Coming Clean: Raising the Bar in Natural Soaps
With the earth-friendly topic being on so many people’s minds lately, consumers are realizing that using natural personal care products is a simple way to start with a greener lifestyle. Consumer demands for natural personal care products has actually experienced double digit growth consistently for the past few years, with this trend not expected to slow. At the same time, non-natural personal care is typically seeing less than a five percent growth.
Natural is currently one of the fastest growing subcategories of personal care, with a large crossover clientele emerging and many mass, grocery, and drug stores are now offering natural products. Success has moved natural ingredients into mainstream brands, opened doors to food, drug, and mass merchant distribution, and driven major consumer brands to enter the market. Larger mass market companies are now realizing the extreme growth potential and profitability of the natural market as compared to the traditional personal care market.
Manufactures have been trying many different things in the soap market including making soaps for sensitive skin, using fair trade ingredients, and discovering new ways to make creamier and more moisturizing soaps. Consumers are looking for their natural personal care products to have the same easy use and performance level of chemical-based personal care products. There is also an increase in interest in using food-based ingredients, as it is appealing on a consumer level due to the familiarity, because if you can eat it, it must be safe.
Fragrance-free and sensitive-sin products are also on the rise, with thirty percent of the population reporting some sensitivity to fragrance, while more than eighty percent report that exposure to fragrances is bothersome, with many synthetic fragrances containing phthalates, which are linked to birth defects and health-related issues. However, the consumer must know that there is actually a difference between unscented and fragrance-free. Unscented products mask the odor of the actual formula with a fragrance, which leaves the potential for skin irritation and allergic reactions.
The Natural Products Association recently launched a Natural Care Product Seal and Standard so that consumers could more easily identify products with truly natural ingredients. Adhering to these requirements can prove difficult for manufactures of natural soaps. Soaps and creams present several challenges to formulators who are seeking to avoid chemicals and synthetic materials. Soaps made according to the above standards will cleanse skin and hair, although they may have an appearance and texture that was different than many consumers are use to. These soaps may be thin, create minimal foam, and may have a shorter shelf life than other natural products that are made according to alternative ingredient standards.
Although bar soaps are staple products year round, liquid soaps are currently gaining popularity, as bar soaps are often drying to the skin and have a high pH. Liquid soaps, on the other hand, have a pH closer to that of skin and also have the ability to moisturize. The market should see an increase in liquid soaps in the future, as the population ages and skin is drier and needs more moisture, leaving the moisturizing abilities of liquid soaps to meet these needs.