Clean Beauty

9 questions for product developer Mardge Pascaud
Interview by Monique Lindeboom for Beautyjournaal

Since when did the concept of clean beauty arouse your interest?

I have always been interested, but the term Clean Beauty has only come into use in the past few years. As a product developer, the moment a new term appears, you will naturally look into it more deeply. There has been a significant shift in consumer behavior and awareness in recent years about the impact of ingredients on both health and the environment. This awareness led to a growing demand for transparency from producers and brands with an emphasis on sustainability and ethical production practices.

What do you mean by clean beauty?

For me, clean beauty involves not only avoiding certain substances, but also embracing a holistic approach to beauty that includes ethically sourced natural ingredients, synthetic ingredients and sustainable packaging materials. For me, Clean Beauty does not equal completely natural, which is what many people think, because there are also ingredients that are 'cleaner' if they are synthetically produced. For example, because they do not require natural resources that are scarce or because the substance is simply purer when it is produced in a laboratory.

For me it is always about the combination of the best of nature and the best of humanity with as few substances as possible. So where possible, limit the INCI list to the number of really necessary ingredients. So if we can eliminate unnecessary substances (extra perfume, color or nice lubricants), I will always do so.

That is a challenge because you naturally want a product that customers also enjoy using.

For me, clean beauty is not only about what is in a product, but also about how it is produced and what impact it has on the environment and the people involved in its production. By the latter I mean the conditions in which they work.

For me, clean beauty also means having clean hands.

If we look at avoiding certain substances to meet your clean beauty requirements, which ones do you no longer include in skincare?

I avoid ingredients such as parabens and phenoxyethanol (which are preservatives), phthalates (only 1 type is allowed in cosmetics), fragrances containing allergens, sulphates and microplastics in skincare. I also avoid animal substances, such as collagen. There are excellent alternatives for all these substances, such as ingredients that have a dual function. For example, I always work with a moisturizing ingredient that also has a preservative effect. This takes more development time and is also more expensive, but you can limit your ingredient list somewhat. Furthermore, we naturally adhere to the cosmetics regulation, which regulates all substances that may or may not occur in cosmetics. If we know that a certain ingredient will be regulated in the long term, we respond in a timely manner.

Which substances have a bad image, but do you think they are absolutely not bad and could fit into a clean beauty philosophy?

Let's say first that I really hate circulating lists of 'hazardous substances'. A critical look is good, but in my opinion substances such as mineral oil or silicone are not hazardous to health. I don't use mineral oil in my products, but not because I think they are bad, but because they contribute nothing; they are, as we call it, 'inert'. They do not react with other substances, which you would say is very clean.

Some substances have acquired a negative image due to their potential skin-sealing properties or impact on the environment. However, when sourced from sustainable sources and produced using environmentally friendly methods, they can still play a valuable role in the formulation of beauty products.

One problem is that ingredients are often placed in a damn corner from different (green) corners without scientific substantiation. Public opinion is formed as a result and if it later turns out, after thorough research by the cosmetics legislator, that the information is incorrect, then the damage has already been done and no one wants a product that contains the offending ingredient anymore.

Science is not static, in ten years the ingredient palette may look different again under pressure from legislation and consumer behavior. Which substances do you expect to be banned in the long term?

In addition to the current list of substances to avoid, I expect that certain synthetic dyes and possibly certain chemical UV filters will come under even more pressure. And of course microplastics, which are a real headache for most brands to phase out of their products. There will likely be a greater emphasis on safer, natural alternatives. But of course they have to be there

How do you anticipate clean beauty with your formulations: which products meet this requirement, and what is not included?

The Pascaud formulations include a selection of natural and synthetic ingredients. Natural ingredients can include, for example, vegetable oils, botanical extracts, and natural preservatives. Synthetic ingredients are, for example, perfumes (if we have to use them) because they are purer than natural perfumes, peptides and hyaluronic acid.

In addition, I avoid harsh cleansers, artificial colors, and allergenic fragrances, preferring ethical and sustainable sources for all ingredients. All new formulations meet my clean beauty requirements anyway. Such as the Eye Essence, which we recently launched. It is a very effective eye serum against dark circles and puffiness, packed with active ingredients but without perfume, preservatives, hormone disruptors, microplastics or other substances under pressure.

Can clean beauty mean that you have to make concessions on formulations at the substance level, giving you a slightly different efficacy or a different skin feeling? How do you solve that, do you have any examples?

Yes, certainly, you can already read that from the above. Avoiding certain ingredients usually leads to compromises in formulation and sometimes product performance.

We obviously don't want to compromise on product performance so to tackle this challenge I try to use alternatives that offer similar benefits without compromising overall efficacy or skin feel. In our range there are some products that we want to reformulate in the coming years to remove the cyclopentasiloxane (a silicone substance). Although these are not in our rinse-off products and therefore do not end up in the environment in that way.

Are you still developing new products according to the clean beauty recipe, what can you say about it?

Yes, we are examining the existing recipes and all new products to be developed for Pascaud are in any case according to my clean beauty standard.

I am currently also working on the development of a completely new range (probably a sub-brand) with the full emphasis on sustainability and effectiveness.

So it will be a completely new brand and to really do that well it will still need about a year.

How can we make consumers aware of choosing clean beauty?

Making consumers aware of the benefits of clean beauty goes beyond just providing information about ingredients. It is crucial to be transparent about the entire production chain. By helping consumers understand how products are produced and what impact they have on the environment, brands can gain consumer trust and encourage them to make conscious choices.

Moreover, it is essential to stop creating lists of negative substances. Instead, we should focus on providing honest and unbiased information. This can be done by sharing scientifically substantiated facts about the effects of certain ingredients on health and the environment; that can help consumers make better informed choices.

Some examples of Pascaud Clean Beauty products:

Cleansing balm full of vegetable oils and botanical extracts: Cleansing Balm
Facial serum with 79% fresh vitamin C: Innovative II
Essence against dark circles around the eyes: Eye Essence

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