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The most popular skincare and beauty products no longer rely on synthetic ingredients.

Across a vast array of different industries, consumers want to know where ingredients or materials for products are sourced; how they’re made; who they’re made by; and whether they will support or damage their health in the long term. Beauty products are placed directly on the skin — so a broad interest in holistic health has triggered a new consumer interest on ingredients and processes.

The demand for organic cosmetic products is strong. The global natural cosmetics market size is expected to reach a value of USD 48.04 billion by 2025, increasing by 5.01% from 2019 to 2025, according to a recent report published by Grand View Research.

The demand for natural cosmetics for skin care was estimated to have the highest revenue share of USD 10.31 billion in 2018 followed by hair care. Growing awareness and popularity for natural cosmetics is the key factor driving the demand. The natural fragrance market is expected to register a CAGR of 5.03% between 2015-2025. Demand for products free from harsh chemicals, petrochemicals and preservatives, has been growing over the past few years. Major market players have been investing significantly more into reseach and development to boost the production to cater to the changing consumer preferences.

Why Is The Natural Beauty Market Growing?

Statistics published by Euromonitor International indicate that the Middle East and Africa’s beauty and personal care market was worth around $34.9 billion in 2019 alone, 8% up from 2018. Projections suggest that figure will rise to $43.4 billion in 2022. The growing global preference for clean, green and sustainable beauty products has however also taken hold in the Middle East and African market. The natural and organic cosmetics market in the MEA region was estimated to be worth between $2.25 billion to $2.5 billion in 2017, according to analysts from TechSci Research, who indicated the regional market for natural and organic cosmetics could grow annually by 12-15% over the next five years. That would place the retail value anywhere between $4 billion to $5 billion by 2022, according to TechSci Research. Euromonitor’s market analysts have also noted a growing preference for natural, sustainable and ethical beauty products.

In the United Arab Emirates, the market for organic and ethically sourced cosmetics is growing quickly; and it is expected that the number of consumers interested in buying natural products will continue to rise dramatically over the coming years. According to the most recent data, consumers in the UAE spent $247 per capita on cosmetics and personal care products, more than any other country in the Middle East, and ninth worldwide; this is forecast expected to grow to $294 in 2020.

So where is this demand coming from?

Firstly, socially conscious consumers are the new driving force behind market trends. Buying ethical goods is now cooler than it’s ever been before, particularly as environmental awareness is becoming mainstream in the millennial and Generation Z markets.

Social media is key to the shift in consumer demand. Trends are shared more quickly and emotively, with celebrities and influencers — as well as everyday people — posting content which urges everyone to become a conscious consumer. Gwyneth Paltrow’s natural, plastic-free beauty line, Goop by Juice Beauty, is a prime example this. In 2016 she told Vogue that “the idea that you’re exercising and trying to eat well and then slathering yourself with chemicals, parabens, and silicones — it’s not great.”

However, it would be a disservice to the intelligence of consumers to claim that the move towards natural products is only down to celebrity influence or peer pressures. Instead, it seems that as the world changes, a new form of consumerism is emerging, based on principles of awareness and caring about people and planet. Consumers want their purchases to be good for their bodies and good for the world.

In the Middle East, the climate directly affects skin health; and water quality, wind and humidity, and pollution levels can all trigger or exacerbate skin conditions. In 2017 the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) found that around 90% of the population were deficient in Vitamin D; and UAE health authorities estimate the country’s childhood obesity figures at around 40%.

This new research highlights the population’s new focus on personal health. As people are exercising more and eating better, products applied to the body are being assessed more carefully. Beauty brands now dedicate entire sections of their physical and e-commerce stores to clean cosmetics; and Sephora has launched a line called ‘Clean at Sephora’. The products within this initiative are free from a wide range of sulphites and chemicals commonly used in beauty products; as well as being free from all plastics and animal-derived ingredients.

As well as the general rise in awareness of health and environmental issues, natural cosmetics companies are responding to a number of very relevant consumer concerns. Lawsuits, such as the Johnson & Johnson case in which a large settlement was awarded as a result of ovarian cancer related to talcum powder — have brought attention to the dangers of chemicals used in personal care products. In response, legislation regarding cosmetics ingredients is being revised by governments around the world.

In addition, increasing R&D expenditure is likely to propel the growth. Global figures value the supermarket and hypermarket segment at approximately USD 13.67 billion in 2018 , followed by convenience stores; owing to rising demand for natural cosmetics. Online retailers offer another popular sales channel.

The online market is anticipated to expand by 4.47% from 2019 to 2025. Consumers can access a wide range of natural cosmetics online, which are expected to remain the key driver for the segment. Opportunity to obtain natural products online when they are unavailable at conventional stores is anticipated to be contributing to the growth.

Legitimate Concerns And Personal, Positive Change

In the Middle East, attitudes towards natural products have changed significantly over the last ten years. Organic products of all kinds were previously questioned or dismissed; but today, consumers are curious about the potential benefits of buying natural.

Natural cosmetics are usually priced higher than their synthetic counterparts. This is because the cost of natural ingredients changes year on year and is directly affected by uncontrollable environmental factors; and the manufacturing process for organic and natural products is more labour-intensive. However, the bigger price tag is not dampening demand. In the haircare market, for example, products containing coconut, marula, argan, and almond oils are gaining traction over products containing harsh chemicals which are now known to damage hair.

Retail trends clearly show that consumers in the MENA region, and particularly in the UAE, are happy to spend more money on natural products. In addition, they want to know more about what they’re buying; and increased understanding of the way ingredients work on the body is generating a higher market value for organic cosmetics.

At the 2018 Beautyworld Middle East trade show, attendees were presented with a dedicated Natural and Organic section for the first time. Various market players are involved in manufacturing a variety of natural cosmetics such as body lotions, scrubs, masks and exfoliators, shampoos, perfumes, and lip care. Companies like 100% PURE, and Au Natural among others have launched products, such as lip glosses, concealers, and multi-use products made of natural contents i.e., mineral and natural pigments, botanical and plant derived ingredients.

The growth of this natural and ethical market is having a positive impact on global perceptions of the beauty industry, as well as on consumer well-being. Within it is a story of effort and optimism, and we look forward to seeing where this story goes next — as market growth will motivate more brands to focus on natural products and new manufacturing technology.

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