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Why ‘Clear Beauty’ is the next big thing

by | Feb 22, 2024 | Business, Clear Beauty, Featured, Marketing, Podcast, Therapeutic Claims | 0 comments

Move over Clean Beauty – a new era of Clear Beauty is here!

In this industry, where innovation plays a key role and brands are always trying to stand out amongst their competitors, it’s crucial we think about about not just what we’re creating but how we’re communicating it to our customers.

Today, we’re diving deep into a topic that’s close to my heart and essential to every skincare business owner out there: the evolution from clean beauty to clear beauty. This isn’t just about trends; it’s about trust, transparency, and the very ethics that underpin our brands.

We’ll explore what clear beauty really means, why it’s becoming a cornerstone for consumer relationships, and how embracing it can elevate your brand beyond just being a product on a shelf. It’s about upholding high ethical standards and ensuring your brand stands out for all the right reasons.

So, whether you’re formulating the next big skincare line or refining your brand message, this is for you. And a warning – things will get a little controversial – especially if you’re a clean beauty fanatic!

If you’re into podcasts, listen in below, or otherwise keep reading for the highlights reel! 

Or listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

SHOW LINKS:

 

What’s wrong with the beauty industry?

We currently have some huge problems and gaps in the beauty industry:

  • No regulated definition for most marketing terms – e.g. clean beauty, green beauty, sustainable, natural, organic, dermatoligist tested, hypoallergenic, carbon neutral, biodegradable, cruelty-free, science-backed, medical-grade.
  • Consumer knowledge – consumers are getting more savvy, but are often overwhelmed by the amount of information (and misinformation) out there.
  • Some brands say whatever they want to make sales – either by making vague claims which can mislead consumers, or claims that are totally untrue, e.g. selling 100% mineral sunscreens that contain sneaky chemical filters.
  • Influencers not disclosing their commercial relationships with brands – even when it’s a freebie, this is still required
  • Limited regulator action – we’re seeing the regulators starting to crack down in some areas like greenwashing and influencer advertising, but we haven’t seem them actually fine anyone yet in the beauty space.

And all of these things aren’t fair to:

1) All the brands that are trying to do the right thing because it’s not a level playing field, 

2) Consumers because they are unsure who to trust, and

3) The reputation of the industry as a whole which gets tarnished when brands are called out by the media or the regulator.

There’s a distinct lack of transparency across the board, but we are seeing a trend with consumers demanding more transparency from brands – when it comes to ingredients, environmental impact and performance of cosmetic products.

 

The problem with Clean Beauty

One of the biggest perpetrators of this lack of transparency? Clean beauty!

Unfortunately I think the reality is that clean beauty (and green beauty) is anything but transparent and has made things even more confusing for consumers. There is so much misinformation and fearmongering out there now – and the clean beauty narrative has played a huge role in that.

When I first started out in 2015 – it was all about natural and organic products. I don’t recall the word ‘clean beauty’ being used much. But claims like “no nasties” were common (I must confess even I used that term back in the day!)

Then clean beauty came into fashion and “free from” claims became mainstream, leading customers to believe that if a product doesn’t have this on their label it must be full of toxic chemicals.

Fearmongering around ingredients became common place, taking scientific studies out of context to demonise certain ingredients (even synthetic ingredients proven to be safe) and categorising ingredients as either good or bad – ignoring the context of how they are actually used in cosmetics. (Check out my podcast episode all about fearmongering for more of my thoughts on it).

What is the point of clean beauty unless it’s actually CLEAR to the customer what it means?

 

What’s the solution?

It’s time to push for a new era of ‘Clear Beauty’ instead, where the focus is on being transparent for the benefit of brands and most importantly consumers!

Because apart from the ingredients in a product, which is the focus of clean beauty, a consumer also wants to know how a product will perform, how sustainable a product is, the values of a brand, etc. And they want to be able to 1) understand and 2) trust what a brand says.

 

What is ‘Clear Beauty’?

Clear beauty is a movement centered around transparency in the skincare and beauty industry. By advocating for clarity in every aspect of a beauty brand from production and communication, this approach empowers consumers with the knowledge to make informed choices, fostering trust between brands and their customers.

It’s relevant to everything from marketing claims and advertising, ingredient listings, ingredient sourcing and traceability, product packaging, brand values, supply chain, consumer education, regulatory compliance and environmental responsibility.

