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We are living in a time when consumers are becoming increasingly aware of what they put on and into their bodies. This newfound awareness has created a market within the beauty industry centered around makeup, skin, and hair care made without harmful toxins. Though organic and natural lines of beauty products have been around for a long time, brands advertising these attributes have not yet made a large impact on the industry. There has long been a negative stigma surrounding products that fall under the umbrella of “organic,” dictating that they are less effective than products made with harmful ingredients. In contrast, “clean” beauty products entered the scene to show health-conscious consumers that they do not have to sacrifice quality in order to protect themselves from potential health risks.
Here’s how clean beauty entered the beauty industry:
The phrase “clean beauty” was first introduced in a 1970s campaign from CoverGirl that featured models styled with a minimal and natural makeup look. The phrase “clean beauty” wasn’t used to describe beauty products made without potentially harmful ingredients until the early 2000s. The clean beauty industry differentiated itself from its natural and organic counterparts by still incorporating synthetic ingredients, but only those that were deemed safe for use.
One brand that has become synonymous with clean beauty is Goop. The lifestyle, wellness, and beauty brand defines ‘clean beauty’ as products made without ingredients that are suspected of being harmful to human health. They point out the lack of regulation when it comes to the distribution of beauty products in the U.S. compared to that of the European Union and outline their own standard when it comes to clean ingredients. It is worth noting that there is currently no FDA standard for what it means for a product to be “clean,” but most brands have a public, detailed list of harmful ingredients they have excluded from their formulas. According to the senior executive vice president at Environmental Working Group 617, cosmetic brands reported using 93 chemicals that have been found to increase the risk of cancer, birth defects, and reproductive harm.
Another clean beauty brand that has risen in awareness more recently is Beautycounter: a multi-level marketing company that produces clean makeup, skincare, bath, and body products. According to its website, the brand has over 1,800 ingredients that have been banned from their products. They work with researchers at Tufts University to continually test ingredients for potential hormonal risks and search for sustainable alternatives to necessary preservatives. The brand has also taken a more holistic approach to the clean beauty industry, focusing on its sustainability efforts, environmental footprint, and support of nonprofits, as well as their high standard of product creation and performance.
Clean Beauty and COVID-19
If there was ever a time for consumers to switch over to clean beauty products, it’s now. In the face of a global health crisis, the clean beauty industry has reported growth despite the detrimental effects of COVID-19 on the beauty industry as a whole. Because health is at the forefront of consumers’ minds, it makes sense that the ever-looming risk of one’s health would permeate into other aspects of daily life. There is now the possibility that this shift could result in a significant amount of consumers permanently switching to clean alternatives. The question now is whether or not this change in clean beauty consumption will impact the beauty industry on a larger scale, either by occupying a larger share of the market or by forcing non-clean beauty brands to adjust their ingredient standards.
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