Do the words makeup or skincare interest you in any way, shape or form? Then the term clean beauty should be something with which you are all too familiar with.
We are certainly becoming more savvy and knowledgeable about what we put on our faces and bodies. And as consumers, we are really beginning to learn some devastating truths.
These truths are directly related to chemicals and materials that have been used in beauty products, well for hundreds of years now. And still are to this day. But as Bob Dylan once sang “the times they are a-changing” and it seems like they really are. I truly hope so.
In my film and television makeup career, I have worked with so many great and talented hairdressers and makeup artists. One such individual is Clare McGrowdie who I worked with on the Angelina Jolie movie Unbroken in 2013.
In recent years, Clare has become the owner of Bond Clean Beauty.
Bond Clean Beauty is a beauty business based in Sydney, Australia. She prides herself on only supplying the highest quality of clean beauty products to her clients and customers.
However, the road that led her to begin Bond Clean Beauty was not an easy one. Surprisingly (or maybe not?) her company’s creation came from her very profession of hair and makeup in the beginning.
I recently caught up with Clare to learn more about clean beauty. And to understand just how much impact these day to day products in our beauty regime can have on our bodies.
Hi Clare – thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Let’s start at the beginning. What is clean beauty?
For me, the term Clean Beauty means beauty products that contain only safe ingredients without any nasty ingredients.
Ingredients such as known toxins, carcinogens, neurological disruptors, and so on. The industry terms used commonly can also be green or natural.
However, I went with clean as there are also natural ingredients that are unsafe. Lead is one of them! Going with Clean Beauty just felt more aligned with my message.
I agree! Natural is one of those words that suffers from massive over-use and misuse!
Tell us how your career began, and about founding Bond Clean Beauty.
I started out as a hair and makeup artist. Primarily working in salons and freelancing with Fashion Weeks, Red Carpet work, Press tours, Award Seasons, Film & TV, editorial so on.
I absolutely loved finding the best products for my clients and I loved all the beautiful packaging as well.
After my health started to deteriorate, my doctors advised me that the long hours (I suffered adrenal fatigue) and the chemicals in the products were affecting my health.
I needed to make a shift in my work life.
I loved what I did, so I started to look into natural alternatives and it wasn’t an easy road.
At the time, the main options were still health food stores, and the products just weren’t up to scratch.
They weren’t the quality I was (and my clients) we accustomed to. So I started a deep dive into researching brands and what was out there.
How did you discover the link between your health and the chemicals in the beauty products you were using?
My doctors were able to make the link. They diagnosed me with multiple auto-immune disorders. And one of these directly affected my skin.
It took being covered head to toe in hives to have a biopsy taken. A very direct link was made at that point.
In all honesty, my naturopath made the link many years before. However, I didn’t take too much notice until I was really quite sick.
Was there any one specific product in particular that you severely reacted to?
Hairspray seemed to be the main product that would affect me immediately after use. Because it is in the air and regardless of if I was using it or someone else in the workspace was, my face would become red and swollen.
I would immediately have to wash my face and go home.
The only thing I could use on my skin for about a week after this happened was Manuka Honey.
This was the result of ignoring the smaller allergies for years and the accumulative build up in my system as well.
All in all, it was a culmination of everything. The effects became so severe and immediate, that I could no longer ignore the issue.
Did you manage to find the right doctor for your needs?
Yes! I finally did. It was a long road and a very expensive journey, but I got there in the end. I started out on the conventional route of western medicine and seeing many specialists.
However, each specialist only looked at their specific system and they weren’t able to link the multiple symptoms if it wasn’t in their field of expertise.
One specialist would pass me around to another.
Only some of them were willing to work with one another and some that would not work with each other at all.
The main reason I found this system wasn’t working for me was that none of these doctors were looking at the root cause. I found that the western approach would look at covering up the symptom.
Generally, it was only a temporary fix, a band-aid fix. There seemed to be no long term solution. I was often told to just learn to live with it. And this advice just didn’t sit right with me.
I started to go to acupuncturists and naturopaths, who were incredibly helpful. Practitioners that I still use to this day. I was introduced to the field of Integrative Medicine at about this same time.
This is where the doctor looks at the body as a whole system and not separate parts. And this is where it was starting to come together for me. Rather than prescribing steroids to cover up my symptoms, my doctor ran the most extensive blood panels and worked from there. And looking at the root causes and coming up with a plan.
I have been working with my doctor – Dr Jennifer Bromberger, for a couple of years now. My results just keep getting better and better.
In regards to Doctors linking my illness to my work, every doctor made the link.
That is frightening. That must’ve been quite a wake-up call.
I’m guessing all of the beauty products that affected you directly are still on the market today?
Offending chemicals are still allowed in our industry because of safety levels. Each ingredient has a safety level that is allowed.
Most people tend to use 12 products before they have even left the house, and this notion is hugely overlooked. Therefore they have exceeded that safety level 12 times already!
Formulations are not looked at as a whole; only the individual ingredients within that are checked off a list.
So, two ingredients, that on their own are safe, may become carcinogenic when mixed together.
Another thing worth noting is that clean beauty products are more expensive to use (as the individual ingredients cost more to purchase).
Also, they don’t have a 10-year shelf life, they might have 2 years. The use of the offending chemicals in the beauty industry really comes down to cost.
Was there a product that you absolutely loved that you had to say goodbye to forever after your discoveries? If so, do you miss it?
It took me a while to find each natural alternative that I loved, but I got there in the end.
How do you go about sourcing new products and companies to stand behind?
I look at performance, ingredients, brand aesthetic. Would I use it on myself? Would I use it on the most high-end clients? Could I use this in my professional kit?
And of course brand integrity.
The integrity behind the brand is the most important factor of all for me. I consider how the ingredients are sourced. Where these ingredients are grown, how they are harvested. Whether they are sustainable and regenerative.
What process does the plant go through to extract the product? How the product formulation is put together. What the intention is for making this product and putting it out into the world. There are a lot of points I look at when looking at brands and aligning with them.
Is it difficult to bring in products from overseas?
Haha, yes and no. It’s costly.
I did have to test different options when I first started out. Trying different shipping solutions, working with duties & taxes. And having the right license to be importing these types of products.
But you find your footing with that fairly quickly.
When COVID first hit, we didn’t know if we could still receive our products from international companies.
Let alone if they could still fulfill our orders on their end. Luckily, all of our brands have been able to continue on this year. But it does make you think of how much your business relies on importing.
Clare, your company website features the Bond’s Baddies glossary.
It astounds me that these chemicals can be in beauty products – even baby shampoos!
Is our awareness growing to a level where eventually, these products will disappear entirely? Are we witnessing a turning of the tide?
I have a lot of faith that this will change.
Consumer demand is pushing this more and more. And with an ever-increasing number of incredible beauty brands showing that they can create amazing beauty products without the use of harmful ingredients.
These products can stand up to the conventional norm (if not outdo!) then the brands that don’t convert over will be left behind.
Transparency is key right now.
And the time where brands used to get away with not disclosing certain ingredients is all but gone.
The consumer can now choose what they wish to put on their body.
Thanks so much, Clare for taking this time to chat about your experiences and how they led to the formation of Bond Clean Beauty.
If this is all too eye-opening and shocking, perhaps take a look at the Bond’s Baddies. It’s a great place to begin your awareness of some hideous chemicals that are in many products we use daily in life. And we can all afford to be more aware, every single day.
What are your favorite clean beauty brands? Or perhaps you still have an obsession with a product you just know you should say goodbye to forever?
Featured image by FOODISM360 via Unsplash