Beauty Beat: Cosmetics Trade Show: Science Versus Nature

Science and nature were the hot topics at In-Cosmetics, the ingredients trade show held here April 17 to 19.

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The idea of technologically advanced ingredients versus natural ones was explored at In-Cosmetics.

WWD Staff

PARIS — Science and nature were the hot topics at In-Cosmetics, the ingredients trade show held here April 17 to 19.

“We are seeing super science versus ultra-organic,” said David Jago, an analyst with London tracking firm Mintel International, during a talk titled “Beauty Trends: Growing Dichotomies,” one of a series of conferences held during the event.

“On the one hand, frontiers are being challenged by science-based formulations, with branded ingredients that are proprietary or patented, and we’re seeing the communication of that science on packaging,” Jago added. “On the other hand, the evolution of the natural trend for many years now has gone from natural to communicating on natural, to organic ingredients, then to certified organic ingredients and now to an ethical positioning using fair-trade ingredients.”

Merging results-oriented technology with natural or organic ingredients was a key message at the show.

“There’s a lot of naturals activity,” said Homer Swei, worldwide purchasing franchise manager at Johnson & Johnson, who attended the show.

“We’re seeing a rise in nature-based science, with high levels of functionality like fruit acids, which are natural and can be organic and used in a scientific way,” noted Jago.

Mintel analysts also pointed to a rise in premium organic lines, such as Care by Stella McCartney and Clé des Champs.

During his presentation, “Marketing Ethical Cosmetics — The Organic and Natural Perspective,” Amarjit Sahota, director of London tracking firm Organic Monitor, said one of the challenges facing the growth of the natural beauty market was a lack of clear labeling on natural and organic products.

Sahota said the European natural beauty market generated 2006 sales of 1.1 billion euros, or $1.38 billion at average yearly exchange, and was growing approximately 20 percent a year, but the definition of what constitutes a natural product remains hazy.

Organic Monitor, which has been tracking the natural cosmetics market since 2003, classifies natural products as those made with plant extracts and natural ingredients, with minimal amounts of mineral oils, chemicals and synthetic substances. They don’t contain parabens or petrochemicals. According to that definition, Organic Monitor does not consider L’Occitane, The Body Shop or Lush natural brands, for example.

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Based on Organic Monitor’s criteria, Europeans’ per capita spending on natural cosmetics remained low last year, at just 2.9 euros, or $3.92, but there were indications the trend was moving mainstream, executives said. Sahota pointed to L’Oréal’s purchase of Sanoflore, Clarins’ stake in Kibio, plus Hain Celestial’s acquisition of Jason, Avalon Organics and Alba Botanica, as signs the market is going green. He also predicted Hain Celestial would buy one or two of the leading organic brands in Europe in the next couple of years and there would be increased interest from private equity firms in the sector.

Supermarket chains, including Tesco, Waitrose and Asda, which championed the move to organic foods in the U.K., have begun offering organic private label beauty lines, too.

“Just as the consumer is reading food product labels and looking at what she eats, she will be more critical of beauty products,” said Philippe Gadel, of Jump France, a Parisian communications agency, during his talk, titled “Drawing Inspiration from the Food Industry — The New Way to Innovate.”

Gadel said there was a growing synergy between healthy eating and beauty, as exemplified by a brand such as Dr. Perricone, which offers dietary advice with beauty products.

“It’s a new holistic beauty approach,” said Gadel.

Like food brands, cosmetics manufacturers are increasingly communicating the geographical and historical origins of their ingredients. Gadel cited skin care brands Nuxe, Caudalie and Kiehl’s as examples.

In tandem with the growth of the natural segment, marketers say they are continuing to see a drive to highly technical products.

Mintel analyst Nica Lewis pointed to 3Lab “h” serum, containing a bio-engineered human growth hormone, and Amatokin, a cream using stem cell therapy, as examples of “pushing the frontiers of science in the quest for people to look younger.”

On the flip side, Gadel suggested women were becoming disenchanted with products they deemed overly technical or too sophisticated. “They are very critical of the results promised by manufacturers and, above all, from highly scientific formulae, which are hard to understand,” he said.

Finding the fine balance between understandable claims and communicating efficiency will be a key, he said.

“Brands are adding sophisticated claims to basic products for educated consumers,” agreed Jago, who said an example of this was MLab Anti-Aging toner, which, unlike a traditional toner, contains purportedly anti-aging active ingredients.

Yet, many befuddled consumers are looking for no-nonsense, single-action products, he said, such as items by Hakansson, based in New York. The company calls its makeup remover The Remover and its moisturizer The Moisturizer.

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