Alive and Kicking

January 10, 2011

Hampered by the recession, the natural personal care products market is getting back on track. But will cash-strapped consumers who switched back to conventional products return to naturals in 2011?

FOR THE PAST DECADE, consumers have migrated to products that boasted all kinds of natural extracts and botanicals beneficial to skin and hair, and even those less glamorous areas of personal upkeep like body odor and oral hygiene. And the rising tide of sentiment seemed to lift all boats—from the companies who made truly organic formulations to the so-called faux natural products, those that seemed to focus more on “green” marketing speak than the actual materials inside the bottle. Sales continued to rise, year after year after year, and new SKUs rolled out in rapid succession.

But as the economy began to falter, so did sales of natural personal care products. According to market research firm Mintel, after growing by double digits between 2007 and 2008, natural/organic personal care (NOPC) sales declined 2% in 2009 to $462 million.

But things could have been worse, if not for retail expansion and some very loyal consumers.

Think back—natural personal care products were once relegated to the dusty aisles of the local independent health food market. Nowadays eco-friendly offerings can be found in most mass-market retailers and prestige outposts alike. As firms like Burt’s Bees and Tom’s of Maine expanded their presence in Walmart and Target, natural products became much more visible and accessible to the everyday consumer.

In addition, industry observers say hard-core naturals buyers remained committed to the category, even as they tightened their purse strings toward the end of the decade. According to survey data from Mintel, 55% of current NOPC users said they are using more NOPC products than they were a year ago. “We find that the natural/organic consumers, if they are already engaged in the sector, haven’t changed their behavior too much in the recession, other than to trade down to private label,” said David Browne, senior analyst with Mintel. Those factors helped the category rebound last year. According to Mintel’s forecasts, sales of NOPC at FDMx outlets and natural supermarkets were expected to rise 6.5% to $492.2 million by the end of 2010. SKU Slowdown?

New lavender hand sanitizer from Dr. Bronner’s.
FDM outlets have been investing in naturals— and not just by allocating more shelf space to marketers, but to themselves too. For example, in October, Safeway launched In-Kind, a line of natural personal care products for face, body and hair. The formulations are said to contain more than 90% natural ingredients, according to the Pleasanton, CA-based retailer, and are free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates and synthetic colors. Safeway helped promote the new brand by sampling In-Kind at targeted events this fall, such as the Nike Women’s Marathon.

Safeway may seem like a latecomer, but it entered the race at a good time; not only are private label personal care products considered more acceptable options, but there’s been an overall slowdown in the number of new introductions. According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, the number of new natural/organic personal care introductions in the U.S. has been dropping steadily from a high of 1,300 in 2008 in to 1,100 in 2009 to 750 through the first 11 months of 2010.

And while the launch pad is less crowded these days, executives at the Natural Products Association (NPA) insist there is growing interest in its natural certification process. According to Cara Welch, NPA’s scientific and regulatory affairs manager, 11 new companies were added to NPA ranks this year as well as 84 new products that now meet its Natural Standard for Personal Care Products.

NPA’s current list of companies include high-profile green brands like Burt’s Bees, Aubrey Organics, W.S, Badger Company and Yes To… as well as some names one may not expect, like Wet n Wild, which has certified several Natural Wear lip shimmer SKUs, and Molly Mutt LLC, which makes products for pets including its NPA certified dog coat conditioner.

“We have seen a decent increase in new companies,” Welch said about the influx of companies to NPA’s certified product list. She noted that start-ups and smaller companies are applying for the NPA seals prior to launching products. Plus, firms are coming back to renew their certifications—even as standards evolve.

For example, as of Sept. 1, 2010, NPA requires all natural fragrances in finished natural personal care products—effectively eliminating absolutes and concretes, common fragrance ingredients that require the use of petrochemical solvents for extraction, and purely synthetic additives. The change affects new applicants as well as those products previously certified which are up for recertification.

New Naturals

Having a point of differentiation, such as the NPA seal, the USDA Organic label or others, can help a brand stand out in what has become an extremely competitive marketplace.

The latest innovation in beauty is botanical eyelash treatments, like this one from Padina.

