Compléments alimentaires - Clean Beauty - WE ARE CLEAN

Clean Beauty and dietary supplements

Sales of dietary supplements in France have long been known to be sluggish, or at least far less dynamic than those in Asian and English-speaking countries. 

Yet, for three years now, this market has been enjoying an unprecedented upswing in mainland France, thanks to the many young beauty product brands entering the market with a combo from the outset: topical beauty product + caplets to take. These are alluring offerings that look good, and offer a vision of beauty that’s more holistic. 

But how can you be sure that your dietary supplements are in accordance with Clean beauty principles? Meaning free from pollutants and suspect ingredients? Although the legislation governing beauty products in the EU is thought of as one of the world’s most stringent, that governing the dietary supplements market leaves things a little nebulous… Here’s why.

A distinct lack of transparency

Or even a great big nebulous mass! Because dietary supplements are not at all governed by EU beauty product regulations. They are subject to EU regulations, but with fewer restrictions than beauty products, in terms of detailed information on ingredients. 

  • For dietary supplements, there’s no equivalent to an International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) list, that states exactly what is in the beauty product. This explains why apps like Clean Beauty and Yuka are unable to demystify dietary supplements. However, the latter must abide by the permitted claims, ingredient by ingredient.
  • In France, one of the only obligations to which companies behind dietary supplements are held is filing paperwork with the fraud squad (Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation and de la Répression des Fraudes – DGCCRF). 
  • Even microbiological analyses are not run as a matter of course, and production laboratories can sell batches to brands without having run any! (But most brands do, thankfully). 
  • It has recently become compulsory for the part of the plant used to be stated on the packaging, as well as the word ‘nano’. Because under the inter-ministerial order of 2017: ”All ingredients in foodstuffs in the form of manufactured nanomaterials are to be clearly indicated in the list of ingredients. The name of the ingredients is to be followed by the word [nano] in square brackets”. Titanium dioxide (E 171), a colourant used to whiten foods or give them a shiny finish, as in the case of sweets and chewing gum, is being especially singled out here. 

What does clean mean when it comes to dietary supplements

Active ingredients that are natural or derived from natural substances are recognisable and stated on the packaging (plants for example). However, beyond this, the problem lies more in the processes that are invisible or not transparent for the consumer. For example, most ingredients in powder form are irradiated to guarantee that they are free of bacteria (like some types of spirulina, green tea, clay, etc.). They can contain heavy metals. Plant extracts can be obtained using synthetic solvents. When the raw materials come from countries outside Europe, not least China, the risk of getting batches that are ionised or contain GMOs, endocrine disruptors, etc., is higher.

Vigilance is the watchword

If you can’t see any mention of the origin of the ingredients or any details on the processes used, ask the brand to provide information. Because most of them outsource their dietary supplement production to third-party laboratories, and don’t always have all of the certificates to hand. In the words of Fleur Phelipeau, the founder of D-Lab, some brands (like her own) are more conscientious and exacting in this area. Where this is the case the Research and Development department, which analyses the medium and solvent, examines high extraction ratios and titrations of exact active ingredients. The latter are to be included in accordance with regulation EC 1881/2006 on the maximum permitted content of some contaminants like heavy metals, and come with certificates from raw materials producers on the absence of irradiation. Lastly, some producers prefer not to use any preservatives except natural vitamin E and obviously no nanos, endocrine disruptors or titanium dioxide (it’s advisable to check the quality charter on this point). The real added merit in these “clean” dietary supplements lies in full traceability of finished batches, semifinished products and bottles, as well as certificates attesting to observance of safety measures in the production phase.

What about the assimilation of dietary supplements?

The issue of assimilation is key, but often kept under wraps. How can you be sure that the beneficial effects boasted by dietary supplements will get all the way to the intestines, irritated as they are in the case of most citydwellers? That the active ingredients will be safely delivered to their intended destination? Is the coating of the caplet designed with that in mind? Especially since excipients (which serve no therapeutic purpose but are used in the production process) and weighting agents (which weigh caplets down) often surround active ingredients. 

Claire Nouy, the co-founder of Atelier Nubio, confirms this as follows: “When we decided to enter the dietary supplement market, we were offered a great deal of formulations cut with maltodextrin”. The latter being powdered starch, used as a texturizing agent and preservative, which is suspected of hindering the assimilation of active ingredients. 
Generally speaking, to be sure that your dietary supplement is of the clean variety, two rules prevail, as stated by François Vix, the founder of Glisodin antioxidant dietary supplements:

  1. The more natural the product is, derived from a healthy plant extract, the better the body will be able to assimilate it. Synthetic active ingredients are disappointingly ineffective.
  2. Claims made about the properties of active ingredients must be the subject of rigorous scientific and clinical studies, and these must be published in international journals. 

Lastly, it’s important to see if the brand has drawn up a charter that can be viewed on its website, stating the geographical origin (going beyond the country: which fields do they come from?) and the natural origin of its active ingredients. Guaranteeing that they are free of pesticides and heavy metals, offer full traceability, etc.. The presence of ingredients from China means disqualification of the product.

To sum up, it is advisable to have a recommended dosage of vitamins and minerals drawn up for you before starting a course of dietary supplements. And to find out about the clean or less-than-clean aspects of them. To get past the attractiveness of the concept, design, packaging and image relayed on Instagram and certain alluring promises like improving your ‘glow’, to avoid any disappointment. 

It’s still worth considering that beauty products do not do everything for the skin, and that there is obvious merit in nourishing it from the inside. The key to getting there is a holistic approach to self-care: the quality of your diet, physical exercise, massage, topical treatments, a good night’s sleep, a good dose of optimism and positive thinking. 

And clean dietary supplements as needed! Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *