Clean Beauty vs. Green Beauty by Lacey Bourassa

Clean Beauty vs. Green Beauty: What’s the Difference?

In the last few years, clean beauty and green beauty products have been more popular and attractive to beauty shoppers. Consumers want skincare products that align with their values — supporting their wellbeing while not infringing on effectiveness. To put it simply, people want safer ingredients without sacrificing on quality.

There’s just one problem: beauty brands are using labels like “clean beauty” and “green beauty” to attract eco- and health-conscious consumers without actually defining these labels. To clear up some misconceptions, here is the difference between clean beauty and green beauty.

Understanding Skincare Labels

There are a lot of labels attached to skincare products: vegan, cruelty-free, all-natural, eco-friendly, zero-waste, clean, green, and so on. These labels aim to attract consumers who share the same values as the maker of those products. 

Two labels that are thriving but also confusing shoppers are clean and green beauty. The differences between clean beauty and green beauty mean that they can overlap, but this is not always the case. You may encounter clean beauty products that are non-toxic and safe to use, but they are not environmentally sound. Similarly, green beauty products may be eco-friendly, but this doesn’t mean they don’t contain ingredients linked to health risks.

In our case, we prioritize vegan and cruelty-free values when crafting our skincare products. We’re cruelty-free because we don’t think animals need to suffer to have healthy skin, and we’re vegan because of the benefits of plant-derived skincare ingredients. While many of our products are powered by plants, we choose our ingredients based on their safety, benefits, and effectiveness — not their trendiness.

What is Clean Beauty?

Clean beauty is heavily associated with its push for non-toxic ingredients and transparent ingredient lists. The movement urges consumers to steer clear of known toxins and irritants, such as parabens, phthalates, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, and harsh preservatives. 

Cosmetics safety is important to many people. The clean beauty movement focuses on cosmetics, though many consumers switch to all non-toxic products, from household cleaning products to BPA-free canned goods. 

In relation to beauty products, the responsibility to assess product safety falls on the consumer. This is because the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has only banned 11 toxic ingredients while the European Union has banned more than 1,300 harmful ingredients.

The Global Cosmetic Industry also describes clean beauty as consisting of whole ingredients closest to nature or in their least-processed state. In that regard, clean beauty strives to be as close to all-natural as possible, though synthetic or chemical ingredients are permitted as long as they are non-toxic.

What is Green Beauty?

According to a 2017 Harris Poll survey, 69 percent of women aged 35 to 44 say that purchasing green beauty products is important to them. The survey also found that more than 60 percent of all women read beauty product labels prior to purchasing them. Since labels are important to consumers, understanding them is vital.

While clean beauty places a heavy emphasis on safety and low health risk of cosmetics, green beauty turns its attention to the environmental friendliness of beauty products. 

Green beauty entails not only eco-friendly ingredients, but takes the entire production process into account: low-waste or recyclable packaging, minimal shipping materials, ethical workplace practices, etc. You may hear words like sustainable, recycled, fair trade, and locally sourced surrounding the green beauty market.


  1. U.S. Food & Drug Administration: “Prohibited & Restricted Ingredients in Cosmetics”
  2. EUR-Lex: “Regulation (Ec) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council”
  3. Global Cosmetic Industry Magazine: “How to Measure ‘Clean’ Beauty”
  4. Kari Gran: “The Green Barometer Survey (2017)”
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