Clean Makeup Is Ready For The Spotlight

* photo: LONI BAUR editions

Consumers are seeking beauty with benefits derived from nature.

According to NPD data, 34% of consumers believe it is important for makeup brands to be socially responsible. Furthermore, about 80% of consumers reference vegan, cruelty-free and natural ingredients in online reviews. Meanwhile, Euromonitor International’s „Voice of the Consumer: Beauty Survey 2022“ found that, between September 2019 and March 2022, „the number of makeup SKUs with at least one environmentally or ethically friendly attribute has increased by 55%.“ That same report found that 25% of respondents want brands to be transparent regarding ingredients, a 5% jump between 2021 and 2022. At the same time, „38% of consumers say they prefer natural or botanical ingredients to a lower price,“ signaling the primacy of „clean“ over „cheap.“

No doubt, color cosmetics have boomed postpandemic, yet the category has been forever changed by increased levels of clean, natural and sustainable formulations, multifunctional skin care-inspired claims, sustainable packaging, and inclusive positioning. As we survey the rebounding category, we break down the top trends shaping makeup for the years to come, offering insights for R&D and marketing teams, product developers and brand management, founders, and more.

Decoding Makeup’s Post-pandemic Recovery

The complete (mass + prestige) makeup category grew 12% year-over-year in 2022 to $25.6 billion, according to NPD. The firm also notes that U.S. prestige makeup sales increased 18% in 2022, comprising the most sales revenue gains of all the prestige beauty categories. In addition, aside from skin care, makeup was the only category to grow mass unit sales.

The fastest growing prestige makeup sector was lip products, per NPD, with sales surpassing pre-pandemic 2019 levels by double-digits (see sidebar). Lip gloss outperformed lipstick, compared to both 2021 and 2019.

Growth continues in the new year. A recent Catalina report notes that „cosmetic sales for the face, eyes and lips were up dramatically in January 2023, more than double Q4 of 2022.“ Face cosmetics jumped 40%, nearly matching the 43% spike for lipstick. Eye makeup sales rose 18% in the same period. Unit sales were alsoup significantly. For instance, January 2023 face cosmetic unit sales jumped 26% year-over-year.

Inflation remains a factor. Lipstick prices were up 4% in Q4 and 7% in January 2023, at about the overall rate of inflation, while the prices of face and eye makeup rose 11% and 12%, respectively. In addition, retailers only cut prices on gift sets by 17% in January 2023, compared to 28% in the same period of 2022. Still, these discounts almost certainly helped drive the increase in unit sales.

Makeup Claims Driven by Skin Health

The word on seemingly every color cosmetic brand’s lips these days is „multifunctionality.“ As shoppers increasingly demand more from their products, brands and suppliers are stepping up with skin-care-inspired innovations that blur the lines between categories.

Recently, Cosmetic Group USA developed a pair of vegan skinfriendly color cosmetic formulations that meet Credo and Sephora clean standards, including water-based glitter Supernova Shadows with color-shifting properties that give the eyelids a strobe light effect. The whipped-gel consistency with a cooling sensation is delivered with hydrating glycerin and ethyhexylglycerin, as well as moisture-retaining antioxidant tocopherol (vitamin E).

The company’s gender-free Unified Reality Foundation provides a nomakeup look that simultaneously regenerates the skin for a hydrated and natural appearance. The formulation comprises Rahn’s Cellactive Men and Cellactive, which comprise the osmo-regulator taurine, which is a cell-boosting factor that regenerates the skin. The ingredients reportedly achieve quick elasticity and firmness effects on skin. The formulation also includes hyaluronic acid, tocopherol and shea butter.

Cosmetic Group USA’s journey into skin-friendly color cosmetics is backed up by consumer data. Spate recently noted that leading online beauty search terms include tinted sunscreens. In fact, SPF-related searches were up more than 40,000 per month for the 12 months ending November 2022, signaling a desire for makeup with sun care benefits. In addition, bronzing skin care search gains further point to demand for hybrid products. Trendalytics reports that searches for stick bronzers have grown 661% yearover- year as of January 2023.

In addition, Spate notes that consumers are using makeup to achieve a healthy glow, which explains why leading search terms include glowing, bronzing, shimmer and radiant. Conversely, some consumers are increasingly seeking mattifying primers. But in all cases, consumers want formulations that have staying power.

