2021’s Need to Know Beauty Buzzwords

Beauty doesn’t come with a single definition and has an all-encompassing, all-embracing character, just as it should. The ever-evolving industry has been dishing out trends to no end, popping out new beauty terms and phrases on a daily basis. While some are backed by genuine facts and scientific research, some simply turn to fad. 

So, here’s a 2021 updated glossary of some up and coming buzzwords to keep you beauties on top of your game. Not only are these worth understanding, but they also help you figure out what works and what doesn’t, for you, and in some instances, the planet too! 

Before you dive into them, remember that definitions can be subjective and differ in meaning for different people and different brands. Nevertheless, here’s the basic breakdown of these common, need-to-know beauty buzzwords to help you steer clear of Greenwashing (yet another buzzword).

What does “Clean” Mean?

Like we’ve often mentioned, clean beauty connotes beauty that’s safe for people and the planet, without posing a burden on its resources. It remains free from toxic elements, is minimally processed and creates zero to low waste, with utmost transparency about the product and its constituents, start to end. “Clean”, here, also implies well-researched formulations that essentially comprise plant-based ingredients for active results - naturally nourishing our skin, hair and body with their optimum virtues.

What does “Organic” Mean?

Organic beauty is truly organic when stamped with an official certification of India Organic, ECOCERT or USDA Organic, as applicable. This implies that the formulations are 95% organic, generally plant-based, and comprise of organically grown ingredients cultivated with non-GMO seeds, without the usage of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides etc.

What does “Sustainable” Mean?

Sustainable beauty goes hand in hand with clean and green beauty - an antidote to the wasteful trend of fast beauty and skincare. Non-biodegradable or non-recyclable packaging, formulations with toxic chemicals, animal abuse, exploitative trade and unethical ingredient sourcing, to name a few, are all counters of sustainability. Be it the actual product or its packaging, none of it should lead to environmental degradation in any manner. From sourcing to manufacturing, to production, distribution and disposal, sustainable beauty supports the health of the planet and helps reduce the carbon footprint till the very last mile. 

What does “Vegan” Mean?

The term “Vegan” is often confused with “Vegetarian”, even “Cruelty-Free” or “Plant-based” at times. In truth, vegan beauty means the absence of ingredients sourced from animals or animal by-products. Common animal-derived, non-vegan ingredients include beeswax, honey, lanolin (wool grease), squalene (shark liver oil), carmine (crushed-up beetles), gelatin (cow or pig bones, tendons or ligaments) etc. Mind you, vegan doesn’t necessarily mean clean or cruelty-free - the product can still be packed with unhealthy fillers or chemicals of concern, regardless.

What does “Cruelty-Free” Mean?

A beauty product is cruelty-free when its ingredients, components and final formulation have not been tested on animals anywhere from manufacturing to pre-selling, and everything in between. It also implies that any animal-derived ingredients were not sourced at the expense of the animal’s wellbeing. A cruelty-free claim can be verified by seeking accreditations like PETA, CDG Certification, Leaping Bunny, Choose Cruelty-Free etc. Oh and, just like before, it is possible for a cruelty-free product to not be clean or green, and have non-vegan ingredients in its formulation.

What does “Greenwashing” Mean?

With the aforementioned list of beauty buzzwords, there is an undeniable trend of pushing towards better and healthier beauty. But as things go, there’s more to it than just plain and simple good stuff. While some brands are completely honest & transparent about actually implementing changes in their products, a lot of them market themselves with just words and no real grunt work. 

Simply put, greenwashing is when brands portray themselves as environmentally friendly, skin-friendly, sustainable etc., more than they really are. They essentially capitalize on the growing demand for environmentally and ethically sound products, with little to no outcomes on the actual initiative. Not to mention that even well-intentioned customers get misled into making purchases they may consider sustainable. It’s basically like glossing over a not-so-glossy and unrewarding initiative to make it more appealing for all the wrong reasons.

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