Free from hazardous ingredients and good for people, animals and the environment: critical consumers want clean beauty.
In the past, it sufficed for a skin care or cosmetics product to smell luxurious, look beautiful in your bathroom and promised to make you look 10 years younger. Times are changing! Of course, we still want beautiful packaging today, and we definitely still want a product that does what it promises. But we also want to be sure that what we put on our faces is not going to hurt us, the world, or others. In short, today’s critical consumers want: clean beauty.
There is no comprehensive definition for clean beauty (also commonly referred to as ‘green’, ‘natural’ or ‘sustainable’). In fact, there is actually a lot of confusion about it. Because, what does ‘clean’ mean? And how do you, as a consumer, know for sure that a brand that markets itself as natural and sustainable, actually is just that.
Generally, clean beauty mainly refers to skin care or make-up items containing natural, non-animal ingredients (from flowers, plants and herbs) and no potentially hazardous substances. But there is still a lot of discussion as to what such hazardous ingredients are, and what makes an ingredient ‘natural’. So, it just isn’t enough to look for a brand that markets itself as free from chemicals. Because those are just empty words: all ingredients, natural and non-natural, are chemical. And there are a lot of misconceptions about ingredients like parabens, sulfates and silicones – which are often listed as substances that don’t belong within clean beauty. For example, many people don’t know that ‘silicones’ is a collective term for a group of raw materials that have been used extensively in the beauty industry since the 1950’s. Silicones don’t grow on trees, but they definitely originate from a very common natural material: sand. On the other hand, not every natural ingredient is harmless. Think of palm oil for example: a natural and commonly used ingredient, but its large-scale use is contributing to the deforestation of the rain forests.
Apart from the ingredients list, the packaging is also important. It has to be cradle-to-cradle: made from recycled materials that can be reused after each use. Or better yet, that can be refilled, so that one bottle or pot can last for years. And then there’s the way in which the product as a whole, and the ingredients individually, are created: not tested on animals, without chemical pesticides and antibiotics, and preferably utilizing alternative energy sources like wind or solar power.
Something else that is often connected with clean beauty, is the latest innovation in the field of packaging: airless. Thanks to vacuum packaging with a pump, the daily dosage of creme or lotion does not come into contact with the air until it is dispensed by the pump. A big advantage of this, is that the beauty product requires no or significantly fewer preservatives, keeps fresh, does not lose its potency and therefore is incredibly sustainable in its use.
It’s a lifestyle
In summary, clean beauty requires quite a bit of effort. But to the brands, the manufacturers and the customers, it’s worth it. Because clean beauty fits within our modern lifestyle. Meaning, of course, the lifestyle of awareness and consciousness lived, in particular, by millennials and our youngest generation (Gen Z). Look at how people eat: vegetarian or vegan and if meat is being consumed, it is sourced from local farms or biodynamic butchers. We still travel a lot, but more and more people prefer to take a train to Paris instead of an airplane. And even work is performed completely differently as compared to twenty years ago; sometimes referred to as ‘the new way of working’, where independent entrepreneurship and contributing to the world are chosen over earning lots of money and driving a flashy lease car.
So, it isn’t so strange that every purchase is also carefully considered: does this product or food match who I am? Does it align with the values I represent? Can I use it with a clean conscience, worry-free? Fast fashion is replaced more and more by small fashion brands with a transparent production process. And even our beauty cabinet is being overhauled. Because we want to know what exactly we’re putting on our bodies, we’re reading the packaging and, thanks to social media, we’re more aware and more critical than ever. Do you know the creed: what you put on your face, should be safe to eat? Of course, that’s pretty extreme, and we wouldn’t really recommend it, but the statement it makes in itself is great. You are what you eat? How about: you are what you keep on your beauty shelf.