Natural isn't always natural. That's what many executives insist in the natural personal care industry, since the term "natural" is often found on labels in the mainstream personal care market. Originally a huge hit with customers, but as the public has become more aware of the ingredients in personal care products, the offerings have evolved. Today, organic ingredients are an increasingly strong selling point, as well as the exclusion of many synthetic ingredients thought to be harmful due to media exposés on the chemical industry and higher cancer rates. These ingredients include sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), diethanolamine (DEA), preservatives derived from formaldehyde, mineral oil and other non-sustainable ingredients.
According to The Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), Boulder, CO, natural personal care products (NPC) sold in the natural foods and specialty retail channels accounted for $3.8 billion in sales in 2000, up 10% from the previous year. This only represents about 10% of the total $37 billion U.S. health and beauty care category, where sales increased just 3.4% in 2000. But estimates of NPC sales are not black and white. There are several debates about how to define natural products.
"Marketers and products must go beyond natural," insisted Jeanine Recckio, a beauty futurologist from the Mirror Mirror Imagination Group, NY. "Natural, well, just isn't good enough anymore. Consumers are demanding more; they want more claims and proof that a product is real and natural."
NBJ suggested some figures point to the NPC market as totaling $1.5 billion for core NPC products. At the other extreme, all products that claim to have natural ingredients could account for $10 billion or more. Regardless, it is clear that growth remains strong in the naturals market and shows no signs of slowing down in the near future.
Organic is the Word on the Street
Natural products are no doubt a successful part of the personal care market. But these days, marketers are raising the bar with organic products due to the influence of the organic foods market and stricter regulations for organic produce and ingredients.
Kiss My Face introduced a new hair care collection featuring organic ingredients.
"'Natural' is a very vague term," explained John Kang, founder and managing director, Sunny Earth Therapeutics, Port Washington, NY. "A cutting-edge trend, however, is the term 'organic.' It has a very specific, regimented definition. It takes natural to the next level."
Sunny Earth Therapeutics is always adapting with the times. This year, executives are reformulating products to include only organic ingredients. Mr. Kang said this is the next trend in the industry, which is largely based in consumer perceptions about product safety and exclusivity-a trend borrowed from Europe.
The Earth Therapeutics brand is introducing sleep-inducing products, called the Sleep line, under the Mind and Body Therapy category. This category houses the company's most successful line-Anti-Stress. Also new is the Jet Lag bag featuring the Anti-Stress pillow mist, Peace mask, Massage soap, Massage lotion and Mind Repair for frazzled travelers.
"The sleep-inducing line is complementary to what we do with aromatherapy," noted Mr. Kang. "Our anti-anxiety products have done very well, so we decided to come out with the Sleep line."
Sunny Earth Therapeutics is also introducing Tea3, an anti-acne line. It contains tea tree oil and salacid, a beta hydroxy acid derived from tree sap. Traditionally, salacid was used only in combination with sulfur and resorcinol, Mr. Kang said. The line includes a shampoo, oil-blotting papers, acne overnight patches, acne facial cream, acne facial wash and acne body wash. Next year, the company plans to launch homeopathic remedies to treat acne.
Organic is what Kiss My Face's latest ventures are all about. The Gardiner, NY-based company is currently looking for only organic ingredients for its new product collections. The company recently introduced an aromatherapeutic hair care line featuring four shampoos, two treatment conditioners and a styling gel with organic essential oils and ingredients for different hair types. The shampoos include Whenever for frequently washed hair (grapefruit and eucalyptus), Miss Treated for chemically-treated hair (clary sage, eucalyptus and rosemary), Sahaira for brittle hair (lavender, rosemary and tea tree) and Big Body for limp hair (lemongrass and eucalyptus).
"The scalp absorbs quite a few of the ingredients in hair products," said Steve Byckiewicz, vice president, Kiss My Face. "It is much healthier to have ingredients that were not grown with pesticides or fertilizers."
Looking for Alternatives
In response to public concern, Kiss My Face also began utilizing alternatives to sodium laureth sulfate in foaming products, with derivatives of coconut oil. These ingredients are gentle, mild and foam well. "There seems to be an enormous amount of information circulating, especially over the internet, about SLS being a carcinogenic," said Mr. Byckiewicz. "There is no solid proof yet, but we decided to look for alternatives. With all the scares over the years, from Chernobyl to alar, people are much more aware as more products become available and information is accessible through television and the Internet"
The proliferation of organic personal care products is largely a result of the trend that began in Europe and Canada. Baby boomers too are a major marketing force in the industry, Mr. Byckiewicz said, as they make their lifestyles healthier with food and exercise, and now personal care products. Despite the increased amount of information available to consumers, some have yet to be reached. "We still have a long way to go," he said. "There is a large segment of the population that either doesn't care or doesn't know about chemical-laden products."
