Sneaky Secrets of some "clean" beauty brands! Eek! - Part 2

Welcome back to Part 2 of the Series Sneaky Secrets of some "clean" beauty brands! Eek!

This Part is titled: 

They aren’t disclosing certain ingredients that they technically and legally are supposed to be doing.

If you missed Part 1: Why some brands aren’t as healthy for you and your skin as you think! You can read it here!

You might be surprised to hear of a pretty major “fresh and natural” beauty brand that I have decided to mention in this Part that is a huge culprit of this second deception. 

So let's get into it, shall we?!

Part 2 is a complicated one because there are so many ways Clean / Natural Beauty brands (and beauty brands in general!) can get away with either completely leaving out the listing of ingredients in their products or, possibly even sneakier, hiding ingredients within the inclusion of other ingredients. 

A big reason why this is happening is because the FDA in the US does not have very strict Cosmetic regulations, and there is a lot of grey area in the regulations they do have. This allows brands to find loop-holes and ways around the system to be able to market their products as Clean or Natural, when they technically, chemically, and legally are not!

It seems so deceptive and unethical, but as much as I can't speak for every type of business out there, there is sadly a lot of deception in the Beauty industry ::tear::.

Because of the legal jargon set by the FDA, these deception's technically aren't illegal, but they just don't seem "right", ethically speaking.

In a future blog post I want to talk about some of the experiences I had working in the Beauty/Wellness industry as a medical professional, and what border-line unethical behaviors I came across. These experiences often kept me up at night, and are some of the reasons why I had to leave the industry as a medical aesthetics practitioner (but I digress!!)...

Back to the topic!

The big take-away from Part 1 was that you should get to know your product's ingredients, BUT, because of this second deception some brands are pulling, reading ingredients still might not provide you with all the info you deserve to know before deciding what products to use on your skin!

You may ask, "how can brands leave out some of their ingredients? Isn't that illegal?".

Wellll, yes AND no!!

First, legally, if the product has a "trade secret", they legally do not need to disclose an ingredient or even ingredients, however, they must state this on the label. 

Second, I was even surprised to hear that Cosmetic guidelines here in the US allow brands to leave out ingredients if they aren't used at high percentages.

Did you know that a brand technically, legally doesn't need to include ingredients that make up less than 0.25% of their product??

I know what you're thinking...0.25% may not sound like a large amount, but as a formulator I can tell you that it actually can be a lot!

Some ingredients are only added at this percent (or even lower) to be active, and if they are added over this amount they can be harmful/irritating.

Ingredients that this can include could be preservatives or fragrances that aren't natural or are even listed as harmful, but because they aren't taking up more than 0.25%, they might not even show up on the label!

Since I have become aware of this, I see it being put into use all the time by skin care brands.

I'm part of a Facebook Group of cosmetic formulators and I can't tell you how many times a member would post a product label of ingredients with attempts to reverse engineer a product they want to replicate, but are confused because there seems to be something missing in the listed ingredients. 

As formulators, we know what certain products require in order to be stable, safe, functionable, and enjoyable to use. The ingredients required to achieve these goals are typically solubilizers (helps water/oil to mix), preservatives, sensory enhancers (makes the product feel silky smooth), colorants and fragrances. Coincidently, these are the most difficult ingredients to incorporate naturally and are oftentimes the most toxic ingredients in skin care products. 

The label below is a simple example of this:

The product has 2 questionable missing parts:

First, the product is mostly water, but the rest is added oils. Anyone who has had salad dressing knows that oils and water (vinegar, in the case of salad dressing) don't mix! 

This product does not require the consumer to shake or mix the product, so it has been deducted by other formulators that the brand has left out what is solubalizing the oils (allowing them to mix in the water)!

Why would they leave this ingredient out???

Possibly because most solubalizers that are effective and are only needed at low percentages on the market are definitely NOT natural and are actually full of bad chemicals. 

The second thing this product appears to be missing is a preservative. Any formula that has water or a water-based ingredient (including aloe vera juice and hydrosols) require a preservative. There is no preservative to be found in this listing of ingredients.

Again, why??

Likely the same reason as above. Most chemical based preservatives don't need to be used at very high amounts, but they are most often the Parabens of the world (an ingredient group that has gained some exposure as being harmful!). 

Another way brands are able to not disclose ingredients is by “hiding” them in other ingredients that are listed.

A major decepticon is the category of ingredients called “fragrance” or “perfum”. Even some plant-based extracts listed can be hiding other ingredients such as a chemical preservative.  

I know I said in Part 1 that I wouldn’t disclose any brand names, but I have decided to call out a major brand here.

I was personally disheartened to hear about this brand because I used to be a huge fan of them and their products. 

The brand I am talking about is LUSH. 😬 

LUSH has developed a reputation in the formulation community for hiding preservatives in the fragrances of the products. Not only does LUSH advertise to be fresh and natural (when a large percent of the ingredients in their products appear to be bad bad bad!), they also use ingredients that could potentially be hiding things they don’t outwardly disclose on the labels.

This is a label of one of their best selling face moisturizers:

First of all, as much as I am pleased that they state there are synthetics in the product, they say that the ingredients in black are safe, which legally is not incorrect based on the FDA, but I have a hard time personally believing they are since it is now public knowledge (and scientific studies have suggested) that "parabens can disrupt hormones in the body and harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase the risk of cancer. They can also cause skin irritation" (source

This is why there is a movement in the Clean/Natural Beauty industry as being sulfate and paraben free!

I won’t even go into what the “Fragrance” could include in the product, but I’m sure you can imagine based on the content written above!

I can go on and on with examples, but this would turn into quite a rant, so I will spare you. I at least hope to educate you on what is happening with some pretty big brands that publicly claim to be natural.

As I have mentioned before, avoiding these ingredients that are unnatural or even harmful is a challenge when it comes to formulating skin care that is complex and full of clinically active ingredients. This is why so many brands find a way around it by adding in ingredients that they can legally hide from consumers. 

To put it bluntly, anyone can just blend oils and butters or mix waters and extracts, but to use all the above and stubbornly sticking to a true “clean” and “natural” motto takes a lot of trial and error as well as passion and patience. 

My goal at BODY & BOTANY is that that passion is reflected in our products! 

I also want to be an open resource for you if you have questions about any of our products or even a product from a brand you love!

I would be happy to break down ingredient labels with you if there is a question about it’s clean/natural components! 

If you would like any help or guidance, please reach out to me directly at

I don’t claim to be the cosmetic chemist guru by any means, but I can certainly help identify product/ingredient deceptions. 

Anything that I can do to help my Goddesses glow with the help of truly natural beauty tools! 


Stay tuned for Part 3 of Sneaky Secrets:

They aren’t really making the full product themselves.

Until then...

With love & light,