Should We Worry About Mold In Our 'Clean' Beauty Products? A Dermatologist Explains

Clean beauty products are advertised as being free from harmful chemicals and synthetic compounds, making them sound like enticing options when searching for cosmetics and beauty products. Items marketed as being clean are not regulated, so there isn't a standard definition for what constitutes a clean beauty product, but there are some general practices used in creating clean cosmetics. Ingredients typically avoided in clean beauty options include sulfates, parabens, phthalates, silica, petrochemicals and refined petroleum, hydroquinone, and talc, according to Foreo. Switching to a clean beauty routine can help protect the health and safety of your body since ingredients like hydroquinone can lead to organ toxicity, and both talc and silica have been linked to the development of cancers.

When you purchase and use clean beauty products, you likely want them to be and stay clean. This is where the foundation of clean beauty cosmetics becomes a little murky since the emphasis on natural ingredients often gives way to other natural elements to develop, including mold. Jose Diego Mier, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Heliotherapy Research Institute, tells Glam exclusively that the risk of mold developing in clean beauty products isn't something you should be overly worried about. Still, there are habits you can curate for maintaining your clean beauty products.

Clean beauty products often lack immunity to mold

The foundation of clean beauty products is the avoidance of preservatives, chemicals, and synthetic components when crafting cosmetics, and instead only utilizing natural ingredients. While natural products can be healthy choices for your skin and body, the lack of preservatives and chemicals, which typically protect products from mold growth, isn't present in clean beauty products. "Many reputable brands follow strict manufacturing processes and quality control measures to ensure product safety, but beauty products labeled as 'without chemicals' that may aim to use natural or organic ingredients don't have complete immunity to mold growth," Dr. Jose Diego Mier explains exclusively to Glam.

Being aware of the greater potential for clean beauty products to experience mold growth is the first step in keeping your products — in adherence with their namesake — clean and mold-free. "It's important to understand that natural preservatives and antimicrobial ingredients used in 'chemical-free' products may have varying effectiveness in preventing mold growth compared to synthetic preservatives, so you, as a buyer, should be aware but not overly worried," says Dr. Mier.

Fortunately, there are ways to maintain the cleanliness and hygiene of clean beauty products. Dr. Mier emphasizes the ability to keep unwanted mold at bay by emphasizing that "mold can grow in these products under certain conditions, but there are simple steps you can take to minimize the risk."

Tips to mitigating mold in your cosmetics

Practicing habits that protect the integrity of clean beauty products is essential when using any kind of cosmetic item, particularly, when the solutions are void of preservatives or chemical compounds enhancing product longevity. Explaining that some of the responsibility for mitigating mold falls on manufacturers, Dr. Jose Diego Mier exclusively tells us, "Factors like how the product is made, packaged, stored, and used can affect mold growth." The latter factors can be controlled by practices on behalf of the consumer, aka you. "Moisture, warmth, and exposure to air can create a friendly environment for mold to thrive," explains Dr. Mier, indicating that these conditions are ones you should strive to avoid when incorporating clean beauty products into your skincare and makeup routines.

"To keep your natural clean beauty products mold-free, handle and store them properly. Keep them in cool and dry places, seal them tightly after use, and avoid introducing moisture," shares Dr. Mier. Ways to stop mold in its tracks include minimizing the amount of time products are exposed without their caps or tops on and storing them in areas of low humidity in your home, which may not be in your bathroom. Dr. Mier provides additional types, proffering that "Checking expiration dates and using products within their recommended time frames is also important. While mold can be a concern, following these tips and using good hygiene practices will greatly reduce the chances of encountering it in your natural clean beauty products."