Recently, you may have noticed plans to ban microbeads in cosmetic and health products. Tiny beads of solid plastic in shampoo, face scrubs and toothpaste, for example, have been marketed as beneficial additions to one's daily routine. The sensation of these beads rolling up and down your skin feels fresh and powerful, and yet industry experts have since explained that microbeads are simply not necessary and not 'clean'.
'Clean' is just one of many buzzwords beginning to take shape in cosmetic marketing. Wellness and sustainability are at the forefront of lifestyle trends, and the public is making the switch to non-harmful products. Persistence Market Research claims that the organic personal care market is expected to grow to $22 billion by 2024. This is hardly surprising after new revelations show that over 90% of cancers are caused by lifestyle factors, including toxins found in products.
It is often difficult to distinguish between what is 'clean' and what is 'green'; are they the same thing or are they different entities? Consumers tend to associate one to mean the other. It has become common to assume that if a product is natural, then it is equally beneficial for the body, and vice versa. Due to this, brands have been liberal in their use of such terms.
Users of beauty products are demanding transparency from cosmetic brands. Listing all ingredients used, for example, will be increasingly commonplace for the industry. This clarity isn't wasted effort it seems; according to Harris Poll, 55% of women aged 35+ and 62% of Millennials claim to thoroughly read a product's ingredient list before buying it. Retailers are taking note and by 2018 Nordstrom has endeavoured to remove products that contain paraben, sulphate and phthalate.
The National Organic Program, the American federal organisation overseeing agriculture, requiires that if a product is awarded its 'Made With Organic' seal of approval, it would have a minimum content of 70% organic ingredients. However, this does not address natural ingredients which have harmful links to the body. Currently, there exists no governmental body that regulates the use of 'clean' as a term; consumers are not guaranteed that their 'organic' skin cream does not include a potential allergy-inducing component, for example.
Some natural ingredients have recently come under investigation by the European Union for their potentially hazardous effects on the skin. Oakmoss, a highly desired ingredient that has been used in some of the best-selling perfumes in the world, was placed under a ban due to its rash-inducing risk on up to 3% of the European population. These regulations have put a strain on heritage brands and their noses, who view oakmoss as being a luxury component to their sought after fragrances. It specifically the lichen's molecules, atranol and chloroatranol, which are problematic, but attempts to replicate oakmoss' scent without them have not acquired the same effect. The pressure for a brand to concoct succesful creations whilst adhering to the law has, according to some, an adverse effect on the industry. The manipulations of a perfume's formula can potentially deter longtime consumers of the fragrance, which in turn can impact its profitability.
The balance between health and loyalty to luxury is possible, however. Progress in sciences have allowed breakthroughs in the fragrance industry that respect both the craft of perfume-making and the wellbeing of the consumer. Headspace technology is one such example which has paved the way for creative and clean innovation since its establishment in the 1980s. Designed to capture a scent on an object from which a natural extraction would not be possble, the process includes sealing an object in a glass dome and using gas to synthetically replicate the aroma. Another noteworthy benefit is its ability to mimic the scent of a natural object which would otherwise have a different fragrance upon oil extraction, a rose bud being an example. One problem which perfumers face is the lifetime of naturally-sourced ingredients. Synthetic emulations have oftentimes a larger longevity to their natural counterparts which risk expiration before the complete consumption of the bottled perfume. Headspace has done much to remove the stigma of articially produced ingredients thanks to the dedicated chemists in the fragrance industry, proving that the product does not have to be organic for it to be clean.