By now, it’s common knowledge that our planet is facing the consequences of nearly 50 years of industrialization, deforestation, and decisions resulting in global warming and climate change. Unfortunately, the international, multi-billion-dollar beauty industry is also a significant contributor to environmental damage. Products laden with harsh chemicals that seep into our oceans and seas, deforestation, and plastic packaging that isn’t recycled that ends up in oceans, lakes, or landfills, have wreaked havoc on the earth. As of 2019, an estimated 120 billion units of packaging are produced each year by the beauty and cosmetics industry, most of which aren’t recyclable.
However, as the climate change threat becomes increasingly apparent, consumers and brands are making a conscious effort to live/ function more sustainably. Thankfully for us and the planet, one segment has gained much traction in recent times – clean beauty.
For a planet that has been abused to a point where we’re now facing the wrath of its retaliation, clean beauty has emerged as one of the key solutions for the beauty industry to mitigate the damage we have done to the environment. But what is clean beauty?
A Brief Introduction
When we think of the word clean, it has a positive impact on us, and we immediately think of something pristine and unpolluted. Simply put, clean beauty is a philosophy that covers beauty products, treatments, and services formulated/ offered without the use of harsh ingredients that can harm our health and the planet as well.
In fact, according to NielsenIQ, clean beauty products are free from toxic chemicals like parabens, harsh sulfates, phthalates, artificial colors, fragrances, and around 600 other ingredients. But clean beauty is often wrongly interchanged with natural. While clean beauty can include ingredients derived straight from nature, it is anchored on sustainability, using biodegradable ingredients that are gentle on our skin and packaging that is recyclable.
Why Does it Matter?
The answer to this question can be seen all around us. Foaming lakes and rivers due to excess use of sulfates and other harsh chemicals in personal care products, plastic floating in our oceans, and the rapid decline of the earth’s flora and fauna are evidence that clean beauty is the need of the hour. Clean beauty is cautious and frugal in terms of its use of natural ingredients.
Formulated with cruelty-free, sustainably sourced ingredients, clean beauty gives due scrutiny to the methods of creating the products and consciously avoids raw materials that have a notorious history of resulting in deforestation. The concept takes into consideration the toxicity of every ingredient that goes into each product – be it its active use on the consumer or its by-products on the health of our marine life.
Another aspect clean beauty focuses on is transparency. Until recently, a majority of consumers used to simply pick products off the shelves simply by checking the fragrance/flavor of the product and the expiry date. But those days are long gone. Today’s consumers are far more aware and want to know if the products they purchase will impact them or the environment negatively. However, you might have come across products in supermarkets or even online where there is no ingredient list or only a few ingredients derived from nature. Not really transparent, is it?
Clean beauty anchors on transparency alongside sustainability. In today’s internet age, just a few clicks on our smartphones or laptops can give us access to all kinds of information. The lack of transparency on product labels is an issue that clean beauty is solving. When we look at product labels of clean beauty brands, we’re sure to find every ingredient that has gone into the product’s formulation listed on the label, allowing consumers to make informed decisions and choose products that are sustainable.
How Much has the Segment Grown
Today, the paradigm shift towards clean beauty is evident. Consumers, especially millennials and GenZ, are now more conscious about the products they purchase and use and the waste they generate, and how it impacts the environment. Just as how the segment has evolved over the years, as time goes by, the definition of clean beauty is likely to expand further. According to research by Statista, the clean beauty industry is growing by 10 percent each year. By 2024, the clean beauty market is projected to reach a whopping $22 billion and $54 billion by 2027.
The global pandemic has also contributed to the changing face of today’s beauty shoppers. A survey revealed that 76 percent of consumers plan on buying products that are sustainable, cruelty-free, and of course, carry the ‘Clean’ mark. And out of consumers from all age groups, millennials and GenZ are the most likely to purchase sustainable beauty products. In fact, the demand for clean beauty has witnessed a surge of late. To cater to the same and operate in an eco-friendlier manner, clean beauty brands are going the extra mile with constant innovation, science-backed product formulations, and the best of R&D (Research and Development).
The Road Ahead
As sustainability continues to take center stage with beauty brands, trends like refill and reuse and dissolvable or zero waste beauty are gaining traction. Combined, these trends will further allow the clean beauty industry to reduce its carbon footprint, moving towards more carbon-neutral beauty. As the clean beauty industry continues to grow, we can expect that future innovations will transcend only using clean ingredients and focus on managing the waste we have generated over the years.
Given the havoc the beauty industry has wrought on the planet, clean beauty is no longer an option. But clean beauty is now one of the most sought-after philosophies by consumers, and more and more brands are foraying into the segment. The future looks bright for the clean beauty industry, consumers, and, most of all, the planet. The world has woken up to the change that can repair decades of damage. And that change is clean beauty.