Meet the Ingredient Database Startup Trusted by Ulta and Credo

The Origin Story of Beauty Tech Startup ClearForMe

ClearForMe founder.

Purchasing beauty products can be confusing, especially if you have allergies. Ingredient lists are hard to decipher, and getting it wrong can have serious consequences.

ClearForMe is a startup dedicated to helping people navigate the beauty product jungle by providing factual information on a variety of products so consumers can make educated purchasing decisions. “ClearForMe is a technology company,” founder Sabrina Noorani says. ”We are a [software as a service] platform that beauty brands and retailers use to help provide ingredient transparency, education, and search capabilities to their customers.”

Read on to learn how ClearForMe got started, how the company can help people find safe skincare products that work for them, and gain insight on ClearForMe’s plans for the future.

From Wall Street to Beauty Tech

Noorani was a derivatives trader on Wall Street without any experience whatsoever in the beauty industry. But, she was a consumer. More importantly, after using certain beauty products, she faced an “out-of-the-blue crazy situation,” developing a serious skin condition around her lips. “They started to puff up and peel so much,” she says. “I was getting Staph infections on a weekly basis.” 

Noorani knew she had to avoid four specific ingredients that she was allergic to, like formaldehyde and fragrance. But, it was far more complicated than that. For example, she learned there are 12 names for formaldehyde and 32 names for fragrance. 

In fact, finding beauty products that were safe for her was so difficult that she felt like she couldn’t take care of herself. “It was just this really intense experience around feeling disempowered, feeling like I couldn't actually act on information. And that was very frustrating.”

The issue, as Noorani soon realized, is that because the beauty industry isn’t well regulated, there’s no standard for how ingredients are labeled. For example, there are 35 synonyms for vitamin C in ingredient labels. There are 12 for salicylic acid. Even water can be labeled some 60 different ways.

“It just shows you the depth of this problem, which affects every single ingredient that you read on any ingredient list,” she says. “That's the ‘why’ behind ClearForMe: to help transform the way we consume ingredient information so we can make good decisions when we're shopping for products. It's about providing that data in a user-friendly way so you can process it and make a quick decision, versus going down the Google rabbit hole.”

An Independent, Neutral, Fact-Based Ingredient Database

Noorani also notes that the beauty industry is worth a whopping $500 billion, which means there are a lot of consumers she could potentially help. “Clearly there's a large market of people shopping and discovering products and trying to find things that are a fit for them,” she says. “And on the flip side, brands and retailers are innovating and creating new products all the time.”

As a result, she set out to design a platform that would make it easier for people to find suitable beauty products and for retailers and manufacturers to connect with those customers. What she eventually came up with is a database of 1.3 million ingredients with a standardized name for each. For example, Persea gratissima oil is avocado oil. ClearForMe notes that fact and provides concise, easy-to-understand information about ingredients, like the synonyms for any particular ingredient and what it can do for your skin. 

Retailers can use ClearForMe’s database by adding its application programming interface (API) to their websites. This allows retailers to dynamically display product ingredients and related information. Consumers can use a product-finding tool on ClearForMe’s website, filtering by category, ingredient, brand, and other criteria.

Partner brands and retailers provide ingredient lists for ClearFoMe’s database. ClearForMe culls information about what ingredients do and what health benefits they provide from official sources like the National Institute of Health, the European Commission, or the Personal Care Products Council. 

What’s Next For ClearForMe

Noorani says her company’s primary mission is to promote transparency in an industry that sorely needs it. “The role that we want to play … is to provide leadership around transparent information,” she says. “That way, customers and retailers and brands can provide the elevated service that they should be providing to their customers.” 

Ultimately, she wants to expand the company’s scope beyond the beauty industry. “There are so many industries in the wellness world, like food, cannabis, and ingestibles,” she says. “They're all related to beauty and cosmetics. The opportunity is continuing to grow our platform across the cosmetics industry and then take those learnings and enter other verticals that also crave transparency.”

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