Going to a pharmacy and coming across products such as mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, chocolate syrup or creamy vegetable soup might come as a surprise to customers, but it is becoming increasingly common to find cosmetics that seem more like food than beauty products in Brazil.
This is not a new trend. Butters, mousses and fruit-based formulas have been part of the beauty routine of thousands of customers for decades. However, this new concept of ’gourmet cosmetics’ goes beyond the textures and ingredients – it also plays an important role in the packaging and branding of the products.
“We are seeing more and more food-inspired cosmetics in Brazil with a wide range of textures and appeals. They are products that arouse the curiosity of customers and create a whole new experience when applied to the hair or skin,” says Christine Botto, Marketing Manager for Personal Care at BASF South America.
BASF manufacture polymers that allow for different types of textures, meeting the current customer demand for gourmet cosmetics with formulas such as Marshmallow and Fruit Jelly, suitable for skin moisturizers, and Maria Mole (a popular Brazilian dessert), used in curl defining creams.
“This trend gained momentum with homemade mixtures that digital influencers began sharing on social networks. As an alternative to salon services, given the country’s harsh economic climate, a huge new movement towards homemade recipes to smooth, moisturize and care for the hair using easily accessible ingredients - including food products - gained strength,” says Andressa Neves, PR and Digital Media Manager at Muriel Cosméticos.
The boom in videos showing women how to straighten their hair at home using corn starch inspired Muriel to launch the Alisena product line. Its name, formula and packaging resemble the most popular corn starch brand in Brazil: Maizena.
“With mayonnaise it was no different. Even celebrities started promoting the use of mayonnaise to moisturize their hair, making the procedure very popular among women with curly hair”, says Neves. This prompted Muriel to launch the Hair Mayonnaise line, with hair masks made from egg protein and natural oils.
However, if these homemade recipes are so successful, why did the industry decide to invest in developing products to recreate them?
“Homemade mixtures require a certain amount of work and create a lot of mess, which makes our products a more convenient alternative. Moreover, despite being inspired by food ingredients, all our products are carefully developed using high technology and quality raw materials,” claims Neves.
Although these cosmetics look a lot like their food counterparts, she states customers don’t get confused. “The Mayonnaise features an ‘inedible’ sign on its packaging and such products are only available in the cosmetics aisle.”
For The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa), it’s not as simple as it looks. In a statement to Brazil Beauty News, the health surveillance agency said that “this matter has been addressed by the board and it should be regulated soon.”
From shower jelly to ketchup and soy sauce hair masks – there seems to be no limit to the creativity in the Brazilian beauty market. “The trend should hold up. New homemade recipes are always emerging and spreading widely on social media. There are many ingredients yet to be explored,” concludes Andressa Neves.