Coming clean on clean beauty

Did you know that clean beauty products can contain synthetics? Yes, they can, provided they are non-toxic to your body and the environment. And that’s part of what clean beauty does,  it takes the guesswork out of what’s in your product with honest labels. Read on.. 

By Michelle Tan

First, the Basics

Q: What is clean beauty?

A: There is currently no official definition, but generally, clean beauty follows a “what you see is what you get” concept: 

  • Made from safe, non-toxic ingredients
  • Does not contain “mystery” ingredients
  • Transparent, honest labels
  • Not harmful to you or to the environment

Q: Can clean beauty contain non-natural ingredients?

A: Yes, as long as these synthetic ingredients are non-toxic and non-harmful, they can be used in clean beauty products. 

Q: Is clean beauty green or organic?

A: It CAN be, but it doesn’t have to be. Green beauty pays more attention to taking care of the environment, while organic ingredients focus on purity and traceability. Clean beauty puts emphasis on being non-toxic and safe, both for humans and the environment.

The No-No's

Now that you have a clearer idea about clean beauty, you might want to know what’s considered “nasty”. Here are the top 10 toxic ingredients to avoid:

  •  Parabens
    Found in many cosmetics, butylparaben, propylparaben and ethylparaben have been linked to hormone disruption.

  • Ethanolamines
    Often present as monoethanolamine (MEA), diethanolamine (DEA) or triethanolamine TEA), these compunds are commonly found in foundation, mascara and skincare, and are shown to be allergens.
  • Fragrances
    Synthetic fragrances are usually just labelled as “fragrance” or “parfum”, but they can contain hundreds of potentially allergy-causing components!

  • Formaldehyde
    A known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) used in hair-straightening products, nail polish and eyelash glue.

  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG)
    Found in cream-based products, these chemical thickeners can cause skin irritation.
  • Chemical UV filters
    Oxybenzone (used in sunscreen products) is a well-established endocrine distruptor that messes up your hormones. Octinoxate (also used in sunscreens) is a sensitive skin irritant.

  • Triclosan
    Banned in several countries, this anti-microbial ingredient (usually found in hand sanitizers and antibacterial cleansers) is said to affect the thyroid and reproductive hormones. 


  • Phtalates
    Used to help perfume stick to skin, this ingredient has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system, facilitating early puberty in girls and boys, and causing reduced sperm count in men.
  • Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS)
    SLS and SLES can irritate eyes, skin and lungs. Products that contain sulfates can also be toxic to aquatic animals. 
  • Siloxanes
    Also referred to as cyclical silicones, they are linked with endocrine disruption, and can also cause harm to the environment as they take much longer to biodegrade. 

LOOQAL’s clean beauty brands

At LOOQAL, we help you whittle down your options, so you can slather up and wind down with peace of mind! Here are a few of our many clean beauty selections available, proudly founded in Singapore:

Rooki Beauty

Skincare so easy, even rookies can use it!
Rooki transforms your favourite superfoods like kale, chia seeds, yuzu, royal jelly and seaweed into antioxidant-rich skin treats,
so that your complexion soaks up all the goodness safely.

Basic Theory

One of the ways of going “clean” is to adopt a slow-living lifestyle, as demonstrated by Basic Theory. Instead of fast results that potentially lead to unwanted side effects in future, the products focus on wellness and healing, carefully formulated in small batches.

Liht Organics

Made with up to 90% USDA-certified organic ingredients and 100% natural content, Liht Organics breaks the misconception of organic makeup being “boring and one-dimensional”. Cruelty-free, vegan and free from nano-particles, the products are also friendly to the environment.

Forest Rhapsody

Paying tribute to Southeast Asian beauty rituals and combining them with modern science, Forest Rhapsody pays attention to the sensorial aspect of skincare. In place of fast-acting, harmful ingredients are plant-based bioactives, which work


Founder Hildra used to suffer from acne, which led her to create a plant-powered, sustainable beauty routine. In her beauty kitchen, products are made fresh, reducing the need for unnecessary packaging and chemicals. This one’s for you if you’re living a low-waste lifestyle!


If chosen correctly, essential oils offer a treasure trove of benefits. Ollie’s philosophy is simple: to offer the best-quality essential oils from around the world, sourced directly from farmers and distillers. No nasties, no drama, no fuss.


Founder Jasmine Kang put her biomedical and pharmaceutical background to good use, creating an anti-acne skincare line that is as effective as it is clean. Every ingredient used in Skinlycious products has been tested to be safe for all types of acne, following strict EU guidelines.

W.ANT Skincare

Non-toxic, multi-tasking, ethical… that’s about as clean as it gets! WANT skincare is formulated from pure botanical oils and minerals, using fair trade and sustainably-sourced ingredients. The cruelty-free products do not contain harmful chemicals, synthetic ingredients or water (to reduce carbon footprint).

Check your "Clean"

Not sure what’s clean and what’s not? Head on over to these sites for a clearer look into your beauty regime. Just type in the product or ingredient you’re looking for!

The Good Face Project

More than 4,500 beauty products, screened for toxicity and given a safety grade.

EWG’s Skin Deep

Here, you can easily nagivate through 70,000 products and 9,000 ingredients in cosmetics.


The cosmetic analyzer tells you more about the ingredients in your beauty products.

A no-fuss database with thousands of products and ingredients, rated according to safety.

Share the story

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email