September 28, 2023

Our Clean Standards: What We Formulate Without

Many beauty brands market their formulas with "We Ban (X Number) Ingredients!" But, this doesn't necessarily tell us whether or not the formulas are good for our skin. For example, we at BiotechBeauty could make our own "banned" list of over 50,000 ingredients and could include lots of out-there things like cyanide, arsenic—you get the idea. What we'll sometimes find is that even though these brands ban many ingredients, they include ones that are not banned by the FDA, yet are problematic for many users.
Discover below a list of ingredients commonly found in leading brands that we choose formulate without, as well as explanations for their exclusion.
  • Also can be labeled as Silica, Dimethicone, Methicone, Methyl Trimethicone, Dimethiconol, Cyclopentasiloxane. The easiest way to identify silicones is to look for words that end in one of these: –cone, –conol, –silane or –siloxane.
  • Have a look at your favorite products' labels. Even the "Clean" branded ones tend to have at least one of these—most have several!
  • While these make our skin look and feel silky smooth, what might happen if we're not diligent about thoroughly cleansing our skin is that residual silicones can build up in our pores, preventing sebum from flowing freely to our skin's surface. Due to their hydrophobic nature, silicones are difficult to wash off with water. This can be problematic for those of us who are acne-prone or have sensitive skin.
  • If your favorite products have these ingredients, be sure to thoroughly cleanse your face with the double cleansing method (oil to break down everything, followed by a second cleanse with your usual face wash) to ensure you get all the silicone remnants out of your pores.
  • Silicones are also not easily biodegradable in the environment. When washed off your face and sent down the drain, silicones can pose a risk to aquatic ecosystems.
  • Fragrances in cosmetics may trigger skin irritation, redness, itchiness, or allergic reactions—particularly in those of us who have sensitive skin conditions such as acne, eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis.
  • We love minimalism! Our short ingredient lists reflect our intentionality in creating each of our formulas. We prioritize essential ingredients that perform rather than unnecessary additives.
  • One of the most prevalent concerns with talc is its potential for contamination with asbestos, which is known to cause cancer when inhaled consistently. Talc and asbestos minerals tend to be located in close proximity in the earth, and cosmetic talc products have occasionally been found to contain trace amounts of asbestos.
  • In powder form, talc can pose health risks if inhaled. Fine particles of talc can become airborne during application, and inhalation of these particles may irritate the lungs and respiratory system.
  • For those of us with dry or sensitive skin, cosmetics that contain alcohol can contribute to irritation and further dryness.
  • By stripping the skin, alcohol has the potential to disrupt the skin's natural moisture barrier—leading to an increased susceptibility to breakouts, excess oil production, and skin sensitivity.
Natural, Mined Mica
  • Even ethically-sourced Mica causes environmental problems through mining, such as deforestation, habitat destruction, soil erosion and degradation, and air and water pollution. That's why BiotechBeauty only uses lab-created Mica (Synthetic Fluorphlogopite!)
Homosalate, Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Octocrylene
  • The FDA requires additional safety data for these common sunscreen chemicals due to studies that show these ingredients can be absorbed through the skin. Moreover, many studies have also raised concerns about endocrine-disrupting effects of homosalate, avobenzone and oxybenzone.
  • In 2021, the European Commission published preliminary opinions on the safety of oxybenzone, homosalate and octocrylene. After finding that the current market use concentrations were unsafe for consumers, the Commission proposed limiting concentrations to 2.2% for oxybenzone and 1.4% for homosalate. To compare, U.S. sunscreen brands are can legally use these two chemicals at concentrations up to 6% and 15%, respectively. In fact, the majority of sunscreens produced in the U.S. use these ingredients at concentrations significantly above the European Commission’s safety recommendations.
  • These chemical sunscreen ingredients are also harmful to the environment. In sunscreen-branding terms, they are not "reef-safe." They have been found to contribute to coral bleaching, damage to marine life, and disruption of aquatic environments.
