Safety First! How consumers read beauty and personal care labels

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Safety First! How consumers read beauty and personal care labels

Related tags Green beauty barometer Cosmetics

A newly released Harris Poll shows that well over half of women shopping for beauty and personal care products read the label before making a selection and that many are looking for formulations that exclude particular ingredients.

The poll results also give a picture of the extent to which women are seeking out, what they consider to be, natural beauty products.

Commissioned by beauty brand Kari Green, the Green Beauty Barometer survey results show that 59% of women purchasing beauty products read the ingredient labels first.

Sea change
"For the last several years shoppers have become more conscious about what they put in their body through food consumption, and that's spilled over to a greater awareness for what they put on their body," ​commented Lisa Strain, co-founder of the Kari Gran eco-luxe skin care and makeup brand, in a media release about the survey findings.

Gran believes that the natural trend is more than passing phase and is outgrowing its niche to take up space in the larger beauty economy. “This is mainstream. This is where beauty is going. Consumers are more aware and cautious as ever about chemical ingredients, and it's not going to be business as usual for the category,"​ she says.

What not to use
Sulphates were the ingredients that most women are looking to avoid. 29% of respondents said that sulphates would “deter purchase”​ of a product.

22% opt not to buy personal care and beauty items that contain parabens. While 18% avoid products with synthetic fragrances, 15% PEG compounds, and 11% mineral oil.

This list of ingredients that concern a segment of shoppers isn’t unexpected. The leap those consumers are making, though, to an interest in products with a minimum of processed and engineered ingredients is noteworthy.  

Respondents said that it’s important for them to buy all-natural products:  54% want natural skin care and 49% want natural hair care. The survey also shows that color cosmetics, fragrance and nail care are categories where consumers are looking for natural product options.

And it’s often independent brands like Pour le Monde Parfums that are currently meeting this demand. (Read more about the demand for natural fragrance​ from Cosmetics Design.)

Who’s who
Consumers behavior varies across demographics and such. So it’s worth noting that the survey tallied the replies of women from across the US, all over the age of 18 and all online.  

In the youngest group, aged 18-34, 63% of women read labels, nearly as many as those 35-54, 65% of which check beauty ingredients before purchase. And among older women, through age 64, over 50% reliably read the ingredient list, according to the Green Beauty Barometer survey.

Going natural
The survey also shows that more women will buy natural personal care and beauty in the future. “39% of women claim they will buy more all-natural beauty products in the next two years than they currently do.” ​And of respondents likely to buy more natural items in the next 2 years, millennials rank at the top.

This, according to the Green Beauty Barometer survey, suggests that “consumers are demonstrating action themselves when it comes to a desire for clean and safe beauty products,” ​ahead of any regulatory policy on natural products.

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