From multi-tasking beauty balms to soothing bath gels, more and more marketers are striving to offer more natural personal care products to consumers eager to go green and are getting their products on more retail shelves at big box stores, key drug store chains and department stores. The makers of Ahava recently launched Dead Sea Essentials, a range of skin care products featuring a “perfectly balanced formulation” of essential natural ingredients, according to the company. The range—chock full of Dead Sea minerals and plant extracts—is now sold at Target stores nationwide.

The line’s initial offering boasts nine products for face and body, all working to restore the essential equilibrium in skin’s natural moisture level and nutrient density. Products vary from Natural Dead Tea Tree Oil Foot Cream to Sea Bath Crystals. Ahava products specialize in high-end skin treatments made from mud and minerals sourced from the Dead Sea.

Also new to the scene this season is One Love Organics. An independent brand, it claims to be the only water-free skin care line available in the U.S. Made in small, artisanal batches, the personal care collection contains pure ingredients like watermelon seed oil and organic Bulgarian rose oil. The newest addition is One Love Organics’ Skin Savior Waterless Multi- Balm. Chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids, the balm features a gluten-free chia seed extract oil.

Chia seed, an original food of the New World, was also a highly prized staple of the Aztec diet and is a whole food source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as a concentrated source of protein. The omega-3 protein found in chia seed oil is said to help smooth the appearance of wrinkles by helping to repair and maintain skin cells. Organic soybean oil is also used in the balm to produce a velvety texture and supply omega-3 fatty acids to the skin.

Another unique debut is a botanical eyelash conditioner hitting the market from a company called Padina Cosmetics. Said to be a first of its kind in the industry, the formulation is derived from a total of 23 different herbal extracts and contains the exact proteins each eyelash is composed of in order to offer growth enhancement and volume. It uses citruline, ginseng and tyrosine, according to the company.

Natural Abundance

Juice Beauty, the company known for offering organic beauty products based on juice extracts, is taking its skin care range to the next level with its latest release, according to the company. Utilizing a proprietary blend of fruit stem cells with fat-soluble vitamin C, Juice Beauty’s new Stem Cellular Repair Facial Moisturizer and Stem Cellular Eye Treatment will raise the bar for natural anti-aging products.

“With our own proprietary blend of organic fruit stem cells rich in vitamin C, Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer & Eye Treatment will help decrease DNA damage and accelerate cellular proliferation to help repair, renew and protect your skin. This is the perfect moisturizer for day and night with advanced age-defying benefits,” said Karen Behnke, founding partner, Juice Beauty. Launching this month is natural marketer Mama Mio’s newest product, Skin Tight Toning Serum. A body care breakthrough that brings facial peel technology to the body, this major multi-tasker delivers four key benefits: tightening, exfoliation, moisturizing and anti-aging, in just one step. Papaya enzymes exfoliate, bringing new young cells to the skin’s surface, while a soy protein complex tightens the surface of the skin, “ironing out” slack skin for an instant fix. Uniprosyn is an anti-aging bioactive super-blend of oat protein, ATP and vitamin B3 proven in labs to decrease creasing, reduce the depth of wrinkles and boost protein production in the skin.

EOS’ antibacterial lip balm naturally fights colds.

Boscia, a natural skin care brand best known for being preservative free, is rolling out its Oil-Free Nightly Hydration Mois- turizer. Ideal for oily skin types, the formulation features oil-moderating botanicals with antibacterial benefits as well as antioxidants. Key ingredients include silica powder and burdock root to combat excess oil, refine pores and prevent mid-day shine; polysaccharides to provide energy to dull skin, allowing it to regain its health and vitality; a complex of algae extract to protect and help repair external damage caused by environmental stress and UV rays; and licorice root, an effective antioxidant that treats blemishes and calms irritated skin, combats hyperpigmentation and lightens the appearance of blemish marks. It also features Boscia’s Proprietary Botanical Blend of willowherb and jojoba leaf. Evolution of Smooth (EOS), a natural personal care brand sold at Walgreens, Rite Aid and online, is best known for its sphere-shaped lip balms. Its latest addition to the line is an antibacterial variety. Also, now EOS is branching out into body care with a new line of lotions for 2011. Its new hand cream is infused with moisturizing shea butter and oat extract, as well as vitamins C and E. Its unique pebble-shape is designed for portability, said the company. Tarte is also bulking up its skin care offerings in its tinted moisturizer range with Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Illuminating Serum. According to the company, this natural skin brightener is infused with Amazonian clay, vitamins and tea extract to moisturize and replenish skin as it adds a hint of glimmer. Amazonian clay minimizes oil in and around pores to balance skin and keep product in place. It also utilizes Tarte’s “skinvigorating” ingredients like rosemary extract to smooth and hydrate skin; sugar cane extract to improve texture; apple, lemon and orange extracts, a trifecta of natural fruit antioxidants that nourish skin as well as camellia oleifera leaf, a plant extract with healing benefits.

