What does “clean ingredients” really mean?

Our strict definition of clean has resulted in banning over 2,700 specific ingredients due to safety, sustainability, ethics and sourcing concerns. For comparison, the US FDA has banned fewer than 50 ingredients and the European Union has banned approximately 1,300.

Our approach to clean beauty is 4-fold. These aren’t just checkboxes to us - they’re commitments that guide our decision making at every level of our business:

  1. Safety: Did you know that your skin has the potential to absorb products into your bloodstream? Your skin is directly related to your overall wellness, which means we would never risk any ingredients that are known to be harmful.
  2. Sustainability: We only source ingredients and materials that are made in a sustainable way. Our formulas are designed by skin experts in San Francisco and Toronto, and customized in environmentally-friendly labs.
  3. Natural ingredients: Our ingredients come from nature, and transparency in ingredients is paramount for us.
  4. Ethical sources: We only use cruelty-free ingredients and materials that come from trusted partners with fair labor conditions and wages.

To learn more about the ingredients we use, click here

Do your formulas contain parabens, phthalates, sulfates or mineral oil? What are the 2,700 other ingredients you've banned?

Our products are 100% free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates and mineral oil, along with over 2,700 other ingredients that do not meet our stringent clean ingredient standards. For context, the EU has banned about 1,300 ingredients and the US FDA has banned less than 50. We are also vegan and cruelty free. 

Our ingredient standards are non-negotiable: 

No aluminum powder No mineral oil
No animal derived ingredients No nitromusks
No artificial colors No NPE (nonlyphenol ethoxylate)
No artificial fragrance No PABA
No BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) No parabens
No BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) No PEGs (ethoxylated glycols)
No carmine No petroleum
No DMDM hydantoin No (added) phthalates
No EDTA No resorcinol
No ethanolamines No silicones
No formaldehyde No sulfates (SLS/SLES)
No hydroquinone No talc
No lanolin No toluene
No methylchloroisothiazolinone No triclocarbon
No mica No triclosan
No 2-methoxyethanol or methyl cellosolve No perfluorinated compounds (PFASs or PFCs)
No micro-beads  


Many skincare products use the following ingredients, but here's why we've chosen to exclude them from Pure Culture's formulas:

  • No silicones: Silicones sit on top of the skin’s surface, and do not biodegrade after you wash them off. That’s why we instead use sustainable ingredients that absorb into your skin to maintain moisture from within. Our favorites are healthy, hydrating emollients like olive, squalane and pomegranate oil. These lightweight, effective moisturizers can be used year-round and work hard to help improve your overall skin health.
  • No colorants: All of our formulas have beautifully different hues, but these colors are natural from the ingredients we use.
Are your products cruelty-free and vegan?

Pure Culture is a cruelty-free company and we do not test our ingredients or finished formulas on animals. Our skincare is also vegan; our formulas are made from naturally sourced, plant derived ingredients and contain no animal by-products.

Do you offer fragrance free formulas?

Yes, our custom formulations are available without added fragrance. You will have the option to select fragrance free or fragranced with essential oils during your skin analysis.

Please note that fragrance free means that we do not add any fragrance to your formulas, but they may still have a detectable scent. This scent comes from the active ingredients, which we use at high concentrated levels for performance.

Is it safe to use your skincare if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

Our custom formulas are safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. We always recommend checking with your doctor if you have specific concerns or questions.

Why do you include prebiotics and postbiotics in your skincare?

Similar to your gut, your skin needs an optimum level of good bacteria to look and feel its best. That’s why our skincare is microbiome-friendly to help support healthy, glowing skin.

We include both prebiotics and postbiotics in our formulas:

  • Prebiotics are food for the good bacteria, which stimulates their growth and keeps them active.
  • Postbiotics are the favorable byproducts created by the microflora that help nourish and strengthen our skin barrier.

Learn more about our ingredients here

Why do you use more than one type of Vitamin C?

Using multiple formats of Vitamin C provides the most effective results for skin goals such as brightening and reducing the appearance of dark spots. We choose ultra-stable formats that act at different speeds (short, medium, long) and have different solubilities (lipid-soluble, water-soluble) so that we can select the formats that will work best for your skin.

Because every form we use is ultra-stable, there is no need to package our formulas in dark bottles. One of the most commonly used forms of Vitamin C by other brands (ascorbic acid) is known for instability, which has led to the misconception that all Vitamin C products should be stored in dark bottles to avoid light damage. 

Learn more about our ingredients here

Do you offer oil-free formulas?

Yes, we offer oil-free formulas as well as formulas with oils. During the customization process, we'll ensure you have the most effective ingredients for your skin condition and needs. We are intentional about using oils, and will hand-select the right ones for you if they are appropriate. To learn more about the different ingredients we formulate with, click here. 

What are the pHs of your products?

Most of our custom skincare is designed to be pH balanced. The ideal pH for adult skin is between pH 5 - pH 5.5, and we formulate within this range when possible. The exceptions are custom formulas for breakouts, pore size and shine control, which may be lower than pH 5 to deliver on efficacy.

Can I use your products if I have allergies or sensitive skin?

All of our formulas are gluten free, and we address skin sensitivity through the ingredients we choose for your custom formulas.

If you commonly experience sensitivity when trying new products, we recommend testing your formulas on your inside wrist for a few days before using them on your face and neck.

You can view the ingredients we use in our formulas here, and if you have any other allergies or concerns, please email us at support@pureculturebeauty.com

What ingredients do you use in your hydrating hand sanitizer?

To eliminate bacteria and microbes, the CDC recommends a minimum of 60% ethyl alcohol in hand sanitizers. Our formula is even stronger, with 70% alcohol to kill germs thoroughly and completely. To keep hands hydrated and soft over repeated uses, we added sunflower oil, squalane and plant-derived Mevalonolactone to maintain moisture and help strengthen the skin barrier. It comes in an elegant, recyclable glass bottle to use at home or take on the go.

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