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- 03/25/2024

Decoding industry myths: in-cosmetics Global sheds light on ingredient-led beauty

HPC Today

20th March 2024: in-cosmetics Global, the leading global event for personal care ingredients, has released a new report demystifying some of the most widespread ‘misconceptions’ in the beauty industry. The rise and influence of ingredient-led beauty, in association with Euromonitor International and Covalo x in-cosmetics, takes a deep dive into prevalent industry myths, engaging experts to share their insights on some of the sector’s biggest debates and misconceptions.

The report unpacks and analyses five key industry myths – including the natural vs. chemical debate, the reputation of silicones, fragrance-free, higher concentrations equal better results and the stigma around sulphates –offering a balanced perspective on the alleged truth behind these topics.

Natural vs chemical

One of the most hotly debated topics in the industry is the idea that natural ingredients are always better – e.g. safer, more efficacious, more ethical, and sustainable – in beauty products than their synthetic counterparts. The report highlights the lack of a universal definition for the term ‘natural’ (and many associated expressions and phrases) calling into question the validity of the myth. Shedding light on the situation, CEO of The Young Group, Karen Young describes how, “Natural ingredients have no definition, nor are they regulated.” She adds that the concept that natural ingredients are always better in cosmetics is “a huge piece of misinformation.”

Redeeming the reputation of silicones

Fuelled by a lack of nuanced understanding and conflicting perspectives within the industry, silicones have become the subject of persistent myths and misconceptions. While many of the concerns are centred around sustainability, Dr Mark Smith, Director General at NATRUE highlights, “From a safety perspective when it comes to human health, silicones that are not banned by law would be acceptable in cosmetics in general. Nevertheless, this is not the case for certified natural and organic cosmetics where these substances do not meet the criteria for acceptance based on origin.” Despite the environmental concerns around silicones, the report explores the positive qualities and outcomes associated with these ingredients.

Unpacking fragrance-free

This myth suggests that fragrance-free cosmetics are inherently safer than fragranced cosmetics due to claims of potential irritation or skin damage from fragranced products. However, it stems from the misinterpretation (and miscommunication) of research findings, where fragranced skincare products were identified as common causes of skin reactions. While this doesn’t apply universally, many consumers have embraced it as truth. Yann Chilvers, Co-Founder at Covalo, emphasises, “For brands, removing fragrances without having a concrete reason would be to neglect the role of fragrances and their potential benefits on the end user.”

Bigger isn’t always better

A prevailing myth within the beauty and personal care industry suggests that higher concentrations of ingredients equate to better results. However, Karen Young explains that this is a misconception, stating, “Most consumers don’t realise that the majority of meaningful, efficacious, skin-loving ingredients are most effective at comparatively low levels.”

Julien Janson, Business Director, Personal Care, and Aurélien Tahon, Head of Application Development & Technical Product Management at IOI Oleo, emphasise the significance of ingredient concentration, stating, “The dosage makes the poison. Even ingested water can be harmful depending on the dosage,” reinforcing the idea that using higher concentrations of ingredients will always equate to better performance in cosmetics products is most definitely a myth.

The sulphate stigma

Like many other ingredients in the beauty and personal care industry, for a variety of reasons, sulphates have gained a particularly bad reputation. Some of the main consumer concerns about sulphates stem from potential risks around skin irritation, dryness and safety.

Looking at the topic from a safety perspective, Dr Mark Smith, Director General at NATRUE, that “Sulphates that are not banned are safe for use by law for human health. From a functional perspective, this class of substances is extremely common in rinse-off products from conventional to natural to organic cosmetics – including certified label schemes. Consequently, it is important to reflect under what circumstances such substances are considered and cross-reference with the available data to conclude whether or not the substance may or may not be detrimental.”

Roziani Zulkifli, Event Director for in-cosmetics Global concluded: “Consumer perceptions have become a powerful medium in cosmetics. In recent years, they have led to the rise (and fall) of many influential industry trends. However, to stem the flow of misinformation and encourage the promotion of scientific, evidence-backed industry materials, brands need to consider how they can best understand and communicate with their customers. We all know that simplicity and transparency are key to gaining consumer trust and enhancing the journey of more effective consumer education in cosmetics. This report aims to serve as a valuable tool for the industry to gain insights into both perspectives in debunking these myths.”