One thing I do want to make ‘clear’ – is that clear beauty is not just another marketing claim! And it’s not just a passing trend or fad – it’s the way things should be done and is here to stay (especially with the ACCC’s increasing focus on things like greenwashing and influencer advertising).

Clear beauty stands against:

  • Blanket statements that mislead customers because they’re too broad to have any real meaning
  • Using ambiguous or made-up claims to make your product sounds better than a competitors
  • Hiding behind jargon or complex terminology that makes it difficult for consumers to understand how a product will benefit them
  • Misinformation and fearmongering about ingredient safety – misinterpreting scientific data and taking advantage of people’s fears and vulnerabilities to suit your own marketing agenda

Clear beauty champions:

  • Being transparent, not just honest. Honesty is when a person tells the truth about something they’re asked about – but might be holding back information. Transparency is volunteering information without having to be asked.
  • A focus on what IS in the product – not what’s not in it.
  • Making claims that are backed by evidence, and being specific with marketing terms used so a customer knows what they mean
  • Customers being able to make informed purchase decisions based on FACT, not fear
  • Consumer education based on science
  • Doing the right thing ethically by your customers.

Truth + Transparency = Trust

Why it matters to me

As you may already know, compliance is something that I’m really passionate about. And it’s not just because it’s my zone of genius, but because I’m a firm believer in that being a compliant brand is also being an ethical and trustworthy brand. Success, ethical practices, and compliance all go hand in hand.

Clear beauty is rooted in regulatory compliance (not making false and misleading claims, or engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct – which are both outlawed by the Australian Consumer Law). But it’s more than just checking a regulatory box; it’s about genuinely looking out for the consumer’s best interests.

This consumer-first approach really speaks to me (because let’s face it, we’re all consumers), and it’s the reason Clear Beauty is a movement I want to start and become a thought leader on.

 

Where to from here?

It’s clear that change isn’t just up to one person or a small group. It takes all of us – consumers, brands, and even regulators. And let me tell you, I’ve chatted with so many people who are just as keen as I am to see this shift happen!

What brands can do

  • Add an FAQ section on your website to break down the marketing terms you use
  • Stop fearmongering over ingredients! If you’re still relying on free-from claims to promote your products – it’s time to move on. You’re not standing out by doing this – and you’re doing your amazing products a disservice.
  • Disclose your ingredients, making sure they’re listed on your website for customers to see before they buy.
  • When it comes to influencers, transparency is key. If they’re showcasing your products, even if just gifted, make sure it’s clear to their audience and yours.
  • If you’ve got sustainability as a core value, think about it from the whole life cycle, and read the recent ACCC guidance on how to make sustainable claims.
  • Consider ingredient traceability, showing customers exactly where and how ingredients are sourced.
  • Develop content that educates consumers about skincare ingredients (the facts, not misinformation!) and how to choose products that align with their needs.
  • Ensure that customer service policies are transparent, including clear returns policies.

By implementing these strategies, brands can embody the clear beauty ethos more fully, positioning themselves as leaders in transparency, ethics, and consumer advocacy within the beauty industry.

What consumers can do

It’s all about knowledge. Dive into learning more about the products you use and don’t shy away from asking the tough questions.

What the regulator can do

Guidance is great, but action speaks louder. It’s time to show brands that misleading consumers isn’t on the table.

What I will do

I’m always on the lookout to work with brands and founders who put ethics and their customers at the forefront. If this is you, you’re my ideal customer and I’d love to help you embrace clear beauty and check your labels and claims!

 

I’ll also keep educating you through my content and courses about how to make clear claims and how to incorporate clear beauty values and practices into your brand. I’m going to make clear beauty happen!

And who knows? Maybe there will be a Clear Beauty Awards on the horizon one day!

If everyone in the beauty industry embraces ‘Clear Beauty’ and steps up their game on transparency, imagine what a difference we’d make to consumer trust!

This commitment to openness would not only strengthen the loyalty between brands and consumers but also set a new industry standard for integrity. We’d have a future where consumers can make choices that are informed, confident, and aligned with their values, which would be a huge leap forward!

I would absolutely love to know your stance on the clean vs clear beauty debate.

Is it time to ditch ‘clean beauty’?

Will you join me in this push for transparency and ethical business?

Either way I’d love to know! So email or DM me (or comment below)!

 

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Jennifer Rudd Skincare Business Foundations 28

Hi, I'm Jen

Founder of Skincare Business Foundations, I help skincare and beauty founders build compliant and ethical brands that last.

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