Skincare Shoppers Are Increasingly Saying No Thank You To Synthetic Ingredients

Evidence is mounting that unease over potentially harmful synthetic ingredients is shaping the skincare market.

Following a report from the NPD Group determining that consumers increasingly seek face products without parabens, phthalates, sulfates, fragrance and gluten, Formula Botanica has discovered steering clear of synthetic ingredients and compounds is a driving factor behind its community’s interest in green beauty. Nearly 1,230 people participated in a survey by the U.K.-based organic cosmetic science school, and 71% of them pointed to evading toxins as motivation for their clean beauty choices.

formula botanica survey

The impacts on the beauty business of the demand for less synthetic and more safe ingredients are significant. “For a brand to be successful, they have to tap into the mindset of their customer and speak to them in a language they understand,” says Lorraine Dallmeier, director of Formula Botanica. “If seven out of 10 green beauty shoppers are concerned about the synthetic chemicals in mainstream products, then that clearly presents a brand with an opportunity to further understand their target customer and help provide their customer with the information they’re looking for.”

Dallmeier emphasizes that reacting to Formula Botanica’s survey with ingredient fearmongering isn’t the right approach. She’s among several leaders in the natural beauty segment urging positive messages involving clean beauty ingredients. Dallmeier highlights a Formula Botanica survey result that 56% of respondents note a love of the power of plants sparked their enthusiasm for green beauty as encouraging brands to celebrate plant-derived ingredients rather than demonize their synthetic counterparts.

“An indie beauty brand has one of two choices: either embrace this information and continue to focus on what isn’t in their formulations in their marketing materials or focus on the benefits of the ingredients they use and love,” she says. “Formula Botanica is very much of the opinion that we should focus on what’s in our formulations rather than what isn’t. When you consider the fascinating complexity of beneficial properties found in some of our botanical cosmetic ingredients, I believe we should make a considered choice for naturals based on our love of using leaves, flowers, roots and seeds in our beauty products, not because we have concerns or fears, rightly or wrongly, of what the mainstream industry is using to make our creams and lotions.”

“An indie beauty brand has one of two choices: either embrace this information and continue to focus on what isn’t in their formulations in their marketing materials or focus on the benefits of the ingredients they use and love. Formula Botanica is very much of the opinion that we should focus on what’s in our formulations rather than what isn’t.”

Perhaps surprisingly given the sales growth of natural beauty products, commercial considerations weren’t paramount for Formula Botanica’s survey respondents. Under 20% of them jumped into green beauty as a result of detecting commercial possibilities in the rise of the segment, while 15% disclosed that illnesses or skin conditions propelled their safe skincare curiosity.

“In our experience, founders and customers are strongly aligned on their thoughts about green beauty ingredients,” says Dallmeier. “The path we see most founders of green beauty brands go through is that they initially become aware of green beauty through a desire to avoid synthetic chemicals, follow fun DIY recipes online, understand that they can turn this newfound skill into a business, often seek a professional education in organic cosmetic formulating with Formula Botanica and then start their own green beauty brand.”

Another key finding of Formula Botanica’s survey, which was conducted in April and reached the school’s 25,000-plus subscribers, is that 47% of respondents turn to blogs to research organic beauty. Less relied upon sources of organic beauty information include cosmetic ingredient suppliers (15%), online education resources (14%), beauty brands (11%), social media and search engines (7%), and trade organizations and industry journals (5%). Almost a quarter of respondents feel overwhelmed by the amount of organic beauty information, but an equal number of people are reassured about their clean beauty decisions by the available information outlets.

Formula Botanica

“Some of these blogs will be very reputable and others will less fact-based,” explains Dallmeier. “The implications for an indie brand are profound because it’s obviously in their interest to work with bloggers to spread the green beauty message.”