For those on the go, Dr. Bronner’s is expanding its Shikaki personal care collection with its new USDA Certified Organic Lavender Hand Sanitizing Spray made from 62% organic ethanol, water, organic glycerin and organic lavender oil. These little 2oz. bottles pack a punch, as each one provides more than 500 sprays. At natural marketer Lush, the latest innovation is the Hottie Massage Bar. Specially made for extra sore muscles, this textured body bar is said to enhance circulation. Black pepper and ginger oil are added for extra stimulation and warmth to relieve muscle tension and aches. The jojoba and butter base melts onto the skin, according to the company. And, true to ecofriendly Lush fashion, the massage bar is sold “naked” and can be stored in the brand’s reusable massage bar tins. Chaz Dean, Hollywood celebrity hairstylist and pioneer creator of Wen Cleansing Conditioners sold on QVC, added a pomegranate variation to his line of nonlathering universal cleansers. According to the company, Dean chose pomegranate as the base ingredient for his latest creation because the fruit is widely known for its natural cleansing, healing and moisturizing properties.

The new product features a blend of pomegranate, rosemary and chamomile extracts, organic aloe vera leaf juice, avocado oil and other botanicals to cleanse the scalp. It joins Wen’s Cleansing Conditioners in signature scents of Sweet Almond Mint, Fig, Cucumber Aloe, Lavender and Tea Tree. Finally, for a woman’s delicate skin, Aubrey Organics’ Crème de la Shave pampers and protects for a luxurious, ultrasmooth shave with fruit emollients, according to the company. New this winter is White Tea & Citrus and Pomegranate variations. In the White Tea & Citrus shaving crème, white camellia oil hydrates and softens the skin, while white tea extract acts as an antioxidant and astringent. Pomegranate features a tropical scent as well as apricot kernel oil that moisturizes and conditions, while pomegranate improves overall skin quality.

Mounting a Comeback

Mintel expects NOPC market sales will exceed $560 million by 2011, an increase of nearly 14% over 2010. A healthy recovery indeed, but how close the marketplace comes to hitting those numbers is in the hands of fickle consumers.

Between 40-63% of consumers use a combination of natural and traditional products, depending on the product/category, according to Browne. And it is those shoppers—the fence sitters or occasional buyers of natural personal care products— who will likely influence the market in 2011 and beyond. So when those consumers reach the end of the shampoo, toothpaste and antiperspirant, they are likely to weigh all their options—after all more Americans say they are using coupons, watching for sales and running down their stockpiles before heading out to buy more product. “It is very likely that they will make decisions every day as products run out—’Do I buy another Tom’s deodorant or skip it this time and pick up the Gillette on sale at CVS?’” said Browne. “Their spending became very discretionary during the recession. Some habits may stick, and it is a question of whether or not they will come back. That is a real ‘if’.”

Hugo Naturals Receives Gluten-Free Seal

Personal care marketer Hugo Naturals has been certified for the Celiac Sprue Association’s (CSA) Recognition Seal, designating the company’s full range of products as gluten-free and appropriate for the growing population with celiac disease.

“As celiac disease diagnoses become increasingly commonplace, more and more people are seeking out products that will help them better manage their symptoms,” said Hugo Saavedra, co-founder of Hugo Naturals. “Third-party certification is necessary to keep consumers informed, and to have the CSA recognize us with its seal, showing that we are a wholesome choice for those with celiac disease, is an honor.” Initiated in 2004, the CSA Recognition Seal Program was the first of its kind in the U.S. To qualify for the seal, Hugo Naturals provided the CSA with its specific procedures and policies for producing products and agreed to adhere to the CSA’s standards for processing and packaging.

The product range includes more than 150 SKUs in such categories as soaps, body and hand lotions, hair care products, face and body scrubs, baby care products and more. They are sold primarily in specialty food and independent health and beauty retail channels.

What Do Formulators Want?

