More than ever in recent years, sustainable development and social responsibility are at the heart of the new concerns of the cosmetics and perfume industries. Faced with new consumer expectations, brands are committed to offering green and clean perfumes. But what does this really mean? What are the impacts on your bottles? Between marketing arguments and real initiatives, we take stock.
What is the clean beauty?
A background wake
For the past few years, the “clean beauty” trend has been gaining momentum. This concept has imposed itself as a real evolution rather than a simple passing trend. It has given brands the impetus to change, to manufacture and offer products that are more transparent and respectful of our skin AND the environment. Because yes, when we talk about clean beauty, one cannot go without the other. This movement appeared in the United States in the early 2000s and has spread since 2010, pushing manufacturers and smaller houses to reconsider their position, from formulation to packaging. This trend has affected our hygiene products, from toothpaste to shampoo, but also skin care products and of course makeup. Having an eco-friendly bathroom is now much more accessible than before.
What about the clean perfume?
And this new direction has not been slow to take the path of perfumery. If 10 or 15 years ago, vegan or eco-responsible perfume was clearly not a fashionable selling point, the approach of perfumers has now changed. To reach a new generation or simply to participate in the change, many houses, whatever their size, have evolved their products.
But the approach remains complex and the discourse less decipherable than that of the more “classic” cosmetics. Indeed, the case of perfume is a bit special. In Europe, cosmetics manufacturers are obliged to include the complete list of ingredients on the label according to the INCI nomenclature. For confidentiality reasons, perfumers may not mention all the substances contained in the juice. But don’t panic, we give you our tips to see more clearly.
A clean and green perfume: from the plant to the essence
Responsible crops and green chemistry
The clean beauty approach already intervenes upstream from the assembly of ingredients. Indeed, the first step is to source natural raw materials and to set up sustainable channels to cultivate them in agreement with local producers. Whether it is patchouli from Indonesia, Virginia cedar or bergamots from Calabria, perfumers are no longer interested in the scent alone, but in the entire production process of the material. Carbon footprint, water and energy use, farming methods, living conditions of the pickers… These are elements that all actors of the perfume industry take into consideration. This is an integral part of the now famous CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).
And the “clean” is also expressed in the extraction of these raw materials. Green chemistry is now a key transformation element in the fragrance industry. Initiatives are being taken to obtain plant essences in a less polluting way, using cold extraction or supercritical CO2 for example. Another significant advance is upcycling. This method consists of using certain waste products rejected by other industries, notably the food one, to recreate odoriferous materials. In this way, some composition companies use fruit puree discarded by juice brands to create natural essences. There is also more and more talk of white biotechnology to design new molecules from enzymatic reactions. A concept explained in detail in this inspiring article from the magazine Nez.
All good in the bottle?
The composition of the perfume: clean = natural?
As “clean” often rhymes with “green”, some advertising speeches encourage confusion. So is a respectful product necessarily 100% natural? Not automatically! And yes, ingredients of natural origin are not necessarily eco-responsible. There are flowers and trees that are rare because of climatic events. On the other hand, the cultivation of certain raw materials poses ethical or geopolitical problems.
At the risk of repeating ourselves, we’ll tell again: synthesis is a real boon for perfumers. It avoids the use of products of animal origin or to pull too much on the planet, whose resources are not inexhaustible. A clean perfume can thus mix beautiful natural raw materials with all the modernity and creativity offered by synthetic molecules.
Clean perfume, from packaging to marketing
Beyond the composition, a clean perfume is as beautiful on the inside as on the outside! The commitment pushes the cursor to the level of packaging, the use of materials and the amount of plastic. Over-packaging and clean beauty do not usually go together. The question of refillable bottles is also becoming more and more important, driving designers to reinvent their way of selling perfume. On the marketing side, the clean concept also works. Some use (and abuse) these arguments in their advertising campaigns to show their commitment. Brands also broadcast campaigns where photos are no longer retouched. They put in scene muses who do not necessarily answer the rigid (and ancestral) codes of the fashion and the beauty.
Carrément Belle’s commitments
At Carrément Belle, we have always advocated transparency in our discourse, long before the trend of clean beauty! And for good reason, our philosophy for over 34 years is to harmoniously combine the beauty of natural ingredients with synthesis. Offered at the right price all year round, our bottles are made of recyclable glass, as is the cardboard of our boxes. To develop our fragrances, we work with local artisans and partners. This allows us to promote a local know-how and to be part of a low environmental impact manufacturing.
But we still have work to do and ideas for an even more eco-responsible and sustainable approach. We recently asked you about the removal of the plastic film that surrounds our products, and we are currently looking for a solution to remove the plastic from our packaging while guaranteeing the inviolability of your products. At the same time, the team is considering the creation of a unique refillable bottle for the long term. If you have any other suggestions or wishes, we would be delighted to hear them!
So, is the clean and green perfume trend clear to you?
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