According to Statista, as of 2021, the global clean beauty market was valued at approximately $6.5 billion. It is expected to grow to around $15.3 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate of 13.1% from 2022 to 2028.
Cited: Mibelle Group
As clean beauty continues to gain attention, more and more international beauty giants such as Shiseido, Unilever, and P&G are beginning to enter the clean beauty market.
China is at the forefront of clean beauty standards
Clean Beauty is a concept in the cosmetics industry that originated in Europe and America. The concept of Clean Beauty can be traced back to the year 2000 when it was developed in response to the special skincare needs of a pregnant woman. A brand called REN (meaning “clean” in Swedish) was born, and its products were effective while eliminating harmful ingredients. REN is recognized as the pioneer of “Clean Beauty”.
In September 2008, American actress Gwyneth Paltrow further proposed the pioneering concept of Clean Beauty in her founded beauty brand, Goop. For a while, the concept of Clean Beauty remained obscure until LVMH’s cosmetics retail giant Sephora and American e-commerce platforms began to set up “Clean Beauty Zones” on their websites. With continuous promotion on social media and careful packaging by marketing-savvy beauty brands, it quickly became a global beauty trend.
At the same time, starting in 2019, Sephora gradually established its clean standards, focusing on the transparency of formulation and raw material procurement. Its official website lists the prohibited ingredients and updates them in real-time based on the latest industry research. Special labels are also added to products that meet its clean standards.
Before the emergence of the Clean Beauty concept, organic and vegan skincare philosophies were equated with sustainable beauty for a long time. However, in reality, Clean Beauty does not replace these other concepts; rather, it has overlaps and differences with them as they continue to develop.
It should be noted that although the concept of Clean Beauty has been around for more than 10 years, there is no standard and universally recognized definition both domestically and internationally. Even Goop, which was one of the first to propose the concept, states on its official website that Clean Beauty is a largely unregulated term, created by consumers and companies who want to choose in response to the limited regulation of the beauty industry.
From the claims of some mainstream international Clean Beauty brands, it can be seen that the widely recognized standards for Clean Beauty in the industry mainly include three aspects: pure ingredients, meaning no toxic or harmful components to the human body; transparent labeling, meaning clear, comprehensive, and complete ingredient labels; and being environmentally friendly, meaning no animal testing and eco-friendliness.
However, it is worth noting that although there is no specific authoritative official definition of Clean Beauty both domestically and internationally, China has already taken the first step.
On July 10, 2022, the Guangdong Cosmetics Association issued the group standard Cosmetics – Clean Beauty General Principle which was officially implemented on August 8, 2022. The Guangdong Cosmetics Association stated that this standard defines Clean Beauty from the perspective of ensuring openness, transparency, traceability, responsibility for human health and safety, environmental friendliness, animal welfare, social responsibility, and humanitarianism throughout the product life cycle. The aim is to promote the continuous improvement of cosmetics quality by standardizing the claims of Clean Beauty.
The clean beauty market is expected to reach $15.3 billion by 2028
According to Statista, the clean beauty market was worth approximately $6.5 billion in 2021. The market value is expected to increase and reach around 15.3 billion U.S. dollars by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate of 13.1% from 2022 to 2028.
Companies globally focusing on clean beauty include L’Oréal, Estee Lauder, e.l.f. Beauty, Avon, Sephora, Beautycounter, Orveon, and Unilever.
ELF has been ranked as one of the best among the top-five mass beauty brands by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), with the lowest percentage of products falling into the high-hazard category. The brand has also been recognized by Green, Clean, Responsible (GCR) beauty rankings for its use of 100% clean ingredients and efforts to meet the Clean 2.0 standards. In contrast, over half of the product category for other brands like Maybelline and Cover Girl uses clean ingredients.
According to data from Research and Markets, the Asia-Pacific region held the largest market share for clean beauty in 2022 and is expected to be the fastest-growing region in the coming years.
On April 11th this year, the 3rd China International Consumer Products Expo released its first import consumption trend. Tmall International joined forces with Farmacy, Drunk Elephant, REN, Trilogy, and nearly 100 clean beauty brands from around the world to make their debut in this region, launching trendsetting new products. This indicates a year-on-year increase of 236% in clean beauty sales in China in 2022.
Yu Huanhuan, head of Tmall International Market, introduced at the press conference that in 2021, Tmall International first introduced “clean beauty” to Chinese consumers as a platform. In the first half of 2021, the number of clean beauty brands grew by 106% year-on-year.