  • If you're looking for a safe alternative, opt for mineral sunscreen! Be sure to check the label, too, as some mineral sunscreen brands include these chemical sunscreen ingredients to support higher SPF claims.
Mineral Oil
  • Like silicones, mineral oil isn't inherently comedogenic. However, it is an occlusive—meaning the large molecules sit on top of the skin forming a protective coating.
  • This can be beneficial in moisturizers for those with very dry skin, but we don't include it in our makeup to avoid clogging pores and contributing to acne throughout the day for users with sensitive and acne-prone skin.
DHA (Dihydroxyacetone)
  • This popular self-tanning ingredient can cause skin irritation, especially with the more sensitive skin on your face. We opt for fermentation-derived Erythrulose, a DHA-free self-tanning agent that is popular among users who are sensitive to chemical irritation or rashes.
  • These preservative ingredients have raised concerns due to their potential long-term health effects. Some studies suggest that parabens can disrupt our hormones and reproductive health, potentially increase the risk of breast cancer, and cause skin irritation.
  • Studies suggest that Phthalates are endocrine disruptors that are linked to hormone disruption, reproductive health defects, greater risk of cancer, and skin irritation.
Polyethylene glycols (PEGs)
  • PEGs may be contaminated with significant amounts of carcinogens, such as ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. 1,4-dioxane can be removed from the PEG ingredient during the manufacturing process by vacuum stripping, but there is no easy way for consumers to verify whether their products containing PEGs have been treated with this process.
  • In a study of personal care products marketed as “natural” or “organic”, U.S. researchers found 1,4-dioxane as a contaminant in 46 out of the 100 products analyzed.
  • Sulfates are popular surfactants are found in most products that lather up—think face washes, shampoo, hand soap, and so on. These cleaning agents can sometimes be too harsh for our sensitive moisture barriers, as they can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to irritation, dryness, and production of excess oil.
Animal-derived ingredients
  • Including, but not limited to: Carmine/carminic acid/cochineal/natural red 4/C.I. 75470, Beeswax/Cera Alba/Cera Flava, Caseinate/Sodium Caseinate/Milk Protein, Lanolin, and Guanine (Pearl Essence)
  • BiotechBeauty's formulas never use animal-derived ingredients.
Formaldehyde or Formaldehyde-releasing agents
  • Formaldehyde can be used as a preservative in cosmetics, but it is classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
  • Formaldehyde-releasing agents, ingredients that release formaldehyde over time, are also used as cosmetic preservatives. These ingredients can cause negative reactions such as redness, itching, and dermatitis. Examples include, but are not limited to, DMDM Hydantoin, Quaternium-15, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Diazolidinyl Urea, and Sodium Hydroxymethrlglycinate.
Filler ingredients
  • Our chemists work diligently to design formulas that have only necessary ingredients and remove all the extras to minimize the risk of irritating sensitive skin. That's why we have a shorter ingredient list than most cosmetics (even with our added actives and skincare stars!)
But wait—there's more! BiotechBeauty formulates to exceed the standards of industry leaders, so we don't include the following:
  • Any of the 100+ ingredients banned according to the Conscious Beauty "No List" at bluemercury. All of BiotechBeauty's formulations meet bluemercury's Naturally-Derived, Mindful Ingredients, and Vegan & Cruelty Free formulation standards.
  • Any of the 50+ ingredients banned according to Clean at Sephora regulations.
  • Any of the 70+ ingredients on the Ulta Conscious Beauty "Made Without" list.
  • Any of the ingredients on the Credo Beauty Dirty List.
  • Any of the 2,400+ ingredients banned in the European Union (EU)

As a result of our rigorous ingredient vetting, we are proud to claim the following standards:
  • Vegan (PETA Certified)
  • Cruelty-Free (PETA and Leaping Bunny Certified)
  • Dermatologist tested and recommended 
  • Non-comedogenic 
  • Safe for sensitive skin 
  • Efficacious levels of skincare (85%+ of our makeup ingredients are purely skincare)!

We're all about inclusivity, but these ingredients can't sit with us.



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