Clean Beauty Since Day 1
The skin care industry is riddled with questionable practices and toxic ingredients. It’s the very thing that inspired our founders, Kevin and Annmarie Gianni, to create an intentional line with your health and the planet’s health in mind, formulated with organic and wildcrafted ingredients.
But in the decade since Annmarie Skin Care was founded, little has changed in terms of regulation or legislation—despite the marketplace being more crowded than ever. The concept of conscious, non-toxic beauty is now commonplace, along with buzzwords like clean, real, pure, safe, green, and, of course, natural. What does it all mean for your health? Do these terms equate to safety?
Transparency means everything to us. So as we use the term “clean beauty”, we want to ensure that there is trust and understanding on exactly what we mean. We understand there’s a lot of misinformation surrounding the different terminology to describe a product, so we created this outline to provide context and a benchmark for where we stand exactly, and how we define clean.
Not only will it make you a more discerning shopper, but it will also help provide clarity on the claims behind modern skincare, whether vague, contradictory, or outright greenwashed.
Annmarie Skin Care has provided Clean Beauty Since Day 1, which is a promise to create products that are safe for you and healthy for the planet. Since the conception of Annmarie Skin Care in 2009, we have been creating products that were the purest in the market—formulating with wildcrafted and organic ingredients, using the purest cold pressed seed oils and practicing true intention with every step in production.
This commitment has always been full circle, from formulation to carbon footprint. It is rooted in a deep understanding of harm-free ingredients, an ongoing assessment of safety standards and the latest research, and a series of environmental initiatives that benefit wildlife and the ecosystem at large.
Let’s start with a brief history lesson to differentiate between buzzwords like natural, organic, and wildcrafted, and where we stand. From there, we’ll get into prohibited ingredients as well as our safety standards, eco-conscious packaging, and steps towards sustainability.
Already familiar with these buzzwords? Read about our formulation process here.
Natural in many forms
Although “natural” suggests purity and safety, that may not always be the case. It often isn’t, in fact. There is no official regulation by the FDA around the word “natural,” so companies can simply claim their products are “natural,” even if they’re aware of harmful ingredients. These products may even contain a plant-based ingredient or a trendy botanical for marketing purposes… when the formula is actually full of toxic or chemical-synthetic ingredients. This is called greenwashing and, sadly, it’s a common occurrence in the industry.
Ultimately, everyone has their own opinion of what could be claimed “natural,” from virgin and unprocessed oils to organic oils that may not be virgin. Some may even consider petroleum to be natural, as crude oil is technically derived from the earth. And you probably know that some makeup lines contain talc—another potentially damaging ingredient that is, again, technically “natural.” Of course, we don’t agree with the idea that these last ingredients are ones we, at Annmarie Skin Care, consider natural.
As we explore the word “natural,” we can see it has many forms. If we use the word “natural,” we’re making a promise to use safe, effective, and proven plant-based ingredients—which include all of our extracts, oils, and even preservatives—that promote gorgeous skin without compromising your health.
To us, synthetic means just that—an ingredient that has been derived from a synthetic origin.
We get that it can be confusing to hear the word natural and wonder if there is anything that is not technically derived from nature. On the flip side, we feel the same way with the term synthetic—as it can be convoluted in many different ways. We use some ingredients that may be quite challenging to go straight into nature and extract ourselves—like stem cells from oranges (as seen in our Citrus Stem Cell Serum), plant cells from rose, or perhaps ceramides that are from pineapple (featured in our Fruit Ceramide Eye Serum). So we lean on the skills of conscious suppliers to handle this processing for us. Although we are not picking the herb or plant product of these ingredients and placing them into a bottle, we still consider these types of powerhouse ingredients natural, as they are derived purely from natural origin and, in fact, will never contain any ingredient or sub-ingredients that is derived from synthetic origin.
So when you hear us say that we don’t use synthetic ingredients, we truly mean it.
Not permitting PFAS
What are PFAS? PFAS are Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances; highly fluorinated chemicals that can remain in the environment forever and are linked with serious health problems. These chemicals are pervasive amongst consumer good products (cookware, cosmetics, clothing, cleaners, etc.) allowing for persistent contamination across industries. Products in our homes and workplaces that contain these chemicals contribute to our exposure.
