How You Can Launch a Sustainable Skincare Brand in 2022

How You Can Launch a Sustainable Skincare Brand in 2022

Today, sustainable beauty products dominate the shelves. In this article, we reveal how to launch a sustainable skincare startup successfully.

Shoppers today want glowing skin, but not at the cost of the environment. That’s evident in the way they are shopping. A study by Wella’s weDo/Professional revealed that more than half of customers prefer buying sustainable beauty products. A Partner at McKinsey, Emma Spagnuolo, shared in a podcast, “Since we started doing our generational research in 2016, we’ve been seeing a simmering belief and willingness to pay for more sustainable products.” 

The beauty industry will be worth almost US$465 billion by 2027. The beauty and personal care market is expected to grow by 4.06% annually from 2021 to 2025. That sustainability in skincare is a priority for many is evident. With that in mind, if you plan on launching a skincare startup,  here’s what you need to know about the sustainability boom. 

What is sustainability in skincare?

Sustainable skincare is about choosing products that are not only good for the skin but also the environment. That isn’t limited to just choosing the right ingredients. It includes the sourcing, manufacturing, packaging and selling of the beauty products, while giving due attention to fair trade (building transparent and equitable trade relations) and fair wages.

For instance, skincare brand Dew Mighty offers unbottled, plastic-free, zero-waste and vegan products. Here’s how they go bottle-free: they solidify traditionally liquid skin care products like serums to create a serum bar. Another innovative sustainable skincare alternative is by biotech startup C16 Biosciences, which is among Bill Gates’s many investments. The brand uses microbiology to create a sustainable alternative to palm oil. In doing so, they help solve the problem of deforestation contributing to climate change.

There’s also beauty startup Versed Skincare, which secured funding of over US$11 million in a Series A funding round in January 2020. It is a clean skincare brand offering products that are carbon-neutral, which means the brand balances its carbon dioxide emissions and absorptions. Versed is the first drugstore brand to offer clean skincare. The President of Versed, Melanie Bender, noted in an interview, “I’ve been working in sustainability for almost 18 years. We see it as continuous with clean beauty, an evolution of that. The climate is our number one most urgent need to solve.”

Why is skincare sustainability important for your brand?

Because it’s what consumers want. A survey conducted by MarketingTech with Global Web Index shows that 43% of skin care users would pay more for sustainable products. Over 60% of them take action after they watch a video that advertises sustainability too. For your brand to stand out and grab the attention of skincare consumers, you need to focus on sustainability. The study by weDo/Professional also revealed that more than half of consumers look for products with recyclable packaging and 44% value cruelty-free products. The shopper sentiment is leaning towards sustainability.

With that in mind, retailers are taking action. Spagnuolo mentions two ways brands are doing so: “The first way is to change how they do things and how they package things in order to be more sustainable and more environmentally friendly. The other way is to come up with different initiatives that counteract some of the harm that they may be doing to the environment.”

How do customers know if a beauty brand is sustainable?

To ascertain if a product is sustainable, shoppers look for the appropriate certifications on the packaging. For vegan products, some recognized regulators include Leaping Bunny, PETA and The Vegan Society. For organic products, earn your label from reputed organizations, like the Soil Association Organic or ECOCERT. To earn these labels, your product must be sourced ethically and manufactured using organically-farmed ingredients, without animal-testing, harsh chemicals, synthetic dyes and the like. For your brand to be perceived as sustainable, you must gauge the environmental impact of your products and make sure it’s a positive one. 

Besides the details on the packaging, the sustainability of your packaging matters too. You can opt for reusable packaging, such as containers made of glass, metal or compostable material.

How to launch a sustainable beauty brand?

  • Understand market needs and see what products could use a sustainable alternative
  • Create a brand story around the problem your product is solving—something that resonates with shoppers. According to the Founder of Lilah B, Cheryl Yannotti Foland, “I think that any beauty brand that launches today will have to have a clean ingredient story, unless you’re a Kardashian or you’re Rihanna with Fenty Beauty.”
  • Research ingredients, technology and techniques to help you achieve a green product
  • Build your social media strategy and include user-generated content to help your brand boost consumer engagement 

Don’t wait; make the most of the sustainable skincare boom today!

Header Image by Pexels

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Alinda Gupta
I am a professional journalist and gourmand with an inexplicable love for caffeine. I admire old architecture and find comfort in fiction books. I am also an A1-level certified French speaker—bonne journée!

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