The Convergence of the Inner & Outer
By Mary Bemis
A few months ago, I co-curated Discover Green, a new natural and organic beauty pavilion at Cosmoprof North America. It was a lot of fun and had a great turnout. The experience led me to think about how green beauty has evolved over the years, and where it’s headed now.
Twenty years ago, when I launched American Spa magazine to the trade, it was still news that beauty and beauty products are not just skin deep. Specifically, that at least 60% of skincare products are absorbed into the skin. By now, you know, that of course. But part of that growing realization came from the spread of products like nicotine patches—where mind-altering medicine can be applied to the skin. What you might call the skin/brain interface.
What’s happening now is a growing awareness that it’s all connected: what you eat can show up on your skin as a rash, and what you apply to your skin can really mess up your innards. The Environmental Working Group reports that one in five of all personal-care products contain chemicals linked to cancer, and 56% of those products contain penetration enhancers. It’s not so surprising then, that we’re seeing a serious consumer demand for greener beauty products. In fact, global demand for organic personal-care products, one-third of which are skincare, is expected to reach $13.2 billion by 2018, according to Transparency Market Research.
The realization that what you apply to your skin can really affect your insides is evolving, and becoming more sophisticated. I moved from New York City to Oregon, where we now have all kinds of legal cannabis infused creams and gels and personal lubricants. People—not me—put them on and get high in a variety of ways—and that of course makes people think twice about everything they put on—good or bad. If you don’t think that’s important, wait until November, when cannabis becomes legal in California, and 40 million people have access to a high you can rub on. It’s not just the skin-body connection, but the skin-body-mind connection that’s a radical shift.
Another trend that I paid a lot of attention to when I co-founded Organic Spa magazine about 10 years ago, was the link between diet and beauty. Over the last few years we’ve seen a rash of new diets—and one of the main reasons is that these diets prevent skin rashes. We’re moving so fast and are under so much stress, that the slightest allergen in our food can trigger an outbreak of eczema, or worse.
And of course, the latest news is that our microbiome—the bugs in our gut— communicate directly with our brain, and that communication has everything to do with what we eat or what we slather on. This microbiome awareness is what has created the probiotics craze. (The overall market for probiotics is expected to grow to $96 billion by 2020.) Along with that craze comes the fermented beauty trend, which is expected to grow in tandem.
As consumers are deconstructing their food labels—vegan, lactose-intolerant, paleo, etc., etc.—they are doing the same with their personal-care product labels.
So what’s the big news of 2016? It’s the convergence of the inner and the outer. Beauty of course makes you feel good. But the wrong beauty products will upset your microbiome, and the bugs in your stomach will turn on you, and signal your brain to make you depressed.
None of this hypersensitivity is a fad. The sensitive types of today, and they’re growing fast—are the canaries in the coalmine for the level of consumer sophistication that’s coming. Did you know that according to a recent Gallup poll, 21% of households have someone who consumes gluten-free products, and that 25% of kids under three are allergic to milk? Allergies, as previously mentioned, are on the rise.
But what about natural beauty and the insensitive types? My husband, for example, is not a sensitive guy. He’s a double IPA guy. But he recently had a facial—which is a real sign of change. But here’s the catch: He tasted the stuff before the esthetician put it on. And that’s what the industry is facing: A double IPA guy who thinks he should be able to taste-test his products to know they’re okay.
But isn’t that where natural beauty began? Here’s an interesting statistic for you: 60% of US millennials say they use food ingredients to make homemade beauty treatments because they are more natural than products they can find in stores. It’s going to take a lot to stay ahead of this fast-moving game. Are you ready?
Mary Bemis is the editorial director of InsidersGuidetoSpas.com. Recently honored with a Folio Top Women in Media Award, she is a founder of the Washington Spa Alliance, and is a recipient of ISPA’s Dedicated Contributor Award.