Photography: Emma Palmer
The term ‘clean beauty’ isn’t quite as clear cut and, well, clean as it was initially perceived to be. Over the past few years, brands have used the phrase too loosely and with no regulated definition, many of us have been left confused as to what constitutes ‘clean’. While some people will say that it’s non-toxic, vegan-friendly formulas, others may argue that sustainable packaging is a defining factor.
There is one assumption that is largely accepted when it comes to clean beauty and that is natural ingredients are better than synthetic ones. Yet, in the midst of a global pandemic, perceptions are changing and the phrase ‘bio-clinical’ is being touted about. What does it mean? We explore the latest addition to beauty terminology and what it means for our routines…
The New Era Of Clean
Unsurprisingly, bio-clinical beauty lacks precise definition. In a nutshell, it covers the growing demand for research-backed skincare that delivers results without using harsh preservatives or causing unnecessary harm to the environment. It’s the idea that a lot of us want effective, expert-backed formulations that still tap into the clean beauty ethos. Perhaps the easiest way to look at bio-clinical beauty is as an evolution of clean beauty rather than a brand new category altogether.
“Bio-clinical appeals to the people who don’t just want to know what’s in the product, they want to know what concentrations of that ingredient are in it, and they want to see proof of efficacy,” says freelance journalist and consultant Claire Coleman. “From a scientific perspective, bio-clinical makes perfect sense. It allows you to harness the parts of nature that are genuinely valuable when it comes to ingredients. In some cases, it also means that you don’t have to use as much of a raw ingredient, so it makes it more sustainable.”
Natural Vs. Synthetic
“There’s a misplaced sense that natural ingredients are ‘better’ than synthetic ones, which has been fuelled by a group of generally quite poorly-informed brand owners and influencers,” says Claire. “But this sort of messaging spreads quite easily and can’t help but feed trends across the industry, even among consumers who are savvier about ingredients than ever before.” However, the ‘nature knows best’ philosophy has taken a bit of a battering in 2020. Covid-19 has made some of us rethink our perceptions of preservatives and artificial ingredients.
“With more concern surrounding shelf-stability and sanitation across consumer packaged goods (CPG) categories, consumers will be more willing to accept these ingredients as long as brands provide evidence of efficacy and safety, both from a health and environmental perspective,” wrote Mintel’s senior beauty analyst Clare Hennigan.
Brands Leading The Way
Prior to Covid-19, there were plenty of brands taking the bio-clinical approach to clean beauty. Notably the majority of them have an expert at the helm. From Dr. Dennis Gross and Dr. Howard Murad to Kate Somerville and Dr. Barbara Sturm. The latter synthesised ingredients are lab-grown to provide consistent results and her Hyaluronic Serum is a consistent bestseller.
Doctor-led brands aren’t the only ones utilising nature’s power in the labs. J-beauty brand Shiseido has been doing it for decades and its award-winning Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate is the perfect example of this in practice. Space NK’s latest skincare arrival, U Beauty has a cult following thanks to the glow-getting results of its iconic Resurfacing Compound. Founder of the brand, Tina Craig has been outspoken with her views around clean beauty.
“Results-driven and obsessed with efficacy, I wanted access to the most advanced technology out there. As well as the ability to conduct clinical trials, which are a big component in our product development,” says Tina.
Impressively, the brand uses medical-grade labs and is uncompromising in its 360-degree approach to clean beauty. From cruelty-free testing to non-toxic final formulations and a zero-waste goal.
“We are focused on both advanced technology and clean science, and they work in great harmony together. This is the future of skincare,” says Tina. And, as the brand unveils its second offering, we’re excited to see what comes next.