The organic trend, according to executives at Levlad Inc., Chatsworth, CA, began in the food industry. Both natural food stores and now supermarkets offer sections of organic produce. As is often the case, this trend found its way to personal care. Levlad's new Nature's Gate Organics line, a spinoff of Nature's Gate, has a high degree of certified organic ingredients. The revamped formulations include surfactants such as olefin sulfonate, a vegetable oil derivative that replaces SLS, and cocamidopropyl betaine derived from coconut oil. Yucca is used in the shampoos to moisturize the hair and create suds. The only preservative found in the products is grapefruit seed extract, billed as an alternative to traditional chemical preservatives.
"There have been a lot of consumer questions about SLS and other synthetic foaming agents," explained Shelley Rubenstein, director of marketing, Levlad. "We feel they are actually safe, but there was enough consumer demand and controversy that we wanted to give consumers a choice."
The essential oils and herbs used for each product were based on the problem targeted, such as lemon verbena for damaged hair. The products also contain floral waters, which are distillates of essential oils. The two together create product fragrances.
The Nature's Gate Organics line include hair care products ranging from Energizing to natural Dandruff Control, body lotions and liquid soaps. These products share fragrances Lavender & Aloe, Chamomile & Lemon Verbena, Lemongrass & Clary Sage. The lip balms come in Green Tea & Mint, Carrot Smoothie and Neroli Orange & Chocolate Mint. Two fragrances exclusive to the shampoo and conditioners are Tea Tree Oil & Blue Cypress and Victorian Emerald Cypress.
Avoiding the Next Big Thing
Honeybee Gardens, Leesport, PA, was founded with an all-natural aftershave in 1995. Since then, the company has created products that contain familiar and trusted ingredients for the everyday skin care regime.
|Aura Cacia expanded into the personal care market with skin and hand care lines.|
"We are wary of cutting-edge ingredients, however natural they are, because we need solid research," explained Melissa Hertzler, president, Honeybee Gardens, Leesport, PA. "Honeybee Gardens uses time-tested ingredients that have a lot of research to back them. Most hot ingredients fade when the trend fades. We want people to feel comfortable with products and make them mainstays in their beauty routines."
Although the company is not one to jump on trends, organic ingredients should be something that are expected in the natural personal care market. "We try to use organic ingredients whenever possible, but they are not always available due to droughts and the like," said Ms. Hertzler. "Organic ingredients should not be touted in ads; people should expect them."
The company introduced six new shades to its ColorBalm Naturals fall/winter collection. These lip balms feature botanicals such as jojoba, shea butter, evening primrose oil and aloe and natural iron oxide pigments that resist smudging and bleeding. "Iron oxides are not known be toxic, unlike FD&C colors," insisted Ms. Hertzler. "They are hard to work with, but better for people and the environment."
The latest colors include Moulin Rouge (deep raspberry/red), Goddess (shimmering plum/raisin), Tuscany (shiny medium grape), Fairy Dust (pale silvery pink) and Cherokee (neutral mauve with brown undertones). The lip balms retail in natural food stores.
Ms. Hertzler sees the natural personal care market as a mainstay, not just because of the quality of the products, but also the awareness people have acquired, now and forever.
"The more awareness people have, the more they will learn about the potential harmful ingredients in everyday products," Ms. Herztler added. "I can't see them being complacent about their bodies. Once people acquire the education, whether through the TV or the Internet, it is unlikely they will revert to an uneducated state."
Honeybee Gardens is currently working on a shaving cream that is completely botanical in origin, and a natural cleansing gel.
American Crew's Modern Organic Products (MOP) line focuses not only on organic ingredients, but deriving these products from familiar sources, such as fruit. According to executives, that is what consumers need right now.
"People have become so over-stimulated by catch phrases and high level ingredient technology that there comes a saturation point of understanding," said Dan Easton, vice president of sales, MOP, Boulder, CO. "Everyone can relate to MOP's food-based products. It is an overall simplistic approach to health and beauty care."
