In the clean beauty industry, the term ‘safe synthetics’ is quickly becoming as commonplace as terms like green, clean and natural. And while this new term may not be intended to literally replace the others, but rather add to the lexicon, it has added to consumer confusion. We see this as an opportunity to educate and differentiate - not hate. There’s a place for ‘safe synthetics’ in beauty. And we agree that not all synthetics are bad, just as not all natural ingredients are safe. We’ve made a choice to steer clear from commonly found synthetics in our formulas, and use only natural, ethically-sourced ingredients, and our goal is to explain why, and why we believe it’s better for you. So let’s dive right in.
We’ll begin with the definition of safe. The word safe is defined as “protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; not likely to be harmed or lost” and when applied to the mission of FEMOIRA, it means that our commitment to people, planet, and process is not only “safe” but also natural and ethical. While there are many ‘safe synthetics’ that are innocuous on the skin, they are not harmless to the environment. This is a main distinction of FEMOIRA. For us, it’s only considered ‘safe’ if it’s safe all the way down the food chain. As we unpack our perspective on what ‘safe’ means in the beauty industry, please bear in mind that our desire is to promote health, champion sustainability, nourish environmental practices so that we can give consumers color cosmetics that not only align with their values, but LIVE UP to some of their highest ones.
The amount of lab engineered ingredients in beauty is vast. In our ongoing series on Unpacking Safe Synthetics, we will focus on the most common categories. Today, we put the spotlight on three: Petrochemicals, Silicones and Parabens, and the degree to which we believe they are safe for people, planet and process.
Petrochemicals, or chemicals that are made from oil and natural gas, are common in the world of cosmetics, and have recently been introduced by many brands moving toward a “safe synthetic” mission. Though one could argue that these ingredients are safe for use on the skin, we rule out the use of these ingredients because they are derived from crude oil and natural gas in a fossil fuel, thus unsustainable and unsafe for the environment.
Common Synthetic Silicones may add a veil of silky moisture to the top layer of your skin, but they are not safe for the environment, and thus we view this ingredient category as unsafe for you. While the molecular composition of common synthetic silicons like dimethicone and dimethicone crosspolymer are large enough to never penetrate your skin, they also never biodegrade. This means that these ingredients do not decompose over time, and will exist in the environment for thousands of years, infiltrating our waterways and ecosystems. We also believe there are large data gaps in research on these very common silicones. We stay abreast of any studies that focus on these ingredients so that we can continue to learn more and pass our learnings on to you.
Since the 1950’s, Parabens have been used in cosmetics to extend shelf life and have been directly linked to breast cancer and endocrine disruption. Parabens are so widely used that they are found in your body, and even in the bodies of dolphins in the ocean. For these reasons, we at FEMOIRA steer clear of commercial parabens and use only Natural Essential Oils, Tocopherol (Vitamin E) and Natural Xylityl Cocoate as ingredients ensure a two year shelf life on our product, and prevent any potential threat of bacterial growth. We fear that too little research has been conducted on purported ‘safe parabens’ and are wary of misleading information in this category.
Consumer confusion around these three categories - synthetic petrochemicals, silicones, and parabens - is deeply felt by us at FEMOIRA. In an effort to empower you with knowledge, we will continue with weekly education on this subject, both on this blog and on social media. While the definition of ‘safe’ is still being defined, at FEMOIRA we have set our own definition to meet our highest standards: we do not use ingredients that do not align with our commitment to health and sustainability. We believe advancements can be made in the natural world to elevate the performance of naturally derived ingredients, and we aim to be the conscious color brand that brings these innovations to you.