5 takeaways from CEW’s panel event on natural beauty

By Deanna Utroske contact

- Last updated on GMT

5 takeaways from CEW’s panel event on natural beauty
Last week in New York City, Cosmetic Executive Women hosted a discussion among industry leaders asking, What is the New Natural? Answers to this question were mixed but the likes of Tata Harper and Credo co-founder Annie Jackson, who both spoke on the panel, had quite a lot of wit and wisdom to share about all things natural, clean, green, and safe.

Much is undefined in the world of cosmetics, personal care, and fragrance. And many are clamoring to define the details that matter most. So far as natural beauty is concerned, brands, retailers, consumers, suppliers, and non-profits are all invested in the outcome.  

CEW’s panel event—moderated by WWD’s executive beauty editor Jenny Fine and contextualized with a short data-filled talk by Larissa Jensen, executive director and beauty industry analyst for The NPD Group—was a dynamic discussion of the industry’s current approach to naturals and of what the future may look like.

Here are a handful of insights proffered by the panelists in an effort to clarify the current state and foreseeable future of natural beauty.

1. “Skincare is at the epicenter of the natural movement.”

Larissa Jensen, executive director and beauty industry analyst for The NPD Group, shared data indicating that skin care accounts for of 25% of dollar share in the natural movement. Makeup (or color cosmetics) accounts for about 10% and fragrance for only 1%, according to the New York – based market research company.

Jensen and her team study natural beauty in three segments: nature-inspired, clean and pure, and organic (which includes both claimed and third-party certified products).  

Nature-inspired brands, as NPD see it, are those “that formulate with natural ingredients and traditional synthetics.” ​Clean and pure brands make a “promise of harmless synthetics, sometimes combined with natural ingredients or [are] brands that focus on eliminating specific harmful chemicals.” ​And organic brands “contain organic ingredients with or without certifications through Ecocert or USDA.”

2. “We don’t fear chemicals.”

Credo began as a clean beauty retailer, one that recognized consumers’ growing passion for safe and natural personal care, cosmetics, fragrance, and ingestible products early on but that also saw wisdom in mediating the divide between indie brands, conscious consumers, and industry conventions.

True to form, Annie Jackson, co-founder of Credo Beauty, emphasized at Thursday's CEW event that “Clean is not synonymous with natural.”

And she explained that at Credo, “We don’t fear chemicals,” ​which she went on to qualify this by saying that “there are some chemicals that impact health and the environment.”

Jackson also took care to describe the retailer’s most recent policy on ingredients (and operational practices) known as The Brand Standard. Brands new to the store must meet the new guidelines now, those already on shelves or online have one more year to comply. Read more about the new Credo Brand Standard here on Cosmetics Design.

3. “We hold a huge responsibility to create products that are safe.”

With US regulations lacking in many regards, brand leaders, manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers take on the obligation of safeguarding consumers.

And Lev Glazman, co-founder, president and head of R&D for Fresh (a brand owned by LVMH since 2000), takes that responsibility very seriously. He describes the Fresh brand as nature-inspired, according to The NPD Group's definitions. And he talked at length about his life-long interest in the potential of food-based beauty formulations.

4. “You can be natural and you can be super innovative.”

Bare Minerals, says Jill Scalamandre, is a brand that’s “clean without compromise.” ​ She spoke adamantly about the influence of consumer demand in the naturals movement and the imperative that brands, like the one she leads for Shiseido, have to not violate consumer trust.

In terms of product development, Scalamandre sees the shift toward clean and natural formulations as an opportunity. She mentioned these upcoming Bare Minerals product launches as examples: a lipstick boasting 8-hour wear that’s formulated with sunflower oil and raspberry extract and a first-of-its-kind foundation stick formulated with 20% water (volcanic water from Jeju Island to be exact).  

5. “Greenwashing is a temporary thing.”

This, according to brand founder Tata Harper (Tata Harper Skincare). “Eventually,” ​she believes "everything will be clean.”

When Harper founded the brand in 2010, it was, she explained, difficult to source ingredients that are “100% natural, not synthetic, grown in the earth.” ​But now she says naturals are much more prevalent and that at tradeshows and she can find everything—preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners, actives—much more easily.

Harper has been watching the industry go green for nearly a decade now and is confident naturals are the future of beauty.



Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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