This trend is impacting searches for makeup for mature skin, per Spate. Seeking solutions for specific life stages, older shoppers are looking for formats like sticks, airbrushes and liquids. Spate notes that, besides L’Oreal, there are no brands closely associated with mature skin makeup.

Shoppers are also seeking waterbased formulations across skin care and makeup (monthly average searches up nearly 6,000). For instance, there are now 15.2K average monthly searches in the United States for „water-based foundation,“ representing almost 44% growth year-over-year.“ Following the skinification trend, these formulations tend to be appropriate for shoppers with oily or sensitive skin. However, consumers are also searching „coverage“ along side „waterbased foundation,“ which Spate says indicates concerns about effectiveness. This is a key consideration for those developing marketing materials for such products.

Spate isn’t the only firm surfacing skin care trends in makeup. Euromonitor International’s „Voice of the Consumer: Beauty Survey 2022“ reported that makeup shoppers seeking moisturization and hydration claims has risen to 39%, while demand for SPF/sun protection has climbed to 22% of surveyed shoppers. In addition, 23% of consumers said they want color cosmetic products suitable for sensitive skin (to 23%).

Brands have already responded. Per Euromonitor, makeup „product SKUs globally tagged as offering skin health [increased] by 11% between March 2021 and 2022.“

Furthermore, Spate has decoded the top-growing makeup concerns, which included redness, dark circles, rosacea, pimples and oil control, among others. However, when searching for products, consumers may search instead for products that offer a glowing, bronze complexion. Therefore, the firm suggests, brands should be „focusing on the benefits their products can offer rather than the problems or issues they might also treat.“

To that end, IBG and Orchard Custom Beauty recently developed the Marbles Color Corrector stick, which can feature green/purple to minimize the look of redness and dullness, and orange/yellow to address dark circles. Its 100% PP, refillable package can include PCR.

Clean Color Ingredient Innovations

„Color cosmetics as a category is ripe for evolution, especially given how many standard color pigments are unsustainable long term,“ notes Mallory Huron, senior strategist, beauty and wellness, Fashion Snoops. „The educated, ethics-driven consumer is driving this, turning away from ingredients like talc and carmine and demanding not only plant-based alternatives, but sustainable plantbased alternatives, with The Vegan Society predicting that the vegan cosmetics [market] will reach $21.4 billion globally by 2027. Biotechnology is driving this industry shift, as we see chemists experiment with various natural pigments to create sustainable, scalable alternatives that are safe for color cosmetics and perform well.“

To this end, more and more suppliers and brands are upping the tech level of their cosmetics to deliver ingredients that are better for the planet, both short- and long-term.

For instance, IBG and Orchard Custom Beauty recently created a talcfree Space Kitten Finger Paint demo formulation comprising pressed glitter. Designed to be applied with the finger, the formulation is vegan, cruelty-free, and qualifies under the Sephora Clean and Credo Clean programs.

Givaudan Active Beauty recently introduced New Purple 2364, a 100% vegan and sustainable alternative to synthetic pigments.

„New Purple 2364 is natural and sustainable as it is obtained from a selected purified fraction of red radish, planted and harvested with good agronomy practices,“ explains Yohan Rolland, personal care category manager, Givaudan Active Beauty. More than just a pigment, New Purple 2364 is also a nail protector and possesses an antioxidant benefit, so it can create wonderful makeup formulas the same way it ensures the protection of skin and nails.

Advanced botanicals are also making their way from skin care into color cosmetics. For instance, Evonik’s Tego line of hero active ingredients, including Turmerone, Natural Amaranth, Natural Matricaria and Enlight, represents sustainably sourced botanicals that deliver added benefits in cosmetic formulations while providing transparency through natural origin content calculations.

Brands are also committing to delivering sparkle and shine via ethically-made glitter— without microplastics.

