BEIRUT: With the increased awareness about environmentally and health-friendly products, the global cosmetics industry is welcoming natural, organic, and cruelty-free alternatives, and Lebanon is joining in on that cosmetic venture.
The avant-garde Lebanese mindset that holds personal grooming in high esteem has always kept the cosmetic industry of Lebanon stimulated, and according to a 2018 report by the Ministry of Economy and Trade, among the country’s top exports list.
The active cosmetic industry of Lebanon encloses many of the country's most dynamic businesses, many of which are expanding their markets by including “green” and “clean” beauty products which are both healthy and eco-friendly.
“The modern consumer is becoming more discerning, knowledgeable, and demanding in his/her pursuit for healthier living,” Lynn Khoury Soubra from Lynn’s Apothecary told Annahar.
She added that the increasing interest in natural beauty is a continuation of “this true shift in lifestyle,” and that consumer access to knowledge will make it harder for mainstream brands to use green-washing as a selling point without truly reforming their products composition.
In the present climate, many of cosmetics enthusiasts are no longer only checking the price of a product before buying it, but also its ingredients.
Khoury Soubra explained that in genuinely clean and natural makeup, the brands use certified organic ingredients that are often food grade, such as coconut oil, cocoa butter, buriti oil, shea butter, jojoba seed oil, rosehip oil, and Vitamin E.
On the other hand, conventional makeup contains a combination of numerous ingredients, including emulsifiers, thickeners, and artificial ingredients like paraben.
“Natural makeup, alternatively, gravitate towards organic ingredients that protect and nourish the skin,” makeup artist Anna Mekhitarian told Annahar, adding that even though the effect is not as long-lasting as that of traditional beauty products, “you can always retouch and reapply.”
Mekhitarian believes that if awareness is raised about the health risks and dangers that come with conventional makeup, every cosmetic enthusiast will go “all natural.”
“Paraben, for instance, prolongs a product’s shelf life,” she said, “but it is known to disrupt hormone function.”
A large percentage of natural and organic makeup brands are also promoting the principle of anti-cruelty by not testing their products on animals, a phenomenon that leads to the worldwide death of animals in millions.
Jean Claude Tarchichi, operations manager at Lush Lebanon, told Annahar that the international handmade cosmetics company has been against animal testing since they were first established in 1995.
“Cosmetics do not require animal testing,” Tarchichi said, explaining that if ingredients aren’t safe to use on humans, searching for alternatives makes much more sense than to “keep testing on animals till they are.”
According to Tarchichi, “our skin is used to what exists in nature and reacts well to it,” as opposed to its reaction to products loaded with inorganic and unnatural ingredients which “may last indefinitely, but surely tire the skin.”
A local cosmetics brand that also follows the cruelty-free principle is Koa, a newly founded natural nail polish brand.
As its founder Eddy Karam told Annahar, healthy nail polish prevents skin irritations and allergic reactions to dangerous ingredients of regular nail polish like formaldehyde, parabens, gluten, and acetone.
“Most nontoxic nail polishes are 3-free, meaning they do not contain formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate. However, natural polishes can go as far as being 7-free, 10-free, and even 14-free,” he explained, adding that using “toxic ingredients” doesn’t mean a better product or better results.
“Natural products are used with superior ingredients, and we can definitely get the best outcome using healthy elements,” he added. “All what people need is more awareness to go more natural, more organic, and use high-quality products whose constituents won’t irritate their skin.”
Natural cosmetics are also penetrating the online business market. Nissrine Baaklini, owner of Slow Beauty Middle East, an online shop for natural, organic, vegan, cruelty-free and eco-friendly skincare and beauty products, launched her business in 2018 after noticing the need to develop this market locally.
“Back then, I was pregnant and wanted to use the safest cosmetics available, and had to use natural products all the way from France,” Baaklini said.
She explained that the shift to natural cosmetics occurs when we are “aware that all the toxins and chemicals used in regular cosmetics enter our bodies.”
Similarly, Karen Feghali made the shift to natural living when she quit the world of corporate advertising after noticing that she was “promoting unethical brands.”
She founded thegoodgoodshop.com, a local online shop that promotes ethical and healthy products that also include skincare and beauty brands.
According to a Grand View Research, Inc. report, the global natural cosmetics market size is expected to reach a value of USD 48.04 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 5.01% from 2019 to 2025.
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