NYSCC president Giorgio Dell’Acqua opened the meeting with a presentation on minimalism in formulation. He looked at opportunities where chemists can create effective, high-quality formulas that are safe on the skin, including the microbiome. He noted that efficacy is an important factor, but it must be backed up by good science and good clinical testing.
“The supplier data is not enough,” he told the audience.
While environmental impact may be at the heart of clean beauty, Dell’Acqua said synthesis has a place in movement. He looked at the categories of common skin care ingredients and suggested that formulators should select one or two from each, rather than trying to bundle dozens of active ingredients into one formula. For example, cosmetic chemists might select an antioxidant from a list that includes carotenoids, vitamin C, or vitamin E. Similarly, a shortlist of anti-inflammatories might include willow, turmeric, arnica, or aloe. Finally, the reconstitution ingredients can include ceramides, fatty acids, hyaluronic acid or collagen.
In theory it sounds good, but as one wag in the audience noted, “What happens when my competitor selects two ingredients from each category?”
The result, of course, is a marketing war of words.
But whichever ingredient (s) the chemist selects, he should check all boxes for ingredient specifications, safety in use, and proven efficacy. According to Dell’Acqua, these attributes include:
• High quality;
• Stable in formulation;
• Bioavailable for the skin;
• Non-toxic, good clearance;
• Safe on the microbiome;
• Scientifically proven;
• Clinically tested;
• Ecological; And
• Friendly company.
“We want to do more with less, whether it’s ingredients or packaging,” Dell’Acqua noted. “Simplification isn’t easy, especially when it comes to fragrances.”
Simplification is also not necessarily cheap. As one attendee noted, if a five-ingredient formula costs $ 650, it’s not a viable option for most consumers.
The bright recipe for success
Providing viable options to the consumer is one of the reasons for Glow Recipe’s success, explained Senior Director of Marketing Mallory Goldberg. The company was founded in 2017 by Korean Americans Sarah Lee and Christine Chang, who were inspired by the Korean beauty movement. Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask was her first big hit. The mask contains hyaluronic acid, watermelon extract and alpha hydroxy acids. After a successful turn on Shark Tank, the company’s sales hit $ 100 million last year.
“Being clean is critical to our success,” Goldberg explained. “In a survey of our customers, clean formulas ranked as the second reason customers choose to shop with us (behind the quality results).”
He added that “clean” was also the most commonly used brand descriptor. For Glow Recipe, clean means a short list of ingredients, product safety and low environmental impact.
“Consumers expect honesty from their brands,” he said. “We work closely with our contract manufacturers and ingredient suppliers to create our clean formulas.”
A great opportunity for the Indies and beauty multinationals
Goldberg cited Euromonitor data in noting the increase in clean skin care. By 2025, skin care is expected to become a $ 181 billion industry. In the years leading up to the pandemic, natural brands captured the largest share of the skin care category.
“Brands and retailers have listened to consumer demands for more transparency and cleaner formulas,” Goldberg noted. “The expectation of clean has evolved beyond formula ingredients and packaging.”
He pointed out that despite its popularity, there is no universal definition of what it means to be clean. Goldberg cited the often used and misinformed quote that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned only 11 additives in cosmetic products.
While no one has defined it, some marketers are already moving beyond the term “clean”. Goldberg said the lines are now blurred between clinical and clean. According to NPD, clinical brands that make public claims on clean ingredients are growing by 100%. Additionally, nearly half of the US luxury skincare market uses clinical ingredients.
“Glow Recipe focuses on clinically active ingredients as well as natural extracts and fruits,” he said.
Beauty formulas must be clean and sustainable. Goldberg cited Mintel data that 64% of U.S. beauty consumers would like to see more innovative sustainability ideas from beauty brands. Furthermore, although sustainable brands only account for 16% of the market, they are driving 55% of the market’s growth.
“Climate change is the sustainability factor consumers care about the most right now,” he said.
Sephora has responded to consumer demand by issuing its Clean + Planet positive seal. To obtain the seal, brands must follow guidelines which include:
• Reduced head space for secondary packaging;
• No single use items for PR / mailers / products;
• Designed for recyclability and includes PCR;
• RSPO palm oil / palm oil derivatives;
• Responsible sourcing of mica;
• No microplastics; And
• Responsible environmental donation.
To meet the demands for clean and sustainable products, Glow Recipe recently launched a refillable moisturizer. But an audience member noted that plastic refills cause the same environmental headache as traditional packaging.
Identify the consumer of clean beauty
Franca Zanovello, founder and CEO of Zanovello Consultants, concluded the session by noting that 90% of all US consumers believe that natural or naturally derived beauty ingredients are better for them. Additionally, 60% of all US consumers are looking for better, more natural beauty options and are willing to pay more for them. Within this group, 43% are Millennials between the ages of 25 and 43.
“Consumers are less concerned about beauty trends, in part due to the Millennial-led focus on individuality and authenticity,” she insisted. “The clean beauty consumer is super smart, educated, eager to learn and demanding.”
Citing data from NPD, Kline and Spate, Zanovello valued the global clean beauty market at $ 42 billion in 2022, up from $ 11 billion in 2016. Impressive, yet clean, beauty is only a fraction of the industry. $ 4.2 trillion global welfare.
Zanovello cited Kline’s research showing that major companies like Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, and Estée Lauder are the biggest players in the natural personal care space, but the top five companies account for only one-third of category sales. So it’s no surprise that brands like Kopari, Youth to People, and Beauty Counter have seen triple-digit sales gains in recent years.
“Clean beauty is dynamic,” he concluded. “There are many opportunities for large and small brands.”