Tag Archive | natural

Community Cares

Being a natural brand means thinking outside ourselves. “People are starting to realize more and more the impact of their purchasing decisions,” says Sapothecary’s director of operations John Bailey. Sapothecary, a private label manufacturer based in California that provides handmade soaps based on organic, food-grade extra virgin olive oil, is pursuing USDA organic certification. While this certification is not designed for cosmetics, Bailey feels it’s going to help show the integrity of the products. His advice is to go for the strictest certification you can.

All of Sapothecary’s soaps are cold processed, meaning the oils and lye are combined at 105°F or less. The low temperature keeps the delicate ingredients from degrading, because at high temperatures, the high-quality oils can become rancid. It’s also a slower process that allows workers to give attention to the custom artisan process used to develop the products.

Sapothecary’s soaps also utilize controversial palm oil. Bailey was involved previously with the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), so he knew about the negative side effects harvesting palm oil can have on the environment as well as the indigenous people and animals. He soon discovered the most serious problems came from commodity palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia, where tropical forests were being cleared to make way for plantations.

So, he started looking for certified, sustainable organic sources. RAN pointed him to Agropalma in Brazil, which has a variety of fair trade and organic certifications. The company only plants palm trees on previously degraded ranch land. “Rain forest isn’t being cleared to source the palm oil and no pesticides and herbicides are used,” notes Bailey.

In addition, there was an opportunity to address social impact. Agropalma has established partnerships with the government and local communities to contribute source income and job creation in the region. Currently, the program assists 185 families of small farmers who own six to 10 hectares of palm plantation. This type of palm production has led to a significant rise in families’ income and lifestyle improvements, and socio-environmental studies have shown, within benefitted communities, the family agriculture program has improved environmental performance as a whole, including activities not directly related to palm cultivation.

Business and brand principles such as this that align the company with fair trade practices and organizations that give back allows consumers to feel good about purchasing and supporting a brand.

Read more about Eco Values in the September issue of GCI magazine.

Intelligent design

God’s creation is one of the best R&D labs we know. Using technology to emulate nature has resulted in revolutionary innovations that make our lives easier, healthier, and more sustainable: from phones, whose loudspeakers were inspired by human eardrums, to entirely new approaches of creating color inspired by the color-shifting properties of a butterfly’s wings. Called biomimicry, there’s potential for replicating nature’s intelligence to produce packaging that decomposes and is not harmful to the environment.

According to the newly formed conglomerate Biomimicry 3.8, the biomimicry field has changed at a stunning pace over recent years. Biomimicry provides a strategy for practical applications that emulate years of brilliant designs. From durable but biodegradable packaging such as sea beans, large bean pods that ripen to become woody and heavy, or the coconut palm, which dispatches its seed inside a hard shell that contains everything it needs to survive, many of nature’s containers can serve as inspiration for the future’s innovative packaging ideas.

Think of the possibilities if technology of a pelican pouch that scoops three gallons of seawater then returns to shape could be mimicked. A flexible bottle design that fills up like a balloon only to collapse when emptied would provide options for consumers on the go or for easily returning containers for recycling hundreds at a time.

What if we could store precious liquids in a cellular matrix like fruits and vegetables, which are often times more than 90% water but don’t slosh because it’s stored between cells. Or, if we could use a cellular matrix for the skin of a bottle; once emptied it could be eaten like an orange slice or dissolve in the bath tub instead of a landfill.

Nature is filled with wonders that tote, store and protect its treasures from a treacherous world. If we take the time to seek sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns, we can learn from nature that has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with.

Read more about packaging innovation in the December 2011 issue of GCI magazine.

Healthy beauty

Rather than simply masking imperfections, today’s foundation is being marketed as a necessary tool in the defense of skin health. Reflecting this idea is the rapid development in recent years of foundations that contain sunscreen, antioxidants and now high-tech antiaging benefits.

Yet, there is a backlash—a counterculture where people want a more back-to-basics approach—to be natural, to be real. Products catering to consumers’ chemical aversion have definitely found their place. From supermarkets to Sephora, which just launched its own Sephora Pure collection, shelves are overflowing with products featuring ingredients from nature, not the lab. Many brands claim skin-nourishing properties that are, not only equal to, but superior to synthetic counterparts. Organic ingredients and formulations are becoming exciting and more widely available so that makeup, in general, is moving in a more holistic direction. High-quality minerals, for example, can now be added to a multitude of products without the heavy texture and pastiness.

