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Key considerations in formulating cosmetics for the conscious consumer

The most recent edition of the Forces of Change research by Hearts & Science highlights that the pandemic has accelerated rise of the “conscious consumer” and it is one of the fastest growing segments in the cosmetics market. But who are conscious consumers, what do they want, and how do you formulate for conscious consumers?
woman browsing aisle in supermarket

What is a conscious consumer?

 

The conscious consumer is one whose buying decisions are informed by ethical and environmental concerns as well as performance, price, and more traditional factors. In other words, they only buy products whose values align with their own. They have firm goals for their health, wellness, and lifestyle and see the products they buy as a way of affecting positive change for themselves, society, and the planet.

The conscious consumer is more aware of sustainability issues, brand ethics, and corporate social responsibility. They selectively search for products from purpose-driven brands that are aligned with their own values and lifestyle. And they’re savvy about it too. Conscious consumers are more likely to research information about ingredients, brands, and business practices. They scrutinize the ethical credentials and environmental impact of cosmetic products more closely than ever before. They want beauty brands to be accountable for their marketing claims, providing evidence that supports them, and they expect no less than full commitment, no greenwashing!

Why should I formulate for conscious consumers?

The mindful consumption trend is not a passing fad but a growing movement amongst consumers and one whose growth has rapidly expanded during the pandemic. PwC’s latest Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey states “consumer trends accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic are sticking” with 50% of global consumers expressing they’ve become more eco-conscious since the pandemic, highlighting that conscious consumers now represent a sizeable chunk of the beauty market. 

And they’re a younger section of the market too; 58% of core millennials have adopted more eco-sensitive behaviours and these younger consumers are choosing products with more traceable and transparent origins showing green company credentials are clearly valued. This means that if you’re not planning to market to this segment you’re ignoring not only a large part of the existing market but likely what is going to dominate the concerns of consumers in the future…

What do conscious consumers want?

Priorities for the conscious consumer are their own health and well-being (particularly in their skin) and the health and well-being of the planet. But they also expect performance, innovation and value for money..

 

The expectation from beauty brands is complete transparency from ingredient sourcing to final product manufacturing. This group expects to be able to fact check your claims and is suspicious if this transparency is not clearly communicated.

 

The essential building blocks for clean and green claims in brand's foundations are:

  1. Safety: better for me and better for we. Safety for human health in conditions of use is a regulatory must. For the conscious consumer, safety is looked at with a holistic approach, including safety for the planet, for animals, and for the people involved in the whole process.
  2. Sustainability: environmental and social responsibility. For the conscious consumer, considerations go beyond eco-friendliness and include many social aspects, including cultural sustainability, economic development, and social equity.
  3. Performance: substantiated claims and certifications. Brands must deliver high-performance products and innovation is expected along the way!
  4. Transparency: sourcing and manufacturing practices. What, where, who, and how questions need to be addressed about ingredient sourcing and product manufacturing.

Key building blocks to address the conscious consumer expectations

Chart 1: Key building blocks to address the conscious consumer expectations

These 4 essential aspects need to be considered by cosmetic formulators in a detailed and practical manner from the ideation stage, (i.e. initial ingredient selection in the formulation) all the way to the final product itself.


How do you formulate for the conscious consumer?

A series of specific considerations, involving a holistic approach and encompassing the entire product life cycle, form a list of expectations for ingredients and finished products. Conscious consumers have several expectations along the pipeline including:


Expectations about the Ingredients

Toxicological profile/safety dossier established and available to formulators

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
  • Reef-safe
  • Biodegradable
  • Natural, organic, botanicals, and natural bases as alternatives to synthetically produced substances are welcomed ingredients.

Our Croda botanicals portfolio supports brand formulation goals by offering a wide range of ingredients. In addition to providing a large selection of plant extracts, actives, and formulation ingredients, such as Amigum, Amipreserve, Amiox ER, Milk Thistle Lipolami, Scrubami range, Phytofoam, Sensifoam, their combinations can provide many natural solutions, such as for clean makeup – check out our natural solutions for clean makeup here!

  • Sustainable and ethical sourcing of the raw materials  

The sustainable and ethical sourcing of our ingredients such as: mean we maintain the respect of the environment and fauna, preservation of biodiversity, and support of local communities.

  • Sustainable and quality manufacturing

Eco-processes and eco-factory such as Alban Muller’s reduced carbon and water footprint, energy efficiency, waste management, and biodiversity preservation as shown below in chart 2.

  • Full traceability
  • Documented efficacy claims

Certifications from well-recognized third parties, e.g. EFfCI, COSMOS, UEBT for botanicals. E.g. UEBT Cosme-Phytami Cucumber EC, Cosmos for 100+ botanicals.

Cities in India with reduced haze due to pandemic lockdown

Chart 2: Alban Muller’s eco-factory highlights

 

Expectations about the Finished products

  • Documented safety, i.e. formula safety assessment performed by a certified third-party
  • Skinimalism or doing more with less approach: minimal list of ingredients, use of multifunctional ingredients, simpler routine
  • Water-efficient and Waterless innovation
  • Designed for diversity and inclusivity
  • Produced in a:

- GMP-certified site that supports high safety and hygiene standards

- Low impact site that makes use of renewable electricity, has a reduced carbon footprint, and increased water efficiency, waste management, recycling of production materials.

- Site committed to respecting the environment and its fauna, fair wages, secure working environment, supporting local communities

  • Certifications from third parties, e.g. COSMOS.
  • Sustainable packaging
  • Performance with substantiated science-based claims

Conscious consumers want to buy from purpose-driven brands with values aligned with their beliefs and lifestyle. They won’t hesitate to switch brands that fail to match their values. Their demands about brand values are about what they do and extend to whom the brand works with, such as suppliers.

Croda is actively committed to support beauty brands meeting the conscious consumer global needs. We focus our innovation on providing sustainable ingredients, manufactured using ethically sourced raw materials. We understand the necessity to preserve our environment and its diversity, whilst developing extracts with minimized ethical, social, and environmental impact. Croda company values combined with a broad portfolio of natural ingredients will support your innovative formulation projects and marketing goals.



References:

  1. Conscious consumerism. Forces of change research by Hearts & Science. July 2021
  2. The global consumer: changed for good. PwC report June 2021
  3. Pitman S. The rise of conscious consumerism: the cosmetic world is heavily affected by such considerations, says expert. CosmeticDesign, November 19, 2019
  4. Brands, you need to listen to the conscious consumer of the future. Forbes, April 2021

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