Ingredient transparency. Beer tech. The future of luxury.
Buying a serum has never been so complicated.
During a recent Heyday appointment, I was asking an aesthetician about what could be the next big on-trend skincare ingredient.
(Spoiler alert: Bilberry could be the new turmeric).
This is probably a question that I wouldn’t have thought to ask a few years ago.
But today, consumers are increasingly demanding more insights about what their products are made of — especially as the link between specific cosmetic ingredients and health issues has become more apparent.
Ingredient transparency has become a top priority not only for beauty and personal care brands, but also for CPG and retail companies more broadly.
Corporates like Unilever, P&G, and Target are tapping into this trend through acquisitions, accelerators, internal brand incubation, and more.
The grass is always greener (and cleaner) on the other side
One of the biggest ways ingredient transparency has manifested is through the clean beauty movement.
Farm-to-face, seed-to-skin — whatever you call it, the clean beauty economy is booming.
The global natural and organic beauty market was worth $11B in 2016 and is expected to double by 2024, according to Ernst & Young.
Mentions in earnings calls of clean beauty, natural and organic cosmetics, and more have also risen to new highs over the last year.
But there’s a not-so-green side to the clean beauty movement
Currently, the FDA has limited regulatory oversight over cosmetics manufacturing and ingredient standards. In fact, US cosmetics regulations haven’t been updated since 1938.
So, despite their widespread use, terms like “natural” and “clean” are unregulated and therefore have no consistent standard across beauty and personal care.
As a result, brands have gotten into major trouble for “greenwashing,” or advertising products as “better-for-you” when that may not be the case.
And on the flip side, brands are playing on consumer fears by shaming ingredients like parabens, which may actually not be as harmful as marketing suggests.
TLDR: Not all natural ingredients are good and not all synthetics are bad. Often, ingredient concentrations are more important than the actual ingredients themselves.
Despite these issues, ingredient transparency is a trend that’s here to stay. Here are 3 ingredient transparency trends CPG & retail companies should be paying attention to.
For those of us who don’t have the savvy or patience to sit and read cosmetic labels, technology is aiming to do the work for us.
Ingredient transparency apps that aim to educate consumers on cosmetic ingredients have cropped up.
Beyond mobile, connected packaging could also play a bigger role in promoting ingredient transparency through digital content and tutorials.
For example, active beauty brand Yuni Beauty partnered with smart packaging company Thinfilm to integrate NFC tags, allowing customers to access digital experiences which showcase the brand’s story and products.
Voice technologies could also support ingredient transparency.
Voice assistants — which beauty companies have already been partnering with — could even start offering more ingredients-based skills in the future. (Think “Alexa, is this moisturizer formaldehyde-free?”)
Sugar cane-based squalane (Amyris-owned Biossance, which sells its products in Sephora)
Ethically-sourced keratin (hair care brand Virtue Labs).
Biotech-based ingredients could prove especially useful for natural beauty brands as ingredient sourcing remains a huge challenge.
New ingredient sourcing standards & ethical labels
Vegan? Gluten-free? Non-GMO? If you think cosmetic labels are already complicated, guess again.
From “wild” skincare to halal-certified cosmetics, brands are pursuing new sustainable sourcing standards and ethical labels beyond organic and cruelty-free cosmetics.
Beauty brands are also partnering more with agricultural research firms to help develop new ingredients for product development as well as bring R&D facilities to the public eye.
Though ingredient sourcing has historically been a trade secret for beauty companies, such standards, labels, and partnerships could help consumers navigate confusion around “natural” products.
It also could help brands distinguish themselves as the clean beauty market becomes more crowded.
Ultimately, the ingredient transparency trend will go more mass-market and global across all consumer products.
Upcoming regulation in the US — from the passing of the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act to more recent proposals for national sunscreen reform — suggests that greater ingredient transparency is on the horizon.