The 5 Biggest Trends In Ethical Beauty

Once upon a time, beauty brands would shout from their marketing rooftops about their stand against animal testing, charity affiliation and fairtrade partnerships. Nowadays these components are an integral part of their DNA. Yet this still hasn’t satisfied our appetite for ethical beauty. Prior to 2013, the ‘not tested on animals’ logo was enough to make us choose one product over the other. Now, animal testing on EU sold cosmetics is illegal, making cruelty free labels outmoded. Beauty brands are therefore igniting new and innovative campaigns to clean up their act, from the skincare brands taking on the South American drug trade to those sourcing the most eco-friendly water droplets possible. Here are the five biggest beauty trends that mean we no longer have to choose between ethics and aesthetics.
Advertisement
1 of 5
Solid Beauty

At current consumption rates the WWF estimates that by 2025, two thirds of the world’s population will be at risk of water shortages. As it becomes a protected resource, baths will become luxuries and rationing second nature. A slew of forward-thinking beauty brands are already one step ahead. Once an essential part of any beauty regime, new formulations require little or no water to function. Garnering attention is SU:M 37’s Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, now so popular it's known by the acronym MRCS.

Created by Korean beauty titan SoKo, Beauty Mart founder Anna-Marie Solowij believes the solid cleanser is typical of the lateral thinking approach of Asian manufacturers. “Generally they’re used for cooling sticks, balms, etc, but why not apply it to cleansing? Eastern brands are tuned to trends in a way that western brands simply aren't.” Solid cleansers also run in parallel with the benefits of powder cleansers. “They’re lighter, practical for travelling and aren’t likely to require preservatives,” continues Anna-Marie.

The fragrance world is also catching up and Diptyque have recently launched a range of solid perfumes, bridging the gap between luxury and eco-friendly. For ethical warriors Lush, solid beauty isn’t new, yet always ahead of the curve, they now sell their solid range totally unpackaged, which they claim saves three plastic bottles from landfill and lasts three times longer than an average bottle of shampoo. Lush co-founder Mark Constantine believes customers are challenging retailers to cut the wrap. “Environmental costs are becoming obvious and companies need to present innovations that allow customers to buy naked products.”
2 of 5
Small Batch Beauty

The trend for small is getting rather big. Mass produced beauty is no longer as beautiful as hand-blended and hand-bottled products with low energy and waste output. Skincare founder Annee de Mamiel believes rigorous testing has instilled confidence in consumers. “There used to be safety concerns around ‘home producers’, which are no longer valid as we comply with EU standards completing traceability files on each batch”.

For Scandi brand Nu ori, who deliver a fresh batch of products to stores every 12 weeks and refuse to keep extras in stock, producing small quantities is about practicality. “For years, the beauty industry has spent billions extending the life of their products but has anyone asked why?” asks founder Jasmi Bonnén, “Smaller batches are so beneficial. Numerous studies highlight that active ingredients lose their valuable properties within months due to oxidisation – and long shelf lives require synthetic preservatives to stabilise formulas”.

The mounting wellness trend has played its part in the rise of small batch beauty, believes Jasmi, “The realisation is that [fresh means] we get better-tasting, more nourishing products. Take juice for example: consuming an UHT-treated, long-life concentrated juice doesn’t compare to the joy of drinking fresh, cold-pressed juice. Fresh skincare makes sense just like fresh food.”

Founder of Lola’s Apothecary Lola Le Fey creates batches as small as 10, and, for her, it’s about devoting artisanal care and love to her products which makes them extra special. “I think customers feel a connection that they wouldn’t get with a generic, mass-produced product”.
Advertisement
3 of 5
Ethical Transparency

The arrival of H&M’s conscious beauty line signals that the ethical beauty concept no longer applies to niche brands only. “We already offer conscious choices with our fashion collections so it’s natural for us to have the same offering within our beauty collection,” explains Sara Wallander, H&M beauty concept designer. The body and skincare collection is Ecocert-approved and its packaging is made of recycled PET, aluminium, glass and paper. While H&M’s make-up offering remains somewhat unconscious, they are making sustainable strides in the right direction. “We always aim to develop our products at the best level and want to launch a conscious makeup line in the future,” explains Sara.

Elsewhere, smaller brands are also fighting for their share of the ethical pie. Skincare newcomer Olixia has shunned the likes of the popular murula and argan oil in favour of cacay oil. Recently discovered for its multiple skincare benefits, the Columbian government is working with beauty brands to incentivise local farmers to produce cacay over cocaine plantations, advocating its increasing value.

Across the pond, Dr Hauschka are the first to outsource organic mango butter from India. Equipping local communities with the necessary tools and training, the brand even pay 10 times the price for the organically-produced butter over the alternative, and have enabled the community to sell it to other beauty brands too.
4 of 5
Water Sourcing

While some beauty brands are doing their best to save water, others are switching up their sourcing methods in a bid to harvest the purest and most eco-friendly droplets possible. Brands are scouring the earth to gain a competitive edge and position products as eco-friendly and exclusive by sourcing water from different oceans, lakes and plants. Lush pride themselves on sustainably collecting sea water from the UK shores of Studland Bay, where they collect water on the flood tide before adding it to their cosmetics.

Luxe skincare brand La Roche-Posay harnesses the power of Thermal Spring Water from a French village of the same name. Rich in Selenium, the spring water is efficient in treating eczema and acne and their latest offering, a face mist, will be a god send for waging war on city skin once summer hits the capital.

Plant waters are also blossoming and Pai skincare have launched a range of BioAffinity Tonics, which contain "living waters" that have been extracted directly from the root of Lotus and Rice Plants respectively. These nutrient and vitamin-rich waters are packed with trace minerals and are brilliant for helping balance the pH of the skin.
5 of 5
Rise Of Halal Beauty

With Dolce & Gabbana releasing an abaya collection and H&M casting their first hijab wearing model, Muslim fashion is diversity’s new frontier. Beauty brands are getting involved with the Halal cosmetic market, expected to grow by 50% in the next three years. Lan Vu, founder of Paris-based beauty trends consultancy Beautystreams, recently identified that halal certification guarantees products do not contain alcohol, fermented ingredients or animal ingredients.

This ethos is also of paramount importance to the vegan community and is driving a global move towards more natural products. “In Indonesia, a halal label has been required for every product marketed to the Muslim community since 2009. Local brands clearly communicate the level of halal certification to reassure the 90% of the population who are Muslim,” says Vu. The west is taking notice. In the UK, mainstream make-up brands such as Color Studio Professional have released a range of halal lipsticks, while mineral make-up brand Inika is now halal certified. As for retailers, Tesco are the first to stock premium halal skincare brand Tamese & Jackson, who own the first large-scale halal-certified factory in England. The supermarket giant has also taken on Vatika as part of a move to increase their ‘World Beauty’ offering.
Advertisement

More from Beauty

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Documentary
Extraordinary, one-of-a-kind individuals
Watch Now
Fashion
A look at the subcultures around the world that colour what we wear — and why.
Watch Now
Beauty
The craziest trends, most unique treatments, and strangest subcultures in the beauty world.
Watch Now
Travel
Explore the world's most vibrant cultural and culinary centres—in 60 seconds, of course.