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Brief Published: 28 Nov 2014

Sustainable Cosmetics Summit: Top 5 Insights

Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, Paris, 24-26 November 2014

The sixth edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, held in Paris from November 24-26, drew participants from leading international brands to hear about new green ingredients, consumer behaviour and marketing developments. We pick the top five insights from the summit.

  • Values vs Purchasing Gap: The gap between consumer attitudes to sustainability and their purchasing decisions was a key theme at the summit. According to research presented by Kathleen Enright, director of sustainable communications at international communications agency Ogilvy Earth, in the UK, there is a 20% gap between what consumers say they’ll do about sustainability, versus their actual behaviour. How to narrow the gap? “Make it easy for the consumer, attractive and personal,” said Riikka Poukka, sustainability services manager at financial services firm Deloitte in Finland.
  • Positive Messaging: For marketeers, the message was clear: banish the ‘S’ word, avoid ‘Free From…”, and start telling your consumers the positive impacts that your product will have on the world. Turn the conversation around and avoid guilt marketing; consumers respect honesty more than perfection.
  • Food Waste – the Untapped Potential: Keracol, a spin-off company from the UK’s University of Leeds, has worked with British retailer Marks & Spencer on a Plan A project to develop active ingredients from grape skins, a byproduct of its own-brand Pinot Noir wine production.

    The Pure beauty range, which went on sale in 2014, contains resveratrol – an antioxidant that improves skin radiance and hydration. The line demonstrates the potential of collaboration between the food and beauty industries, as well as a cradle-to-cradle sustainability model.

    Dr Meryem Benohoud, research fellow at Keracol, said: “Food waste is a renewable, inexpensive, and all too readily available source of powerful natural ingredients, and by developing this technology, brands would make natural and functional cosmetics and personal care products accessible to everyone.”
  • Wild Ingredients: There is a growing demand for wild, collected beauty ingredients, which is putting pressure on species and ecosystems, according to Vicky Murry, head of sustainability at UK brand Neal’s Yard Remedies. Murry advises conducting resource assessments, developing a management plan, and considering a certification label, such as FairWild, to ensure accountability and clear communication to customers on your wild ingredient sourcing policy.
  • Stem Plant Cells: Both Spanish biotech company Phyture Biotech, a spin-off company from the University of Barcelona, and Italian biotech company Phenbiox, a spin-off company from the University of Bologna, showcased plant stem-cell technology.

    The plant cells are believed to have cell repairing and protective skin benefits. They cells are isolated and then grown in a laboratory, thus reducing the need for land and water, producing negligible waste, as well as allowing biotech developers to work with rare plants.

For more on sustainable beauty trends, see Focus on Brazilian BeautyThe New Eco Beauty, and Rethinking Beauty: Sustainable Futures