Naturality in makeup

The new parameter that matters

Not a day goes by without hearing about organic or natural cosmetic skincare products. But what about natural makeup? How is the offer evolving? What are the consumers’ expectations?


Naturality in cosmetics is now part of the game. Initiatives from industry players are multiple: run for organic labels, new naturality norm, apps allowing to understand INCI lists, recyclable shampoo bottles, solid soaps, cruelty free claims… All these approaches draw the contours of tomorrow’s beauty.

The movement is global. In France, according to a research run by Ifop in 2018 (1), 58% of women declared having bought at least one cosmetic product formulated with natural or organic ingredients within the last year, while they were 33% in 2010. In the US in 2016, sales of natural and organic personal care products recorded a 8.5% growth (2).

Naturality is a must feature for skincare and suncare. Thus, Mintel indicates that 66% of all facial skincare products claim to be natural. Naturality is the third biggest claim for skin care and the 4th biggest claim for suncare (3).


Is makeup following the rhythm?


Regarding makeup, naturality is still under-tapped. Less than 1/3 of all facial makeup use natural ingredients. Naturalness is thus the 6th claim in this category (3).

Why is the makeup market moving late to naturality?

Well, wearing makeup is first of all guided by the desire to transform the face and embellish facial features but in a temporary manner. As makeup is supposed to be removed at the end of the day, consideration for what is inside is not the first priority. Makeup purchase is first of all a question of efficient skin transformation. Innovations in terms of coverage, shades, textures, and other additional skin care benefits take priority over naturality.

But things are changing as consumer concerns as regard skin health evolve. The concept of Clean Beauty can be seen as a new version of naturality. More and more consumers go beyond natural formulations, focusing also on ethics, safety and wellness when making their choice in the cosmetics shelf.

The Clean Beauty movement contributes to enlarge the boundaries of natural cosmetic. All signs are aligned for the development of naturality in makeup. 


Different consumers expectations for natural makeup


In 2018, French organic foundation consumers have been interviewed through a qualitative survey with the objective to better understand their motivations. Research results revealed two different profiles and levels of commitment towards organic, inviting brands to adapt their approaches function of those profiles.


Engaged consumers


The first profile is composed of engaged consumers, mainly belonging to the Millenials generation. Their lifestyle is guided by ethic, safety and clean consumption as revealed by their practices like minimalism, “no-poo” or DIY. Nelly (27 years old) said:

« Lately, I’m in a minimalist goal, I try to give away all the stuff I don’t use anymore. I try to find good products and to buy only the ones I will really use. »

They know how to recognize a natural makeup product thanks to their relative expertise of compositions which they read carefully before buying.

Organic makeup is considered as the only alternative to conventional makeup brands they usually do not trust. Thus, they turn exclusively to organic products for makeup and skincare. Fanny (27 years old) sums up: “I can’t find natural cosmetics, either it’s not organic and not natural, either it’s organic only. »

Nevertheless, they regret the lack of choice in the organic segment even if they recognize some efforts of the industry to diversify the offer.

For this group of women, natural claims, brand commitment to sustainability, reassurance about ingredients are for sure the key drivers that brands should adopt.  


“Hipsters” users


The second profile concerns women who buy organic makeup to follow a trend, named “hipsters” users as they easily recognize themselves that « There was a time where big brands were trendy. Now, we’re more into the trend of organic makeup. » (Najoua, 36 years old).

Their knowledge of compositions is limited. Even if they declare being interested by the ingredients, they do not really know how to deal with INCI names and mainly use organic labels as a sign of safety and quality.                                                                          

In their bathroom, conventional and organic brands go together as they are versatile and not ready to totally switch to the organic trend. They like buying prestige makeup products for their recognized quality and are also attracted by the luxurious image associated, as Yamina (43 years old) expresses: « Makeup is luxury. On my dressing table I only display big brands…”.

From her side, Najoua (36 years old) expects efforts from organic brands « I don’t want a neutral packaging you feel sorry for…I would like organic makeup to have the same packaging as luxurious brands! »

This group reveals very different purchase drivers: labels, strong marketing stories, aesthetic code… These should be highlighted by brands in order to keep consumers into the green movement.


Different approaches of natural makeup consumption coexist which all contribute to animate this niche segment. There is still a long way to go, but future will be for sure more natural in makeup.


(2) Mintel report: Natural and organic personal care consumer, December 2016
(3) Mintel report: Nature Beyond Green, May 2017