In general, “clean beauty” refers to products that are safe, nontoxic, free from synthetic ingredients and cruelty free. This can be controversial, because it is a myth that everything synthetic is bad and everything natural is good, but this is the perception of the average consumer right now, noted Young. Besides ingredients, clean beauty also refers to other ways that products can be better for the consumer and the environment, such as the packaging.
A Lot of Waste
“Personal care packaging makes up 30% of the world’s landfill and is often not recyclable,” commented Young. "Its a nasty statistic, but its true." The numbers give the beauty and personal care industry a bad reputation. As a result of pressure from consumers who are increasingly aware of the consequences of not caring for their bodies and the planet, many brands are starting to make an effort to be cleaner and more sustainable. For example, several brands now have lists of “restricted ingredients,” harmful ingredients that they will not use in their products. Sozio recently jumped on this trend with its Clean Fragrance label. Other brands are taking a stand by creating water-free or zero waste products. One such company is Costa Brazil Sustainable Beauty, which uses the juice from the ingredients instead of water and plants trees as it expands. Some indie brands have even created products where the consumer mixes in their own water.
Smaller indie brands are primarily leading the charge in clean beauty. “Bigger legacy brands tend to be slower to enact change, but big companies like L’Oreal, Unilever and P&G have made the effort to create clean beauty lines with recycled plastic, recyclable packaging and safer ingredients,” Young said. “Luxury brands are hesitant to change their practices because their elaborate packaging is what makes them stand out from other brands.”
New forms and formats are popping up as a result of the clean beauty trend, including toothpaste and mouthwash tablets, solid cake shampoo and refillable, reusable jars. Consumers may need to be educated on how to use some of these innovations, but the potential for a positive impact is great.
“In today’s world, sustainability is no longer an option; it is the price of admission to the beauty game,” explained Young. “Consumers have developed a different sensibility. Some education must be done regarding the pros and cons of synthesized ingredients versus natural ingredients, but there is no turning back. Clean, sustainable, efficacious ingredients, transparent formulations and sustainable packaging will be essential to the future of the beauty industry.”