Clean, sustainable, natural. These words are often used when we discuss beauty trends in today’s world of climate crisis and eco-conscious living. But what do they really mean?
Natural beauty means the ingredients are derived from nature. They are often botanically sourced, without chemically created ingredients.
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Clean beauty simply means the ingredients are not harmful to human health. This is mostly used when the product is formulated “free from” a laundry list of harsh and questionable chemicals like sulphates, parabens or synthetic fragrances, which may lead to hyper-sensitive and reactive skin.
Sustainable or conscious beauty refers to eco-friendly and ethically made products by way of their formulations, supply chains, production practices and even packaging.
According to a 2019 Forbes report, the beauty and personal care industry is worth US$500 billion ($666.5 billion) annually. The sheer amount of packaging used contributes to 18 million acres of forest being felled annually. These don’t include the carbon footprint in other parts of the supply chain and logistics.
This is why some home-grown brands are, from the get-go, creating products with a conscience. The simple premise: to be safe and natural, using ingredients that are fairly sourced, ethically manufactured, and cruelty-free.
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The reasons for innovating their beauty brands are varied. Often, it is about paring down the product and staying true to form. This was the case for Lily Kew, who started Kew Organics as her solution to have skin that never needed makeup to cover up flaws. She formulated her products with certified organic and natural ingredients, with most of them being water- based, vegan and non-GMO. Even the packaging in special glass bottles is a consideration to keep the active ingredients fresh.
Glowfully founder Charlene Sim developed her brand in 2018 after sourcing for non-toxic products for her cancer-stricken mother who was undergoing chemotherapy. The brand specialises in creating spa-like feels with essential oils and unique jelly-like textures.
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For others like Bskin and Ania, the pride of familial expertise or cultural affinity are driving factors. Bskin founder Chia Su-Mae battled acne throughout her youth, and found the answer in her family’s business of bee-based products. She then developed a range of bee-derived and propolis-based skincare that are said to have healing benefits, and are rich in antioxidants to fight free radicals that age the skin.
Ania’s aim is to create the cleanest skincare in existence. It’s co-founded by a Singaporean and a Moroccan-born entrepreneur who wanted simplified but effective skincare using tried-and-tested traditional ingredients that work. It is the first beauty brand from Singapore and South-east Asia to receive the “EWG Verified” mark from the world’s leading ingredient-safety police, Environmental Working Group, for two of its products.
Here, we recommend some products to try.