In your own words, how do you define “clean”?
For me, clean primarily relates to product ingredients. A clean ingredient should be healthy for the user and for the environment. This starts with the ingredient’s origins, how it’s cultivated, harvested, extracted and processed. This also extends to the disposal of any by-products that remain after processing. I appreciate that others now equate “clean” with “sustainable” but I believe that while the two are related, they are not interchangeable or co-dependent. Clean is also used as short-hand for natural and/or organic, but this isn’t necessarily the case either. An ingredient can be the product of a laboratory and still be clean.
How is the industry defining clean?
The industry definition of clean has evolved to take on connotations for naturalness, sustainability and overall health and well-being. This has led to considerable blurring (mission creep?) whereby some in the industry imply that by declaring that a product is free-from various materials, it is automatically clean. The term is in danger of becoming a buzzword and morphing into clean-washing in much the same way as we now have green-washing.
What kind of analysis has Mintel been conducting on clean beauty?
We’ve been tracking the term and the philosophy behind it for a number of years and our Global New Products Database shows that the number of beauty launches that specifically refer to “clean beauty” more than quadrupled from 2017 to 2018. We’ve used our beauty reports in the UK, US, China, India and Brazil to look at consumer attitudes towards clean beauty – their motivations and expectations – and next month’s report into Men’s and Women’s Beauty and Grooming Routines in the UK and US will have some fascinating insights. For example, 47% of UK consumers think it’s important for beauty routines to be “clean”. That’s quite some incentive for the beauty companies to get on board, if they’re not already.
What are most consumers looking for in cosmetic products based on your analysis and research?
That’s a huge question and so much depends on the country in question, lifestyle, demographic and product category. If we’re talking about skincare, however, there are plenty of commonalities. Consumers want healthy, balanced, glowing skin. To get this, they’re looking for hydration, protection, comfort and even tone. Once you have these in place, you can add whitening to the mix in the East and an element of anti-ageing everywhere.
What can cosmetics brands learn from Mintel’s analysis that would help inform future formulations?
We have a fantastic team of specialist analysts, who use all of Mintel’s consumer and product data to identify and anticipate beauty trends. Our consumer and beauty trends form the backbone of our offer, as they give brands an overview of the forces that shape consumer behavior, both in the beauty marketplace and in daily life. Our beauty reports are a window into the consumer’s mind, looking at what products they use, why they use them, what they want from them and what they would like to see from them in the future. It really digs into their attitudes and helps brands assess current and potential demand for products and which ingredients and benefits they should be focusing on. Then, GNPD allows brands to dig into all the product launches from more than 60 countries, reading the pack copy, looking at detailed photos, tracking claims and ingredients taken from the INCI list. They can see what their competitors are doing and identify useful white spaces. It this combination of industry expertise, future thinking and solid data that makes our beauty offer unique.
Are there trends that are happening in other areas that may have an impact on cosmetics?
The food & drink industry is a traditional source of emerging beauty trends and that’s still very much the case when it comes to ingredients. However, the beauty industry isn’t a follower any more. In the office, the beauty and food & drink analysts swap information and ideas all the time and, often, beauty is actually taking the lead and influencing food trends. We also find technology, particularly hand-held devices and telecoms, is influencing beauty trends. The fashion, textile, sports and leisure industries are also having a big effect, with our Active Beauty trend being a particularly strong example of this.
What are the challenges for the industry to mainstream clean beauty?
The key challenges will be definition and credibility. There are no set definitions of clean beauty and it won’t take long for the term to become over-stretched. Given that we’re still waiting for global standards for natural and organic products, I’m not confident that we’ll find acceptable global clean beauty standards any time soon. I’m happy to be proved wrong though. In the immediate term, credibility is the greater challenge. The clean beauty movement was inspired by consumers becoming more educated and more selective about their ingredients and formulations, primarily on health grounds. It will be a challenge to make sure that the information available to consumers is correct and balanced. Bad ingredient stories travel much faster than good ones, and it would only take one critical and ill-informed article or post to go viral and a hitherto clean ingredient will be regarded as dirty. Clean beauty brands must ensure that they are using data properly, take a balanced view of the scientific literature and communicate with consumers clearly and honestly.
What are examples of consumer trends you see that will define the Future of Clean Beauty?
The evolution of the wellness and protection trends will continue. Increasingly, consumers will demand emotional as well as physical benefits from their products, and the research into psychodermatology, for example, is fascinating. Protection will extend throughout a consumer’s lifestyle and the search will intensify for attractive, clean and natural materials which can protect consumers from UV, IR, blue light, indoor and outdoor pollution, even WiFi . I also firmly believe that we’re going to hear much, much more about the microbiome allied with the exposome, and here again Clean Beauty can play a part as long as consumers can be dissuaded from discounting anything lab-made as “unclean”.