Defining clean beauty
Clean beauty products are made with little or no toxic ingredients. Note that clean beauty does not mean that the products are 100% natural and perfect. Instead, it means that the ingredients used may be artificial but safe and non-toxic.
Natural beauty products can be clean, but clean beauty products are not always natural.
Clean beauty concentrates on minimizing toxicity in your beauty products. The clean beauty movement has been around for some time, and it’s rapidly growing. You can find all-natural clean beauty products across the market.
Clean beauty has various associations: plant-based, vegan, cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and sustainably sourced.
Is clean beauty regulated in the USA?
No, there is no formal government regulation governing the clean beauty industry. Because of this, establishing the most pristine and safest beauty brands is a tedious task.
Even though the USA's beauty industry is booming, cosmetics safety laws remain virtually unchanged since they were created in 1938.
Why is the demand for clean beauty products increasing?
Many people today are so concerned about their health and the environment they live in. This is leading them to assess what ingredients are used in their beauty products. Consumers are now searching for brands that are transparent in their ingredient list. They are more interested in natural ingredients.
Whereas clean beauty has been a rising phrase across the beauty industry since 2018, it is still a confusing, controversial, and enigmatic subject, which leads to more questions than answers.
Despite all this, more brands are starting to emerge from the confusion with minimalistic and transparent approaches as consumers continue paying close attention to the ingredients lists on various beauty products.
A Neilsen research study found that beauty industry consumers are interested in more natural and objectively simple products. But instead of merely accepting brands’ definitions of natural beauty products, consumers are making their decisions.
Sales of cosmetics free from parabens keep growing, and the sales of cosmetic products, which claim to be natural and are free from parabens, are growing faster than cosmetics, only meeting the paraben-free specification.
An example of this is an American cosmetic brand called Kiehl's, which recreated their Ultra Facial Cream to eliminate parabens and increased sales by nearly $5 million. This increase helped this brand to rise into the top U.S. prestige skincare brands.
A Harper’s BAZAAR poll of more than 1000 women from all races, ages, and ethnicities found that more than 60% of women would be willing to spend money on new brands on the market provided that they were ready to offer natural products. Similarly, sustainable brands attracted the interest of 55% of those surveyed.
The demand for clean, vegan, organic, plant-based products is high due to the shift in consumer behavior and their disposable income increasing. According to Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis called, Transformative Mega Trends Driving the Global Personal Care Active Ingredients Market, 2020, the personal care active ingredients market is expected to reach $4.85 billion by 2025 from $3.9 billion in 2019, at a compound annual growth rate of 3.7%.
The market growth is due to the rising disposable income, increasing demand for clean and sustainable ingredients, and the enlarging online and offline distribution channels for personal care products.
The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the market. The demand for personal care products like perfumes, moisturizers, makeup, and sunscreens declined during the global lockdown.
But, due to the growing popularity of cosmetic and beauty products among male customers, there is a more robust demand for active ingredients. Active ingredients are added to various personal care and clean beauty products to boost their functional properties.
Active ingredients enable anti-aging, exfoliation, sun protection, moisturizing, antimicrobial, among other functions. They are used in various skincare products such as body creams, facial moisturizers, and scrubs, masks, among other formulations.
The shift in consumer behavior worldwide is causing personal care companies to aim at manufacturing plant-based, organic, and multifunctional beauty products. With the rising concern over certain toxic chemicals, consumers have shifted their preferences to beauty products with natural and safer ingredients.
The improving economic standards, the rising number of working women, and the growing consumer awareness levels regarding grooming are most likely triggering the growth of personal care active ingredients.
Consumers are so eager to try new clean beauty products.
The rise of new clean beauty niches like blue beauty is attracting customers to try them out. Blue beauty refers to products, which aim to protect oceans and water supplies.
Retailers of beauty products produce various types of clean beauty products as customers want them to easily exercise choice from the many beauty products on the market. For instance, Sephora, a beauty retailer, launched "Clean at Sephora." This was an initiative in which over 2000 beauty products were labeled as clean.
Clean, meaning safety of their beauty products from ingredients such as parabens, sulfates, phthalates, formaldehyde, and mineral oil.
Influencers are pulling crowds into the clean beauty industry. Influencer marketing is growing faster than expected. In a world saturated by choice, consumers have more options than ever regarding where they spend their money.
According to a 2018 study by a Public Relations firm called Edelman, two-thirds of global consumers make purchases based on their beliefs, with purpose-oriented brands doing better than their conventional counterparts.
Many consumers are socially conscious and seek clean beauty products. This is partly because of efforts made by influencers. The influencers represent far-reaching outcomes for how brands will select their campaign partners and launch products across the beauty industry.
Beauty influencers are becoming vocal about wasteful product mailers. They are calling out brands, which send them irrelevant or ornately packaged products. Between 2018 and 2019, there was a 100% rise in hashtag mentions such as; "#wastefulpackaging" and keyword phrases such as "too much packaging.”
Complaints and frustrations regarding beauty product overload and product accumulation among influencers increased by 86% in mentions of product decluttering and purging exercises, whereas beauty-specific posts bearing phrases like "eco-friendliness" and "sustainability" increased by 25%.
