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Beauty and Cosmetics…and Health

Cosmetics and beauty products are about looking and feeling your best, but these days, it’s not enough for a product to be good quality, effective or long-lasting; it must also be “healthy”.

In recent years, there has been a rising trend in the focus on wellness of body and mind. Many of us are becoming more concerned about healthy eating and healthy living, and taking better care of our bodies, and this heightened awareness has spread to the beauty and cosmetics industry, too. Health is now a key driver of our purchasing habits when it comes to cosmetics and beauty products. We care about what goes into these products, and how it gets there.

Social media has played a big part in this, with popular bloggers leading the way in clean eating and organic beauty. This desire for wellness extends to environmental and ethical factors too, all of which influence consumers’ decision-making.

But there is no absolute consensus as to what “healthy”, “natural” or “organic” actually mean when it comes to cosmetics. Plant extracts, oils and botanicals have become increasingly popular as organic alternatives to potentially harmful chemicals; for example, as natural preservatives in place of parabens. But it is not necessarily the case that a product must be completely free of chemicals to be labelled “organic”.

Unlike organic foods, skincare and beauty products do not currently fall under clear and strict legislation, so a product that calls itself “organic” may still contain synthetic ingredients and potentially harmful chemicals, often used for their preservative qualities or fragrance. These might include parabens, mineral oils and silicones.

So how do producers adapt to this trend, navigate the market, and ride the wellness wave?

To be considered truly “green”, producers face certain challenges on all fronts: finding available, affordable and effective natural alternatives to chemical ingredients; ensuring all ingredients are ethically sourced; adapting production methods to be sustainable and environmentally friendly, and; experimenting with more eco-friendly packaging.

Today’s consumers expect brands to go the extra mile, even if it costs them. The good news for producers is that evidence from the organic food industry suggests that consumers are willing to pay more for a product that is organic and ethical.

In fact, the “organic” label is a strong selling point, and if producers can adapt quickly there is a fertile market, ready and waiting. Green, clean living and environmental awareness have never been more fashionable, and cosmetics and beauty brands have the opportunity to capitalize on this trend while it is front and centre in the minds of consumers.

Many brands are already finding their niche within this growing market for organic products, whether that means a focus on the gentle, sensitive nature of the botanicals, or on the scientifically proven benefits of these natural ingredients. The challenge for cosmetic producers is to find a unique selling point within this trend, and to position products as premium, organic options, without pricing themselves out of the market.

The persuasive power of certification should not be under-estimated either. Consumers often feel reassured by some kind of symbol or logo, such as the Soil Association (which guarantees that the ingredients and farming processes meet certain organic standards), or Fairtrade (ethical sourcing of ingredients).

It is highly likely that restrictions and regulations will soon catch up with this booming industry so that producers will only be able to claim the “organic” label if their ingredients and production processes meet certain criteria, so it makes sense to get ahead of the game and take this seriously from the outset.

Crucially, producers of cosmetic and beauty products must stay at the cutting edge of the conversation on the role of organic products within the wellness movement. Engagement with their target market on social media is the simplest and most direct way of doing this, to understand what’s important to today’s consumers and to pre-empt opportunities before they arise.

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