DermaQuest’s new DermaMinerals, for example, combines coverage with natural, therapeutic care. Marketed as an extension of its skin care line, DermaMinerals features dermaxyl peptide to minimize the appearance of fine lines, and its Archipelago Sea Minerals, a unique combination of 92 trace elements, to help hydrate and improve skin barrier function. The reflective and light-scattering properties of mica-wrapped cotton fibers and boron nitride, an oil-absorbing mineral, also help restore the skin’s luminosity.

If the very core of the product is botanical, the minerals physically protect the skin and help minimize the use of chemicals and preservatives. This means that it becomes less about bells and whistles and more about the simple fact that the product does what it’s supposed to without ingredients that certain consumer segments look to avoid.

Read more in the December issue of GCI magazine.

Reaching for the Cosmos

There’s no doubt the absence of industry regulations and inconsistency of private standards are confusing consumers and hindering further growth within the beauty industry. Because there are no national and EU regulations for natural and organic cosmetics, legitimate products are competing against conventional cosmetics that are labeled as “natural” because they contain some natural ingredients. Standards will allow honest professionals to be rewarded for their integrity and enable consumers to better identify and understand what is being offered to them. But that process itself is getting confusing.

The problem is that there are a dozen or so different certifying bodies, ranging in structure, standards and industries in Europe. “Whether it’s a a fear of losing revenue or conceding standards, they’ve never been able to, or in some cases don’t want to, harmonize,” said Mike Indursky, chief marketing and strategic officer, Burt’s Bees. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration granted self-regulation, so while several private U.S. standards are available, companies do not have to account to anyone.

The European-wide certification standard hopeful, Cosmos, was expected by some to provide a bridge towards a unified standard with the US industry, and ultimately a globally recognized standard. When it was officially declared in June that the Cosmos standard was delayed until fall, critics said it was too little too late. The flurry of other certification bodies, both in the US, Europe and worldwide, is believed to reduce the potency of Cosmos.

NaTrue is the main rival. So far, 120 products have been certified by NaTrue, and several hundred other products are in process. NaTrue also has partnership agreements with the National Products Association and NSF International, two U.S.-based certification organizations for natural and organic products, respectively. Currently, 11 brands, including Burt’s Bees, Aubrey Organics and JR Watkins Apothecary, and about 200 products are certified by the NPA standards and entitled to bear the seal on their products. With the support of these competitors working together, the NPA is one of the front runners in the U.S. certification battle. Burt’s Bees has invested US$1m to promote the NPA standard and the body is set to have a presence in Europe, according to Organic Monitor.

Critics also point to the organic food movement, which took 40 years to establish and is still fragmented, to remind the industry that we still have a long way to go before harmonized standards can make an impact on international markets.

However, although there is no reciprocity even today between the US and EU for organic food, the beauty industry is much more global. With major and minor brands having an international presence (and demand), a widely accepted international standard is a must.

Read more in the August issue of GCI magazine.

Committed consumerism

avtu_14What was originally a niche category has taken over the beauty aisles in almost every developed market, and industry insiders predict that natural and organic cosmetics will hold up well in 2009 even if they do not enjoy the dramatic sales growth of previous years. Consumers are beginning to make long-term, realistic changes to their lifestyle. They feel a huge responsibility not only to the planet but to themselves … They now include their own personal health as a microcosm and reflection of the health of the planet, stated the Natural Marketing Institute’s annual report. The mass consumption society as we knew it is over.

But this can be good news for the natural market. Increasingly, consumers’ values are resonating with companies that are able to fuse both a personal and planetary perspective into their brand. Aveda has found that 68% of consumers will remain loyal to a company that has a social and environmental commitment. This is a growing trend in which consumers are “voting with their dollars,” and supporting brands whose values resonate with their own.

With that, consumers are learning to read product labels to avoid greenwashing words like “natural” and “planet friendly” that aren’t backed up by standards or third-organizations. As like-minded groups come together, there is an attempt to cut through the confusion, and the focus of the media on greenwashing has forced the brands to become more open in their claims. But as a variety of organizations vie for the right to be the “official seal” of natural beauty, things could get worse instead of better. The recent suit by Dr. Bronner and the Organic Consumers Association is just one attempt to ensure those organizations such as Ecocert aren’t loose with their certifications. The point is to make it easier for the consumers and give products credibility.

The market is driven by a perfect storm of consumers, non-profits, industry, media and government, all of whom demand more truly natural and environmentally sustainable products. And while the industry can’t anticipate a continuation of the dramatic growth rates of recent years, opportunities still remain.

Retailers who educate consumers and provide strong assortment will come out on top. But strong assortment does not mean aisles and aisles of product but choice among the best-performing, authentic brands. Read more in the March 2009 issue of Global Cosmetic Industry magazine: Breaking Barriers: Retail’s Natural (R)evolution