Is a new subscription box the answer to clean beauty product discovery?

By Deanna Utroske contact

- Last updated on GMT

Clean Beauty Kit photo courtesy of Cassandra McClure
Clean Beauty Kit photo courtesy of Cassandra McClure

Related tags: clean beauty, discovery service, consumer behavior, Subscription business model, Consumer demand

In July, MUA and podcaster Cassandra McClure launched the Clean Beauty Kit, a monthly subscription box for both pros and consumers looking to live the clean beauty lifestyle. Cosmetics Design checked in with the entrepreneur to learn about who she’s reaching, what ‘clean’ means to her and her community, why she’s focused on women-owned brands, and more.

As popular as clean beauty is, it’s still a concept that means different things to different people (or brands or retailers or suppliers). And that makes ingredient development, product formulation, and consumer product discovery all the more challenging.

Who is interested in clean beauty and how do they find new brands and products?

Cassandra McClure has been hosting the Clean Beauty Podcast for nearly 2 years now.​ And with that platform and her impressive social media following, she reaches tens of thousands of beauty consumers across the country and around the world.

The Clean Beauty Kit​ is just the latest way McClure is connecting with her community and helping define what ‘clean’ means in the consumer space.

“Our customers,” ​she tells Cosmetics Design, “are a mix of makeup artists, salon owners, and clean beauty enthusiasts. They range from 20 to 50 years old and come from a wide range of demographics.”

So far, Clean Beauty Kit customers fall mostly into one or two groups: those with concern about their personal health and those with concern for the health of the planet, explains McClure.

“They are interested in the kit for various reasons,” ​she says, “including but not limited [to], testing products for clients, finding safe options for themselves, finding products that better align with their lifestyle and health needs. Most of the clients that purchase the Clean Beauty Kit are on a journey to a healthier lifestyle overall and this kit is a way to expand their knowledge on products available.”

But what actually is ‘clean beauty’?

Clean beauty tends to center on concepts such as safety, transparency, environmental sustainability, and ethics.

And these are indeed concepts that McClure and her community call attention to when they define clean beauty. “When I think of clean beauty, I think of products that are made with safe ingredients,” ​McClure tells Cosmetics Design.

“Clean beauty products have complete ingredient transparency,” ​she says, emphasizing that transparency in fragrance ingredient labeling is especially important. And it’s worth noting here that the industry is listening. As Cosmetics Design has reported, both independent​ and legacy​ suppliers are now sharing fragrance ingredient information with their customers, so they can, in turn, pass that information on to the end consumer.

“Clean beauty also means using local sourcing when possible and making sure the companies use sustainable practices throughout the entire production process,” ​explains McClure. “When I am evaluating a clean beauty brand, I am looking at the product as a whole; from ingredient sourcing, to manufacturing, package design, and product delivery. I want to support companies that care about the impact their product is having on the world.”

Why is the Clean Beauty Kit enthusiastic about women supporting women?

Cassandra

Many clean beauty brands are indie brands or beauty startups; and more women lead brands in those spaces than in the corporate beauty world. So it follows that a preponderance of the brands featured in the first two Clean Beauty Kit boxes are indies and startups—and they are all, by design, owned by women.

“By including women owned brands in the kit, I am helping empower the women in my community and audience,” ​says McClure.

“Women often have a harder time starting and developing a successful business and I want to help them grow by giving them the exposure they deserve,” ​she says, adding that, “As a business owner myself, I have experienced the hardships of starting a company; and this is my opportunity to give back to others like so many did for me when I launched Lash Binder.” ​(Learn more about Lash Binder here on Cosmetics Design.​)

What does the future of clean beauty look like?

“Clean beauty is not here for just a moment as a fad, it is a movement that continues to gain more and more traction and visibility,” ​says McClure.

“As more and more consumers learn about the ingredients in standard beauty and the effects those ingredients can have on the whole body and our beautiful planet; the demand for clean beauty will continue to grow,” ​she says, noting as well that, “This movement is also demanding more sustainable options.  More and more people are realizing the impact consumerism is having on the world. This is creating a sense of urgency to demand change and expect better from all brands.”

The clean beauty movement has come a long way in recent years. “Since I transitioned into the world of clean beauty, I have seen a lot of positive changes,” ​affirms McClure.

“Clean beauty products have become more inclusive for all types of skin and health care needs….Makeup options are now covering more and more shades that work with all different skin types and tones.”

And all this momentum is making clean personal care, cosmetics, and fragrances more accessible. “As the clean beauty space continues to grow, we are seeing the quality of the products constantly improving while price points continue to go down, which is a major win,” ​says McClure. “Consumers,” ​she notes, “are more likely to switch from standard beauty products to clean beauty products if they feel like they can get the same quality product without spending twice as much.”

“Education on products and product ingredients is becoming more readily available which is leading consumers to be able to make more informed decisions and is helping the community grow at an accelerated rate,” ​she adds.

Though there remains quite a bit of progress to be made in the clean beauty space, according to McClure: “There are many products that exist in the clean beauty space that still need to be improved in order to compete with standard beauty options. Eyeliner, deodorant, nail polishes and hair care are areas that still have a long way to go.

As the clean beauty community grows, we need to find these answers to these products and how to create more inclusive options. If we cannot accomplish this, I fear people will go back to standard beauty options.”

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