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Clean-washed graphicBY AMY ZIFF

Lately, I’ve noticed that a lot of brands are using the term “clean” to describe their products.

The natural next thought is, “…what are clean products?” And what can you expect if you see the term “clean” on a label or in a store?

“CLEAN” DEFINED
Are clean products simply products with a limited number of ingredients, no matter how and from where they’re sourced? Are they products made only from ingredients grown in nature? Can clean products contain ingredients created in a lab? What if ingredients listed on a label aren’t identified as coming from genetically engineered sources? What about ingredients taken from the earth that may be contaminated with naturally-occurring heavy metals or man-made pesticides?

What about products that list the catchall term “fragrance” in their ingredients; can they be considered clean? Is a product clean if it is packaged in a plastic bottle? What if the product itself is “clean” but makes the world dirty by polluting the environment through the way it was manufactured? Would you consider a product clean if you knew that after use, the product remains in our environment where it’s harmful to terrestrial or aquatic life?

My point is, there are a lot of questions to ask and a lot of answers needed to understand how the term “clean” is being applied.

Sadly, any brand can claim to be clean for just about any reason. And any product can be conceived and marketed to fit the unregulated definition of “clean.” There are numerous dictionary definitions, including this one from Merriam-Webster:

  1. Free from dirt or pollution
  2. Free from contamination or disease
  3. Free or relatively free from radioactivity
  4. Unadulterated, pure

But as of now, there is no universally accepted, standard definition of clean, or green, or natural, or pure in the beauty industry. And that is the problem. (read more)

DESIGNED TO DECEIVE?
The mass-adoption of the claim “clean” without a commonly accepted definition – or rather, ANY definition at all – is a free-for-all. Be very aware that when it comes to personal care products and cosmetics, the term means nothing more than the marketing concept it was built on. And, in some cases, it may very well have been designed to be deceiving.

Cleaner, greener and other undefined self-coined claims on products are meaningless unless the brand is fully transparent, from sourcing and supply chain to manufacture, all the way to your sink and shower.

Currently the use and overuse of these unsubstantiated terms and misleading claims are merely adding to marketplace confusion, instead of helping shoppers easily identify products that are safe to use. We must each be aware of this and remain on alert so as to avoid deceiving brands who are claiming to be clean but are really clean-washing us. I’d ask any brand using the term clean, if you are what you claim, why aren’t you MADE SAFE® certified?

When I envisioned and constructed MADE SAFE, I wanted to ensure that the screening process was firmly rooted in science. The MADE SAFE symbol means a product doesn’t contain any known or suspected endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, high risk pesticides, harmful VOCs, heavy metals, reproductive toxins, toxic solvents, and more.

MADE SAFE Horizontal seal image

A NO-COMPROMISE CERTIFICATION
We screen not just for human harm, but also to evaluate how terrestrial and aquatic life and the environment will be impacted. The result is that we have created a clear, precise, repeatable method to evaluate ingredients determining whether they are known to be harmful.

Any product carrying the MADE SAFE® seal has been vetted to meet our rigorous and scientific standards. When you see the MADE SAFE seal on a package, you know that product is safe for you, your family and the ecosystem. No compromises.

If you really want to know what’s in your products, then go beyond the marketing hype. MADE SAFE is beyond “clean.” Because “better” isn’t best. We’ve designed the #MadeSafeBeauty campaign for those in search of the best – those who won’t settle for anything but cosmetics and personal care products containing MADE SAFE certified ingredients.


> If you’re a consumer you can shop MADE SAFE solutions starting today: right here. 
> If you work for a company and you want to learn about your ingredients or request an ingredient report or certification, click here.
>
If you just want to learn more about ingredients, check out the MADE SAFE Hazard List.
> If you’d like to listen to Amy speaking about this and other issues, listen & learn.


Amy Ziff is the Founder and Executive Director of MADE SAFE® (Nontoxic Certified), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) providing America’s first comprehensive human health-focused certification for nontoxic products across store aisles, from baby to personal care to household and beyond.

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