Annmarie Skin Care stands in alignment with the removal and regulation of PFAS and does not intentionally add any member of the whole class of PFAS to our product line.
Made with organic ingredients
At one time, everything we were eating and applying to our skin was organic. It wasn’t until around the 1930s that scientists started discovering how certain chemicals can be used to kill insects and other agricultural pests that they started to be used in our food and body products.
As far as cosmetics today, a product can say it’s “made with organic ingredients” and only 70% of the ingredients in a given formula need to be made with those organic ingredients. As for the remaining 30%? That’s where potentially harmful ingredients can hide—including parabens (Propyl-, Isopropyl-, Butyl- and Isobutyl-), which are known endocrine disruptors.
There is always the option of the USDA organic seal, which requires a product to contain at least 95% certified organic ingredients. But we have some reservations about these restrictions. Although we utilize a lot of individual ingredients that are certified organic, Annmarie Skin Care has opted out of organic certification for our line as a whole for a few reasons.
To begin with, it is widely-known that the USDA offers agricultural grants to select farmers, and that those farmers have paid the USDA for organic certification. This, to us, feels strange—especially when the USDA spends around $3 billion every year to promote monoculture farming and the increased production of genetically-engineered crops like soy and corn, as reported by the Yale Center for Business and the Environment.
Second, it’s costly. But more than that, we’re allowed greater flexibility when it comes to sourcing wildcrafted and small farmed ingredients. Which, in our minds, ultimately improves the quality, effectiveness, and safety of our products.
To explain: Sometimes we find a source for, say, lavender, that’s grown without any pesticides, on a farm that uses sustainable practices and treats their workers well, but isn’t certified organic and simply cannot afford the certification. Oftentimes, this source will be higher in quality than lavender grown on a large-scale, certified organic farm. If our products were certified organic, we wouldn’t be able to use the lavender from that first farm—the higher quality source.
While it may seem impossible to return to a system free of harmful additives, it’s heartening to remember that this world is actually in the not-so-distant past.
Wildcrafted: hand-foraged and high-performance
The term “wildcrafted” refers to plants that are harvested or foraged straight from the wild. Because they’re not farmed, they can’t be certified organic… but they’re actually the most organic ingredients out there, if you ask us.
That’s why we’ve made conscious efforts to source wildcrafted whenever possible, and it’s always been our top goal when developing formulas, whether for the herbs in our herb-infused oils, or for the seed oils that are added into the blend thereafter.
Of course, preservation is key when wildcrafting ingredients. We’ve spent the last 11 years developing close relationships with vendors who respect the planet and follow ethical guidelines with wildcrafted ingredients, harvesting only a small amount in a given environment. See our Palo Santo Body Butter, for example, which is wildcrafted in Ecuador and sustainably harvested solely from fallen trees and branches. We source specifically from a non-endangered species, not to be confused with Bulnesia Sarmientoi. For this product, we partner with a distributor who keeps a close relationship and connection to the family and with the local communities in Ecuador. They are committed to reforestation and giving back to the planet. Since 2008, our partner has planted over 30,000 trees back into the area and continues to support farmworkers with a fair wage. Their partnership has become a relationship that provides a lasting livelihood for the coastal communities who gather and steward this “Holy Wood” from South America.
Beyond carefully curating organic and wildcrafted ingredients from trusted supplies or farmers, featuring herbs and high-vibration plant extracts, we formulate as close to nature as possible.
This means minimal processing, no additives, and a variety of techniques including CO2 extraction, cold-pressing, pure distillation and more.
It all starts with our curation
When choosing ingredients for our formulas, we consider a variety of factors—starting with you, the customer. What are your skin goals and the results you want to achieve?
From there, intention is everything. We examine how to create synergy between each and every ingredient. The hydrosols in our Botanical Hydration Mist with Immortelle, for instance, can boost the efficacy of one another. And our proprietary herb infusion and signature serum blend are brewers with uniquely complementary herbs and extracts.
