You’ve probably heard a lot about “clean eating.” This buzzworthy trend is everywhere, but what about “clean beauty?” Have you ever thought about what beauty products you’re putting on your skin? The demand and interest in natural and organic beauty has been growing for a while now.

Many of us check the labels on food before we eat it, but have you ever thought about using the same guidelines for your skincare?

“Clean Beauty,” or “Green Beauty” a term regularly used in the beauty industry, is gaining momentum – and for good reason. These non-toxic products are hitting shelves and gaining traction in stores all over. Chapel Hill’s Be Pure Beauty  is on top of the growing trend with its new retail store right here in Chapel Hill at University Place.

“We started online thinking it would be the best way to reach a wider audience,” said owner April Manring. “But we quickly realized that more retail stores were opening because it’s a really hard sell unless you are able to touch and try the products.”

Be Pure Beauty is the first all-natural beauty bar that opened in North Carolina. Its first location opened in Durham at Southpoint Crossing in 2016, but the move to University Place this year puts the storefront closer to more customers who want to shop comfortably, knowing that the products being sold have been researched, tested and thoroughly vetted.

“Having a natural beauty bar in this state was something I knew needed to happen soon or somebody else was going to do it,” said Manring. “We wanted to take that responsibility to see the change we wanted with having the natural products available in a very transparent shopping experience.”

April Manring is the founder and CEO of Be Pure Beauty, and runs the business with her husband Michael.  An aesthetician, make-up artist and mother, Manring began her new career after a health scare at age twenty-three.

“It started with me working in ‘big beauty’ and developing what’s known as a prolactinoma, which is a small pituitary tumor that is in your brain,” said Manring. “It was a phone call from a doctor who said ‘don’t freak out but you have this
tiny pituitary tumor.’  How do you not freak out when you have a brain tumor?  But the more I researched it, I realized that it is something small enough that unless it was affecting vision or something it’s less worrisome. But it is concerning because it affected my ability to conceive for years.”

After her diagnosis, April began to research what causes this particular type of tumor.

“As I started looking into what I was putting on my skin and what I was eating, there were hormone disruptors in everything that I was buying,” said Manring. “99 percent of stuff that you are buying in the drug store has hormone disruptors and parabens, the number one thing that is in breast cancer tissue, your body just can’t remove it. “

Parabens are a family of related chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic products.  They have been widely used in cosmetic products to prevent bacteria growth since the 1950s, though the mode of action through which they work as an antibacterial agent isn’t clearly understood. In recent years, concerns have been raised about the ability of paraben compounds to “mimic” estrogren and cause hormonal imbalances, which can lead to health complications.

“We look first what’s in demand from our customers, and we kind of look around at what different beauty bloggers are discussing, maybe what other green retailers have and then we double check that they’re really natural products,” said Manring. “We run them through the database Think Dirty.”

If you have a smart phone you can download these helpful apps: THINK DIRTY and EWG Healthy Living.

“If they’re not in there we make sure to screen every ingredient ourselves, we do double duty,” said Manring. “We’ll look at the app, but we won’t just trust the rating. We make sure all the ingredients are safe.”

The FDA doesn’t have special rules that govern preservatives in cosmetics, and labeling can be misleading. An “organic” label is often more of an exercise in branding than actual proven pedigree, especially when beauty and hygiene products are concerned. In October 2016 the FDA banned nineteen ingredients found in anti-bacterial bar soaps.  These ingredients have been linked to potential health concerns, like muscle weakness and hormone disruption. No links between parabens and health problems have been explicitly confirmed by the scientific community. But advocates like Manring abide by the precautionary principle, which states in the absence of scientific consensus, the burden of proof that a substance is not harmful falls on those taking the action to distribute.

“The transparency and the value was really important to us in establishing our business,” said Manring. “’Big Beauty’ will put a couple key ingredients on a product and then slap a sort of natural-looking label when the rest of the product is just totally toxic, and that’s really frustrating to me.”

We all truly want to be healthy, but at what cost? You’ve heard it a thousand times – if you could afford to eat organic all the time you would, but it’s just too expensive. So what’s the cost for all these natural products?

“The price points with our products are no more than an Ulta product. We don’t have higher prices for clean products, which is a huge blessing,” said Manring. “When you can buy a Suave deodorant for seven or eight dollars and Schmidt’s is the same price point, it is competitive thankfully,” said Manring.

Selfcare is healthcare, according to April. Investing in these products or this food versus buying cheap is a choice that we all have to make, and researching what you’re putting in and on your body should be a common practice, rather than blindly trusting packaging.

Ready to go clean and shop for some all natural beauty products? Stop by Be Pure Beauty at University Place, or their satellite location at 501 Pharmacy in Chapel Hill. “Like” their Facebook page to find out about their monthly workshops and new products.