Fear of chemicals is driving demand for natural beauty which many consumers perceive as “chemical-free,” according to Euromonitor International’s Lifestyles Survey, and is viewed as one of the key aspects of “green” beauty. At the same time, the definition of “green” beauty is expanding to encompass environmental and ethical claims, such as sustainably sourced.
“Consumers are looking for brands to employ sustainable practices across the whole product cycle from ingredients sourcing to manufacturing, impact on local communities, transportation and packaging,” comments Kseniia Galenytska.
According to Mintel’s 2019 European consumer research, Italian, Spanish and German consumers appear to be the most eco-conscious of all Europeans, with around a third of them seeking out beauty/grooming products in reusable and recyclable packaging, as well as formulas that are sustainably-sourced. By contrast, only a fifth of French consumers appear to take such environmental concerns to heart when choosing products.
During the past four years, Mintel researchers have recorded an increase in product launches with an ethical or environmental positioning, most markedly among color cosmetic brands (up from 36.1% in year ending May 2017 to 41% in year ending May 2019). Meanwhile, beauty brands are turning away from the use of microbeads and palm oil, both of which have been the subject of controversy with regard to the detrimental impact on the environment.
Veganism Impacts Beauty
A growing interest in veganism is paving the way for brands across the board to leverage vegan claims in the beauty and grooming categories. Examples of vegan brands include UK retailer Superdrug own brand B.Beauty, described as “a bargain vegan brand,” Hourglass Cosmetics, Kat Von D Beauty and Milk Makeup.
“Vegan claims have most potential to resonate with UK consumers,” explains Lia Neophytou, analyst, GlobalData, who said it has the potential to create a stronger natural and ethical positioning than by focusing on natural ingredients alone. GlobalData 2018 primary consumer research highlights that 3% of UK consumers claim to follow a vegan diet compared with Europe’s average of 1%.
Packaging is another important attribute of “green” beauty and is moving beyond whether products are recyclable toward sustainable solutions, such as plastic-free products, refillables and packaging-free beauty and grooming options. An example is XO Balm, founded by ex-Mintel beauty analyst, Charlotte Libby; the metal tins are designed to be reused when empty and the wooden scoops inside are biodegradable and compostable. According to GlobalData’s 2018 primary consumer research, 42% of European consumers would buy more products packaged without any plastic, or would buy them more often. Some 56% of consumers in Ireland strongly agree with this statement, followed by 51% of those in Switzerland and Germany.
Wild plant-based ingredients grown in their natural habitats, rather than commercial farms, are emerging in product formulations.
Brands leveraging this strategy claim that wild-grown plants are more nutrient dense and resilient in difficult climatic conditions, thereby enhancing potency and efficacy perceptions among consumers.
“This strategy can maintain a brand’s natural positioning while providing an element of differentiation,” states Neophytou.
Examples include Wild Source (UK) Harmony Oil containing antioxidant-rich moisturizing marula oil extracted from wild marula trees; Silvan Cosmetics (Croatia) is a handcrafted natural bar cosmetics line that uses seeds from wildflowers in its packaging, designed to bloom if planted; Natural Siberica Shaving Clay & Mask 2-in-1 (Estonia) is a men’s shaving mask made with wild harvest Siberian plants and organic extracts.
Retinol, long considered the holy grail of beauty, is being replaced with the plant-based alternative, bukachiol. Like retinol, bukachiol is said to stimulate collagen production and reduce fine lines and wrinkles, although the molecular structure of the two ingredients is different.
Galenytska points out that bukachiol is safer to use with fewer side effects than retinol, including skin irritation or breakouts. An example is REN Clean Skincare Bio Retinoid Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate Oil featuring a synergistic blend of natural vitamin A, pro vitamin A and retinoid analog to combat the visible signs of aging.
“Companies are expected to further explore ways of finding natural ‘hard working’ efficacious ingredient alternatives as efficacy remains key for beauty consumers,” adds Galenytska. “Further developments are expected to bring ingredients providing benefits for beauty and mind.”
She cites seaweed as an ingredient coming to the fore and claimed for its ability to combat epigenetic skin aging.
The Wonder Ingredient?
In early 2019, the European Commission reclassified cannabidiol (CBD) as a Novel Food, which could lead to CBD and hemp-derived food supplements becoming illegal in Europe. However, with benefits in skin care, the beauty industry will continue to see an increase in the launch of CBD products.
According to Mintel GNPD, there was a 33% increase in CBD-containing products in the UK beauty market in 2018 compared with 2017: 86% of these launches featured in the skin care category in 2018. CBD is used in skin care for its alleged anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and relaxing benefits and is also being leveraged for its hydrating and conditioning benefits for the lips, eyelashes and eyebrows in the makeup category.
Examples of recent European CBD launches include Ho Karan (France), a natural skin care line made with Breton cannabis to distress the skin and mind and BYBI (UK) CBD Booster 100ml Cannabidiol (CBD) in hemp oil, designed to relieve blemish-prone, sensitized, irritated and stressed skin.
Despite the enormous interest, even hype, in CBD as a cosmetics ingredient, there remains a considerable amount of confusion due to lack of standards or guidelines on its use.
“Currently, the UK is leading the discussion in trying to push for change in the regulation and creation of standards and guidelines. These standards should show CBD as a legal and safe ingredient and thus inspire consumer confidence,” comments Dominika Minrovic, co-founder of BYBI skin care.
With CBD on the verge of going mainstream, brands cannot afford to overlook this trend and there are likely to be many more CBD-based launches across the whole beauty category.
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Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher focusing on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles. Every year in April, she publishes The Premium Market Report, focusing on trends in the UK premium beauty markets.