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Cleaning Up Its Act: Beauty Embraces a Better Future

Cleaning Up Its Act: Beauty Embraces a Better Future
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Today's beauty consumer has never had more choices.  A rainbow of colors for every skin tone, new applications, and formulations that promote health and sustainability are just a few of the areas where major strides have been made in recent years.  In particular, clean beauty, or beauty products that are free of ingredients like parabens, phthalates, PEGs, ethanolamines, BHT, and BHA (to name a few), are gaining mainstream traction.  These are ingredients that have been flagged as problematic as they can cause skin irritation,  promote hormone disruption, and are even probable human carcinogens.  So, it comes as no surprise that in the same way that we're even more aware of the fact that what we eat impacts our overall health - and that of the world around us - so are we becoming more aware of our choices when it comes to beauty.

So today, we're setting out to understand the growth of clean beauty, where the opportunities are, and some of the industry's key players.

To understand the momentum behind the clean beauty movement, we took to our e-commerce data to answer questions like,  "Is it growing? and How do its numbers compare to products that aren't explicitly marketed as clean?"  What we found will definitely pique your interest.

First up, we looked at average product counts in beauty retailers' online assortments, to compare clean versus all other beauty products.  

We see above that in blue, between January 2020 and October 2021, there's been growth of 76% in the number of products in the clean beauty category, while at the same time (in red) we see that products not marketed as clean have grown at a rate of only 4%.  During this same timeframe, clean beauty products grew from 11% to 17% of total beauty assortments.

Now that we know the growth trajectory of clean beauty, we wanted to dig into the details of which specific beauty categories are charting the greatest growth.  

While the data above shows that clean makeup products (in purple) clearly outnumber that of other beauty categories, it actually clocked in with the lowest (albeit still remarkable) growth rate, 58%, during the time of observation.  Interestingly, fragrances and skincare saw the two highest growth rates in product counts, 132% and 124%, respectively.  The haircare and bath and body categories saw growth in product counts of 108% and 88%, respectively.

All in all, we can see that regardless of beauty category, the growth of clean products is undeniable.  In particular, as it represents a small overall share of clean beauty items, clean fragrances are an opportunity that, as of yet, doesn't seem to be fully realized.  Fragrance brands like Henry Rose and Goop are trying to carve out a niche for clean fragrances.

We next wanted to next explore pricing trends around clean beauty.  Do consumer expectations that clean beauty products cost more than other beauty brands do, actually hold true? Let's take a look.

Our data shows some surprising trends, which is that, on average, clean beauty products actually cost less than products not labeled as such.  The difference between the two is smallest in the makeup category ($8) and the greatest in fragrances ($99).

"Wait a second," you might be thinking, "why would clean products cost less?" The answer lies in clean beauty's still small share of the entire beauty category, which in turn means there's more premium price points for products not directly marketed as clean.  So, as clean beauty's share of the entire beauty category grows, expect to see more price points that correspond with a more premium positioning.

So which brands are doing interesting things in the clean beauty space?  Below, we're highlighting a few that have piqued our interest of late.

Jones Road may be a new brand, but its creator, Bobbi Brown, is an industry veteran.  She formulated the line to be free of more than 2,700 potentially harmful ingredients, using guidelines that are even more stringent than those required by the European Union.  Expect simple, unfussy, everyday products that are meant to be used to the last drop.

Ceremonia is a clean haircare brand founded by serial entrepreneur Babba Rivera.  The brand is inspired by her Latinx heritage and the brand highlights lesser-known ingredients, like maracuja and babassu oils, to promote hair health.

Makeup aficionados who have been searching for the perfect no-makeup look might have already stumbled across Ilia, but if not, the secret's out now!  The brand scores extra points for offering a wide range of colors, a challenge that many shoppers of varying skintones often encounter.  The brand also makes for a good entry point into the clean beauty space.

Have more questions about the clean beauty market?  Visit our site to learn more!

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