Clean beauty is about product safety, environmental sustainability, and business transparency. But like the term ‘clean beauty’, what safety, sustainability, and transparency look like in practice can vary widely from brand to brand.
So to get closer to universal understanding of what clean beauty ingredient sourcing looks like, Cosmetics Design speaks with a certifications expert as well as with the CEO and founder of a successful vertically integrated beauty brand. Both speakers share insight into the finer points of clean beauty sourcing practices. And near the end of this video, they both answer questions about what’s still lacking in the clean and ethical beauty space.
Where certifications fit in the clean beauty movement
“The Soil Association is the UK’s leading organic certifier in food, drink, cosmetics, and textiles,” Explains Emma Dawes, Technical Specialist at the Soil Association, in the opening remarks of her presentation.
The association is closely involved with the COSMOS certification program, which considers ingredient sourcing and product production as part of every product audit. So, for instance, as Dawes explains, “with… ingredients such as argan oil or shea butter, COSMOS certification guarantees that ingredients and products meet the same organic and natural standards wherever they’re from in the world.”
And she goes on to further explain the thinking behind COSMOS certifications, outlining ‘why’ organic farming is important in the clean consumer goods movement. Reasons she points to include less pesticide exposure, higher nutritional value, and better environments for bees and butterflies.
COSMOS certification can be applied to both ingredients / raw materials and to finished goods. Dawes notes that, to date, “there’s over 18,000 certified products [and] over 14,000 certified ingredients…across the world.”
As Dawes illustrates with recent survey data, these certifications help address consumer demand, brand credibility, and industry need.
How one ethical beauty brand is reinventing the supply chain
Kreyol Essence takes another approach to supply chain transparency and ethical beauty. A business that began—as so many indie beauty brands do—with one woman looking to solve her own beauty needs has grown into a venture that stands out not only in this industry, but in economic development, environmental restoration, and inclusivity sectors too. And all of these achievements are intertwined in the brand’s supply chain and ingredient sourcing strategies.
“One of the things that we’re really proud of at Kreyol Essence is that we’re able to source ingredients that are really hard to find,” says Yve-Car Momperousse, adding that the brand and business is dedicated to helping people discover effective natural personal care ingredients. “Our signature ingredient is Hattian Castor Oil; we have ylang ylang, Hattian moringa oil, and Hattian vetiver;…other great ingredients that you will find in Haiti are citronella, neem, cocoa, as well as Hattian coffee.”
Momperousse goes on to differentiate Hattian castor oil from what is more readily available in the personal care ingredient market place, explaining that “the main difference about the way castor oil is made in Haiti is that it is done by hand,” from the harvesting to the seed sorting and roasting and through to the oil extraction process. And all this she explains is long-standing traditional practices that is taught by and to women within extended families in that country.
And all this isn’t just about preserving traditional skills or telling a nice marketing story. Momperousse points out that the hand-processed oil her brand sources from cooperative farms in Haiti contains more ricinoleic acid than industrially processed castor oil does.
Interested in the wider picture of Clean & Ethical beauty? If you've missed our previous episodes, you can catch up on Episode 1 where we consider 'why it matters'; Episode 2 which gives a deeper understanding on what brands are up to in the space; Episode 3 for more insight on formulating in the lab; and Episode 4 with a deeper look at important regulations and marketing tools for clean and ethical beauty brands.
Clean & Ethical Beauty: The experts
Yve-Car Momperousse, CEO and Founder of Kreyol Essence
Yve-Car Momperousse is CEO and co-founder of Kreyol Essence (KE), an agribusiness that creates natural and ethical personal care products from Haiti. The millennial started the international company in 2014 with her life and business partner, Stephane Jean Baptiste.
Leveraging unique ingredients such as Haitian Black Castor Oil, Haitian Moringa Oil and Vetiver, Kreyol Essence is known for its plant-based products formulated for those experiencing hair loss as well those with dry hair, dry skin, and curly hair. Kreyol Essence has retail partnerships with specialty and green retailers such as ULTA, Urban Outfitters, Whole Foods Market, and Wegmans. The social business connects its sales to economic development and improving the environment in Haiti. To date, the company has created jobs for over 300 farmers and women.
Emma Dawes, Technical Specialist at the Soil Association
Emma Dawes is a Chemist by training and a Technical Specialist at the Soil Association. She deals with scientific and technical questions from staff and licensees and specializes in pesticide residues and chemical ingredients in organic health and beauty products as well as chemical inputs in organic textiles.
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