Executives noted the move toward overall well-being, environmental concerns and preventative health has caused the market to flourish. In addition, marketing research revealed consumers prefer families of products and line extensions. MOP recently introduced Pear shampoo, featuring pear puree, aloe gel, chamomile extract and comfrey extract, for infants and toddlers and Pear hair detangler to extend its Pear line, which also includes a lotion and a body wash. The company's new Glisten shampoo and conditioner add volume and shine to chemically treated hair using the repairing benefits of maple syrup. MOP has utilized the antioxidant and vitamin benefits of many plants in formulations. Avocado oil is also an excellent moisturizer, which is found in the new Glisten shampoo, and also imparts UV protection, executives said.
"Essential fatty acids are vital for healthy hair and skin, for shine and suppleness," noted Robin Olson, product brand manager, MOP.
Also new is the Mixed Greens conditioner to accompany the popular Mixed Greens shampoo, featuring organic alfalfa, artichoke, cucumber, parsley, watercress, apple cider vinegar and rosemary and olive oils to nourish the hair. For the holidays, MOP launched three body lotions as extensions to existing lines: Milk and Honey, Oatmeal Coconut and 01, a blend of mandarin, grapefruit and bergamot.
MOP avoids synthetic ingredients. Due to public feedback, MOP stopped using propylene glycol, which formerly was a carrier for several of the company's products. In its place, MOP has used cousins to the derivative, such as glycerin. The sodium laureth sulfate found in the shampoos is derived from coconut fatty acids. "MOP works to find the latest in science technology with naturally derived products that are also food-based," said Ms. Olson. "Each ingredient is naturally derived."
The Therapy of Aromas
The natural personal care market rose a whopping 18% in 2000, according to SPINS Natural Track by ACNielsen. The largest growth was in non-traditional personal care items such as toothbrushes, hair color and lip balm. Aromatherapy, too, is one of the fastest growing segments in natural personal care, according to industry experts.
|Jason Cosmetics is expanding in oral care with toothpaste and mouth wash.|
Five or 10 years ago, aromatherapy and natural personal care products were a niche market, catering to specific consumers, such as hippies and health food shoppers, according to executives at Aura Cacia, an aromatherapy and essential oil firm. The company, a subsidiary of Frontier Natural Products Coop, Norway, IA, has a much broader consumer base that includes more than just baby boomers and herbalists. "Teenagers who may be driven by social and health choices such as vegetarianism and environmentalism are exploring aromatherapy," said Thierry Jean, brand manager, Aura Cacia. "Housewives are looking for ways to avoid chemicals in the home and are therefore choosing natural products and aromatherapy as alternatives to fragrance and house-cleaning. With these new consumers entering the natural personal care market, the size of the market is limitless."
This fall, Aura Cacia launched the Body Care and Hand Care lines along with upgraded massage oils to reflect the new direction of the brand as a natural personal care line. Aura Cacia introduced these new reformulated products and solution-driven bath and body care products to make aromatherapy easier for consumers. The new massage oils are also smoother, using faster-absorbing oils enhanced with vitamin E.
"Aura Cacia continues to evolve and expand as we look at ways of providing consumers with aromatherapy solutions to everyday problems or conditions, along with products for everyday indulgence," said Mr. Jean. "Aroma-therapy products are not just indulgent, but can be included as part of a daily routine."
The new products include a 6-SKU line of aromatherapy body lotions and washes, a 3-SKU hand care product line and a 10-SKU line of aromatherapy candles. The Calm body wash contains essential oils of lavender and wild chamomile; the Renew body lotion is made with almond oil and sweet orange and carrot seed essential oils and the Clarify hand care lotion has tea tree oil as well as blue cypress and grapefruit essential oils. Lip and hair care lines will be launched this spring, executives said.
Aura Cacia uses the pure botanical essences of roots, flowers, fruits, leaves and wood that are sourced around the world. No animal derivatives are used, executives said. Frontier's Quality Assurance lab utilizes in-depth research on ingredient sourcing, production methods, and performance and efficacy to determine quality, purity and authenticity. In addition to testing, Aura Cacia develops long-term relationships with growers and suppliers to ensure consistency, quality and purity. But executives insist that is just the tip of the iceberg when creating a natural personal care product line.
"Aura Cacia looks at the benefits of pure botanical essences and utilizes them for their optimal application," said Mr. Jean. "Although consumers may be choosing natural alternatives, they are still demanding quality and functionality. As natural and healthy as a product may be, consumers will not adopt the brand unless it works for them and makes them feel good about using it."
