From the growing desire to know where companies get their ingredients, to the desire for health transcending beauty, to the entrance of men into the consumer base, here are some ways product developers are responding to trends.
Ingredients: From the Molecules Up
Not all aloe is created equal; not all water is the same. Jack Brown, VP of sales and marketing for Lily of the Desert, Denton, TX, says his company has discovered that aloeâs benefits lie in âthe naturally-occurring high molecular weight polysaccharides,â which they concentrate and put in their aloe products. A 2005 study on aloeâs polysaccharides confirms this: polysaccharides with a molecular weight between 5KDa and 400KDa were most potent, as determined by the increased production of cytokines, the release of nitric oxide, the expression of surface molecules, and phagocytic activity (1). Hilary Orr-McMahon, founder of Honestly pHresh, Huntington Beach, CA, includes pre- and probiotics in her companyâs deodorant. Now that they can be made in a shelf-stable variant, they can be put to work encouraging healthy bacteria right where it matters, so that odor-causing bacteria has a harder shot at multiplying.
Regis Haberkorn, president of New York City-based INIKA Organic USA, says one of the current trends in the beauty industry is âtraceability of ingredients. Women (and men) want to know where their ingredients are coming from.â Several companies agree, and take it way past the organic label. Eric Gustafson, general manager for NaturColor, Napa, CA, says his company uses only Italian pigments: âWe believe there is no higher attention to detail, to the quality of pigments, than given to those coming from that region.â
Georgiana Rowley, brand manager for ANNEMARIE BĂRLIND, based in Ghent, NY, stresses her companyâs insistence on good sourcing practices, âthermal, deep spring water from our own well in the Black Forestâ provides the base for all their products, which are made with pure materials and organic, non-GMO ingredients. Where do those materials come from? Rowley says, âour own proprietary sources or from fair trade, sustainable projects we actively support.â Roses Not Opium, for instance, is a project supported by ANNEMARIE BĂRLIND which grows some of its roses in an elevated region of Iran. The roses grow in organic soil and are bought at a fair-trade price that keeps the farmers out of the opium business. These supply systems can take a long time to establish. Myra Mesko, founder of Botanical Rush, Boulder, CO, says it took her two years to find the right supplier with the perfect phytocannabinoid extract.
Quality ingredients, customers should understand, donât just come from someoneâs backyard. Melinda Olson, founder and CEO of Earth Mama Organics, Oregon City, OR, explains, âcalendulaâa.k.a. Pot Marigold, or Maryâs Goldâis not the same as the plain old marigold flower that is planted next to a picket fence.â In an era of DIY videos and articles, itâs important to remember that just because customers can grow a similar plant does not mean itâs the same plantâ not to mention that a cheaper product might just have cheaper ingredients. As incredibly important as quality control is, third-party verification is necessary to confirm a productâs claims. âThe word natural is marketing lingo,â Olson says, âwhile the word Organic indicates a third-party verification.â
Once a customer finds the organic label and checks the ingredients, they have to remember that good ingredients are also fair-trade, sustainable, tested and re-tested, and carefully produced, with the same care being put into their production and extraction. Mesko wants to remind retailers that the presence of phytocannabinoid oil in a product (even organic, full spectrum oil) doesnât necessarily mean itâs worth the money. âItâs the way itâs processed, itâs the attention to detail, itâs making sure it never gets too hot,â Mesko says. Tracey Settar, VP of the salon division of Reviva Labs based in Haddonfield, NJ, says Revivaâs anti-aging line makes use of two separate extracts of vitamin Câascorbic acid itself and aminopropyl ascorbyl phosphate, a derivative of vitamin C that is more stable than ascorbic acid. Even a well-known ingredient has nuances your customers might not know about (2).
According to Rowley, âmixing good ingredients doesnât necessarily make for good, effective skincare.â Rather, itâs about getting the right combination of ingredients in the right ratio. For instance, Orr-McMahon refuses to use baking soda because itâs alkaline and our skin is more acidic. The disruption of the skinâs natural pH can cause redness, rashes or discoloration. ANNEMARIE BĂRLIND insists on âindependent clinical trials on finished products, not ingredients,â for precisely that reason. As great as baking soda is, sometimes it just wonât work. Haberkorn puts it most succinctly; âConsumers who want natural are not ready to compromise on quality and results. Products that can deliver both will be winners.â
This Yearâs Stars
Activated charcoal, as Settar points out, is âgaining a lot of popularity in the natural industry.â Charcoal is activated when combined with a gas or activating agent that expands its surface area, allowing it to bind to drugs and toxins (3). It can be used to deal with a poisoning or overdose, with a doctorâs orders (3). It is used to a similar end in the beauty industryâSettar says charcoal helps âpurify the skin and reduce large pores.â The brand My Magic Mud devotes a page to the science that says charcoal can whiten teeth and is based entirely around activated charcoal products. Reviva Labs also has a line of activated charcoal products, and Schmidtâs Naturals has charcoal toothpaste, deodorant, and soap. Itâs showing up across a whole range of beauty products and while it might not have made it into the most popular products list yet, itâs moving up fast.
