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Long Read: Natural Selection

 

There used to be a perception that natural skincare was mixed up in someone’s kitchen with these pungent old patchouli smells, says Lisa Wilson, Trilogy’s International Communication Manager. Reflecting on how much the natural beauty world has changed over the past decade, it’s easy to conjure up the green consumer of yesteryear – those accustomed to shopping in health-food stores and already at home with the concept of sustainability. “When we started, we were lucky to find one shelf dedicated to natural skincare,” recalls Alison Goodger, one of the founders of Sukin. Fast forward to the present day and ethical beauty is not only mainstream – it’s aspirational for old and young alike.

The success for those at the forefront of this shift didn’t happen overnight – Karen Murrell, founder of Karen Murrell Lipstick, says it’s been a hard road convincing people that natural skincare can be just as good if not better than synthetic-based beauty products. “Natural ingredients are well tested, they have history now. We’ve been using these ingredients for 10 years, we know what works; we’re driven by results and efficacy. Everyone’s excited about the promise of of natural ingredients,” says Murrell.

Wilson agrees, saying there’s been a huge education process involved, and while it hasn’t always been easy, putting in the hard work in the early years has paid off. “There’s much more of a belief in the performance of natural ingredients. It’s performance that always matters when it comes to skincare, and for a lot of people natural was a bonus but now we’re seeing natural products out-performing traditional products.”

INSIDE AND OUT

Natural beauty may be coming of age but new ingredients and trends continue to emerge every year. “The constant technical advances, innovation and discovery of more and more breakthrough ingredients is really exciting. The options opening up for new product development are extraordinary,” says Trilogy’s CEO, Angela Buglass.

As for the natural ingredients that will revolutionise our beauty regimens, a simple peek inside our fridges could give us a clue as to what the big trends will be in the coming years. According to natural beauty experts and product developers, superfoods are set to takeover not just our diets but our beauty cabinets, too. Goodger, who launched Sukin’s Super Greens range in early 2015, says while the trend for food-inspired formulas isn’t new, it’s keeping up with the growing shift in consumer lifestyle choices. “Kale, spirulina, parsley, acai and goji are just some of the superfood ingredients being used in skincare formulations.”

“Think, blueberry, chia, avocado,” adds Buglass, who agrees that superfood ingredients have increased in prominence recently, particularly in specialist products such as skin serums and masks.

FARM TO FACE

The rise of superfoods isn’t the only foodie trend that’s impacting on beauty cabinets around the globe: a growing awareness and knowledge of skincare ingredients is increasing according to Buglass, and with that comes an interest in traceability and sourcing. As Buglass points out, the growing and very real concern that the planet’s resources are not limitless is influencing who we buy from. “As with food trends, more and more people are reading ingredients lists and educating themselves about what’s actually in the products they’re using to care for their faces and bodies,” Buglass says. “Women and men are looking to make more responsible decisions about the way they care for their skin, their wellbeing and the world. We’re seeing the beginning of a major shift in the influence that consumers have over how companies behave.”

Goodger agrees and believes that consumers are taking a more holistic approach to their health by making clean, green choices with their food, and beauty purchases. “We’re asking more questions about a brand’s choice of ingredients and sustainability values,” she says.

GREEN-TINTED GLASSES

With the popularity of natural-based beauty soaring, an increasing number of newcomers and traditional beauty companies are jumping on the green bandwagon. But, as Wilson from Trilogy explains, slapping a couple of natural ingredients on a product doesn’t make it natural, ethical or sustainable. “Unfortunately ‘natural’ doesn’t always mean natural,” says Wilson, and greenwashing – brands disingenuously promoting themselves as being environmentally responsible – is a problem Wilson believes will get worse before it gets better. “It’s going to get harder and harder as the market grows and becomes more cluttered.” Wilson says Trilogy frequently receives questions from people asking how to distinguish truly natural products from imposters. The confusion and misinformation that surrounds natural beauty played a big role Trilogy’s decision to attain NATRUE Natural Cosmetics Certification – any product bearing the NATRUE logo will involve only natural and organic ingredients, soft manufacturing processes and environmentally friendly practices in its manufacture, and it will be free from undesirables including genetically modified ingredients, animal testing and petroleum- derived ingredients.

While independent natural and organic certifications is the easiest way to figure out if a product is what it says it is, a sticker only tells part of the story for pioneering natural beauty companies such as Trilogy. Going further than just using natural and organic ingredients in their products, many green beauty companies are serious about having as little negative impact on the environment as possible. They are also dedicated to making the world a better place. “People want to know where their ingredients come from; they want to know the packaging isn’t just recyclable, it’s responsibly produced, too,” says Wilson.

“We use the term responsibility,” says Buglass, “It’s not rocket science; it’s simply being responsible with every choice we make – ethically, environmentally and socially.”

TURNING GREEN

Although pioneers in the industry are cautious about giving credence to beauty giants who are keen to hop aboard the green train, a number of big players are taking laudable and serious steps to reduce the impact their companies are having on the environment.

LVMH – parent company to Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Guerlain cosmetics – has been undertaking sustainability initiatives for more than a decade. Recent actions include launching an internal carbon fund dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by funding projects such as energy consumption reduction equipment and the production of renewable energy. L’Oréal Group, which includes beauty brands Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent, Kiehl’s, Kérastase and Maybelline in its portfolio, revealed its Sharing Beauty With All programme in 2013: a commitment to producing, developing and innovating sustainability. By 2020, L’Oréal Group has pledged that 100 per cent of its products will have an environmental or social benefit and that carbon emissions, water consumption and waste per finished product, will be reduced by 60 per cent. By the end of 2014, L’Oreal Group had achieved a 50 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions compared to 2005.

Moves to reduce waste and create sustainable packaging are among the steps Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) is taking to create a greener future. Last year, the ELC undertook a packaging material usage study in order to establish a baseline from which they will develop new strategies to reduce, replace and recycle product packaging.

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