Growing up in New York City I had access to many things the common teenager did not. Around the corner from my apartment was the city’s first Whole Foods Market. I remember the opening very well and how crowded the natural and organic specialty food store was. But my focus was not the food part of the store. To the right of the main store, in a separate entrance, was a smaller sister store called “Whole Body.” I was obsessed. I more than likely spent more time there than at school (sorry, Dad!).
What I loved about the Whole Body experience was the education I received on ingredients -- not just the naturals that I could use to help solve my skin issues, but the ingredients that were not included in their products and the reasons why. Naturals are having a big moment in skincare. Natural brands are responsible for 55 percent of the overall gains in prestige skincare*, and 85 percent of any gains in the declining brick-and-mortar space**. But there’s this new underbelly of brands that are not making the claim of “natural” and are instead eliminating “unsafe” ingredients.
Beautycounter is perhaps one of the more popular skincare brands that have their feet firmly planted in the “clean” beauty space. The brand is completely transparent with their consumers, telling them that 80 percent of their ingredients are organic, natural, or plant-derived and 20 percent is synthetic. The brand has a download-able “never list” that it has compiled through the more regulated European Union and Health Canada, as well as an additional 100 chemicals that the brand itself has deemed questionable.
But it’s not just smaller brands that are paying attention to potentially harmful ingredients. Retailers like Whole Foods have encouraged its vendors by creating the Premium Body Care Campaign. Walmart and Target have both pushed to include safer, more natural brands in their product mix. Procter & Gamble released a “preservative tracker” just a few weeks ago. The website tracks preservatives that consumers might be trying to avoid but are used by various brands across their portfolio in categories like hair care, personal cleansing, and skincare.
Skincare is a very intellectual and emotional category. Have you ever watched someone talk about how acne affected their teen years and shaped their life? Or have you ever seen the desperation of someone so eager to figure out what is responsible for the red patches on their face? Brands like these are able to speak to that consumer. They provide information, dialogue, a potential resolution, and a cocoon of safety for the consumer to explore. While natural is certainly taking up the spotlight in skincare, brands with a “clean” approach are certainly waiting in the wings.
*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / U.S. Prestige Beauty Total
**Source: The NPD Group, Inc./U.S. Prestige Beauty Department Store/Specialty Brick & Mortar