and Why It Matters
Clean beauty products are made without ingredients shown or suspected to harm human health. At goop, clean beauty also has to be luxurious, high-performance, and all-out enchanting, whether it’s a shower gel you use every day, a youth-boosting superserum that leaves your skin glowing, or a lip color you reserve for when you want to look and feel your prettiest. There’s no compromise to be made anymore—the tech has gotten that good—so there’s even less of an excuse for conventional beauty companies to keep making products with potentially harmful ingredients.
While it’s hard to believe that conventional beauty companies would ever include such ingredients in their products, the fact is that they do—it’s still common practice and perfectly legal. The conventional beauty and personal-care industry is minimally regulated in America. To give you an idea of where we are, consider that there are 11 cosmetic ingredients currently banned by the FDA, while in the EU, over 1,300 ingredients are banned. Companies operating in the US face much less stringent regulations than companies operating in the EU do. So US companies continue to pack the products that we use every day (mascara, face wash, shampoo, and more) with potentially harmful ingredients that can include known carcinogens, irritants, and endocrine disruptors.
Greenwashing and Clean-Washing
Even with FDA and FTC regulations in place (like the FTC’s Green Guides), companies continue to use many adjectives to market and greenwash these potentially harmful products—“natural,” “green,” and “eco,” for example, have no clear definition.
What Clean Means at goop
At goop, we’ve created our own strict standards of what we call clean beauty, which you’ll see in action in our own beauty lines (goop skin care, fragrance, hair care, and body care), in all the products sold in the goop clean beauty shop, and in all of our editorial stories as well. Clean, for us, means that a product that is made without a long (and ever-evolving) list of ingredients linked to harmful health effects, which can range from hormone disruption and cancer to plain old skin irritation. To name a few of the offenders we avoid: parabens, phthalates, PEGs, ethanolamines, chemical sunscreens, synthetic fragrance, BHT, and BHA.
We look to scientific studies as we make our decisions about which ingredients we can live with and which we can’t. The science can be murky, but we avoid the clear offenders. Do you want antifreeze (propylene glycol) in your moisturizer? We’re going to guess no.
Do we love luxurious, incredible-smelling, super effective, beautifully pigmented beauty products? We do—and we make them, sell them, and write about them. Clean beauty involves no compromises in terms of quality, efficacy, or luxury at this point; it’s a beautiful thing. Our ultimate goal? That more people vote with their dollars (at goop or elsewhere) so that someday, we won’t ever have to wonder what’s in this perfume or that face cream, because all of it will be clean and safe (more on that below).
Why We Make and Sell Clean Beauty Products
Our award-winning skin care, hair care, fragrance, and body products are all crafted with high-performance clean ingredients—we make every product safe enough for our children and also strong enough for those of us who have spent too much time in the sun, luxurious enough for those who love a delightful indulgence, and powerful enough to change the way we look and feel.
For Your Skin
Since we approach skin care from both inside and out, we use the very best high-performance active ingredients and totally clean formulas for powerful results and healthy, glowing skin.
goop Beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One Nourishing Face Cream goop, $95/$86 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
goop Beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One Super Nutrient Face Oil goop, $98/$89 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
goop Beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One Nourishing Eye Cream goop, $55/$50 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
goop Beauty GOOPGENES Clean Nourishing Lip Balm goop, $20SHOP NOW
goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator goop, $125/$112 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
goop Beauty GOOPGLOW 15% Glycolic Acid Overnight Glow Peel goop, $125/$112 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Morning Skin Superpowder goop, $60/$55 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Glow Lotion goop, $58/$52 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
goop Beauty GOOPGLOW 20% Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Glow Serum goop, $125/$112 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
For Your Hair
For Your Body
Again, working from the inside out is super important here. Your skin absorbs a great deal of what you put on it, which can make body products very significant contributors to toxic load. We make high-performance, luxurious, incredible-smelling clean body products that we love to use every day. We also make supplements designed to help keep our bodies feeling and looking fantastic.
goop Beauty GOOPGENES Nourishing Replair Body Butter goop, $55/$50 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
goop Beauty G.Tox Detoxifying Superpowder goop, $60/$55 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
goop Beauty G.DAY Black Pepper + Rose Hip Energy Body Oil goop, $60SHOP NOW
goop Beauty G.Tox Glacial Marine Clay Body Cleanser goop, $30SHOP NOW
Fragrances in goop Products
Much of the allure of any great perfume lies in its mystery, and there’s no doubt that goop’s perfumes are deeply mysterious. At the same time, though, they’re transparent in a fundamental and unique way—one that goes against all convention in the fragrance industry: Every precious, evocative ingredient is right there on the label.
goop Beauty Eau De Parfum: Edition 02 – Shiso goop, $125SHOP NOW
goop Beauty G.DAY Ginger + Ashwagandha Energy Body Wash goop, $32SHOP NOW
goop Beauty “The Martini” Emotional Detox Bath Soak goop, $35SHOP NOW
What’s more, points out GP, who collaborated with perfumer Douglas Little of Heretic to create the scents, these ingredients go beyond clean, in that many have been used for centuries for aromatherapeutic and spiritual benefits to the wearer. Learn more here.
goop Beauty Scented Candle: Edition 02 – Shiso goop, $72SHOP NOW
goop Beauty Scented Candle: Edition 04 – Orchard goop, $72SHOP NOW
The Most Important Things to Know about Clean Beauty
Don’t Trust “Fragrance” When You See It on an Ingredient Label
The FDA’s lack of power over the beauty industry is perhaps most glaring (and maddening) when it comes to ingredient labels: Cosmetics companies aren’t required to disclose what’s inside ingredients that are considered trade secrets, like fragrance. This loophole means that any skin care, makeup, fragrance, hair care, or bath product can contain many potentially harmful ingredients with no mention of them, so long as they are included in the fragrance formula. So trade-secret label terms like “fragrance,” “perfume,” “parfum,” and “flavor” serve as Trojan horses for thousands of potentially harmful ingredients that conventional cosmetics companies include but don’t want consumers to see. Here’s a story that goes deeper into the issue.