We also hold high standards for who we are working with and prioritize those who respect our planet. We want to form relationships with people who are doing good in the world, which is why we connect with suppliers who are farmers or directly supporting farmers. We ensure that they supply fair wages and actively forge a deeper connection with the plant material, sourcing directly from their native regions without disrupting a foreign environment.
After finding the ingredient and source we would like to use, we go through a verification process that could take up to 12 months for a complete formula. We work with a 3rd party certification program that carefully researches each ingredient to ensure that it is MADE SAFE® (more on that below). From there, we are carefully and continuously auditing our sources to maintain our standards of purity and sustainability for as long as we carry that ingredient.
The second (and secret) step in our process: the herb-infusion
Each formula has its own unique blend of herbs combined specifically for that product–its purpose and the skin type it’s intended for. We infuse these hand-selected herbs into organic aloe vera and skin-nutritive oils at a low heat (never over 95°) to extract all of the beneficial properties of these herbs. These botanical infusions are then left to steep for up to 30 days, while being energized by crystals before serving as a potent base for all our formulas.
To create is the final step that puts the finishing touches on our one of-a-kind creations–formulating with CO2 extracts, cold-pressed seed oils and steam-distilled flower oils
After the herb-infusion comes the last phase in our unique, intentional process. We add in high-performance seed oils, antioxidant-rich botanicals, and synergistic plant stem cells that deliver skin-supporting nutrients and luxurious aromatherapy. This delivers active, supernaturally-effective skin care.
Clean beauty doesn’t stop at what we put on our bodies; it’s about reducing waste and our collective carbon footprint for a healthier planet. Pure skin care warrants a little more thought and intention when it comes to packaging, so we’ve done just that. We bring intention into the final creation of our products—our packaging. We house all of our products in Miron violet glass, which energizes the organic molecules of the product by filtering in a small percentage of light while protecting it from the harmful rays of the light spectrum.
We also make the commitment to using sustainable materials in every way we can throughout the packaging process. We source materials that are recyclable or made up of post-consumer waste, utilizing non toxic inks and adhesives, while sourcing boxes that have been produced at a wind-powered facility.
Prohibited: 5,000+ harmful chemicals
We don’t just avoid the usual offenders, whether that’s parabens, phthalates, or synthetic fragrances. We actually feel it would be too long of a list to lay out all that we DON’T use since there are new chemicals released onto the market every year. This is why you will typically see us talking about what we do use instead–organic, wildcrafted and plant made.
For the sake of transparency, we want to share a little bit about some things that you will never see in our products.
SOME OF THE RECOGNIZABLE INGREDIENTS (SUBSTANCES) THAT YOU WON’T RECOGNIZE IN OUR PRODUCTS ARE:
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
- Ethylene Glycol
- Mineral Oil (Paraffin Oil, Paraffin Wax, Petrolatum, Liquid Paraffinum)
- Parabens (Butylparaben, Benzylparaben, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben)
- Polyethylene Glycol Compounds
- Siloxanes and Silanes (Silicon-Based Ingredients)
- Surfactants such as Alkyl benzene sulfonates (ABS), Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES), Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS), Cocoyl Sarcosine, Lauryl Sarcosine, Linear alkyl benzene sulfonates, Linear alkyl sodium sulfonates, Potassium Coco Hydrolyzed Collagen, Sodium Coco Sulfate (SCS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), TEA (Triethanolamine) Laureth Sulfate, TEA (Triethanolamine) Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate
- Triclosan and Triclocarban
AND SOME OF THE OTHERS THAT WILL NOT BE FOUND IN OUR PRODUCTS:
- GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or Synthetic Biology
- High risk pesticide residue, such as: Acetochlor, Atrazine, Chloropicrin, Chlorpyrifos, Glyphosate, Metolachlor, Metam sodium, Metam potassium, Paraquat, Pendimethalin.
For a full breakdown of the hazards list from Made Safe which we follow diligently, please see here.
