Beauty beyond natural

Formulating natural cosmetics

It’s not worth saying that naturality is a major trend in cosmetics.


According to Mintel, the sales of natural and organic personal care products records a 8.5% growth in 2016 (Vs 2015) in the US natural supermarkets (1). But consumers’ definition about what’s is “natural” is constantly evolving, even deriving towards an exacerbated version of naturality.

And let’s admit that beauty brands are forced to follow the rhythm.


There have been the “free from” claims


0% perfume, preservatives, silicones, sulfates…

They started to appear more than 10 years ago with suspicions around parabens and since that time, they continue to expand their territory, feeding by growing consumers’ concerns for their health and wellness.

Whereas chemical compounds were at the origin of all the worries, targets changed and nowadays, even natural ingredients can be disputed.

While boundaries between food and skin care blur, diets and lifestyle principles spread to the beauty world, giving birth to new “free from” requirements.


Two young women choosing cosmetics in a beauty shop,


The new nasties


One example is the vegan cosmetics.

From its beginning in the mid. 20th century, the vegan diet never stop expanding. Between 2009 and 2014, the number of followers has been multiplied by 2 in the US, by 3 in the UK.

Moreover, more and more consumers are worried about the composition of personal care products, and as a consequence tend to exclude animal based ingredients of their beauty basket.   Thus, vegan claims gain popularity. In 2010, Mintel counted 1.5% of skin care launches featuring a mention “suitable for vegetalians”. The percentage reached 3.6% in 2016. (2)

Another diet gets wider echo in cosmetics. Gluten free claims were first dedicated to the food industry, aiming at offering food alternatives for people suffering from celiac diseases or sensitivity to gluten.

Nevertheless, the growing awareness regarding gluten intolerances gave birth to a more holistic approach for people looking at reducing their consumption, encouraging them to look at beauty products free from the protein even if cosmetics do not contain gluten naturally.

These 2 movements benefited from great media coverage over the last few years as well as celebrities’ endorsement who publicly communicated on the benefits of such diets. We can thus easily think that generation Z will continue to follow the movement.



What will be the next target?


With the rise of allergies prevalence, we may see the global claim “free from allergens” growing.

Some products already exist on the truly natural beauty segment. But such claims also raised questions regarding the definition of these “allergens”. What is an allergen and what is not? Isn’t there a risk of downward spiral if everything can be considered as potentially allergenic? Consumers’ education is probably the key.

In a context where naturality has no clear contours anymore, challenge for the formulators will be to navigate within these requirements, finding alternative solutions to match their own functional constraints with consumers’ over-enthusiasm for naturalness, health and wellness.



(1) Mintel report: Natural and organic personal care consumer, US, December 2016

(2) Mintel search: skin care products launched 2010 VS 2016

Additional reference: ROSS-FICHTNER R., ROBICHAUD C., Why we will never be free from “free from” claims, Cosmetics & toiletries, july/august 2016, Vol.131, N°6