When it comes to the skin-care industry, green is definitely gold.
With new natural brands popping up, seemingly daily, and more mainstream companies introducing additional “clean” products into their lineups — eschewing ingredients such as sulfates, parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates and more — the shift is prompting some retailers like Sephora to carve out shelf space in their stores (both bricks-and-mortar and online) dedicated to the growing green movement.
In fact, the organic beauty industry is reportedly projected to reach US$25.11 billion in sales by 2025. That’s some serious plant power.
According to Mathilde Thomas, co-founder of the French beauty brand Caudalie, the driving force behind the growth in the natural beauty industry is all thanks to an increase in consumer consciousness surrounding natural skin-care ingredients and benefits.
“Consumers are more informed than ever and looking at brands to make informed decisions from a 360-degree perspective,” Thomas explains. “While the ingredients in the products are taking centre stage, consumers are also looking at everything from a brand’s facilities down to the packaging and its environmental impact.”
That increased interest in what goes into a product is prompting brands to be more transparent about their tinctures, from production to packaging.
“Sustainability and brand transparency has become important in every consumer-goods category and beauty is no different,” Tayler Mariles, founder of the Vancouver-based natural beauty company Midnight Paloma, says. “Understanding what you’re putting on your face and body is just as important as knowing where the food you are feeding your family is coming from.
“Is the brand Canadian? Do they care about the people using it? Where are the ingredients sourced? All of these things are much more ‘on the radar’ now then they used to be.”
As more information about product ingredients enter the beauty-sphere, consumers are faced with the opportunity to better inform themselves on elixirs than ever before.
“People are incredibly savvy when it comes to product ingredients these days, especially in Vancouver,” Mariles says. “No one even knew what paraben was five years ago, and now you’ll get people asking if there is synthetic fragrance and chemical preservatives in our formulas.
“Customers are very educated.”
If you’re unsure of how to get started on your own ingredient education Mariles says going online is a great place to start.
“The internet is an amazing tool for this, but you definitely need to watch what you read,” she says. “There is a lot of good information but there is also a lot of fluff. I like to take a look at what is banned in the (European Union). They are usually a little bit ahead of us in terms of ingredient testing, so knowing what they are watching out for is a great way to stay on top of it.”
And be aware that, as the industry continues to change with awareness, so too will the list of “bad” ingredients.
“There will always be a new ‘dangerous ingredient’,” Mariles says. “Before getting too worried, I like to research and see what is actually going on to assess the risk.
“There are always going to be products that aren’t natural and that’s fine. Not all preservatives are bad necessarily. But when there are serious carcinogens in products that’s when these companies need to ask themselves: ‘Who is benefiting, and why?’ If you wouldn’t use a product on your own child, why would you market it to the masses? With the knowledge we have now there really are no excuses for formulating things with cleaner ingredients in mind.”
According to Mariles, one of the most common questions she faces in regard to her product lineup — ingredient inquiries aside — is how consumers can make the shift from traditional beauty products to a more “clean-beauty” routine.
“People want to make the right choices but they don’t know where to start, and they certainly don’t want to spend a fortune changing over,” she says. “It can be an overwhelming process at the beginning, but slowly adding good clean options is easy now. There are tons of options in everyone’s budget.”
To get started on the greening process of your own skin-care routine, she recommends starting with the few products that you use everyday — your personal skin-care MVPs (most valuable products of course) — rather than the more novelty creams, oils and other assorted tinctures.
“Get some good clean replacements and go from there,” Mariles says.
Expanding one’s knowledge of the green-beauty movement, as well as further understanding the list of potentially harmful chemical ingredients lurking in self-care products, is important for more than just one’s piece of mind, though. According to Thomas, an increased level of awareness can also help safeguard against buying “greenwashed” products — or beauty and skin-care products that are purported to be “clean” but have buried chemical ingredients or production processes.
“It’s important for customers to do their own research and look critically into the ingredients that brands are using in their products,” Thomas says. ” ‘Natural’ to one brand may mean something completely different to another. In fact, there is no one definition of natural.”
At Caudalie, which promotes the use and benefit of products featuring antioxidant-rich grape seed sourced from their family’s vineyard in Bordeaux, France, Thomas says there’s an emphasis on avoiding ingredients that have been linked to health-care concerns.
“As a brand, we frown upon including ingredients that are endocrine disrupters, that can be irritating or that are bad for the environment and use the smallest proportion of preservatives as possible and are committed to avoiding certain controversial and artificial ingredients,” Thomas explains. That emphasis on a more sustainable product also extends to the production.
“It’s important to me that everything from our facilities — to the product, packaging and formulation — leave as little negative environmental impact as possible,” Thomas says. “I’m also especially proud that Caudalie is an active member of 1% for the Planet, which is an organization that works to protect the environment. We’re proud of the fact that at the end of 2018, we planted more than four million trees globally and have plans to plant more than eight million in eight countries by 2021.”
As the green movement continues to gain momentum, shoppers can expect to discover more resources for information, increased transparency and even more “clean” beauty brands on offer — and, as it has been for the past five years, the push will come from consumer demand.
“The more educated people are, the more demand there will be for sustainable, healthy products,” Mariles says. “It’s like everything in our lives now, the more we know, the better we can change our lifestyles … Transparency is going to be more important than ever moving forward.”