From 2021 to the present, nearly 200 overseas brands focusing on clean beauty have entered the Chinese market through Tmall International, launching thousands of new clean beauty products, including brands from the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, and other countries.
The increased demand for natural beauty products, a more cautious and conscious understanding of skin health, and the introduction of more sophisticated and clean beauty products to enhance skin health are the main factors driving global market growth. Consumers are more actively checking ingredient labels, which often involves a preference for more harmless ingredients commonly found in daily life, rather than those mixed in laboratories. In addition, consumers are more interested in making their skin a flawless makeup foundation rather than covering up imperfections. As a result, an increasing number of consumers are becoming aware of their skin health and investing in eco-friendly and non-toxic cosmetics.
Beauty giants are all scrambling to enter the clean beauty market
As clean beauty continues to gain attention, more and more international beauty giants are beginning to enter the clean beauty market.
In October 2019, Shiseido announced its acquisition of the clean beauty brand Drunk Elephant for $850 million, which was completed in November of the same year. The acquisition will help Shiseido enter the rapidly growing new field of clean beauty in the beauty market. It is rumored that Estee Lauder and Shiseido were the last two competitors in this acquisition, but Shiseido ultimately emerged as the winner.
Drunk Elephant was launched by Tiffany Masterson in August 2013. The clean beauty brand is known for creating clean compatible categories and is loved for its powerful, effective, and biocompatible formulas. Drunk Elephant only uses ingredients that are directly beneficial to skin health or that support the integrity and effectiveness of the formulation. Drunk Elephant’s streamlined products do not contain six suspicious ingredients (essential oils, drying alcohols, chemical sunscreens, SLS, silicones, and fragrances/dyes) and offer solution-oriented skincare for all skin types.
In April 2022, Shiseido launched Ulé, its first clean beauty brand developed in Europe, in Paris. During the earnings conference for FY2021, Masahiko Uotani, the president and CEO of Shiseido, announced that Ulé will be added to the company’s lineup of clean and sustainable beauty products, alongside brands such as Drunk Elephant and Baum.
Ulé aims to promote conscious, botanical beauty and is unique in being the first skincare brand to cultivate its ingredients in an indoor high-tech vertical farm. Located near Paris, the Ulé Eco-Farm guarantees the purity of the brand’s ingredients and keeps the supply chain as short as possible.
Unilever has also entered the clean beauty space through acquisitions.
As early as 2015, Unilever acquired the British clean beauty brand REN. Founded in London in 2000, REN has become a pioneer in the clean beauty movement. The brand’s philosophy revolves around using natural, sustainable, and effective ingredients to create products that promote healthy and radiant skin.
REN emphasizes its commitment to producing clean, non-toxic formulas that are free from potentially harmful chemicals. REN avoids commonly used synthetic ingredients such as parabens, sulfates, mineral oils, synthetic fragrances, and artificial colors. Instead, they focus on utilizing bioactive compounds, plant extracts, and essential oils to provide significant results without compromising the health of the skin.
In 2019, Unilever also acquired the Japanese luxury skincare brand Tatcha, which features natural ingredients and advanced technology in its formulations. Founded in 2009, Tatcha’s skincare products are a blend of long-standing Japanese ingredients and modern techniques. The brand emphasizes the use of natural ingredients such as green tea, rice bran, camellia oil, and silk extracts.
In addition to Shiseido and Unilever, Procter & Gamble also entered the clean beauty market in 2021 through the acquisition of Farmacy Beauty.
Farmacy Beauty was founded by Mark Veeder in 2015 and is dedicated to creating effective and innovative skincare products using natural and sustainable ingredients. The brand draws inspiration from the healing powers of plants and features ingredients such as echinacea, honey, and chamomile. Farmacy Beauty is committed to sustainable practices, using eco-friendly packaging and supporting regenerative agriculture through partnerships with the Bee Better Certification program. The brand has gained widespread attention for its high-quality, cruelty-free, and clean beauty products.
As sustainable development continues to be a core goal for beauty brands, trends such as refilling and reusing, as well as soluble or zero-waste beauty, are becoming increasingly popular worldwide. As the clean beauty industry continues to evolve, future innovation is expected to go beyond just using clean ingredients. Furthermore, due to the large consumer base, the global clean beauty market is expected to continue to grow in the future.
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