich in fatty acids, meaning it’s an effective ingredient when it comes to irritated, problem skin that needs to be calmed. Once paired with synthetic ingredients like niacinamide, it works to help strengthen the skin’s barrier, reduce pore size, and even help with redness. It’s an incredibly soothing natural ingredient that works wonders for problematic and stressed skin.

If you want to check out the range of Garnier Green Labs serum creams, which combine the best of nature and science, head to the Garnier website. 

Editor’s note: Dr. Burcu Kim and Dr. Marisa Garshick are both independent dermatologists and are not contracted to Garnier Green Labs in any capacity.
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