Special Edition: In-Cosmetics Global Pre-Show

Greenwashing, transparency and costs top of green beauty agenda in 2023: Expert

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

As green beauty continues its insatiable rise, there are challenges ahead for consumers and industry alike [Getty Images]
As green beauty continues its insatiable rise, there are challenges ahead for consumers and industry alike [Getty Images]

Related tags green beauty Green chemistry sustainable beauty circular beauty Environment Sustainability Formulation in-cosmetics Global transparency Supply chain

Ongoing concerns around greenwashing, rising supply chain costs and a growing need for transparency are the top issues facing the green beauty industry this year, according to an expert consultant.

Barbara Olioso PhD MRSC, managing director of The Green Chemist Consultancy and opening keynote at the in-Cosmetics Global Sustainability Zone conference programme in Barcelona later this month, said sustainability remained absolutely front-and-centre for beauty in 2023, but there were challenges ahead.

Olioso told CosmeticsDesign-Europe that addressing greenwashing was one of the issues highest up on the green beauty agenda today.

Green beauty consumers and certifications

“We live at a time where, for consumers, it is difficult to know what is really true or right,” she said. “…So, how does a consumer navigate the confusing market place? At present, the options are – going for a certified beauty product or scoring to decide accordingly.”

And green beauty certifications and scoring systems, she said, had certainly gained ground in recent months as brands looked at ways to gain credibility when it came to green beauty claims. But she said with such a plethora of options out there – COSMOS, Natrue, EU Ecolabel, Eco Beauty Score, Green Score and the Green Impact Index, to name just a few – the question was: which system held most consumer appeal?

Olioso said the biggest challenge ahead for industry would be the “harmonisation” of these certifications and scoring systems.

“It would be fantastic to have one system for the whole industry. It will probably take longer than a year, but it is good to put the idea out there as it is very much needed to manage ingredient costs and to dissipate the confusion amongst consumers.”

Supply chains and raw material innovation

On the industry side, Olioso said it had also now become increasingly paramount to build out “transparent and reliable supply chains” in green beauty to offer a “truly sustainable beauty product”. Investing in this, however, resulted in higher price tags for end products, she said.

Add into this product price hike were rising raw material costs creating a very real challenge for the manufacturing of green beauty and personal care products, though industry had continued to innovate well in recent years, she said.

“As a formulator, I have seen a lot of progress in relation to green chemistry ingredients. So, formulators have, more than ever before, access to novel ingredients designed for performance and lower environmental impact.”

Compared to what was available twenty years ago, she said green chemistry ingredients with antimicrobial properties, for example, had multiplied dramatically. The next challenge for raw material innovation, she said, would be in developing or finding green alternatives for silicones and microplastics.

‘Authentic, interactive and inspiring’

Asked what aspects of this year’s Sustainability Zone conference programme at in-Cosmetics Global she was most looking forward to, Olioso said: “To me, the ‘sustainability corner’ is the beating heart of all of the sustainability zone, as suppliers and brands share valuable content to the industry, face to face, making it really authentic, interactive and inspiring.”

This year, she said there were “three amazing keynote speakers” – Phil Verey, MD at Provenance talking about sustainability without greenwashing; Alessandra Frongillo, program manager for sector initiatives at Ecovadis talking about the responsible beauty initiative; and Ben Grace, founder of SBTRCT discussing his journey in creating the first award-winning solid skin care brand.

Olioso added: “The pandemic made me appreciate the value of face to face events, especially for applying sustainability to beauty products as it is quite a complex topic.”

The full Sustainability Zone programme can be found on the in-Cosmetics Global website, with a detailed breakdown on speakers, topics and times across the three-day tradeshow – 28-30 March, 2023.

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