Phytocannabinoids are finding a home in the beauty industry. One 2009 scientific review pointed out that cannabinoid receptor CB1R can be found on cutaneous nerves, and endocannabinoids could be involved in differentiation of keratinocytesâin other words, the generation of skin cells and the shedding of dead skin cells (4). âItâs so exciting to be in this industry at a time when industrial hemp is legal,â Mesko says. That said, your customers need to be careful. âCompanies are trying to capitalize on this new rush, and many of them are just using the distillate, which is just the isolated water-soluble form of CBD, not the full spectrum form,â says Mesko. A 2015 study by Ruth Gallily et al. found that cannabidiol itself, the purified, water-soluble product, had only a limited effect on the patients. While cannabidiol is a âmajor constituentâ of cannabis, and other cannabinoids are only present in minute amounts, unpurified plant extracts from the Cannabis sativa Linn plant that contained a high amount of cannabidiol showed a clear correlation between the dose and the anti-inflammatory reaction (5). Besides just ensuring that a product contains full spectrum cannabinoids, customers should make sure they know how much theyâre getting. âBuyer beware,â Mesko warns, âthe label should say what dose, what potency, is in one ounce of the formula.â
Stacey Egide, founder and CEO of Andalou Naturals, Novato, CA, prefers to use hemp seed oils and hemp stem cells. Unlike cannabidiol, which is extracted from the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant, hemp seed oils and stem cells are ânaturally occurring phytocannabinoid antioxidants extracted from the mature stalk of the hemp plantâ (6). Hemp seed oil is a healthy oil containing linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, with a low level of saturated fat (6). Andalou Naturals uses the stem cells and the oil in conjunction for âincreased oxygenation, hydration, and a glowing complexion.â Egide sees a future for phytocannabinoids. âAs we learn more about the benefits of hemp for skin and hair,â she says, âmore products with phytocannabinoids may be on the forefront.â Until then, though, we can keep on using hemp, which Egide thinks is more than good enough. âHemp is definitely a superpowered ingredient,â Egide says. Beside the fact it contains antioxidant and is anti-inflammatory, it helps restore moisture to the skin and hair.
Anti-Aging Never Gets Old
Aging is a visible process, but the lines and wrinkles that so many people hate are also signs of waning cellular health. Products that combat it do so in terms of the reduction of free radicals and the production of collagen. Free radicals are any molecular species capable of independent existence that contains an unpaired electron in atomic orbital, making the radical unstable and reactive (7). They are created through normal metabolic processes, but can also come from external sources, such as cigarette smoke, pollutants, or chemicals. If they overwhelm the bodyâs ability to regulate them with antioxidants, they can adversely alter lipids, proteins and DNA, and trigger a number of diseases (7). Collagen, which most customers know of as what keeps skin plump, is a protein that makes up 30% of all the proteins within the body, and is found in bones, tendons, ligaments, andâof courseâskin. It prevents the absorption and spreading of pathogenic substances, toxins, and microorganisms, and holds structures together (8). As bodies slow their production of collagen, hair gets âlifeless,â tendons and ligaments lose their elasticity, joints get stiff, and skin becomes thinner and easier to damage (8).
Anti-aging products are selling well. Settar lists Revivaâs Anti-Aging Trio as its most popular product; Rowley says ANNEMARIE BĂRLINDâs best seller is Eye Wrinkle Cream; Mesko says Crow-Be-Gone is one of Botanical Rushâs top products; NaturColor is devoted entirely to helping consumers cover up grey hair. Collagen and collagen boosters are high on the list of important ingredients, which also contains stem cells from roses and from hemp, CoQ10, and peptides. Customers getting into natural products are happy to start the anti-aging process early. Health is a big selling point, and it shows in the way companies describe their products. Settar says Revivaâs anti-aging products go further than just skin-deep. The two types of vitamin C in its serum, for instance, are for both reducing lines and wrinkles and fighting free radicals, covering both the symptom and the cause. Rowleyâs list of popular products includes two antioxidant serums, one of which stimulates the skinâs natural collagen production, and one made with stem cells to counteract the loss of collagen. These are the primary selling points, too, not secondary to beauty.
Nature and Nurture
âBeauty is painâ is out; âbeauty is healthâ is in. Skincare product titles might contain the word beauty, but there arenât many product descriptions that push prettiness. For instance, Settar says Revivaâs anti-aging products âmake a difference in the skinâ rather than mentioning how beautiful youthful skin is. When she describes the benefits of charcoal, âpurify the skinâ comes before âreduce large pores.â Rowley says maturing skin should also be healthy, even as she calls skincare a beauty routine. ANNEMARIE BĂRLIND sells a serum that âcounteracts loss of collagen, soothes, moisturizes, firms and revitalizesââand itâs not until the end of that list that we move out of health and comfort and into an area adjacent to beauty. Brown talks about aloeâs â200 biologically-active components,â which work together to help give the user optimal health; makeup company INIKA Organicâs slogan is âHealthy is Beautiful.â Many companies are focusing on health over beauty.
