Spreading Clean Beauty

How conscious beauty is aligning with nature for helping consumers relieve stress

In a world where stress remains a prevalent issue, conscious beauty has proven to be useful in providing significant help to consumers looking for a way out of stress. 

The pace of modern life, the impact of technology and information overload and global issues such as economic uncertainty or environmental stressors have created the perfect storm for stress. 

However, an important counterbalance has also emerged energetically: the increased focus and knowledge around well-being and the strategies to achieve it. Data across the globe speaks about this reality. For instance, in South Korea, 67% of consumers actively seek ways to reduce stress, while 33% of US consumers are willing to pay more for BPC products with mood-boosting qualities.

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While there are a myriad of approaches to well-being (from yoga to therapy and many others in between), connection with nature seems to be a win-win situation for all of those who try it. In fact, in China, 40% of consumers aged 18-24 are interested in trying outdoor sports for emotional well-being enhancement.

It’s precisely in this context where practices like shinrin-yoku have entered the picture. Translated as “forest bathing” from Japanese, this concept involves immersing oneself in a natural forest environment to promote overall well-being. Research suggests this practice (which originated in Japan in the 1980s and has since gained popularity worldwide) can help reduce stress and improve moods. 

With shinrin-yoku in mind, what role can conscious beauty play in alleviating stress and attracting conscious consumers who’re looking for their own strategies for well-being? 

What is conscious beauty?

The term conscious beauty refers to a holistic approach to cosmetics and personal care that takes into consideration ethical, environmental, and health-related factors. 

More specifically, this concept focuses on notions such as mindfulness and responsibility in the choices individuals make regarding the use of beauty products, considering the impact of these choices on oneself, others, and the planet. 

In the realm of conscious beauty, these are some of the key concepts that are prioritized:

  • Ethical supply chain: fair labor practices, ethical manufacturing, cruelty-free methods and an ethical and transparent supply chain are all considered.
  • Natural, sustainable ingredients: conscious beauty products will often prioritize plant-based, organic, and renewable resources
  • ‘Green’ packaging: this includes recycled materials or minimalistic designs that reduce waste and environmental harm.
  • A focus on ‘clean’ as healthy: this approach includes avoiding harmful chemicals, toxins, and allergens in formulations. 

All in all, conscious beauty is also about encouraging mindful consumption, urging individuals to buy products with intention, while also understanding beauty as going beyond external appearance: from introducing self-care practices to implementing changes for stress reduction.

The power of conscious beauty for relieving stress

While shinrin-yoku has shown promising results in stress relief, the truth is global societies are shifting towards becoming more urban. In this scenario, being directly in touch with nature may not be as accessible as it sounds, as not everyone can engage in outdoor activities.

For instance, we’ve mentioned above that consumers aged 18-24 in China have stated an interest in outdoor activities. However, 32% of them also say outdoor activities are time-consuming and may not easily fit into their busy and budgeted lifestyle on an every day basis. 

This is where conscious beauty comes in. Natural cosmetics in the wider framework of conscious beauty can provide this much desired connection to nature and thus contribute to stress relief.

The narrative here is bringing the natural world and its relaxation benefits closer to home, and the opportunities abound, including: 

  • Incorporating essential oils with therapeutic and aromatherapy properties. Natural fragrances (lavender, chamomile…) can have a calming and mood-enhancing effect, while also evoking a sense of being in nature
  • Generating a sensory experience beyond aromas, through textures and colors that engage the senses and connect them to the natural world
  • Introducing mindful rituals in which applying natural, conscious beauty products is an opportunity for a meditative process and being present in the moment

Plant-based ingredients within conscious beauty thus become a way for grounding individuals to the natural world, fostering a connection to nature through extracts, botanicals and herbs.

3 conscious beauty trends to embrace

  1. Explore forest scents. Olfaction-related elements of the forest environment have the potential to reduce stress hormones. Such is the case of phytoncides, the volatile organic compounds emitted by certain plants which are known to contribute to reducing stress hormones (such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol), while also enhancing the cytotoxic activity of NK cells. Exploring forest scents in conscious beauty products thus represents an opportunity for stress management through botanical extracts and beyond.
  1. Unlock the potential of eco-friendly packaging. Truly innovative initiatives not only focus on using eco-friendly packaging, but go one step beyond: they help consumers preserve and give back to the Earth. For instance, brands could explore the possibility of using reclaimed wood to protect and restore forests, as well as search for alternatives to paper materials.
  1. Cruelty-Free practices. Adhering to cruelty-free practices (such as avoiding animal testing) represents an ethical approach for conscious beauty that really resonates with consumers who seek products aligned with their values while helping them reduce stress.

Whatever the strategy, any decisive move towards conscious beauty must necessarily be tied to sustainability in the broader, most exhaustive sense of the world. 

In order to do so, brands can take inspiration from what has been labeled as the ‘intelligence of forests’: the complex and interconnected collective intelligence within forest ecosystems where an intricate web of relationships between species works together for the overall health and resilience of the ecosystem. 

In this context, aligning with valuable, sustainable strategic partners for the development of conscious beauty is key. Provital steps towards green manufacturing and our continued commitment with top-quality, sustainable plant-based ingredients position us as the allies towards developing true conscious beauty. 

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