The alternative use of natural products began largely with the media, which has consistently posed questions about ingredient and food safety, Mr. Jean said. In turn, consumers are reading the labels on products. Scientific proof has also made the case stronger for those who prefer natural products.
"As natural personal care products have evolved from home-crafted and home-blended products to professional products based on solid science, retailers are taking the category more seriously due to increased consumer demand," insisted Mr. Jean. "More companies are introducing functional natural products that rival their conventional counterparts, while offering the added benefit of safety."
Due to the unpredictable economy, Aura Cacia executives predict consumers will get back to the basics, while searching for comfort, an idea that extends beyond food into personal care products.
Rosie Warda, vice president of sales and marketing at AromaLand, Santa Fe, NM, said the aromatherapy category has pampering items that are affordable in the current economic climate. "I like to say we're in the 'ice cream' category," said Ms. Warda. "People are not buying that house or that car, but they are buying small indulgences."
AromaLand executives said the aromatherapy industry has experienced double-digit growth in the past decade. The success of aromatherapy and the natural product industry are largely a result of a fundamental void people share today. "On many levels, natural products are more satisfying," noted Ms. Warda. "There is also a romance and longing to get connected to nature due to a rapid movement away from nature in the last century. This emotional essence is important."
|W.S. Badger's new Beauteous Box and Three Bold Balms set contains three balms.|
The popularity of natural essential oils is also related to their nonreplicable structure. Natural ingredients are not as simple as they appear. Ms. Warda noted that a synthetic lavender fragrance has between two and five components, whereas natural lavender essential oil contains up to 300 natural chemical components. "That is what makes essential oils effective," she said. "In a way, modern science is at the bottom step of what nature offers."
AromaLand is also involved in educating consumers about the differences between aromatherapy and aromachology-the first is natural, the latter is not. There is also a lot of confusion in the market about essential oils, which are not regulated for purity. AromaLand is working with other companies and the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) to establish a definition for pure aromatherapy products that use only natural oils-with a true aromatherapy products seal (TAP). On its aromatherapy essential oil labels, AromaLand lists the common name, scientific name, place of origin, extraction process, part of the plant and warnings. "We are very up front about what the consumer is buying," she added.
AromaLand's new Body Care line was originally available in professional bulk sizes, and now retail sizes. AromaLand also recently introduced a Vanilla roll-on fragrance containing pure essential oils, no preservatives and a plant-based vitamin E.
"We had an extensive natural oils line, but customers often asked us how to use and enjoy them," explained Ms. Warda. "Diffusers are nice, but the answer was body care with pure essential oils for great effects."
The aromatherapy category also touches on the growing movement toward a healthier lifestyle. Ms. Warda sees health care as ongoing, not just a one-stop symptom fixer.
"There should be different expectations in medicine," Ms. Warda insisted. "When you turn to nature for healing, it has a different effect than a drug. Drugs are built to erase symptoms. Natural ingredients help to realign the body and make the symptoms go away for the long-term."
Origins recently introduced new items to the highly successful Ginger Bath and Body collection-Ginger Up Aromatic shampoo and conditioner. The products were developed due to the broad appeal of the Ginger aroma and the untouched hair care category. "Ginger has historically been used in Eastern cultures for its warming abilities and its power to help soothe tired joints and muscles," noted Roberta Weiss, vice president, global marketing, Origins. "Traditionally, since Ginger is so potent it was rarely used on its own but usually in combination with cooling ingredients to balance its strength. This premise of 'yin and yang' is at the core of the Origins Ginger Collection." The collection currently houses 12 products containing the warmth of ginger and the coolness of lemon, lime and bergamot.
Origins studies the use of aromatic plants, earth and sea and other natural resources from different cultures, traditions and alternative therapies. Due to research found on white tea, A Perfect World White Tea Skin Guardian line was developed. White tea was once the exclusive drink of emperors during the Song Dynasty and was thought to promote immortality. Today, this tea, known as Yinzhen (silver needles), is produced predominantly in the high mountains of China's Fujian Province. It is picked for a few short days each spring, when the white buds are just growing. Only the youngest leaves, covered with short white down, are selected and dried by sunlight. White tea has a higher content of antioxidants than green tea, in addition to better lipid production and protection and skin protective benefits, Ms. Weiss said.
"Natural polyphenols are widely acclaimed as some of the most potent antioxidants," explained Ms. Weiss. "These powerful phytochemicals help improve the body's detoxification defenses and suppress free radical activity. Polyphenols are found in many kinds of tea including green tea. But in the drying and heating process used to produce most other teas, vast quantities of polyphenols are destroyed."
