A closer look at the shift in consumer attitude towards "clean beauty"

With the effects of the climate crisis dominating headlines, it's unsurprising that many individuals are growing increasingly concerned about their environmental impact. As such, in recent years, conscious consumerism has exploded in popularity.


Alongside this growing interest in sustainability, the health and wellness market has also seen an explosion. According to McKinsey, the wellness market is worth a staggering $1.5 trillion


As noted by McKinsey, while the concept of wellness has been around for a long time, the term now encapsulates much more. It is no longer just about health and nutrition; it's also about our overall mental and physical health and appearance.


What these two trends demonstrate is that consumers are becoming more and more aware of the effects of the products they use, how they impact their health and well-being, and how they impact the environment.


So, how does this affect the beauty industry? Well, as sustainability and wellness become growing priorities for many, clean beauty has emerged as an exciting trend in the sector. 


Gone are the days when hyperbolic marketing claims and pretty packaging sealed the deal for most consumers. Now, they're taking a closer look at their skincare and beauty products and how their manufacturing and use affect both their bodies and planet Earth.


The rise of clean beauty


This shift in consumer attitudes wasn't, of course, instant. It's only been over time that the trend has emerged, and the clean beauty industry has grown to the size it is today. To better understand the reason behind the changing tides, we're going to take a closer look at the different elements that led to this change in purchase behavior:


Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on beauty


As with every other facet of our lives, COVID-19 had an impact on the beauty industry. During the pandemic, the U.S. government mandated the wearing of masks in many places and introduced lockdowns. As a result, people were spending vast amounts of time inside their own homes. And, when they were outside, their faces were, for the most part, covered. 


Our change in lifestyle led to a decrease in the use of make-up, as it was no longer seen as necessary. Once life started to return to normal, we collectively began to question the way we lived before. For many, make-up no longer seemed as necessary. Skincare, however, became more popular. 


Research shows that "global consumers perceive skincare as an important aspect during the pandemic, while the importance of make-up fell after the outbreak". People began to care more about preserving the health of their skin. This naturally contributed to an increasing interest in the use of natural ingredients rather than their chemical counterparts.


There's been a marked shift in the popularity of clean skincare products that use natural ingredients. According to research conducted by Nielsen IQ, one of the most important things consumers look for when shopping for beauty and personal care products is that they're made using natural ingredients.


People are taking a 360 approach to health. What's used on the body is just as important as fitness and nutrition. After all, the products that we use on our skin are absorbed, so it makes sense that many consumers tend to prefer natural ingredients.


Ethical considerations


Aside from COVID-19, consumers are also increasingly concerned with something that's become another facet of the clean beauty movement: sustainable packaging.


Figures released by Statistica show that "of the estimated 40 million tons of municipal plastic waste generated in the U.S. in 2021, at least 85% was sent to landfill sites". Additionally, plastic waste accounts for 80% of marine pollution. Put simply, the effects of our global addiction to plastic are devastating the land and our waterways.


With the effects of plastic pollution well-known, it's no surprise that consumers are choosing to purchase cosmetic and skincare items from clean beauty brands that use sustainable packaging materials. Whether it's bamboo, bioplastics, or glass, there are many alternatives to single-use plastics.


However, consumers' ethical considerations don't end with paying attention to packaging choices. Consumers also want to see that brands are sourcing their ingredients responsibly and ensuring that workers along the entire supply chain are fairly treated.


For brands looking to succeed in today's market, the message is clear. Clean beauty practices are essential. Gen Zs and millennials, in particular, tend to prioritize sustainable products made from naturally sourced ingredients. According to Retail Dive, the #cleanbeauty tag had reached 2 billion views on TikTok as of October 2023.


With the trend of clean beauty set to stick around, established brands evaluate their supply chain and see if there are ways in which their practices could be improved. Here at Adonis, we have decades of experience in helping brands succeed in an ever-evolving landscape. If you'd like to get in touch to find out more about how we can help you in your quest to become known as a clean beauty brand, don't hesitate to get in touch.


Clean beautyClean beauty brandsConsumer attitudesSustainability