The cosmetics sector is highly innovative, with marketing constantly on the lookout for new concepts to meet the expectations of increasingly demanding consumers. One trend follows another: while natural and organic beauty have carved out a place for themselves on the shelves, we have also seen a parallel rise in 'Clean' beauty and even 'Conscious' beauty, reflecting consumers' strong need for transparency and reassurance. What's behind these terms? Why are consumers so keen on these claims? What are the differences with ethical, natural or certified organic beauty?
A look back at the emergence of the Clean Beauty concept
Historically, 'clean beauty' is a phenomenon that originated in the United States to compensate for a lack of regulation. In fact, the cosmetics standard in the United States is not very restrictive when it comes to the composition of formulas. Only around ten molecules are banned in cosmetic products in the United States, unlike the 1,300 substances that are not permitted under European regulations. You could almost say that all European cosmetics are considered "clean" on the other side of the Atlantic. It has become a marketing concept that promotes a form of beauty that bans the use of certain controversial substances, making it healthier for consumers.
Conscious" beauty goes further, as it is not limited to "non-toxic" beauty, but also encompasses respect for the skin's microbiota and consideration of environmental impacts. It responds to consumers' aspirations to "consume less and better", particularly in times of inflationary and climatic crisis.
Why are consumers turning to Clean Beauty or Conscious Beauty?
Consumers are always looking for reassurance about the safety of the products they are going to use on a daily basis, and are turning to products with a high natural content, which are more respectful of their skin and the planet . The "Clean or conscious beauty" corners at are full of innovative, disruptive brands, often with high-performance marketing. As the concept of 'Clean Beauty' has no official definition, it is difficult for consumers to find their way between products from committed companies and less scrupulous ones that surf the trend and flirt with greenwashing.
What if certified organic or natural cosmetics were still the real answer for consumers?
Consumers and distributors must demand proof of the commitment and traceability of their cosmetic products. Labels are therefore becoming essential as a guarantee of trust.
Indeed, oin opposition to Clean Beauty or Conscious Beauty, natural, organic or ethical beauty certified under the COSMOS (organic or natural cosmetics) or FAIR FOR LIFE (fair trade) labels share a number of common features. They prohibit certain substances of concern in order to give consumers access to healthier cosmetics. However, these certifications go much further, than the composition of the product itself: Brands must commit to a global eco-design approach in which the cosmetic product is developed to minimise its impact on the environment, with traceability throughout the supply chain. The criteria of the main certified natural or organic beauty labels are not limited solely to the absence of controversial ingredients, or to the actual presence of ingredients of natural or organic origin; they also cover the packaging used (recyclable, recycled, refillable, etc.). More generally , they provide a guarantee of the way in which the cosmetic is produced.
Certification, based on an annual audit of brands and manufacturing units is the only reliable way of ensuring that product claims are guaranteed . With more demanding, strict and precise criteria, certification provides a link of trust and transparency between consumers and brands through the evidence provided, independently checked by a certification body . Ecocert is delighted that this third-party verification will be at the heart of the future European regulations to be put in place to regulate environmental claims and combat greenwashing.