Plant-Based Personal Care: Skin Care with an Ethical Edge

The new generation of ‘woke’ and ‘ethical’ consumers in the personal care and cosmetics space has put forth the spotlight on plant-based products in the industry. Plant-based personal care or ‘botanical’ personal care products refers to products that use plant-derived ingredients and are in the form of oils or extracts. These products deliver results that are free of harmful toxins, perceived as a side effect of their synthetic counterparts.

The High-end Benefits of Plant-based Personal Care Products

Plants are naturally loaded with antioxidants, protecting from the damage of free radicals, supporting cell repair, and promoting collagen synthesis. This has propelled botanical ingredients’ popularity as they help slow down skin degeneration, including wrinkling, fine lines, loss of elasticity, and a lackluster complexion. These ingredients typically contain a wide variety of beneficial compounds, but in natural ratios that are readily absorbed by the skin. So, from just one botanical ingredient, you can reap diverse benefits.

On the other hand, synthetic ingredients tend to have one or a handful of active substances, in high concentrations. While the skin might get supercharged from the higher dose, it does not provide the assorted benefits of the botanical alternative such as fragrance. It takes high-end efforts to procure these valuable plant-based ingredients. However, the enhanced benefits keep their prominence high in the market.

Plant-based skincare might appear to be a recent trend, but the use of botanical ingredients in skincare is far from new. It has been actively practiced by various cultures across the globe. Cosmetics professionals have highlighted that consumers are becoming increasingly interested in botanicals, and market studies back that up as well. Recent surveys have indicated that almost 8 out of 10 consumers buying plant-based products will return to the brand/ product again. Surveys also indicate that environmental impact and higher quality of the ingredients ranked among the greatest motivations for consumers to buy plant-based products.

However, the sector does not come without its shortcomings.  As these products are quickly becoming popular, the industry still seems to struggle with multiple challenges.

Challenges Faced by the Industry

Botanical products face a multitude of challenges, and the major one is greenwashing. Greenwashing refers to conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how products are made. There is no formal system that defines or regulates the ‘natural’ claims. Consumers have also been mixing up the claims of products being ‘vegan’ or ‘organic’, and companies seem to be taking advantage of this perplexity.

Another major issue is the safety of these botanical ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products. Typically, personal care products with botanical ingredients tend to be applied topically (applied externally to the skin). However, while developing such products, formulators must ensure that the finished product is safe for use while considering its preparation history. The ingredient selection itself depends on the specific botanical ingredient, the concentration of the said ingredient in the raw material/ finished product, and the route of exposure. Challenge lies in the varied references available to the formulators that describe botanical preparations’ isolation, use, and safety. The lack of a unified code has resulted in products with ingredient concentrations that are harmful to the skin.

In a Nutshell

With an acute awareness that plant-based skincare is here to stay, ChemBizR has been constantly reviewing the market space to remain updated on the latest developments in this sector. Botanical ingredients and products not only have a positive effect on our bodies but on the environment as well. Seeing how the preferences are shifting, it is evident that the exponential demand rise of natural ingredients will enhance the presence of plant-based ingredients.

However, the industry needs to effectively tackle the issues of greenwashing and safety so that the consumer need for plant-based products is successfully met. With the advancements in technology and new heights of science, we have faith that the days of exclusive plant-based personal care products are not far behind.

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