There are opportunities for greener alternatives in household cleaning

CONSUMERS SAY THEY WANT greener ingredients, not only in their shampoos and cleansers, but in their hard surface cleaners and detergents too. How can formulators get started on this potentially arduous transition? Amway’s Phil Sliva of the Green Chemistry Institute of the American Chemical Society (ACS) provided some guidance at a household cleaning product conference sponsored by Intertech Pira (for more on the conference, see p. 89 in the December issue of HAPPI).

The ACS created the Green Chemistry Institute Formulator’s Roundtable in an effort to create better, more sustainable ingredients. More specifically, the roundtable’s priorities include informing and influencing suppliers and academia to develop greener alternatives.

A Green Grocery List

Sliva noted that moving toward green chemistry is a continuous process and that the Institute’s roundtable bases its search on the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry. The best opportunities for greener alternatives, according to Sliva, are:
• Antimicrobials;
• Solvents;
• Small amines;
• Chelants and sequestrants;
• Boron replacements;
• Fragrance raw materials;
• Corrosion inhibitors;
• Alkanolamide replacements;
• Surfactants; and
• UV absorbers.

Unfortunately, developing these greener alternatives is a tall order. As Sliva noted, finding a green alternative to antimicrobials is challenging simply by the fact that antimicrobials are designed to kill. That
said, desirable characteristics of greener antimicrobials include: rapidacting, broad spectrum (gram positive and gram negative bacteria, yeasts and molds), compatibility with a wide range of ingredients, stable and active over a wide pH 2.5-11.5. Yet, these alternatives must be cost-effective, have acceptable odor and color and be soluble in the product base, water or oil.

Of course, it would be helpful to find some greener solvents, too. The roundtable’s list of desirable attributes for greener solvents includes renewable and expandable resource use, reduced carbon footprint and VOC emissions, low toxicity, high biodegradability, greener production process, renewable feedstock based on non-food supply, and broad and varied applications.

Sliva noted that small amines, including MEA, DEA and TEA, are used by both home and personal care formulators to lower the pH source of alkalinity, provide superior stability in high concentration formulas
and improve grease removal, corrosion inhibition and film and streak prevention. However, as Sliva noted, secondary amines can form nitrosamines, so greener alternatives are needed.

A greener small amine replacement would have organic alkalinity that requires less water than inorganic counter ions. It would also neutralize anionic surfactants and relatively low pH fatty acids, and be compatible with a wide range of ingredients. Moreover, it would positively impact finished product physical properties, such as improved freezethaw recovery, compared to inorganic alkalinity sources.

Sliva noted that greener surfactants have a lot of potential—worth in excess of $20 billion, according to SRI Consulting. The best green surfactants would be readily biodegradable, with low aquatic toxicity
(LCA50>10mg/l). Moreover, the feedstocks would have no adverse impact on the food supply or eco-diversity.

“The manufacturing processes should be designed considering the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry,” observed Sliva. “The Cleangredients List/DfE has established good criteria,” he added.

The roundtable’s goal is to be a driving force in the formulated products industry to use green chemistry in creating innovative products that are environmentally sustainable throughout the product lifecycle
and safer to make and use.

The roundtable already includes well-known companies such as Amway, S.C. Johnson, Zep, Arm & Hammer (Church & Dwight), Johnson & Johnson, Bissel, Diversey, Rug Doctor, Clorox, State Industrial
and Seventh Generation. Together, this formidable organization’s purchasing power exceeds $1 billion. However, Sliva noted that even more could be accomplished when stakeholders—formulators, suppliers,
academia, government and NGOs—collaborate.

More info: www.acs.org/gciformulators; Email: gcifr@acs.org

Save the Date: Sustainable Cosmetics Summit North American Edition

Some of the leading organizations involved in sustainability in the beauty industry will be gathering at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in New York on May 12-14. The fourth edition of this executive summit looks at the various ways beauty companies can reduce their social and environmental impacts.

Major topics on the summit agenda include ethical sourcing, natural and organic formulations, biodiversity, green marketing and sustainable packaging.

Organized by Organic Monitor, this series of international summits focuses on the leading issues the beauty industry faces concerning sustainability, natural, organic, fair trade and ecological products. The aim is to encourage sustainability in the beauty industry by bringing together key stakeholders and debate these major issues in a high-level forum.

More info: sustainablecosmeticssummit.com

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