New year, new you. The month of January usually begins with resolutions regarding self-improvement of the mind and body. For many, this can mean embracing pure beauty in countless forms.
Swiss glacial water to remove your makeup? La Prairie can give you this for $120. Interested in the possible regenerative powers offered by microbes in Finnish forest mulch? Get a cleaning cake for 33 Euros (about $35) from Luonkos. Curious about seaweed and seaweed sunscreens, vegan lipsticks or sandy exfoliating soaps made from used coffee grounds? Look around you and it seems like more and more consumers are jumping on a beauty caravan that promises clear skin and an even clearer conscience.
Research consulting firm Brandessence estimates that about a third of the U.S. market is now labeled clean, with a 12 percent increase expected from 2020 to 2027. Currently, clean beauty has 5.6 million hashtag views on Instagram and 1.2 billion hashtag views on TikTok.
Many brands, among them independent start-ups such as Merit and Saie Beauty, and major luxury brands such as Dior, which launched its first alcohol-free, water-based perfume, and fashion eco-label Stella McCartney, are struggling for market space. Queen introducing a natural origin skincare line.
But what does clean beauty actually mean?
“If you ask 10 different people what clean beauty means, you’ll get 10 different answers,” said Caroline Hirons, a leading British skincare expert. “It really doesn’t mean anything,” she said when you scraped it.
Like the vague term “sustainability” in fashion, there is no clear definition of clean beauty and no consensus on specific substances and chemicals that should be avoided or adopted. As awareness of the lack of regulation in the beauty industry has grown in recent years, so has skepticism about the “clean” movement.
But the global popularity of clean consumerism is growing even faster, as shoppers are turning to marketing terms like “naturally derived”, “cruelty-free” and “non-toxic” when it comes to what they put on — and on — their bodies (with the important thing) and curious, Except for injectables like Botox).
Where did the term ‘clean beauty’ come from?
While skincare brands like Origins and Aveda were the first to adopt the “natural” vocabulary emerged in the late 1980s, there is consensus that clean beauty originated in Southern California in the 1990s with the “clean eating” trend.
As many consumers become preoccupied with wellness concepts, some beauty companies have started promoting products as non-toxic, safe, and natural. Still, there has never been a set of legal guidelines governing the use of such terms.
Currently, the European Union prohibits the use of more than 1,300 ingredients in cosmetics (although many are rarely found in personal care products). In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has banned 11 cosmetic ingredients. Last fall, Congress introduced the Safer Beauty Bill of Rights, which, if passed, would codify legal definitions for terms like “natural” and “naturally derived” and ban ingredients like parabens and formaldehyde. Japan, another major beauty market, has different regulatory standards.
“This means that many brands have taken on the task of defining clean beauty according to their ideals and agendas,” said Akshay Talati, vice president of product development for the Goop beauty and wellness division.
On the other hand, there are brands that don’t want to be tainted by the “clean” connotation.
“I think ‘clean’ skincare is complete crap,” Ms McCartney told Elle UK magazine when she launched her own skincare line, Stella, last year. She said she understands why people use the word, “because it conjures up wonderful images of purity, but I never use it.”
So how is it defined?
Tata Harper is considered the godmother of the clean beauty movement, with a cult brand of the same name. She grew up in Colombia, where she watched her grandmother make body scrubs and hair masks using ingredients from her local market, and later she trained as an industrial engineer.
Ms. Harper founded her brand in 2007, and its products use ingredients like antioxidant-rich witch hazel, moisturizing jasmine, and plumping clover extract. A 30-milliliter elixir resume serum containing barley water, borage leaves, and sea buckthorn is about $490.
“At the time, natural skin care wasn’t really made for a serious skincare shopper like me,” said Ms. “That’s when I realized I had to create my own line because I had no other choice.”
Goop, the lifestyle empire founded by Gwyneth Paltrow, is one of the movement’s most vocal advocates. It defines clean beauty as “products made without ingredients that are shown or suspected to harm human health or the health of the planet.” On its website, Goop sells products under its own name and from others that have been tested by scientists, toxicologists, and regulatory experts for carcinogenic or irritating or hormone-disrupting ingredients.
“Goop prioritizes ethically sourced, non-animal and cruelty-free ingredients, and we use sustainable or renewable bio-based resources wherever possible,” Talati said.
In an email, Ms McCartney said under the guidance of Quantis, a company specializing in environmental sustainability, the new skincare line was developed in three years, excluding more than 2,000 ingredients.
The products are made with ingredients that are at least 99 percent natural, such as lingonberry extract (to promote elasticity and firmness) and wild-harvested fulse moss (to reduce the appearance of dark circles), and Ms McCartney believes they outperform many traditional products. – or potentially controversial – contents.
What is so complicated?
Many consumers and brands believe that natural ingredients are always better than lab-made ingredients, but lab-made ingredients can be less water and labor intensive. And “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean safer, given the many chemicals that have proven safe for use on the skin.
Some ingredients popular in “clean” products, such as argan, juniper, and karite, are being overharvested, according to a report released last year by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Materials like sandalwood, for example, can be sourced from nature or produced synthetically, and companies that do this say it’s one of the biggest incentives to protect the environment.
And many naturally derived ingredients don’t pass the same safety testing as synthetic or engineered ingredients, so they can cause irritation and allergies. For example, some studies have shown an increase in skin reactions to essential oils.
For anyone who wants to better understand the ingredients listed in beauty and skin care products, Mr Talati from Goop pointed out that there are databases like Skin Deep from the Environmental Working Group. There, consumers can find hazard rankings for controversial ingredients like lily (recently banned by the EU) and parabens (often used as preservatives in cosmetics) and more mundane ingredients like beeswax. obtained from insects.
So is clean beauty here to stay or just another beauty trend?
Marcia Kilgore, founder of Beauty Pie, a skincare and beauty subscription service, highlighted the challenges facing beauty businesses of all sizes in the age of clean beauty.
“If you don’t put ‘clean’ on the product label, people will assume there’s something wrong with it, but if you do, people will say it’s a scam,” he said. “They don’t think their customers necessarily need clean credentials, but they want products that are safe and produce good results, whether from nature or the lab.” .
“Being clean is now just on the table,” said Ms. Kilgore, a former member of the industry. “The only way to stand out in beauty is to claim something new. It will soon be overshadowed by the next big thing.
Still, plenty of independent brands put “clean” values front and center, albeit with a bit of scum in the process, along with technological innovations. Based in the English seaside town of Margate, Haeckels has built a loyal following with innovations such as bioadditive mycelium packaging, prebiotic face masks, and odor-eating fungus and algae deodorant. At a time when the environmental value of refillable beauty bottles is questioned, Haeckels’ new vivomer packaging is made from compostable and microbes that are abundant in soil and marine environments.
Luonkos, a Finnish startup, offers products containing nettle, pine bark and birch bark powder, as well as forest microbe extracts.
Ms. Harper, who sold Tata Harper to Korean beauty giant Amorepacific Group in September, believes most consumers are now much more educated and curious about how wellness regimens and clean products can be as effective as previous formulations.
“It’s not a trend anymore, it’s the way the industry as a whole is headed,” he said. “This is a necessary step to reduce the harmful effects of the beauty industry on the environment.”