Selling the Science of Sustainable Beauty

Selling the Science of Sustainable Beauty

Cathy Laporte, Portfolio Director for the
in-cosmetics Group, discusses the growing momentum towards a more conscious beauty industry, and in-cosmetics’ role in driving sustainable innovation and growth.

Sustainability has been rising up the business agenda for some time; but the global pandemic, coupled with the increasingly harsh realities of climate change, is focusing minds on it like never before. ‘Building back better’ has become a byword for sustainable recovery and growth.

In its recent report ‘Sustainability post-COVID-19’, published in January 2022, Euromonitor International reveals how our understanding of the term ‘sustainability’ is expanding. ‘Reducing environmental impact’ remains the top definition, but a growing number of businesses are also linking the term to social sustainability and ‘being purpose driven’.

The report also highlights how, by putting pressure on businesses to increase transparency and accountability, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting is set to impact who the public invest in, buy from, or work for.

The cosmetics industry was an early pioneer in sustainable innovation, in response to customer demands for greener products containing more ‘natural’ ingredients. But over the years, the terms ‘green’ and ‘organic’, lacking clear definitions, have become prone to misuse amid accusations of greenwashing. More recently, the ‘clean beauty’ movement has often focused more on the ingredients products don’t contain, than on the positive steps brands are taking to become truly sustainable. This problem has been exacerbated by a lack of harmonised industry regulations, resulting in a confusion of different eco-labels to which brands and retailers can adhere.

Now, as we emerge from lockdown, a younger generation of more mindful consumers are demanding much greater transparency from their cosmetic and beauty brands, across the entire supply chain – from the ethical sourcing of raw ingredients, to sustainable formulations, packaging and distribution.  The cosmetics industry in increasingly active in the ‘B Corp’ accreditation movement, as companies seek to demonstrate higher standards of verified social and environmental purpose, and avoid accusations of greenwashing.  And a growing number of brands are recognising sustainability as a real source of competitive advantage, opening up exciting opportunities for innovation.

in-cosmetics Group – a focus for global innovation

At the heart of this global innovation process sits the in-cosmetics global series of events for personal care ingredients, and our flagship brand, in-cosmetics Global.

Founded over 30 years ago to promote industry learning and innovation, the in-cosmetics Group provides a reliable platform for science-led education, networking and collaboration. Each year our events in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Korea, connect 1,800+ suppliers of ingredients, fragrances, lab equipment, testing and regulatory solutions with 40,000+ cosmetic industry professionals. 

Over the years, sustainable ingredients and solutions have become increasingly prevalent in our Innovation Zone, Formulation Lab, Technical Seminars, R&D Tours and Awards. So much so, that in 2017 we launched the Sustainability Corner at in-cosmetics Global, which has grown from 29 exhibitors in 2019 to over 40 for the 2022 edition in Paris (5-7 April). 

Sustainability Corner combines an interactive educational area, where participants present their sustainable ingredients and technologies to potential partners, with the opportunity to deliver a keynote on the main stage. Our 2022 feature, sponsored by AAK, includes Cargill Beauty, Clariant, Croda, Laboratoires Expanscience, Lubrizol Life Science and ROELMI HPC, among many others. They will be demonstrating how brands can achieve their sustainability goals through eco-friendly sunscreen formulations, plant-based cosmetic innovation, sustainable surfactants, circular beauty, and more.

Sustainability is also a major theme at the annual in-cosmetics Formulation Summit, where scientists, analysts and R&D professionals come together for two days each year to present and discuss the science behind the latest trends. At the 2021 summit in London in November - the first face to face formulation summit post-COVID – industry experts discussed challenges and innovative solutions surrounding plastic pollution and recycling, and explored the future of palm oil production and the impact of RSPO certification, amongst other pressing issues.

Eco-inspiration, technical knowledge and trend insights from international expert speakers are also available at our regular online Ingredients Showcases. The webinars can be viewed live or on demand on the in-cosmetics Connect platform, while our in-cosmetics Discover provides a year-round searchable directory for sourcing sustainable ingredients and suppliers.

Smarter, more sustainable events

Just as in-cosmetics supports the drive towards a more sustainable industry, events are, of themselves, sustainable sales and sourcing platforms, enabling personal care professionals and suppliers to come together to learn, network and do business in one place, significantly reducing their carbon footprint.

Sustainability Corner is built entirely from Re-board which contains 100% recycled paper fibres and no toxic chemicals. in-cosmetics Global also offers SMART badging, eliminating the need for business cards, paper brochures, catalogues and hand-outs. Our attendees simply tap their SMART badge at the exhibitor stands and receive all the information they need in digital format by email at the end of each day.

The in-cosmetics series is part of a global portfolio of face to face events and digital platforms which connect personal care buyers and suppliers across the entire value chain, from raw ingredients and packaging to finished products, with the goal of driving business growth, innovation and sustainable practice. Our event brands also include Intercharm in Russia and Korea, Cosme in Japan, Cosmex in Bangkok and PCHi in China.