Why natural cosmetics cannot replace entirely traditional ones


The ”natural trend” has been spreading from food, textiles to cosmetics becoming an essential marketing positioning and communications tool for both major and smaller players. By far, cosmetics is one of the industries which has been most influenced by this trend. We are being taught about the negative effects of parabens, phenoxyethanol, phtalates, artificial colorings, aluminium etc.

For years, advertising campaigns hail the ”natural” features of various products from skin care, make up, hair care to oral care and deodorants. Nowadays, pharmacies have become the battle ground for all producers natural or traditional products alike. Consumers have been turning to pharmacies for professional advice when buying cosmetics.

As in all other sectors, the industry leaders are the ones which command the largest shelve space, as they can afford the additional listing costs which smaller brands can hardly meet. By far, the largest player which has been dominating cosmetics in pharmacies has been L’OREAL with its ”active cosmetics” brands VICHY and LA ROCHE POSAY. Vichy’s line spreads from a full range of body cosmetics to skin care, deodorants, sun lotions, thermal water sprays, most of them dermato cosmetics.

The second largest player in the pharmacies retail sector is PIERRE FABRE Group which specializes in  natural and healthy cosmetics products with brands such as AVENE  (full range of cosmetics made with thermal water), DUCRAY (dermato-cosmetic brand known for its hair and body care products) KLORANE (hair care products made with natural ingredients). Smaller companies such as L’OCCITANE or CAUDALIE which are exclusively producing natural cosmetics have been making their way onto shelves and corners within pharmacies.

However, despite the numerous positive features of natural cosmetics, there are also essential features which these natural products cannot compensate by eliminating traditional dermato cosmetics ingredients. The best examples of such products are deodorants and anti-wrinkle creams. By eliminating aluminium, an essential anti-perspirant ingredient, natural deodorants cannot offer the long term protection guaranteed by traditional deodorants (L’Occitane’s Baux natural deodorant which is aluminium free, cannot compete with premium dermo cosmetic deodorants within the same price range, one of the best products being the Vichy Stress deodorant, guaranteed to offer 72 hour protection, of which the main ingredients contain two types of aluminium salts).

Another similar comparison is provided by anti wrinkle cosmetics. Natural products have not been proven to have the results as dermo cosmetic ones, several dermo cosmetic ingredients being essential for the effectiveness of the products. Hair care provides another example, with no natural products having the same results as traditional dermo cosmetic ones.

While the natural trend is here to stay and gain more ground in the near future, dermo cosmetic products cannot be discarded or ignored just because of their non-natural contents, many providing effects through ingredients and formulas developed through decades of research. Consumers are the only ones who can protect themselves by demanding more information on the products they purchase.

Oliver Petcu