The major interest in the natural market, executives noted, is a result of the highly technological world consumers live in. "People are looking for ways to disconnect from today's high tech, harried world and we think people will continue to look for simple, familiar and natural products that stimulate their senses and 'treat' the body and mind," insisted Ms. Weiss
A Natural Smile
The fast-growing natural oral care segments may grow even faster this year, due to several innovative products. The No. 2 manufacturer of natural toothpastes, Jason Natural Products in Culver City, CA, is revving up for a busy year in oral care. The company will soon introduce toothpastes with fluoride and CoQ10 to promote gum health. The toothpastes include fluoride and come in flavors such as Healthy Mouth (tea tree oil, clove, cinnamon and aloe), Nutri Smile (vitamin C, citrus and spice), Sea Fresh (blue green algae, sea salts and three natural whitening polishers) and Power Smile (peppermint). The company developed the line according to guidelines suggested by oral care professionals.
|Dionis uses goat's milk and botanicals in its new Gardens line of hand and body products.|
"The dental community recommends fluoride for people under 25 and once again for people older than 50," explained Angella Green, marketing coordinator, Jason Cosmetics. "Between 25-50, a non-fluoride toothpaste can be used, but after this stage, gums start to recede and need protection. Fluoride is the only approved ingredient for this."
Jason Natural Products is also introducing both fluoride and non-fluoride toothpastes to offer more choices than before. Last year, Jason Cosmetics revolutionized oral care with formulas that do not contain alcohol, sorbitol, xylitol and saccharin, even in mouthwashes. The mouthwashes introduced last year include Power Smile, Healthy Mouth, Nutri Smile and Sea Fresh.
"Alcohol is unnecessary in oral care," noted Ms. Green. "Many mass market products use it since it is an inexpensive antibacterial."
Also soon to debut is Jason Cosmetics' Sea Results Skin Care line, an advanced nutracosmeceutical skin care line, according to executives. Dry, normal/combination and oily skin types are addressed with cleansers, toners, lotions and masques.
Burt's Bees, traditionally known for its body and lip care remedies, has entered the oral care market this month with Lavender Mint toothpaste. A cranberry extract gives the product a unique pink color. The toothpaste contains no detergent foaming agents, which can be harmful if ingested, executives said. Accompanying the launch will be a sampling initiative with several thousand mini toothpastes. Also in the pipeline is a mouthwash featuring chlorophyll to freshen breath.
"For us, oral care was a natural line extension," said Roxanne Quimby, president, Burt's Bees, Durham, NC. "We introduced a deodorant, which is also part of a category of everyday, non-fashionable products and we thought we'd expand on the concept, since very few toothpastes are 100% natural."
Other Lavender Mint toothpaste ingredients include clove, spearmint, anise, menthol, eucalyptus, sage and geranium oils. To polish the teeth, the formulation includes bentonite clay and calcium carbonate. The toothpaste also uses vegetable glycerin for sweetening. Ms. Quimby insisted that foaming agents are not needed, since the effectiveness of any toothpaste comes from the brushing motion.
This month, Burt's Bees will launch a baby shampoo bar without synthetic detergents, which can irritate babies' skin. Instead, Burt's Bees added yucca to create lathering. The bar form also makes life easier for mothers and the environment. "The shampoo doesn't spill, requires no plastic packaging or shipping of water and is economical," noted Ms. Quimby.
Burt's Bees is also undergoing several initiatives to meet the demands of consumers, such as researching what vendors have genetically-modified ingredients, and moral decisions the company adheres to, such as giving back to the environment. Ms. Quimby is a recognized campaigner in the fight to make the undeveloped and un-logged forests of Maine, her home state, into a national park. "It is our way of giving back to nature," said Ms. Quimby.
Burt's Bees pledged to donate $2 million to the Nature Conservancy to help acquire 185,000 acres around the St. John River in Maine. The company also bought 9000 acres of property that will be held until it can be donated to a park service. There are also a few acres of old growth forest in Maine, and Burt's Bees bought 500 acres surrounding the area to provide a buffer from logging.
This month, Kiss My Face, Gardiner, NY, is introducing Whitening and Triple Action organic aloe vera toothpastes. The aloe replaces the water found in most toothpastes. The formulations also spotlight CoQ10 and vitamin K to heal mouths and Icelandic moss and silica for whitening. Executives created the toothpastes to offer a better tasting and effective formulation in the natural marketplace.
