In the beginning of the movement, definitions of clean beauty varied. It meant different things to different people, changing according to what clean beauty brands they used, where they lived and where they bought the products from.
Fast-forward to now and the work of beauty retailers and brands to define what clean beauty means has done much to form a more cohesive philosophy behind clean beauty.
Voesh was one of the pioneering clean beauty brands in the skincare category, and has come to epitomize what the movement is all about. In this interview, Vera Oh, CEO of Voesh Corp, explains about how the business has been defined by the philosophy and how helped it to build a loyal consumer base.
CosmeticsDesign-USA: How has the skincare category changed over the past ten years, and what did clean beauty look when the brand started out?
Vera Oh: A decade ago, in 2013, we started Voesh New York as a hand and foot care business for the professional beauty industry. Before that, I worked in electronics and didn't know much about beauty products. I had to immerse myself in studying ingredients, formulas, and cosmetic regulations and laws.
I distinctly recall being taken aback by the lack of regulations and the widespread use of unknown and potentially harmful chemicals in skincare products, especially in professional-grade products. Around that time, the "clean eating" movement was gaining momentum and starting to influence the beauty industry. This shift towards clean beauty involved removing harmful or questionable ingredients from formulations.
CDU: When did clean beauty become important, and how did Voesh adapt its marketing to the movement?
VO: In late 2013, we took a significant step by labeling our products as "vegan" and educating our customers about the positive changes we made. We removed potentially harmful ingredients like Parabens, Benzophenone, Triclosan, and more from our formulations. In addition to this, we boldly decided to align our formulations with the regulations of the European Union (EU) and enhanced transparency by disclosing perfume allergens on our labels. This was a daring move as a small company, especially for a newly established business like ours, but we were determined to make it happen.
Today, we've removed over 400+ additional ingredients beyond the 1,680+ banned in the EU. Looking back, our customers appreciated our efforts, but they didn't fully understand the importance of it. Over the initial 2-3 years, our primary focus was on educational efforts, both directed at technicians and the end users, with the overarching objective of ensuring safety.
CDU: What does clean beauty mean to Voesh?
VO: Clean beauty serves as the very cornerstone of our brand's identity. extending beyond a mere marketing catchphrase. It embodies our dedication and is the core reason for our existence. In our view, the notion of "clean" should not be stagnant but ever-evolving. We are resolute in our commitment to provide clean, transparent, ethical, and always cruelty-free beauty products. We approach this mission with an unwavering mindset of constant improvement and progress.
CDU: How can brands prove clean beauty claims?
VO: Verifying clean beauty claims involves a multifaceted process because there are no official rules or regulations. It's important to know that "clean beauty" isn't regulated by official standards, so it's up to brands to be transparent and honest. One way to back these claims is by fully listing all ingredients on product labels, including perfume allergens and a clear list of what's not in the formula.
Third-party testing, like the Cosmetic Product Safety Report (CPSR) and allergen tests by dermatologists, adds credibility. Certifications, such as the EWG seal, can also boost trust. Because "clean beauty" can be subjective, it's vital for brands to educate customers and avoid misleading claims. Brands should also stay open to new science and data to make better products continuously.
CDU: Where can brands make mistakes with clean beauty claims?
VO: Some brands use "clean beauty" as a marketing trend, even if their products aren't really clean. They might say "natural," "organic," or "clean" without proof. This can mislead customers.
CDU: How will Voesh continue its clean beauty philosophy?
VO: We believe clean beauty is the future, not a passing fad or trend; rather, it constitutes the future of the entire beauty industry. Over the past decade, we have consistently evolved towards a state of cleaner formulation, ethical integrity, transparency, and efficacy. Our dedication is unswerving, propelling us to push the boundaries in an era of cleaner and superior clean beauty. Three years ago, we began a journey leading to a remarkable achievement: creating a patent-pending vegan probiotics ingredient by fermentation of the napa cabbage. This ingredient will strengthen skin's natural defenses and boost overall skin health. It perfectly fits with our commitment to green chemistry and innovative approaches in the future.
Clean beauty is all about continuous learning and showing care for people. Nobody is perfect when it comes to "clean beauty," and the entire industry should invest time and effort in green chemistry while maintaining a mindset of daily improvement.