In 5 years, the percentage of French people who buy organic hygiene and beauty products has doubled, from 20% in 2017 to 43% in 2022 (Kantar).
Taking advantage of this enthusiasm, more and more brands are investing in the clean cosmetics market. An adjective as vague as it is promising, which is intended above all to be reassuring and which claims a certain naturalness, real as suggested. However, it is difficult to distinguish the true from the false behind the multitude of more or less committed labels, slogans and logos...
In this context, we wondered what clean cosmetics had to hide. Does it really keep all its promises?
Zoom on a trend not as clean as it seems.
Clean cosmetics or the SANS syndrome
Let's start at the beginning: to date, there is no precise and framed definition of clean cosmetics. Sometimes natural, sometimes green, sometimes vegan, it's hard to understand what this increasingly overused expression really means. What seems to be a consensus is that a clean cosmetic or hygiene product would be safe for its consumer. In other words, it would be a product that does not contain any ingredient that is harmful to health or to the environment.
Clean cosmetics is therefore defined according to the ingredients it does not contain: this is what we have called the SANS syndrome. Paraben-free, fragrance-free, aluminum salt-free… and the list goes on. But then, what remains in these formulas? Are they really effective?
Most cosmetic products on the market are mainly composed of water and glycerin (or glycerol). However, these two ingredients do not have a truly targeted action: water is mainly used to transport the other active ingredients in the formula - therefore a minority - and glycerin is recognized for its humectant and moisturizing power. Water represents between 60% and 80% of the weight of the total formula for a cream and up to 95% for a shampoo or a shower gel. We understand better how a relatively basic formula containing very few active ingredients can legitimately claim to be clean . This is, we repeat, absolutely no guarantee of efficiency or transparency: its only merit is that it does not contain any identified harmful ingredient.
In our opinion, the only way to determine if a product is really clean is to know precisely what is inside.
Clean but not clear
Even if the Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and the Repression of Fraud (DGCCRF) and the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) attempt to provide a legal framework for the use of “free” claims in France , self-proclaimed clean brands continue to use them wrongly, drawing the consumer's attention to what a product does not contain instead of enlightening them on what it actually contains.
The INCI lists are not easy to decipher for the general public and most of the time we are unaware of the exact origin of the ingredients, the percentage of active ingredients used, the proportion of organic or local ingredients, etc. To try to see more clearly, reading by labels is a possibility. But you still have to find your way among the multitude of certifications that have appeared over the past twenty years.
The European Ecocert Cosmos Organic label remains to this day the most demanding: it guarantees at least 99% ingredients of natural origin, 95% organic plant ingredients and 20% organic ingredients in the total formula (10% for rinse-off products). Although it only requires a shower gel to contain 10% organic ingredients…
Caution is required when faced with these indicators, which do not always live up to their notoriety. In case of doubt, it is still better to go to brands with clear speeches which favor short formulas and communicate in complete transparency on the ingredients they select. At Days of Confidence, we have chosen to advertise the color by clearly displaying our percentages of organic and local active ingredients and ingredients.
In addition, a clean formula is not enough to create a clean product, the packaging also has its role to play.
And the packaging in all this?
We are entitled to expect from a clean brand a global approach including both the development of a safe and effective formula and that of packaging with a limited impact on the environment. One does not theoretically go without the other. However, on the ground, it is not so. Some supposedly clean brands do not hesitate to multiply packaging and favor polluting materials, such as plastic (even recycled), and/or non-recyclable. An approach motivated more by issues of cost and practicality than by real ecological responsibility.
Here again, the claim of certain labels, including FSC , which guarantees the use of renewable resources from a reasoned supply chain, can be the sign of a greater commitment.
Finally, we hear more and more about carbon offset programs aimed at reducing the impact of brand activities on the environment: the L'Oréal group, for example, has undertaken to ensure that 100% of its sites are carbon neutral by 2025. Announcement effect or tangible commitment? Only the future will tell us.
Clean cosmetics or the art of greenwashing?
Did you know that in Europe, the sale of cosmetic products whose finished product and / or ingredients have been tested on animals has been prohibited since 2013? Consequently, no beauty product referenced and sold in France has a priori been tested on animals. Nevertheless, some brands continue to put forward more or less official logos claiming their commitment to the animal cause. This is one example among others of greenwashing or ecological bleaching, widespread in the world of clean cosmetics.
At Days of Confidence, we have chosen very demanding specifications that combine efficiency, eco-responsibility, transparency and sensoriality to offer “ the strict maximum ” to our customers.
Our approach combines the best of bio-active cosmetics and micronutrition with effective formulas, 100% natural and concentrated in biological active ingredients, in eco-designed plastic-free packaging (except for serum and cleanser pumps). ) eco-friendly. Beyond the clean argument, we wanted to advocate a global and, above all, conscious approach.
Days of Confidence also works in partnership with the One Tribe platform and the UN, donating part of its turnover to local organizations that work to preserve our ecosystem. A concrete action far from the false promises that agitate the market. By acting in this way, and carried by the momentum of the heart, we join a generation of truly committed actors who give birth to conscious cosmetics a little more every day.
If the growth of clean cosmetics in recent years has had the merit of democratizing more natural products that are less harmful to consumers and their environment, today being clean is no longer enough. One watchword: less is more. Less packaging, fewer ingredients, less noise… for maximum transparency, efficiency and commitment. More than a new trend, a real story of trust, shared in conscience.