Levlad introduced Dental Therapy in March, a line of newly formulated Green Tea with Ester-C and Natural Whitening gel toothpastes featuring green tea, and bamboo powder as a mild abrasive with antiseptic golden seal, sage and licorice, respectively.
In other oral care news, Tom's of Maine received the Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association (ADA) for several of its toothpastes: Tom's Natural Baking Soda Fluoride toothpaste in Peppermint, Wintermint and Gingermint flavors in addition to Tom's of Maine toothpaste for children in Silly Strawberry and Outrageous Orange-Mango flavors. In both the natural fluoride toothpaste and children's natural toothpaste categories, Tom's of Maine was the first to attain the ADA seal, executives said.
No one is suggesting the harvesting of endangered plant species, but rare ingredients are being added to more personal care products. Ms. Recckio of Mirror Mirror cited upcoming trends for exotic flavored honey, rare teas, seeds, roots and weeds. "Ethnobotany is on-trend-rare exotic ingredients with a shot of high-tech," she insisted.
NuSkin's Epoch line focuses on the study of ethnobotany, or the relationship between plants and people, to create the next, innovative personal care product. NuSkin closely follows technological breakthroughs in the skin care market and then researches natural alternatives. Epoch's most recent product introductions, Rare Earths Mineral Infusions, utilize knowledge from various cultures to produce remedies including Firming, DeStressing and Clarifying mineral treatments. The DeStressing treatment contains mother of pearl extracts to reduce puffiness on the face. This powder can be added to Epoch's Glacial Marine Mud to effectively deliver the powder's high mineral content to the skin to reduce swelling, executives said.
"Ethnobotany studies the way people have used natural resources over the ages," explained Lori Bush, president, NuSkin. "It also studies languages, since the wisdom found in certain languages is dying out as the languages die out. Ethnobotany preserves and captures the knowledge of plants and their uses. It is important that we also maintain the integrity of how people used the products."
Lending a Helping Hand
The information gathered from indigenous cultures is not unrewarded. Epoch donates $.25 of each product sold to the Force for Good Foundation to assist in the preservation of life, empowerment of indigenous cultures and protection of fragile environments.
"If we judge traditional information by languages spoken today on earth, within 100 years more than 90% of these languages will be forgotten due to globalization, the Internet and other Western influences," noted Michael Balick Ph.D, ethnobotanist and NuSkin scientific advisory board member. "We are in a race against time, as the information of traditional cultures becomes as endangered as the ecosystems in which they live."
NuSkin's Firewalker moisturizing foot cream was developed from the nourishing Babassu palm nut, which is collected by a cooperative of 400 families in Brazil. The sales helped the cooperative rebuild its processing factory. Epoch's recent IceDancer invigorating leg gel features the energizing effects of Metha arvensis, a natural wild mint used by Native Americans. The gel is enhanced with the additions of horse chestnut, eucalyptus and peppermint oils. The development of these products is related to a trend toward natural living in the U.S.
"As society becomes more integrated with natural products and 'green' living, we also become more interested in taking care of ourselves naturally," Dr. Balick said. "This part of the industry relies on new growth opportunities and novelties. In a time with a severely threatened environment, these products are especially favored by consumers, and it is important to ensure such products are harvested with no harm to the environment."
NuSkin's Ms. Bush views the market in a different light. She insisted that a push for natural products is a reflection of our loss of control in the health care industry. "This market is a natural progression from the world of health care," she said. "The system has changed a great deal, so people have decided to take health care and personal care into their own hands. Taking control and using naturals reaches us on both an emotional and intellectual level."
Body Time, Berkeley, CA, offers two personal care product lines-Body Time Botanicals and Body Time Basics. Some items in the Botanicals line are based on plant-derived ingredients from indigenous cultures. It has been highly successful since its introduction in 1996, executives said.
"Body Time Botanicals command an ever-growing percentage of our sales," noted Maria Barra, director product of development, Body Time. "Our Botanical line includes simple, single source items such as our sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil and vitamin E oil, as well as our more complicated moisturizing and cleansing formulas."
In November, the Botanicals line expanded with the Body Time Baby Time products for babies and their families. The line features Happy Bottom diaper cream, Head-to-Toe Baby wash, Calming massage oil and Baby Wipe solution. Also in the Botanicals line, the company added Lavender Tea Tree deodorant, Volumizing conditioning shampoo, Daily Restructuring shampoo and Vanilla Orange Ginger conditioning rinse.
