The term clean beauty popped up about two years ago. But the rise of conscious consumerism has catapulted the concept into the mainstream. According to international data tracker, Statista, the global clean beauty market will double from US$11 billion in 2016 to US$22 billion by 2024. A prediction backed up by a recent Nielsen report which revealed that 52 per cent of global consumers now check products for sustainability claims and 65 per cent of personal care and beauty sales come from brands with social and environmental values.
Makeup and skincare brands are increasingly pitching themselves as vegan-friendly to appeal to younger, ethically-minded, digitally savvy consumers. The number of global vegan beauty launches skyrocketed 175 per cent from 2013 to 2018, says researcher Mintel. But clean beauty is different and is not a standalone category, says the Global Wellness Institute. It has become a significant part of the US$1.1 trillion wellness-based beauty, personal care and anti-ageing foods and services sector and is sought after by women of all ages.
Clean beauty brands have become such powerhouse performers that some of the world’s leading retailers are leading the charge. In June last year, Sephora launched Clean at Sephora, a seal of approval that guarantees that the world’s biggest specialist beauty chain has vetted the products. Bloomingdale’s, the iconic US luxury department store, has launched WellChemist,a curated collection of 30 clean beauty brands. In Australia, Mecca, the on-trend beauty retailer, organised a clean beauty roundtable last August.
In spite of all the buzz, there is no clear definition of clean beauty. It’s major point-of-difference from natural and organic beauty is a stronger focus on third-party clinical testing to underline the safety of the ingredients, in addition to being eco-friendly and sustainable. The majority of clean beauty products also avoid the use of so-called “nasties”such as parabens, sulfates, silicons, pthalates, microbeads, petrochemicals and synthetic fragrances and are cruelty-free yet without sacrificing results.
Sustainability and transparency from the products to the packaging has become non-negotiable. Today’s consumers consider where ingredients come from, the impact on the environment and carefully read labels in search of stripped-back, clean products.
The Environmental Working Group in the US estimate that women today are exposed to a daily average of 126 chemicals found in cosmetics, food, cleaning supplies and pollution. The rising incidence of sensitive skin worldwide has also increased demand for clean beauty. Mintel reports that 21 per cent of US consumers now look for skincare products with as few ingredients as possible to guard against potential irritants. Zero irritants is becoming the new standard for clean and natural personal care products as consumers continue to align their beauty routines with healthy, ethical lifestyles.
That doesn’t mean shelf appeal is compromised – far from it. The aesthetic might be minimalist but the bottles and jars of top-selling clean beauty brands not only help to preserve the ingredients, they look as stylish as their mainstream counterparts.