The Reason Endocrine Disruptors Are So Scary
Chemicals that have the ability to mimic the body’s hormones are classified as endocrine disruptors. They include parabens (a routinely used class of preservatives; look for words ending in “-paraben” on labels, like “butylparaben,” but remember, of course, that these ingredients could be hidden under the term “fragrance”) and chemical sunscreens (also often included in makeup and moisturizers and also often hidden under the term “fragrance”). As the name suggests, endocrine disruptors mess with the endocrine system, which regulates our body’s essential rhythms (like metabolism, mood, and reproductive processes). The reason endocrine disruptors are particularly dangerous is counterintuitive at first: They come in very tiny doses. It’s their micro size, though, that allows them to impersonate our own hormones (also very tiny), altering the production levels of our hormones and the way they behave. Endocrine disruptors have been linked to severe long-term health damage, including reproductive issues, birth defects, metabolic problems, and cancer. (Parents, take note: Endocrine disruptors are even more of a concern for little ones with developing systems.)
Known Carcinogens Are Legal in Beauty Products
It’s mind-boggling but true: Today, ingredients that are known carcinogens—meaning they can cause cancer—and many more that are considered possibly carcinogenic are frequently put into beauty and personal-care products, and it’s completely legal to do so. A main carcinogen to be aware of is formaldehyde, which can be used as a preservative in makeup, hair care, body products, fragrance, and skin care. To make matters worse, formaldehyde is never listed on labels; what is listed (if not hidden under “fragrance”) are the chemicals in formulas that release formaldehyde (when added to water, they slowly decompose, forming molecules of formaldehyde). Here’s what to look for: 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (bronopol), diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, quaternium-15.
Why We Report on Clean Beauty
These stories give a good overview about what’s going on in the industry—and what’s at stake. Note: Farther down in this story, we’ve also included a number of buying guides in specific categories, like deodorant and face oil.
- •What Are We Putting on Our Bodies?
- • Why Clean Beauty Is Best
- • Endocrine Disruptors in Perfume, Carcinogenic Baby Powder? A New Documentary on the Beauty Industry
- • When Your Hair Is Killing You
- • 6 Reasons to Make the Shift to Mineral Sunscreen
- • The 8 Best Clean Sunscreens
- • Understanding—and—Avoiding Toxic Sunscreens
- • Even We Were Surprised by Stuff in the EWG’s New SPF Report
- • Why Perfume Is the Last—and Perhaps Most Important—Frontier in Clean Beauty
- • 8 Rules for Safer Hair Color
We Wrote a Book on Clean Beauty
While what we put on our skin is absolutely important, we know that beauty starts from within. Red lipstick might be the finishing touch, but how we look (and feel) largely depends on our diet and health—what we put into and onto our bodies and how we interact with the world. The ways we navigate stress, environmental factors, rest, and repair all affect our glow. This foundational approach to beauty underlies our book, goop Clean Beauty, which begins with these more internal matters, works up to the best skin and hair routines, and ends with the fun stuff—all of it clean, of course.
Our Favorite Clean Beauty Products
Each of these pieces takes you through the important considerations—chemical versus mineral sunblock, the concern about aluminum in deodorant, etc.—and winnows down the options to our very favorite products.
Ritual and Routine
We believe in the power of routines and rituals in many aspects of life, especially when it comes to the self-care that gets us up in the morning and helps us get to sleep at night.
Where We’re at with Clean Beauty Legislation
One of the most important pieces of legislation regulating the personal-care industry, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FD&C Act) was signed by FDR back in 1938. The result: a severely restricted FDA that cannot require companies to disclose the amount of each ingredient they’re using in a product and puts virtually no funding toward uncovering potentially dangerous ingredients.
In 2019, the Personal Care Products Safety Act was brought to the floor of the Senate. The act was cosponsored by two senators, Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), and it had widespread industry support from big industry players like Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Revlon, L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, and Unilever. Under this amendment, cosmetics companies would be required to register their facilities with the FDA and submit ingredient lists disclosing the amount of each ingredient to the FDA. In addition, salon brands and online brands, which currently don’t have to disclose any ingredients, would be required to do so as well. The FDA would have the critical authority to recall unsafe products (such recalls are currently voluntary) and be required to review five potentially dangerous ingredients each year. While many clean beauty advocates are pushing for an even stronger bill, there’s no denying that this progress is much better than the decades of stagnation we’ve seen on the subject. Unfortunately, the Personal Care Products Safety Act never made it out of committee during the 116th Congress. As a bipartisan bill with broad industry support, though, it’s widely expected to be reintroduced. The timing is still uncertain, so stay tuned for updates.
More on Beauty from the Inside Out
What you put in your body is just as important as what you put on it, so we look at beauty from a 360-degree whole-body, drink-it, eat-it, smooth-it-on perspective.