A cosmetic chemists guide to clean beauty


Element 44 Inc, Chicago, USA


Creating formulas in the cosmetic industry requires more than just finding the best ingredients and ratios to make the most effective and safe products you can. It also requires you to create formulas that give your marketing department good stories that resonate with consumers. That means it’s important for chemists to keep on top of trends in the industry and right now there is no bigger trend in cosmetics than Clean Beauty.

Clean beauty is a vague trend but to understand it, it’s helpful to go back to its origins, natural beauty. The natural beauty trend took hold in the cosmetic industry during the mid 1990’s. At that time numerous brands discovered that if they told consumers a personal care product was natural, they would sell more. Consumers believed natural products were safer and they worked better. This was great news for brands that showed flat to slow growth. Embracing a natural story was effective marketing.


However, consumers got wise to the trick and soon discovered two realities about natural cosmetics. First, they found that most of the things that were called natural were really just greenwashing. Companies simply took their standard products, dropped in some plant extracts, put “natural” on the package and an on-trend product was born. Next, consumers found that products which actually were more natural didn’t work nearly as well as the standard synthetic products. There is a reason synthetic chemistry is used in making cosmetics because the stuff in nature just doesn’t work well enough.