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Whole Foods Debuts Better Beauty Swap Program

The weeklong initiative, taking place during the chain's annual beauty promotion, mimics clean beauty swap programs at more upscale retailers like Follain and Credo.

Whole Foods Market is taking a cue from high-end clean beauty retailers with its Better Beauty Swap program, debuting next week during the Amazon-owned natural grocery chain’s annual Beauty Week.

On March 30, customers at five Whole Foods stores in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Los Angeles can bring in one empty beauty or body care product and swap it out for a limited-edition Whole Foods Market Beauty Bag, free of charge. There are two versions of the Beauty Bag to choose from — Self-Care Sunday and All Day Beautiful — and each contains 14 beauty products from brands in the retailer’s Whole Body department, including Acure, Thayers, Burt’s Bees, Andalou, Weleda, Dr. Hauschka, Pacifica, Derma E and Yes To. The bags, which were made in partnership with Queen Alaffia — a brand that supports women artisans in West Africa — are valued at $100 retail.

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At Whole Foods, “clean beauty” is considered products that do not contain ingredients from a list of over 100 of them that are commonly used in conventional beauty products.

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Clean beauty retailers Follain and Credo Beauty, which both lean toward the higher end of the market in terms of product assortment, each have their own iteration of the beauty swap. At Follain, customers can go in for a “clean consult” with a store employee, to find clean beauty alternatives for products in their routines. At Credo, “clean swaps” can be booked for $30, though the fee is waived if a purchase exceeding $30 is made.

Every year, Whole Foods discounts the Whole Body department during Beauty Week — this year, everything is 25 percent off, and Amazon Prime customers get an extra 10 percent off. Despite “deeper engagement” in the Whole Body department, said Whole Body global category manager Amy Jargo, the beauty swap program is being tested because the retailer has found that, even at Whole Foods, many consumers aren’t necessarily aware of the retailer’s ingredient standards — or even what ingredients in beauty products are considered controversial and why.

The retailer is increasingly focused on incorporating more trend-driven products into its mix. Areas that are currently driving growth at the retailer include ingestibles, sleep-related products, probiotic supplements and skin care, vegan cosmetics and superfood ingredients.

The Better Beauty Swap program will take place between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. during Beauty Week, and is open to the first 200 customers in participating stores.