A closer look at the MADE SAFE® seal
MADE SAFE®, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, provides America’s first human health-focused certification for nontoxic products. The MADE SAFE® (Made With Safe Ingredients™) seal literally means that our skin care is made with safe ingredients and free of the 5,000+ harmful chemicals that can harm human health and our ecosystems.
ALL MADESAFE CERTIFIED PRODUCTS HAVE PASSED INGREDIENT SCREENING FOR KNOWN:
- Behavioral toxins
- Developmental toxins
- Endocrine disruptors
- Fire retardants
- Heavy metals
- High-risk pesticides
- Reproductive toxins
- Toxic solvents
- Harmful VOCs
To learn more about the MADE SAFE® certification for all of our products, visit this page.
Standards we live by and uphold
Made Safe is one of a few programs we consistently work with. In addition to third-party testing as proof of ingredient integrity, we are dedicated to formulas that are free of toxic chemicals and made with organic and wildcrafted ingredients.
ANNMARIE SKIN CARE SET HIGH STANDARDS EARLY ON AND WILL CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THEM:
- Real, pure and unadulterated ingredients
- Truth in transparency–we will always list every single ingredient in our formulas.
- MADE SAFE® certified products, a comprehensive safety certification for clean, non-toxic formulas.
- Leaping Bunny-certified, as we’re a cruelty-free company.
- Non-GMO, or free from genetically modified organisms
- Made in the USA
We’ve always aspired to change the industry into something that operates with people’s health as the top priority. We can’t do it alone, which is why we’re so grateful for our community’s loyalty and support. Not only are we held accountable to continue using these practices, but we’re inspired to continuously improve year after year.
Our commitment to clean beauty is full circle. It’s about making your skin look gorgeous, coexisting with the environment, and creating a thriving ecosystem for all creatures—all at the same time. It starts with using wildcrafted and organically-grown ingredients in all of our products, sourced from farmers who use no pesticides and natural fertilizers to produce them, and it goes much further than that.
Our pesticide-free promise
When making the commitment to using clean ingredients, we are also thinking about plant-based ingredients (or the plants themselves, like herbs) that can potentially contain pesticide residue. According to Pesticide Action Network, a non-profit organization, the last report on pesticide use in the United States was from 2011 to 2012 and it was estimated that there are over 1 billion pounds of pesticides used each year. Worldwide, that number increases to nearly 6 billion pounds. The most common 5 used are extremely toxic and can pose a variety of acute and chronic illnesses, along with negative consequences to the planet and biodiversity. We are committed to doing our part to reduce this number, ensuring that every one of our ingredients is carefully analyzed to show there is no pesticide residue present.
Better packaging for a cleaner planet
Packaging is another essential aspect of a clean, planet-friendly product. According to Plastic Oceans International, a non-profit organization, roughly 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. That’s why eliminating plastic is one of our main priorities, among many other focuses. The violet Miron glass takes the place of plastic for the majority of our products, while the rest are either bottled in amber glass like our Palo Santo Hair & Body Mist, compostable bio bags like our Beauty Blend Tea, recyclable cylinder containers like our Antioxidant Lip Balm, aluminum bottles like our Shampoo and Conditioner, and so on.
We put a lot of thought into labels as well, given the fact that toxic inks, adhesives, and other materials can play a devastating role on the environment. Whether it’s the petrochemical-free, bio-based adhesive labels we use on our bottles (ensuring they stay recyclable after their lifespan), or the compostable tamper seals on our tea packaging, no detail is too small.
Of course, we can always do better. And we promise to do just that. We actively and carefully review all of our components every quarter to see what new packaging initiatives we can promote. When you’re dedicated to the health and safety of people, the planet, and all of its organisms, clean beauty is so much more than the ingredients featured in a product. It also means being conscious and intentional with the full cycle of our products, from the production facility to your home. Whether that means being mindful of the runoff into the water supply or ensuring that labels and materials can be discarded without harming the earth, we are dedicated to doing our part in creating a safe system.
That’s something we’re proud of. More importantly, it’s something we’ll continue to improve upon, year after year—for this generation and the generations to come.
We’ve compiled our best resources on clean beauty for you. If you’re ready to take a deep dive into skin care education, here’s where to start!