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State of the Cosmetics Industry, Part II

By: Rachel L. Chapman
Posted: September 25, 2008, from the October 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Relating to naturals, beauty has come to mean nutrition, health and wellness, and emits feelings of happiness. It even means being tuned in to the environment with the awareness about how purchasing behaviors affect the world—either during manufacturing or after it’s washed off and away—otherwise known as the green phenomenon. In a recent report about organics and naturals in personal care, the National Marketing Institute found that the natural personal care market experienced nearly three times the growth of the overall U.S. cosmetics and toiletries market, and more than half of those surveyed indicated that they seek products made with natural or premium ingredients; 44% were looking for organic ingredients.

However, consumers are beginning to seek function over fashion. At the Midwest SCC Technical Symposium held in October 2007, Terry Mahon of Symrise noted that consumers are no longer willing to settle for sublevel products; they want natural products that are as efficacious as synthetic products. He also pointed out that although 80% of consumers want to be more environmentally conscious and use natural beauty products, nearly 60% of those consumers cannot name a green brand.

Mahon also commented that it is difficult for formulators to create natural products. The first problem is fixed costs and, although marketers may want to add natural products, fixed cost only allows the formulator to include so much. Next is the problem of smell—according to Mahon, many naturals smell bad. A final hurdle is preservation, which reportedly remains a natural-formulating challenge.

Green. Consumers are aware of the effects of manufacturing on the environment, giving rise to interest in green chemistry. But what does “green” mean? There are many interpretations. Everything from Earth-friendly by-products and lab practices to natural and organic ingredients that can be used in label claims, which introduces an interesting thought: Products can be green in the sense of Earth-friendly, but, at the same time, the processes to make them green could in fact undermine the end intent.

Green also can mean certified organic ingredients. Organic cosmetic standards by Ecocert and NSF International are presented as new challenges for formulating chemists. Related to this organic standardization, a new association—Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards (OASIS)—was launched in October 2007 to focus on organic standards specific to the cosmetics and personal care industry.