What will turn natural personal care into the comeback kid?

Yesterday, I chatted with Lynea Schultz-Ela, a Hotchkiss, Colo.-based natural products consultant, about the buzz in beauty. Although natural personal care sales were flat in 2009, Schultz-Ela said several innovations and shifts are giving the category a facelift:

  • The mainstream press has increased its coverage of the downsides of chemical ingredients, which, ultimately, will boost natural personal care. For example, National Public Radio recently aired interviews with the authors of Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things. Authors Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie applied shampoos and soaps and then tested chemical levels in their bodies. “When we used a brand of shampoo that contained phthalates, there was a measurable increase in phthalates. But when we used a brand that didn't contain phthalates, those levels came down," Smith said to NPR. Retailers carrying "clean" PC products benefit from this type of "research."

  • In response to the recession, natural PC manufacturers are offering and retailers are stocking more value sizes, which give consumers more product for their money. This strategic step has staunched the bloodletting in personal care sales, according to Schultz-Ela.

  • Hot categories to watch include facial care, men’s care and baby care, according to Schultz-Ela. Within those categories, flowers and fruits (think goji berries, rose, cherry, melon, pomegranate and acai) likely will be popular.

For more of Schultz-Ela’s insights, check out NFM’s live coverage of Natural Products Expo West in the Show Daily (will be live on March 11). I’ll be interviewing Schultz-Ela on beauty trends she’s observing at the event.

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