CLEAN BEAUTY BAR

NewsMail - - WEEKEND - WORDS: ED­WINA CARR BAR­R­A­CLOUGH

Men­tion the phrase “clean beauty” and you’re likely to be met with blank stares. De­spite this, the lesser-known nat­u­ral, eth­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious sec­tor of the beauty in­dus­try is worth $18 bil­lion. New Zealand en­tre­pre­neur Bri­anne West can at­test to the bur­geon­ing growth.

Since she cre­ated Ethique (pro­nounced ‘Et-eek’) in 2012, West (pic­tured) has crowd-funded more than $2.8 mil­lion from peo­ple around the world who are pas­sion­ate about her zero-plas­tic, zero-waste beauty brand.

Af­ter two crowd-fund­ing raises, the com­pany has more than 350 share­hold­ers who are zeal­ous about the brand’s solid beauty prod­ucts (think sham­poos, con­di­tion­ers and cleansers) that come in com­postable pack­ag­ing.

The in­crease in savvy con­sumers opt­ing to spend their money on beauty brands with an en­vi­ron­men­tal and eth­i­cal track record has run in par­al­lel with Ethique’s grow­ing suc­cess.

The brand is now avail­able in the US, Ja­pan, Hong Kong, Tai­wan, Sin­ga­pore and most re­cently Aus­tralia (through Price­line stores na­tion­ally). On av­er­age, Ethique has grown about 350 per cent year on year.

“It seems crazy to me that we don’t re­quire busi­nesses to be re­spon­si­ble for the en­tire life­cy­cle of their prod­uct. We need to put the onus back on the com­pany prof­it­ing from a prod­uct to en­sure the pack­ag­ing won’t be suf­fo­cat­ing our planet,” Ms West says.

All of Ethique’s prod­ucts must meet these key prin­ci­ples. In­gre­di­ents must be naturally de­rived, biodegrad­able, safe and cru­elty-free. The prod­ucts must work as well as, if not bet­ter than, their liq­uid coun­ter­parts. And lastly, pack­ag­ing must be com­postable and plas­tic-free.

This com­mit­ment to plas­tic-free pack­ag­ing is pos­si­bly Ethique’s big­gest fo­cus. Ms West says about 80 bil­lion plas­tic bot­tles end up in land­fill each year from sham­poo and con­di­tioner pack­ag­ing, and by 2050, it’s es­ti­mated that there will be more plas­tic than fish in the sea. Not only do Ethique’s solid prod­ucts save wa­ter (up to 90 per cent of reg­u­lar sham­poos and con­di­tion­ers is wa­ter), the com­pany has made a mean­ing­ful im­pact on the amount of plas­tic pol­lut­ing the globe.

“So far we’ve saved one mil­lion plas­tic bot­tles from head­ing to land­fill, and we ex­pect to do an­other six mil­lion next year alone,” Ms West says.

Per­haps the most chal­leng­ing part of Ethique’s mis­sion has been to con­vince con­sumers that their solid bars that look like a colour­ful cake of soap are as ef­fec­tive as tra­di­tional liq­uid prod­ucts.

“Peo­ple tend to love the con­cept but be very scep­ti­cal about whether they ac­tu­ally work. Thank­fully we’re build­ing a fol­low­ing around the world of loyal fol­low­ers whose re­views and word of mouth are con­vinc­ing peo­ple that solid prod­ucts are just as good as their less con­cen­trated coun­ter­parts.”

Ac­cord­ing to Melissa Maden, Price­line’s hair­care buyer, con­sumers are be­com­ing more and more con­scious about se­lect­ing prod­ucts that have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on the planet.

“Cus­tomers are re­quest­ing prod­ucts that are ve­gan, cru­elty-free, paraben-free and sul­fate-free – no nas­ties. They’re aware of their own im­pact on to­day’s world through pack­ag­ing wastage, chem­i­cal im­pact in our wa­ter­ways and whether the prod­uct has been cre­ated eth­i­cally by the man­u­fac­turer,” Ms Maden says.

Sim­i­larly, Sephora Aus­tralia has seen their “well­ness” cat­e­gory (which in­cludes sus­tain­able and nat­u­ral prod­ucts) grow 300 per cent year on year, and it’s all thanks to con­sumer de­mand.

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