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Clean Beauty in India: Transparency Trends at the Helm  

Over the past few years, we have seen the rise of clean beauty in India, but how did this come about? And what makes them so popular?

For most of the 20th century, makeup and skincare have been dictated by the titans of the beauty space and the claims they choose to put on their labels, and how pretty the packaging looks. Like most other industries, the beauty industry made claims backed by celebrities with flawless skin and an army of post protectionists.

In the early 2000s, however, we saw a bit of dialogue begin, over the interwebs, about how no one woke up looking like Angelina Jolie. There was a rise in customer reviews, people leaving public comments about their experience with beauty products. This drove a need for more information, and with the rise of technology and platforms like YouTube, the trend turned to “influencers”.

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Influencers Dictating the Beauty Industry

YouTube has seen a major rise in popularity over the past decade. It’s a platform that allows literally anyone to share their opinion and expertise in creative and attractive formats. According to Statista, in 2017 there were around 88 billion beauty-related content uploaded on YouTube. The beauty industry is worth 532 billion dollars and is expected to double by 2023. Makeup brands are using the power of beauty influencers and are aware of how much business they can attract through a single reference, and how easily they can lose all their customers if an influencer finds a flaw in their ingredient list.

But today, the skincare community on YouTube is out to share knowledge. To help consumers understand what goes into a product and what exactly it does to your skin. There has been a massive focus on the ingredients that make up a product. These influencers are spreading awareness about the fact that you don’t have to be a scientist to know how these things work. Ten years ago, beauty enthusiasts would never have known the term ‘Niacinamide’, but today, if you consume any sort of beauty-related content, you know this one.

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Cassandra Bankson, an aesthetician propagates the idea of ‘turn and learn’, meaning, look at the ingredient list and study a product before you lather it all over your face! Hyram, a skincare specialist, has blown up over the past two years and his videos detail every single ingredient in a product and point out the ones that are good and the ones that aren’t.  These are just two examples, but this trend has spread like wildfire and we see it trickling into the industry of clean beauty in India as well.

Is The Fear of Being Cancelled Driving Transparency Trends in the Industry of Clean Beauty in India?

With influencers keeping such a close eye on the ethics, ingredients and claims of beauty brands, we see a rise in the need for ‘trusted’ brands with realistic claims and ethical sourcing.

The Ordinary, a brand by Deciem has been around a while, and its focus has always been transparent about their ingredients and what they do. In fact, the names of their products are simply the names of ingredients. And with the rise of the transparency and honesty trend, paired with Hyram endorsing The Ordinary to the heavens and beyond, the brand is now almost always sold out! And of course, this fact did not escape the ambitious minds of clean beauty in India. A brand called Be Minimalist arose…copying The Ordinary almost exactly…like exactly. No effort on their part whatsoever. But little did they know that the transparency trend goes way beyond just ingredients. It focuses heavily on ethics. And soon after their launch, they were under fire. (See image below)

 Is it the fear of something like this happening that is pushing existing brands to launch more conscious products? Revlon, a brand most of us are familiar with, has never really been known for its values/transparency/ingredients, but now they are releasing the first mass cosmetic product, PhotoReady Prime Plus Perfecting + Smoothing Primer, that meets the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) industry-leading clean beauty standards. EWG is widely recognized as the most trusted and rigorous evaluator of personal care products by awarding this prestigious mark only to products who meet robust ingredient and transparency requirements.

What Else is Turning Transparent? 

Beauty brands aren’t the only ones showing up all transparent and clean, even beauty marketplaces have been popping up to do their part. In 2019, Sublime Life was launched, one of India’s first-ever Clean Beauty curators and online marketplace. At Sublime Life, they mindfully curate sustainable, ethical, effective and cruelty-free skincare products and makeup that are kind to the consumer as well as the planet. 

Vanity Wagon is another such marketplace that offers only products they think are clean. They even offer something called the ‘Belle Box’, a subscription box that offers a variety of clean beauty products to customers on a monthly basis. Not only are they attracting customers with their prices, but are spreading awareness about brands that may actually be worth our while. 

The transparency trend is not exclusive to the Industry of clean beauty in India, it has spread across a lot of other retail industries including fashion and food as well. 

The transparency trend has very evidently been driven by the millennial mindset and the world of influencers. But not all that has come out of it has been like Be Minimalist. We now see a wide range of makeup and skincare lines that seem to truly care about their customers, as well as the planet and their impact on it. We are seeing a shift in the core values of brands, and I really don’t care if it’s because they are scared of being cancelled, or are just in it for the cash. As long as there is a positive change, I think we’re all moving towards a better, cleaner and kinder future.