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Pascale Brousse

Green make-up: The new standard?

Consumer demand for natural and green cosmetics keeps growing. And many “Indie brands” meet it, positioning themselves with green + clean + ethics + efficient + lifestyle + happy claims, mainly in the USA. This trend is already most visible in skincare, but it is still almost nowhere to be seen in France in makeup. What is this market’s potential for tomorrow? Are we about to experience a “green makeup” flood around the world?

One of the keys to succeed with green makeup will also be to adopt a modern, “2017” communication strategy, as Indie brands did. Photo : © Marigo20 /

One of the keys to succeed with green makeup will also be to adopt a modern, “2017” communication strategy, as Indie brands did. Photo : © Marigo20 /

First, it should be said that the “green” concept has a broad scope, since it gathers different imaginative worlds and realities (biodiversity, eco-conscious, natural, vegan, organic, cruelty-free, etc.). To consumers [1], “Green is clean”. The “safe” and “healthy” notions are key, and naturalness has long had a reassuring connotation – provided this “nature” is as clear and simple as possible: “no toxic substances, pure and unprocessed”.

Although “61% of the French and Germans, and 66% of Italian and Spanish people trust the cosmetics brands that use natural products” [2], it has also been found that “only 30% of the French trust the beauty industry as regards product safety (39% in the UK)” [3].

As a result, the industry should keep making efforts to reassure consumers and help them find unfailing references.

As makeup is the star category on the global cosmetics market (it grows by 6 points in Western Europe, 2 points in North America and new markets [4]), the “green” segment keeps changing. Then, it is only logical to see MAKEUP + GREEN united in a number of ranges.

And yet, there is a lack of visibility in Europe and Asia (the best ranked country is Japan). On the contrary, green makeup is definitely visible in the USA. Blo/vloggers and “Instaqueens” have helped make the segment aspirational and a “beauty must-have”. Some brands, like Credo Beauty, do not hesitate to clearly encourage consumers to give up on conventional brands and offer alternatives for each category (“Clean beauty swaps”). For example, Studio 78 Paris and W3ll People foundations are recommended instead of Lancôme, Estée Lauder, or bareMinerals.

As had been seen with organic cosmetics in the 2000s, consumers are wary of the quality and price of green makeup, while others are still not considering turning to this type of products. By contrast, some consumers are receptive to the fact that makeup comes in direct contact with the skin, and it is actually crucial to buy healthy products that act as a shield against soaring pollution levels: “Using organic cosmetic products, it makes me feel relieved concerning a bad outdoor environment (e.g. find dust).” [5]

Others say they mix products, like actress Emma Watson: “Most of my routine keeps to an 80/20 philosophy because it’s very difficult to be a complete purist. You can end up driving yourself a bit mad and make it more stressful than it should be. Sometimes you just need a mascara to be waterproof and that’s okay.”

And of course, the allergy/irritation risk is one of the reasons for changing habits: “I have used green cosmetics for several years when I had an allergic reaction with a cream purchased in supermarket!” [6]

Cardboard and/or little glamorous packaging have long been forgotten, but at least they managed to boost the category (Couleur Caramel, Terre d’Oc, Dr. Hauschka, which relaunched the range last spring). It has been seven years since brands like RMS and KJW added the design dimension, while reinforcing efficacy, followed by many new brands coming in (Zao Organics, Ilia Beauty, Boho, etc.).

Still, green products have been stuck with issues like long wear, texture, and colour choice. Only heavy users are seduced (like Aroma-Zone consumers, for example). As for manufacturers, it is said it is a real challenge to get green alternatives for certain raw materials, like silicones, in terms of sensoriality and performance. If you study this more in-depth, you realize there are interesting solutions (with esters or vegetable volatile oils and/or natural thickeners), but these raw materials are up to three times more expensive!

To conclude, given the increasing consumer demand for more naturalness, the rise of allergies (50% of the world’s population will be allergic by 2050 – WHO), and the growth levers this new cosmetics segment will offer on the global level, there is no doubt R&D departments and manufacturers will need to work twice as hard to reduce production costs and standardize the market on the naturalness++ positioning.

One of the keys to succeed with green makeup will also be to adopt a modern, “2017” communication strategy, as Indie brands did, and to get ready for the impact the new “Clean 2.0” will have – it is already visible in the food sector in the USA.

Pascale Brousse


[1] Extracts from the study “Green Makeup”, USA/Europe/Asia/Australia, with interviews of consumers and expert testimonies. By Pascale Brousse (Trend Sourcing) & Florence Bernardin (Information & Inspiration) - Available via subscription.

[2] Mintel 2017

[3] Mintel 2017

[4] L’Oréal, Financial Report 2016

[5] Jin, 28 y.o. (SK)

[6] Bénédicte, 35 y.o. (FR) Consumer ITW

© 2017 - Premium Beauty News -
about Pascale Brousse
Pascale Brousse

Founder of prospective agency Trend Sourcing in 2000 and expert in societal as well as beauty, nutrition, and wellness trends. Pascale supports brands with anticipating future trends and setting up their development strategy. She is a Healthy-Living Expert, but also a lecturer, trainer, coach, professor, and journalist.


Telephone: + 33 6 07 28 28 07



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