A Range of Botanical Ingredients
The Botanical line began with the Aromatherapy Chamomile Lavender facial moisturizing cream, and along with the Antioxidant serum, are Body Time's best-sellers. Another popular product is Otuke shea butter, which is sourced from a women's collective in Uganda. It is a rich emollient for very dry or chapped skin. "Unlike commercially-refined, bleached shea butters, ours has a wonderfully soft texture that allows for easy application. Shea butter is not only used as an emollient moisturizer for the body and hair, but also as a food substance, especially during droughts when it is used much as olive oil is used in the Mediterranean," noted Ms. Barra.
Body Time Botanicals also utilizes calophyllum inophyllum, a cold-pressed vegetable oil extracted from the fruit and seeds of the large Guttiferes trees to moisturize skin and gotu kola extract to relieve puffiness under the eyes. Both are harvested in Madagascar.
Body Time also gathers information from botanical distributors regarding cultivation, extraction and distillation of the plant-derived ingredients. This is something customers frequently request, Ms. Barra noted, due to increased interest in natural foods and the environment. But the natural personal care product industry is something that brings back reveries of certain times and places too, she said. "We offer products that promote a sense of well-being and comfort," she noted. "Frequently, we hear from customers regarding a particular aroma that evokes memories of family and friends." Products can be found in several Body Time stores in the Bay Area and online at www.bodytime.com.
Olive Oil-Not Just for Cooking
Organic extra virgin olive oil is featured in W.S. Badger Company's balms. Based in Gilsum, NH, the company got its start when owner William F. Whyte, also known as Badger Bill, found himself with severely cracked hands as a carpenter. After tinkering with several formulations and adopting a badger cartoon character, the Badger Healing balm debuted in 1993.
The ingredients found in the balms have historic use in personal care. Sweet birch oil was added to the Badger Healing balm due to its use as a healing remedy among Native Americans. Raw beeswax, another common balm ingredient, has been used historically for wound care, executives said. The incorporation of familiar, natural ingredients is something Badger workers regard as a necessity.
"People are so much more aware now of the effects of pesticides and chemicals on their body, especially when they have children," noted Sasha Morris, spokesperson for W.S. Badger Co. "They feel that natural is better."
Badger recently introduced the Beauteous Box & Three Bold Balms gift set containing three .75-oz. travel size balms: Badger Healing balm, Sore Muscle rub and Sleep balm. The travel-size balms are also available separately. The success of the company, which experienced a sales increase of 22% last year, is largely based on the family atmosphere the small company relates to its customers. "People like staying connected," Ms. Morris opined. "Small companies like ours do not have nameless or faceless people. People want to feel a sense of community."
W.S. Badger products are sold online at www.badgerbalm.com and in specialty, natural stores and pharmacies.
Evergreen Research's Olive Oil Cosmetics, San Diego, CA, recently introduced a skin care line based on natural, imported olive oil produced in the Peloponnesian region of Greece. The oil is cold-pressed using a traditional method without chemical additives or preservatives, and the olives are hand picked, executives said.
"Olive oil has a lot of anecdotal and historical evidence as being a great emollient, due the close resemblance between olive oil lipids and our skin," said Kurt Bueche, assistant research chemist, Evergreen Research. "Rural villages in the Mediterranean have used olive oil on their skin for years, and 70-year old women have hardly any wrinkles. We knew we were on to something, especially when we saw it for ourselves."
The line consists of a body polish, face mask, bath soak, body spritz and exfoliating body wash. They are sold online at www.oliveoilcosmetics.com.
Get the Soap, Not Her Goat
Kate Crosby, president of Dionis Goats Milk Soap, Inc. in Charlottesville, VA, has a goat herd that seems to multiply weekly. At first, she didn't know what to do with all that goats' milk. Then, she decided to create soap using regional recipes. The Dionis Goats Milk Soap Inc., founded in 1983, offers several lines of goat milk-based skin, body and hair care products. Goat's milk is a natural moisturizer its caprylic acid content reduces the alkalinity of the soap, making it anti-bacterial, according to executives.
"Goats milk has been called 'nature's liposome,'" insisted Ms. Crosby. "It is easily absorbed by the top layers of the skin and is extra gentle. Many people with sensitive skin have told us that the fragrance-free soap is the only product in the market that does not irritate their skin in the least."
