The ONDA Beauty Clean Standard
"To us at Onda, clean is more than the products we put on our skin. It’s a way of life and a mode of thinking."
The Onda Clean Beauty Standard
From day one, our co-founder Larissa Thomson was deeply passionate about clean beauty. In fact, she was faithful to all things clean long before it became the buzzword it is today. Don’t get us wrong, we love that it’s a buzzword and that so many are recognizing the benefits of switching up their self-care products. We want everyone to hop aboard this clean beauty train, because we firmly believe that it is better for our bodies, both inside and out.
Onda was founded on the principle that certain ingredients should never touch our skin. There were those (like chloroform and vinyl chloride in aerosol products) that have been on the cosmetics no-go list for some time; others have been added or deleted as the knowledge and science around them changes. So we, the consumers of beauty, also must change and evolve with the science. At Onda, we are constantly revising the industry's standards so that you don't have to. Our mission is to ensure that you are using efficient and safe products in your beauty routine.
What does “clean” mean in the general lexicon?
Which brings us to our point: exactly how is “clean beauty” defined? You’ve probably learned by now that there is no Food and Drug Administration regulatory definition, which can make it rather murky territory (keep in mind, the same is true of “natural,” which is often mentioned alongside clean). Over the years, the consensus in the industry has come to be that clean refers “to products that favor natural ingredients yet often incorporate synthetics that have been deemed safe for people and the planet,” according to the Washington Post. In other words, products that are known to not cause harm to our bodies (do not contain potential carcinogens and/or endocrine disruptors, for example). Note that clean does not necessarily equate to being free of synthetics.
What does “clean” mean at Onda Beauty?
At Onda we have a small synthetic allowance, only if that synthetic contributes to the overall efficacy of the botanical and mineral ingredients. As for what is not admissible: we have a list of dozens of ingredients that are forbidden; the United States currently bans only eleven. Unfortunately, beauty and personal care products aren’t regulated by the government, so it’s up to the consumer to scrutinize the products they’re using.
A false impression seems to exist that clean beauty can contain neither synthetics, man-made ingredients, or preservatives. Science has come such a long way that safe versions of all three exist. In fact, in most cases, a product should actually contain some form of preservative to maintain the stability of its formulation. Antioxidants, anti-bacterial extracts, essential oil extracts, and herbal extracts are all options to protect against contamination, for example.
So in short, ONDA Beauty’s definition of clean is that products do not contain ingredients linked to harmful health effects, everything from asthma to endocrine disruption to cancer. A few on our list of must-avoids: parabens, phthalates, PEGs, aluminum compounds, triclosan, talc, mineral oil, formaldehyde, chemical sunscreens, toluene, and synthetic fragrance. Now that you know what we avoid, a word on what we embrace.
What else we look for in the products we carry.
At ONDA Beauty, we take great pride in the time and effort we put into our curation. You may have noticed that we don’t always carry every product from every brand; that’s because we go product-by-product to ensure that what we do offer meets our standards. Aside from seeking out products with ingredients that have been proven safe to human health, we highly value these traits in a brand and its products:
Transparency: Brands that are forthcoming about both what goes into their products, as well as the practices implemented to make those products.
Efficacy: Put quite simply, products that work. We personally test every product that we stock to ensure it provides us with the results it promises and those we desire.
Innovation: We endeavor to keep abreast of what’s new in beauty technology and are always looking to raise the bar in the clean beauty segment.
Sensorial experience: Products that feel good on the skin, smell divine (without the use of mystery fragrance), and/or give an overall feeling of luxury.
Sustainability: We look for those brands that have made a commitment, however small, to be kind to the earth and its inhabitants, and to use its resources more wisely.
To us, clean is more than the products we put on our skin. It’s a way of life and a mode of thinking. We do our very best to be conscious of potentially harmful ingredients in the products we stock, and we’re here to help you do the same if that is a conscious choice you’ve made. We feel “clean” should become synonymous with “safe”. For our purposes, both are defined as containing only ingredients listed as “Low Hazard” by the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep scale of one through ten. In our opinion, the EWG is the most exhaustive source for ingredient safety that we know, and we recommend consulting the site if you have concerns or questions about an ingredient.
How else can you be proactive about keeping yourself safe when it comes to your personal care products? Perhaps you’ve heard that change is on the congressional table with the proposed Cosmetics Safety Enhancement Act. It’s been more than 80 years since even a House committee has voted to make health and safety reforms in the cosmetic industry. This bill, if passed, would require companies to test the safety of their products and notify the FDA of any health concerns. (We do realize and want to acknowledge that for a smaller business, this testing may be difficult to afford. We hope that future laws will also realize this, take it into account, and find ways to work with brands that have limited funds, since we pride ourselves on supporting and carrying both larger and smaller ones alike.)
As we said before, until makers of beauty products are held to a higher standard by law, it’s up to us as consumers, beauty retailers, and curators to scrutinize the products we use on our bodies. In the meantime, text #betterbeauty to 52886 (US) or 70734 (Canada) if you think 83 years is far too long, and you’ll receive a link via text message to email your members of Congress.