„We see responsible brands like Today Glitter not only educate consumers about the crisis, but also offer a credible, ethical alternative to plasticbased glitters,“ says Huron. „Their unique Bioglitter is made from cellulose sourced from eucalyptus hardwoods, and not only biodegrades under natural conditions, but also biodegrades in fresh water, which is the standard for determining whether something is truly biodegradable in any environment. Sun Chemical is also innovating to fix the microplastic glitter problem, with their nature-inspired approach. Using biomimicry, Sun Chemical’s ChiralGlitter contains no pigment itself, but instead reflects from structural colors, as many plants and creatures across the animal kingdom achieve their colors. The ChiralGlitter is made from cellulose nanoparticles derived from wood and agricultural waste, making it fully biobased.“

On the horizon, formulators may be able to tap into pigments from mushrooms, lichens, yeast and mold. Multidisciplinary designer and biomolecular scientist Jesse Adler’s recent graduation project was to develop a method of extracting pigments from fungi to replace industrially produced dyes. Her method attempts to extract key compounds from organisms in nature only once, then cultivate and reproduce those materials in the lab, similar to stem cell culture extracts the cosmetics R&D industry has seen. The resulting pigments were reportedly applied in eyeshadow and lipstick collections, incorporated with natural oils and waxes.

While the products eloquently demonstrate the potential of fungal pigments, one industry expert reminds us of the regulatory hurdles natural colorants face.

According to color expert Kelly Dobos, „Color fading and compatibility with other cosmetic ingredients are often top concerns with naturally colored materials, but more importantly, color additives for cosmetics are highly regulated in every country and region of the globe.“

She continues, „These pigments, while innovative, would have to first go through the petition process in the United States and other countries; that includes submission of analytical data to create thorough specifications, including potential impurities and a battery of toxicological tests for designated applications like skin, lip or eye area. It is a high burden of proof but necessary to ensure safety and purity profiles on any new potential color meets the standards that currently approved colors have been held to for decades.“

Dobos also notes that the approval process for natural pigments such as these in the U.S. or EU would likely take years. Guess that means we’d better get started.

Adler notes, „The cosmetic collection I made for my graduate show was a proof of concept to evidence the potential of these pigments and was not intended to be used by anyone. (I wouldn’t even let anyone test out the lipsticks or eyeshadows at all as the pigments are untested/unapproved by a regulatory body). So, while I can’t speak to having any experience with colorant regulation yet, please be assured that I intend to conduct rigorous testing on the pigments before they touch anyone’s skin.“

Thankfully, those tests look to be on their way. Stay tuned.

Even with those innovations forthcoming, formulators are already tapping mushrooms extracts, as seen in IBG and Orchard Custom Beauty’s Shroomie Lip & Cheek Play Clay, a mousse-like matte „mud“ for the lips and cheeks. The playful texture draws on growing consumer curiosity regarding the anti-stress and wellness benefits of mushrooms.

The fastest-growing prestige makeup sector in 2022 was lip products, per NPD, with sales surpassing pre-pandemic 2019 levels by double-digits.

According to Trendalytics, searches for „glossy lips“ have grown 65% over the last year, while searches for red lip gloss and holographic lip gloss grew 15% and 221%, respectively.

Per NPD, prestige lip gloss outperformed lipstick in 2022, compared to both 2021 and 2019.

Many of these gloss products are multifunctional and skin care-inspired. To illustrate, RMS Beauty’s Liplights Cream Lip Gloss, available in six shades, features peptides and botanical butters to hydrate and repair damaged skin. Per the brand, a 7-day consumer study on 33 individuals yielded 97% agreement that the formulation boosted shine, did not sting and created the look of smoother lips.

Elsewhere, tinted lip balm searches grew almost 37% over the last year, driven by the popularity of Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, which works for a wide range of skin tones. Taking a page from the wider skinification trend, consumers are likely to begin seeking benefits such as SPF defense, hydration and soft matte finishes.

Speaking of hydration, Meloway recently launched its first lipstick, the Hi-Rise Hydrating Matte Lipstick, which features a one-handed, capless bullet package for easy application on the go or for those with low mobility. Key ingredients include shea butter, BASF’s Ultra Filling Spheres and Sederma’s collagen-stimulating Maxi-Lip. The lipstick is available in 16 shades.

Makeup Packaging’s Sustainability Pivot

„We’re continuing to see an emphasis on recyclable packaging,“ says Epopack CEO Amy Pan, „and technological advances in this arena are delivering sustainable solutions, along with luxury and customizability.

The supplier now offers a collection of PET droppers in which the collar and the tube are made of 100% PET material.

