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February 22, 2018
February 22, 2018
Photo: Clem Onojeghuo via Unsplash

The personal care industry is grossly unsupervised—the last piece of regulation legislation passed in 1938, meaning that cosmetic companies have wielded extreme ingredient freedom with limited government oversight.

Due to the 80-year free-for-all, brands have been greenwashing products with words such as natural, green, clean, and organic: marketing terms that possess no enforceable definition and stem from a voluntary certification process. These words convey a sense of grounded and ethical, farm-to-table value, but the ambiguous and philistine misuse of these labels has squandered their credibility. Ethical—much like natural, green, clean, and organic—is liberally applied in today’s beauty industry, leaving consumers confused and misled.

According to Raconteur, more than 60% of consumers say they would stop using a brand if they found it to have unethical practices and 43% say they would consider a brand’s ethical stance before purchasing it. And yet difficulty remains in defining what constitutes as “unethical practices,” with almost three quarters of those questioned saying they found it hard to know how ethical a business truly is.

Mintel’s associate director for beauty and personal care, Roshida Khanom, told Raconteur that consumers are growing more skeptical about large, global corporations making “ethical” promises. “If a brand claims to stand for something, then they need to stay true to this. And in the age of social media, consumers are quick to call them out,” she explains. Too often it is the companies loudly touting ethical status that are the ones doing absolutely nothing in terms of sustainable packaging, the environment, and animal welfare—three of the top ethical issues listed by consumers.

However, the tides are changing and savvy customers are on the lookout for brands walking the walk, not just talking the talk. The Misiluki Skincare story is a prime example of a brand utilizing natural as more than just a descriptor for their products, but as an action, a guiding principle, as well. Ethical is a hands-on approach and emphasis on a happy value chain; it is about treating everyone and everything involved in the arduous process of bringing a product to fruition fairly. Companies who will garner informed consumer loyalty must prove to maintain ethicality at all levels of business.

To read more about consumers calling out unethical beauty brands, go to Raconteur.


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