Honestly pHresh embodies this trend. âI love explaining that itâs the aluminum in traditional deodorants that will plug the sweat glands, inhibiting this natural process. Humans are meant to perspire,â Orr-McMahon says, âand if you let it go, chances are your body will regulate itself in a couple of weeks. Most people are up for the challenge as soon as they realize the process.â Customers are looking to eliminate toxic ingredients from their lives, even at the cost of sweat. Olsonâs consumer base is particularly important here. âYour armpits are a direct channel to your lymph nodes, which can only handle so many toxins,â Olson says, âand aluminum is a known neurotoxin.â During pregnancy and breastfeeding, babies are the most fragile population on the planet, and what enters a pregnant or breastfeeding womanâs body will end up in her baby. âIâll take wet armpits over neurotoxins every day,â Olson says. She also likes to use organic deodorantâ âthat way, your armpits can still smell pretty.â Beauty hasnât yet left the car, but it is letting health take the wheel.
Moreover, there is a trend towards helping the body do what it does best, rather than interfering in an attempt to do synthetically what the body can do naturally. Settar says her companyâs collagen products âhelp boost the collagen in the skinââthe important part here is that they donât just add collagen; rather, they recognize that the body knows how to make collagen, and just needs a boost. Rowley lists Orange Blossom Energizer as one of her companyâs most popular products. It âstimulates skinâs natural collagen-producing mechanism,â she says, again deferring to the bodyâs expertise. Brown talks about the health benefits of aloe in terms of boosting the bodyâs natural processes. It âbalances digestion, which when working correctly, helps maintain good health throughout the whole body. So your immune system reaps the benefits, high levels of toxins in your body are lowered, and naturally-occurring antioxidants are supported.â Organic deodorant doesnât stop sweat, because that would be interfering with a natural and necessary bodily process. It makes sense that a desire for natural products would come hand-in-hand with an appreciation for nature and for the human body. âMother Nature provides,â Mesko says, and clearly, consumers agree.
Menâs Lines. HABA products have, for so long, been considered the realm of women, but more and more companies are finding ways to include men, whether through a token mention, marketing, or whole lines of menâs products. While the general trend exists, companies vary widely in how they include men. Seaweed Bath Co. mentions their products are for both men and women; their packaging consists of neutral colors and their product descriptions are gender-neutral. Dr. Bronner, along the same lines, has absolutely gender-neutral packaging and product descriptions. Between that and the fact the website features Dr. Bronner himself, the company makes it abundantly obvious its products are meant for men as well as women.
Several companies, however, created a line marketed towards men. Honestly pHresh has a line of menâs deodorant sticks with black packaging instead of white; Lily of the Desert has a menâs line in which the packaging is black and grey instead of pink and white; Andalou Naturals, which color-codes its products, color-codes the menâs line black. In all three cases, the products themselves are nearly identical to the womenâs versions: the scents, the ingredients and formulas are incredibly similar; the only difference is the marketing
That said, there are products geared towards men as well as marketed towards them. ANNEMARIE BĂRLIND has a menâs line: packaged in green, three of the five products are for shaving purposes, but their revitalizing cream and shower gel are markedly different in terms of ingredients from the womenâs versions. Manscaped, based out of San Diego, CA, is the center for menâs grooming products: the whole product line is geared towards men, from the name of the company to the names of the products, which range from The Lawn Mower body razor to the Crop Cleanser hair and body wash. Packaged in black and brown, the product descriptions are fairly similar to the product descriptions for womenâs productsâthe Crop Cleanser, for instance, leaves skin âclean, fresh, moisturized, and reinvigoratedââ but the ingredient list is shorter, and it hasnât yet attained the organic, sulfate-free status of other natural products companies. That said, Steve King, co-founder of Manscaped, pointed out in a press release that âMore than 70% of men today are manscaping.â The company created its products for a manâs distinctive grooming needs, indicating the growing trend in which men look for the same access to grooming tools that women have.
And amidst all of this, Schmidtâs Naturals has simplified the whole trendâkeep the same scents; keep the same packaging; just put a man on the front page, next to the line âOur scents are for everyone, no matter how you identify.â
Inclusivity. Beyond Schmidtâs Naturals being entirely gender-neutralâ âno matter how you identifyâ leaves the door open for non-binary people, tooâthereâs INIKAâs commitment to diversity. Its products are certified halal, and the foundation line includes colors across the spectrum of skin tones. âMakeup brands are expanding and enhancing their lines to make them accessible for everyone,â Haberkorn says. Itâs about âinclusivenessâembracing women of all skin tones and ethnicities.â
Feminine Hygiene. While women have always been the target consumer base for HABA products, their intimate needs are also being addressed. Reusable menstrual cups are on the rise, and Natracare is now extending into mainstream stores. Women who want all-natural are realizing it really is possible to go all natural, and are gravitating towards ways to make that happen.