Pan explains, „It is not only safer being shatterproof, the dropper is also much easier to recycle. Furthermore, it’s highly customizable, which is always a limitation found with traditional glass droppers. It will be the perfect fit for a lightweight serum foundation.“

Elsewhere, Italian glassmaker Bormioli Luigi entered the glass makeup packaging segment via a partnership with sustainable packaging specialist Minelli Group, launching Tango, a lipstick package concept combining both glass and wood. The package features an FSCcertified wooden base with a glass cap. The central ring is made from bioplastic, featuring a removable click mechanism. The package is also assembled without glue so that all its parts can be separated for recycling.

Makeup is also an ideal category, in many cases, for refillable concepts. For instance, HCP’s Heirloom Super Slim Refill Lipstick offers a sleek aluminum design in a square of round format. The design includes a 6.3 mm cup with a smooth swivel. The pack can be decorated with matte, satin or shiny metallic finishes. Branding and patterns can be added via laser, diamond drilling, embossing/debossing, double anodizing, screen print or foil.

Knoll Packaging recently developed refillable compacts that replace thermoformed plastics with its Ecoform recyclable molded pulp, which comprises sugarcane, bamboo, and wood and sugar cane fibers. The design can feature a magnet-free closure and removable mirror. Furthermore, the pulp can be color-matched.

On the monomaterial front, Quadpack’s new Gala dip-in color cosmetic packs comprise four applicators for eye, lip and face formulas. The Elegant A rigid doe foot tool features a central reservoir on the tip, ideal for concealer and lip formulas that require rigidity and precision.

The Essential A round-tipped spatula with dual reservoirs on opposite sides is flexible and gentle for soft and easy application, per Quadpack. The Glamorous A concave petal-shaped tool is flexible with a large reservoir for formula collection and a pointed tip for precise application. Finally, the Irresistible A spoon-shaped applicator includes a central reservoir and rigid tip for control of highly pigmented lip products. The monomaterial packs feature 4.5 ml thick-wall bottles. More than 95% of the packs’ content is composed of recyclable PET, with the possibility of being delivered in 100% rPET. Lifecycle assessments reportedly show that a switch to a full PCR version improves the pack’s circularity index by 60%. Deco options include hot-stamping and metallization.

Some brands are using high-tech concepts to take their sustainable packaging to the next level.

„Thanks to biotechnology, there’s a rise in unique, biobased packaging made from natural sources like wood, soy or corn,“ explains Taryn Hoffman, strategist, beauty and wellness, Fashion Snoops. „Kemas has experimented with their packaging, releasing a cosmetic compact made from 60% limestone, while Libo Cosmetics created a rice bran collection for cosmetic packaging.“

Hoffman also notes that new packaging solutions, from marine-sourced materials to ocean-bound plastic, also support the blue beauty movement focused on ocean conservation.

„New materials like seashells are used in cosmetic packaging, like Raphaël Make-Up Brushes’ Ocean Brush made of 50% shell and 50% bioplastic,“ says the strategist. „We also see innovations like Roberts Beauty’s collection of sustainable packaging, created in partnership with Oceanworks, to create a cosmetic palette made from 100% Oceanworksguaranteed reclaimed and recycled ocean-bound plastic.“

A Tech-enabled Future

Keep an eye out for AI to play an increased role in customizable cosmetics, many of which boost accessibility in beauty. Coming soon to market is L’Oréal Brow Magic, the first eyebrow printer, which comes in the form of a handheld device designed for consumer use. The device works in conjunction with a camera-connected app, which allows the user to select the desired eyebrow design prior to printing the temporary design directly onto the brows.

„Today, shaping the eyebrow requires artistry and precision,“ explains Guive Balooch, L’Oréal’s global head of research and innovation’s tech incubator. „It’s challenging for most people and usually happens in two ways: drawing small lines that look hairlike, which is difficult stencil work and requires a steady hand; or having a professional service, such as microblading or other salon treatments.“

He adds, „We wanted to solve this consumer tension by creating a device, L’Oréal Brow Magic, that offers an accessible way to create perfect brows easily and quickly. It makes the user the expert in simple steps.“

The device is slated to hit the market later this year. Other AI-powered devices have proven to be wildly popular, such as the Rouge Sur Mesure Custom Lip Color Creator by Yves Saint Laurent Beauté—and we can expect these AI devices to push the envelope in color cosmetics.

Source: Global Cosmetic Industry Magazine, by Lisa Doyle.


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