64% of consumers find it 'difficult' to buy sustainable beauty products

By Austyn King | Published: 11-Jun-2021

More than half of consumers today prioritise buying eco-friendly and cruelty-free skin and hair care, but brands could be missing out with unclear packaging, according to a study by Wella's weDo/ Professional

Choosing beauty brands and products that are kind to the planet is more important to today's consumers than ever – yet many brands may not be providing sufficient information on their packaging to help them make the eco-friendly choice, a new study has revealed.

According to a poll of 2,000 adults by weDo/ Professional, the sustainable professional arm of hair care brand Wella, 54% of consumers consider sustainability a key factor when buying beauty, hair and skin care products, with more than half (56%) believing it is important to look for products with recyclable packaging and 44% concerned about choosing products that are cruelty-free.

However, more than half of these (61%) also said that they struggle to tell whether a beauty product is ethically produced by looking at its packaging, despite a quarter saying they are more likely to look for an eco-friendly accreditation or mark, while 55% admitted that they do not check make-up and skin care products' eco-credentials as they feel they have “no choice” but to buy products that are not sustainable or animal-friendly.

“For many, being green, sustainable and trying to look after the planet is a big concern – especially when it comes to beauty - but shoppers feel it’s not always as simple as they would like,” said Elinor Brown, a spokesperson for weDo.

“We can see consumers have good intentions to buy sustainably, yet this is easier to do in some areas than others.

“It’s easy to see whether the eggs you are buying come from cage-reared hens or free range, but it seems many shoppers don’t feel the same way about beauty and hair care products – and you don’t always have the time to stand in the store trying to decipher the details on the packaging.”

Spotlighting sustainable

Indeed, a lack of clear information on beauty packaging was cited as one of the biggest barriers, with 49% of adults saying they would like brands to make it easier for them to spot how a product was produced.

This could be a missed opportunity for brands, as many shoppers are willing to splash the cash for a planet-friendly product: more than half stated that they would pay more for products clearly shown to be cruelty-free, while 31% would pay more for a product that used sustainable packaging.

The study also revealed that ethical shopping is particularly important to younger consumers: one in five of those aged 25-34 considered sustainability an important factor when choosing a hair care product, compared to just 14% of over 65s.

Consequently, 52% of the younger demographic said they checked the packaging of beauty products to ensure they are produced sustainably before buying, while only 38% of over 65s did the same.

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