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In Europe, the natural and organic cosmetics market has grown despite the economic downturn. Consumers are increasingly concerned about skin care ingredients they see as posing potential health risks, due in large part to media hype. This has led many to look for natural ingredients on product labels.
This interest may have been a driving force behind the record attendance at the Natural and Organic Products Europe event, held Apr. 7-8, 2013, in London. Further, the Society of Cosmetic Scientists’ 6th Annual Scientific Symposium, held April 30–May 1 in London, also focused on naturals. Here, co-author of the Green Beauty Bible, Josephine Fairley, stated that 17,000 women who tested skin care products reported natural fragrances as having drawn them to botanical beauty ranges; however, they were also confused by eco-certification symbols. [For more on certification, see “Labeling for Legitimacy: Certifications for Natural and Organic Personal Care” on Page 522 of this issue.] Even so, it is without a doubt that natural and organic skin care is a stronger category than ever before.
The affinity of consumers to naturals is especially strengthened with the growing awareness of how nature is a part of their daily life. Internally, nature can have a restorative and therapeutic effect on the mind and body; enhancing mood and improving self-esteem, in turn extending lifespan and imparting a happier, more relaxed feeling.1 Research also has shown that people who live closer to nature are often more physically active and less likely to become overweight.2 Even rates of recovery from surgery improve when patients can view green spaces from their hospital windows,3 as gardens near hospitals have been shown to reduce stress, help patients come to terms with an incurable conditions, or provide a relaxed setting for face-to-face interaction.4
Externally, the consequences of climate change are a concern, which can be discussed at length. Global temperatures are expected to rise during the next generation’s lifetime to levels that none have experienced in the past million years. Beyond ecology, skin in particular is exposed to the negative effects of climate change including increased UV radiation, extreme temperatures and humidity changes. However, this shift can be slowed with environmentally responsible or green practices. Sustainable, socially responsible and eco-friendly practices in manufacturing, such as recyclable packaging, ethical sourcing and support for local communities, should therefore aim to protect the natural environment. These practices make consumers feel better internally, and bring them closer to nature—both factors contributing to the growth of the natural personal care market.
Many skin care ingredients from nature induce a sense of well-being and provide beneficial sensory attributes. Medicinal plants are an important part of skin care in every tradition around the world. For instance, dermatology research has shown the benefits of polyphenols from Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel), Camellia sinensis (green tea) and Polypodium leucotomos (fern) in skin care. These antioxidants protect the skin from sunburn and photoaging.5
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