Consumers avoid toxins as interest in healthy living increases

Research shows that natural and organic ingredients are increasingly driving consumer spending in the cosmetics industry worldwide

Queen Marie Antoinette of France (below right), achieved a pale look with the help of white lead-based make-up. Followers of this fashion suffered serious neurological side effects. The black kohl eye make-up that ancient Egyptians wore was also lead-based. The levels of toxins in modern cosmetics are lower than those in ancient potions, but with rising consumer interest in healthy living, the presence of potential toxins such as lead, parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, phalates and triclosan in cosmetics can be a deal-breaker.

Research shows that natural and organic ingredients are increasingly driving consumer spending in the cosmetics industry worldwide. According to Transparency Market Research, the Asia-Pacific market for organic personal care products (particularly Japan), is expanding rapidly, with a projected annual growth of 9.7% to 2018. In the US, as in Europe, there is 9% annual growth in this sector, with the organic cosmetics and personal care market projected to double to $16 billion in 2020, according to Grand View Research. South America is leading the way in “green” innovation. Brazil, the third largest cosmetic and personal care market in the world, is highly eco-conscious.

Chemical giants such as Dow Chemical and Cognis are capitalising on the global trend, by introducing a host of natural products and plant extracts such as aloe vera and chamomile for the cosmetics market, at a premium.

“Organic,” “natural,” “green,” and “eco-friendly” labels can be deceptive (some of the world’s most potent toxins are organic), but consumers are becoming increasingly savvy and informed.

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