The Gardens line, introduced in September, features different goat milk and botanical combinations such as Hawthorne Witch Hazel, Elderberry Quince, Cucumber Mint and Albemarle Pippin (apple) each in a soap, body wash, scrub and lotion. The line was positioned for a younger audience than the company's previous product lines and features an entirely new formulation using a hazelnut oil base.
Ms. Crosby said that natural personal care products help to simplify life and have always provided people with answers to skin care problems. Dionis products are sold in Cracker Barrel stores, gift shops, pharmacies and online at www.dionissoap.com.
Minerals that Make You Sparkle
A trend within the natural personal care market is mineral cosmetics. Though many lines have been around for years, they are only now receiving attention. This is partly due to a rise in plastic surgery, and partly an increased demand from people with sensitive skin and allergies.
"The future of makeup is colors from nature, pure mineral makeup-the purest form of color," insisted Ms. Recckio of Mirror Mirror. "We have been tracking this trend for a few years now. The claims are beyond fabulous. Most are free of petroleum-based dyes, have no irritating ingredients and contain nothing but pure minerals from the earth's crust. They also exclude perfume, fragrance, preservatives, dyes, oils, talc and alcohol."
More than 75% of Americans claim to have sensitive skin, according to Ms. Reckkio. And mineral cosmetics create a color and illumination with micro-nized pigments for even the most sensitive skin, she said.
Mineral makeup is also devoid of liquid, which would require preservatives. Some consumers of Bare Escentuals, San Francisco, CA, reported they can still use 15-year old cosmetic products! The company's mineral cosmetics line, called i.d. cosmetics, started in 1976 and remains popular, especially among consumers with skin problems.
"Bare Escentuals started a phenomenon and a new category," insisted Leslie Blodgett, chief executive officer. "Our positioning is different, however, because we don't add anything to the products, not even vitamins, so they are as pure as possible. We have a huge clientele of women with skin problems and our products are pure enough to sleep in and have sun protection with SPF 15, using titanium dioxide."
The i.d. cosmetics line was initially developed to offer the lightest makeup possible. According to Ms. Blodgett, liquid makeup was the biggest invention in the 1900s. But executives decided to research ingredients that are gentler on the skin, especially since more women are experiencing adult acne.
"There is something to be said about minerals," Ms. Blodgett explained. "Animals put dirt on their skin to protect themselves from the sun. We are coming back to the basics-what is pure, such as bottled water. We are moving toward cleaner lives."
The biggest news at the company was its acquisition by MD Formulations in November. This allows MD Formu-lations to be sold for the first time at retail in Bare Escentuals boutiques. At the same time, Bare Escentuals is sold on QVC and has also formed a partnership with several spas to increase distribution. Bare Escentuals has nine lines, but only i.d. cosmetics will initially be sold in spas, Ms. Blodgett said.
La Bella Donna, a Los Angeles-based mineral cosmetics line, has introduced The Roberto collection-Minerals for Men. The line features micro-pulverized rock to provide sun protection and waterproof coverage. Executives said the line was developed out of requests from female consumers for a line catering to the men in their lives. The products are also oil-free, non-comedogenic and free of alcohol and fragrance for an irritation-free cover up. The products include Minerals for Men, Mineral cleanser, Mineral mask, Mineral Hydrator, Mineral cream shave, Mineral eye repair, Mineral lip therapy, Mineral Eraser and a custom Mineral brush.
The Big Debate
Controversy surrounds the natural personal care industry, and for better or worse, the opinions of consumers are strongly influenced by well-known voices in the media, such as best-selling author and broadcaster Bill Moyers' PBS exposé on the petrochemical industry and reports by the Center for Disease Control about levels of toxic chemicals found in the body caused by synthetic ingredients, according to Aura Cacia's Mr. Jean.
"The media, who is posing questions about product and ingredient safety, is driving much of this trend and have people thinking not only about what they ingest, but what their bodies are absorbing topically," he said.
This is largely sustaining the trend towards organic ingredients. Organic ingredients, in turn, are giving consumers a solid, regulated source. This leaves the question as to how this trend will relate to the personal care market as a whole, including the mass market, since organic ingredients are not cheap or plentiful. But marketers are hopeful that these sources will increase and there will be a jump from the natural foods market into the mainstream mass market.
"We have to mainstream our products, or we will be nothing more than a boutique line," insisted Burt's Bees Ms. Quimby. "It has to be available where the majority of Americans shop for a chunk of that share. But we are not ready for that leap just yet."