Amid the pandemic, the notion of safety has become paramount. Although clean beauty has safety embedded in its DNA, the beauty industry has not yet set a standard for what constitutes a product or brand as ‘clean’ – or even ‘natural’, ‘organic’ or ‘transparent’–, inviting countless companies to use the fluidity the terms allow to greenwash consumers into purchasing potentially harmful products. COVID-19, however, seems to be catalysing a long-awaited paradigm shift. With heightened awareness surrounding cleanliness, the idea of safe beauty has started to percolate.
Safe beauty is a concept that seems to have evolved from clean beauty – a movement rooted in the idea of ridding the beauty industry of harmful ingredients – and will encompass applying the learnings of the pandemic to meet the needs of consumers – without compromising on the environment, quality and efficacy.
Although it’s impossible to say what standards will deem products safe, there are a few things beauty brands will have to take into consideration:
Although the topic of transparency is no stranger to the beauty industry, 40 percent of beauty consumers still feel like they don’t get enough information from brands – often impeding their path to purchase (FIT). In addition, 76 percent of UK consumers feel misled by green beauty labelling (The Soil Association).
With Generation Z and Millennials demanding more and more transparency, it’s no secret that brands that commit to providing their consumers with the information they seek will thrive – particularly those who will go above and beyond to reassure their customers that every measure has been taken into account to ensure that their products are safe and germ-free. It’s important to note that all beauty products are intrinsically safe considering the rigorous testing and regulatory requirements to bring them to market. However, as there are far more ingredients banned in the EU than the US, we may begin to see an increase in transparent communication among beauty brands.
As safety may soon be – if it isn’t so already – at the forefront of every consumer’s mind, we may see an end to at-home beauty formulation and production – as consumers will want to be reassured that the products that they purchase are safe and there will be no guarantee that brands will be abiding by clean standards (i.e. wearing masks and gloves). Moreover, we may see a shift in consumers’ perceptions of preservatives and synthetic ingredients in regard to ‘natural’ and ‘clean’ beauty products, as concerns regarding sanitation and shelf-stability are on the rise. Consequently, science–backed claims, proving product safety, quality and efficacy, may transpire as fundamental to gaining and maintaining consumers’ trust.
The onset of the pandemic further precipitated concerns about the environment, raising our awareness on how our routines impact the world around us. Although waterless beauty gained popularity among consumers seeking to minimize water waste, the realization that waterless formulas enable control of products’ shelf-life has increased consumers’ interests – particularly in those sensitive to preservatives. Furthermore, as COVID-19 has engendered considerable uncertainty and anxiety, consumers will seek out brands that they can depend and rely on to deliver safe and effective products. Trust, now more than ever, will be the foundation that will define whether a brand will succeed or not. There’s a lot of work to be done – but the work needs to be done.
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