The conversation regarding environmental impact has touched every industry in recent years. CPG companies are looking for ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Multiple manufacturers have signed on in support of the "Loop" initiative to create a more sustainable packaging supply chain. Influencers are calling out brands on excessive (and wasteful) packaging- leading to a backlash from consumers.
Natural beauty has gone from a fringe category to the mainstream. It's no longer enough of a differentiator to call your brand "natural." As a result, new subcategories are emerging - enter blue, green, and clean beauty.
Here are some of the basics to help you better understand this new trend.
Blue, Green, and Clean
What's the difference between these beauty buzzwords? While 'green' and 'clean' have been in use for some time, there's still some confusion about their exact meaning. With 'blue beauty' arriving in the market, it could feel overwhelming trying to understand the difference.
According to National Geographic, there are over five trillion pieces of plastic currently in the ocean. By 2050, the Ellen MacArthur foundation estimates there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. The beauty industry has begun to take more responsibility for creating a cleaner (and bluer) environment, taking steps to ensure that our oceans are kept safe. Some of these steps include the banning of microplastics, the use of ingredients that are safe for reefs and marine environments, and transitioning towards plastic-free and zero-waste packaging.
The term "Green Beauty" refers to products made with ingredients from naturally derived sources. It also addresses concerns with the supply chain by limiting the depletion of natural resources through the use of renewable and sustainable materials. Blue beauty is conscious of these factors but, more concerned with the impact on the oceans.
"Clean Beauty" is more focused on what isn't in your products than what is. While many clean brands use natural ingredients, they also use safe, effective, clinically tested, proven ingredients. These brands formulate their products without any of the "dirty thirty" ingredients that consumers are looking to avoid.
With the emphasis on green and blue beauty emerging, consumers don't want to have to play the guessing game when it comes to finding brands that adhere to environmentally-friendly standards. In 2018 Sephora launched its "Clean at Sephora" initiative with 60 brands receiving the seal. Consumers complained that the retailer hadn't gone far enough by banning only 13 ingredients in the selection process. They recently updated their guidelines and now forbid over 50 ingredients to qualify for the clean distinction.
Credo was launched in San Francisco by a former Sephora executive as a specialty retailer selling only non-toxic brands and organic skincare. With 75 brands that feature organic and natural ingredients, Credo is servicing consumers who want to look and feel their best while also paying attention to their footprint.
Online retailer Beauty Heroes recently launched project Blue Beauty to focus on "brands that are using their business to create a better, bluer planet." Founder Jeannie Jarnot wants to "celebrate these initiatives, share best practices and inspire even more action" as part of the program.
EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database was launched in 2004 as a way to inform consumers on product safety. Today it is a valuable resource for shoppers to learn about products before they purchased. The database currently features over 70,000 products ranging across more than 2,000 brands – a hefty resource for those who are becoming more mindful of what's going on their body and in the environment.
Scores on EWG's Skin Deep range from low to high, paying particular attention to concerns like cancer-causing ingredients, overall hazards, allergies, and immunotoxicity and even reproductive/developmental toxicity. Scores 1-2 considered a low hazard, while 3-6 is rated a moderate risk, and 7-10 is deemed high hazard, respectively. Consumers may also learn whether products have been tested on animals through Leaping Bunny and PETA certifications.
Consumers looking for genuine reviews in one place will find EWG's Skin Deep a valuable resource across all categories of the beauty industry.