Study: Natural Beauty Products Flooding the Market

Fueled by the beauty industry’s focus on natural ingredients, the number of organic and “ethical” cosmetic products introduced this year is up 23% from 2007, per a new study released by Mintel this week.

The study found that nearly 30% of all U.S. beauty products launched this year were organic, ethical or all natural. Globally, one in every seven products was organic, ethical or all natural, while last year it was one in every nine. Mintel, Chicago, attributed the rise to beauty companies wanting to unmask the ingredients in cosmetic formulations.

“What we saw a lot of in 2007 was products that said ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ but when you turned it over, you couldn’t pronounce any of the ingredients . . . Now there is a level of natural, organic and ethical philosophies behind these products,” said Mintel senior beauty analyst Taya Tomasello. She added that manufacturers try to convey these philosophies through either environment-friendly packaging or organic certifications on product labels.

Macy’s, for instance, last month introduced a shop-within-a-shop cosmetic center that carries all natural brands such as Burt’s Bees, Care by Stella McCartney and Pangea Organics. Called “A Beautiful Planet,” the concept is currently in place at its New York, Philadelphia and Boston locations. The shop boasts packaging and display fixtures all constructed from eco-friendly materials.

Mintel said going forward, the challenge will be for retailers to distinguish themselves as being truly organic. Stores like The Body Shop have already jump-started on this approach. Shelley Simmons, brand and values initiatives director at The Body Shop, said the retailer will make 80% of its products preservative-free by 2010. The store also will convert to using 100% recycled PET bottles by the end of this year (Body Shop currently uses bottles made of 30% recycled materials).

“You can’t just become ‘green’ because it’s fashionable,” said Simmons. “It has to be a serious commitment if you are really going to make a genuine difference.”