Clean Beauty Simplified

- The clean beauty movement, once a niche trend, has gone mainstream. The organic beauty and the wellbeing market have reached an all-time high, pushed by conscious consumers and led by millennials and Gen Zs. The once so popular claims of “natural” and “organic” have developed into “clean”. But what is clean beauty?

Since there’s no legal or official definition, many brands and organizations have taken it upon themselves to define clean beauty according to their agendas. In Europe, the COSMOS-standard founded by Ecocert and Soil Association among others, certifies both ingredients and consumer products, assuring their natural or organic origin and sustainable source. In the US, a beauty retailer, Credo, has defined their clean beauty standard by 5 pillars; Safety, Sourcing, Ethics, Sustainability, and Transparency. They have outlined a “dirty list” of 2700 ingredients that they do not want their retailed brands to contain, more than what global regulations outline. With so many different lists and definitions, it is not so easy to cater for all markets and retailers.

However, there are a few key pillars of clean beauty and they include minimal ingredients, safety for human health and environment, ethics, and transparency.

So how can you as Brand owner or cosmetic formulator in the business make sure you are developing products with the right focus? Here are the main six areas for developing products that fit the “clean beauty” mindset.

  1. Simplified yet effective formula – cut out all the filler ingredients and focus on fewer but more efficacious ingredients. Less is more!
  2. Naturals – naturals normally equal safer for the consumer, but this is not always the case. Not all-natural ingredients are safe and not all synthetic ingredients are unsafe.
  3. Responsibly sourced – where does your ingredient come from, can one ensure sustainable, conscious, and fair trade.
  4. Safe for the user – consumers have a genuine concern over cosmetics being harmful to them. That is why “free-from” and many other policies around “harmful” or “toxic” ingredients are so popular. In the EU there are about 1300 ingredients banned from use in cosmetics, while in the US only 30 ingredients are banned. This difference has sparked the clean movement even further in the US.
  5. Safe for the environment – is the ingredient biodegradable or eco-friendly, is the packaging you have chosen using recyclable materials, this matters to the consumer.
  6. Transparent – it’s important to clearly communicate the contents of your product on its label.

To summarize, whatever tangibles you are to deliver, clean beauty is a lot about establishing trust. The beauty consumer is emotional, so keep it honest and transparent, be proud of the ingredients you choose for your product and brand.



About the author

Åsa Frank, Product Development Manager

Åsa Frank is part of the Disruptive Materials Cosmetics business unit. She has, with 15+ years in the skin- and personal care industry an extensive background in product development and brand management from Global and local companies, in Sweden and the UK. Åsa Frank has a Master of Science in Chemistry from Södertörn University, Sweden.

Contact our team for more information