Each month, MiNDFOOD beauty editor Megan Bedford considers the issues and approaches that play a key part in our beauty routines.
Beauty editor Megan Bedford looks at the latest issues in the industry.
While the beauty industry has been ticking away for decades – Guerlain produced the first commercially available lipstick in 1870! – it has been heartening to see the leaps and bounds it has made recently, particularly within the past five years.
Progress has definitely been made in advanced ingredients, science and formulation. Yet there has also been progress in the way many brands are looking at social, ethical and environmental issues; these issues may be tricky and potentially confronting to address, but they are not a barrier to positive change. Such progress sometimes even requires brands to acknowledge past mistakes and areas where they could have done better.
It’s something you will know I regularly touch on in our beauty content because it’s important to support this progress, and also because MiNDFOOD always signposts future development; this is undeniably where the beauty industry is going.
A move announced this month that I’m hoping will lead the way for similar change is global beauty giant Unilever’s decision to drop the word ‘normal’ from its packaging and marketing communication.
It seems like a harmless enough word, doesn’t it? But when related to beauty products, it implies that anyone with skin or hair attributes outside the range of that product’s intention is somehow abnormal, or in need of correction. It reinforces a narrow view of beauty ideals, as if having oily skin, or coarse, textured hair for example is somehow unusual, when we all know it’s not.
Unilever, which is responsible for brands such as Dove, Rexona, Lynx, TRESemmé and Sunsilk globally, said it was motivated by undertaking a 10,000-person study across nine countries. It found that seven in 10 people agree that using the word ‘normal’ on product packaging and advertising has a negative impact. For younger people – those aged 18-35 – that rose to eight in 10.
The study also indicated a majority of people (74 per cent) want to see the beauty industry focus more on making people feel better, rather than just looking better, and more than half of people (52 per cent) say they now pay more attention to a company’s stance on societal issues before buying products.
With more than 1 billion people using products from Unilever’s beauty and personal care stable of brands every day, and even more exposed to its advertising, suddenly a small change has the potential to have a massive impact. The company is also promising to not digitally alter a person’s body shape, size, proportion or skin colour in its brand advertising and to increase diversity of representation.
Another influential update? L’Oréal-owned skin and haircare brand Garnier is the latest, and one of the biggest ever, brands to be certified by Cruelty Free International under the Leaping Bunny Program. Like many beauty brands, Garnier has long indicated it had been opposed to animal testing; however the globally recognised certification offers undeniable proof related to all parts of its business.
How? Because the intensive process requires forensic investigation of a brand’s entire supply chain, including all raw material and individual ingredients, for any cases of animal testing. While many smaller brands have achieved it, given Garnier’s certification involved 500 international suppliers who source more than 3,000 different ingredients, it shows what’s possible on a mass beauty scale and motivates many potential suppliers to step up, too.
Garnier does not sell its products in China or where mandatory animal testing is still generally required for imported beauty products. However, China has recently announced a new pathway for cruelty-free cosmetics.
From May 1 this year, companies can market imported ‘general cosmetics’ without the usual required animal testing. This includes items such as shampoo, body wash, lipstick, moisturiser, and makeup that do not have active claims such as sun protection, anti-acne or anti-ageing.
Brands need to present a certificate conforming to ‘good manufacturing practices’, which is issued by authorities in their home countries, as well as a product safety assessment. It is fantastic news for many popular Australian and New Zealand beauty brands that pride themselves on their advanced botanical formulations and ethics. It presents them with the possibility of expanding into the world’s secondlargest beauty market (after the US) without animal testing.
It will likely also inspire wellknown cosmetic brands that have retailed in China for years to revert to touting their cruelty-free status. Many have always formulated without animal testing (there are bans in both Australia and New Zealand) but accepted China’s request to submit their products to the country’s testing requirements in order to enter the lucrative market.
While there are many other areas where it would be great to see progress, these three developments are well worth celebrating this month.
THE WORD ‘NORMAL’ WILL BE DROPPED BY THE BRAND.