Some brands have already scored at seeking attention and mentions from influencers. A skincare company called Tatcha is not only a clean beauty line. It's a popular skincare brand in the U.S.A. amongst influencers earning the highest Brand Vitality Score.
Where did the clean beauty movement come from?
Consumers are making informed choices. According to the non-profit 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor report, the global wellness industry grew in value from $3.7 trillion in 2015 to $4.2 trillion in 2017, registering an increase of 12.8%. “The wellness economy has grown at approximately twice the rate of global economic growth of 3.6%.” The report confirms.
Beauty and personal care accounted for $1.082 billion in 2017. An obsession with wellness and detoxification in terms of diet and products is triggering a demand for stripped-back, ‘clean’ ingredients.
Consumers want more clean ingredients in their beauty products. They are getting more informed about possible irritations caused by artificial ingredients in fragrances and preservatives and are reading product labels with utmost care.
The second factor for the demand for clean beauty products is the rise in sensitive skin. Dermatologists report a growing phenomenon of sensitized skin brought by increased exposure to stress, environmental pollution, and digital aggressors. In the U.S.A., the Environmental Working Group noted that women are now exposed to a daily average of 126 chemicals from food, cosmetics, pollution, and cleaning items. For beauty product consumers, skin sensitivity is the new buzz topic before anti-aging. It is driving a shift towards caring for human skin with natural, clean, honest ingredients.
Mintel reports that 21% of consumers in the U.S.A are after skincare products with minimal ingredients.
The Green Beauty Barometer survey conducted in 2016 by the U.S. beauty brand Kari Gran discovered that 55% of women and 62% of millennials in the U.S.A read beauty product ingredient labels to avoid certain ingredients.
They avoid artificial colors because they make the skin more sensitive. Alternatively, mineral oils like petroleum, petrolatum, and paraffinium liquidum can clog skin pores and are a cheap by-product from the crude oil industry. People avoid silicone because it can congest the skin.
Should you trust the labels on clean beauty products?
According to GH Beauty Lab scientists, different labels on clean beauty products carry various meanings as explained below;
Natural or All-Natural product labels: These mean that the beauty products are sourced from mother nature in the form of plants, minerals, or animal by-products with minimal modification. Only a few ingredients may be natural in such products, while others can be artificial and toxic.
When you see the Ecocert Natural Cosmetic stamp on beauty products, it is a confirmation that at least half of those products’ ingredients are plant-based.
Organic product labels: Such labels mean that the beauty product formula and ingredients are made without toxic ingredients. Organic is the only government-regulated term used in the clean beauty industry.
Trust the organic product labels such as the USDA-Certified Organic. This label means that the beauty product contains at least 95% of organically-sourced ingredients.
Suppose you notice an NSF Organic-Certified label on a product. In that case, it means that the beauty product contains at least 70% organic ingredients.
Naturally derived: Such a product label means that the natural ingredients present in a specific beauty product have undergone chemical processing. When you see this product label or a similar one like “natural origin” or “made using natural ingredients,” search for a qualifier on the product, which shows the percentage of ingredients it conforms to.
Trust a naturally derived product label, especially if the beauty product bearing it carries the Good Housekeeping Seal. It is the Good Housekeeping Institute Labs, which verify all product claims.
Chemical-free. This beauty product label means that the product doesn’t contain harmful chemicals like toluene, lead, and formaldehyde.
Not all clean beauty products are manufactured equal. Also, each natural or synthetic ingredient can be made of chemicals. Chemicals are a component of biology!
Have faith in some ingredient-specific claims like “paraben-free,” especially on beauty products bearing the Good Housekeeping Seal. This seal validates all the ingredient-specific claims.
Non-toxic: The non-toxic label implies that a beauty product is not toxic for human use. The term non-toxic is meaningless unless it refers to a particular product ingredient. Do not heavily rely on this label because it can’t be easily proven or disapproved.
Green or sustainable: This label is used on beauty products formed with limited environmental impact. The green or sustainable product label entails a lot ranging from what constitutes a product, how it's packed, distributed, and disposed of.
Trust this product label when you see certifications such as Cradle to Cradle for sustainability and the Green Good Housekeeping Seal, which validates product performance and sustainability.
Vegan: This label on beauty products means that an item doesn’t contain animal by-products such as beeswax, animal fats, among others. A vegan claim can be made by brands to boost marketing and promotion among the masses.
Trust the vegan label on beauty brands even in the absence of third-party certifications. There are so many authentic vegan products on the market in the USA.
Cruelty-free: The cruelty-free label means that a beauty product or its ingredients have not undergone any animal testing.
For cruelty-free beauty products, trusted third-party certifications can establish that a brand's practices don't involve animal testing.
You can trust the cruelty-free product label if it's labeled with a Leaping Bunny certification and the GH Beauty Lab's gold standard, which verifies that the product formula and its ingredients are not currently getting tested on animals.
Fairtrade: This product label means that a product or its ingredients are produced by workers subjected to fair trade policies and are fully-paid for their efforts.
In conclusion, studying the packaging and understanding the ingredients in your beauty products means you’re making informed buying decisions that take into consideration those products will have on your own body or those of your family. It also could lead to a positive impact on the earth.