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6 natural personal care trends on my Expo West 2012 radar

Thanks to a bevy of new natural product announcements, conversations with natural beauty manufacturers, preparation for education sessions and recent personal care coverage for Delicious Living and Natural Foods Merchandiser magazines, here are just six of the many trends I'll be checking out at Natural Products Expo West 2012

1. Man up

Duuuuuude. Where’s the men’s skin care? With growth of the natural/organic personal care market comes high hopes for the category: Market research firm Mintel reports more men purchasing personal care and predicts natural/organic will reap the benefits.

Few companies may be investing in men’s lines now, but Expo West is where to find the ones leading the way. One past standout was England-based Bull Dog Natural Skincare, which entered the U.S. market at the show and has become our gold standard for branding and marketing to the male customer.

Men who use skin care is a niche demographic. Are men who use organic or natural skin care simply too niche? Some companies successfully use androgynous branding to reach both sexes (bathroom staple Dr. Bronner’s and newer companies Seaweed Bath Co. and Pacific Shaving Co.), but I’m expecting more women body care manufacturers to launch male-specific lines. Derma e recently teamed up with Olympic athlete Mark Spitz on STUF, but the new men's skin care brand won’t be at Expo West, as it’s targeting a different audience ... who then will be marketing to The Natural Man next week?

2. Spotlight on sun care

I have absolutely no doubt this category will continue to grow. From the new FDA sunscreen regulations, enforceable in just a couple of months, to nano concerns, what’s the latest?

We’re addressing this in the education session Shedding Light on Natural Sunscreen Markets featuring Rebecca Hamilton, the mastermind behind Badger’s formulations; FDA regulatory expert Farah Ahmed of the Personal Care Products Council; and Thomas Cluderay of the Environmental Working Group.  

Not many companies in our industry need to reformulate to comply with new FDA legislation (they’re already getting it right!), but many are introducing new products or adjusting old ones to meet consumer demand—think non-nano ingredients or convenient sunscreen “sticks” for kids, plus sun care products with antioxidant-rich, plant-based add-ins (as well as UV-protective supplements) to target antiaging markets.

3. The ins and outs of beauty from within

I covered nutricosmetic ingredients, trends and products in March issues of Delicious Living and Natural Foods Merchandiser, and at every show I’m eager to see the latest. Some companies are pairing topicals with ingestibles for consumer trust and efficacy; this presents opportunities for supplement and personal care companies.

Sun Chlorella, Now, Sibu and SeabuckWonders all offer topicals and ingestibles. At Expo East I found Omojo, one of the only brands pairing these deliveries as a “kit.”

And even if they’re not adding topicals to their repertoires, more trusted supplement manufacturers (check out this year’s 2012 Supplement Award winners) will introduce beauty supplements—I just got an email about Jarrow’s new skin health supplement, and I anticipate that’s just a slice of launches I’ll see next week.

4. Innovation thrives

When it comes to natural skin care, is the industry going back to basics or back to the future? 

We’re seeing movements both toward simple, artisan-style products (Sprout and Antho) and innovation and science. The labels of basic body care like body lotions and soap will continue boasting fewer, often food-grade ingredients, while results-driven facial skin care relies more on the latest and greatest (collagen, peptides, plant stem cells, probiotics). In some ways these beauty ingredient lists look more like supplements (and in more and more cases they are supplements), and they debunk the myth that if an ingredient is difficult to pronounce, it’s bad for you.

Innovation also is critical in the makeup and hair care categories, which are in dire need of safe, effective alternatives to products containing everything from lead to formaldehyde. 

5. Do it for the children

There’s a huge opportunity here and unlike with the men’s category, companies aren’t wasting any time getting in on it. After writing a recent piece on kids’ personal care for Natural Foods Merchandiser, I truly believe that this category has the power capture crossover consumers, particularly by gaining the trust of parents. Like with natural/organic food, parents who may not have considered these purchases before are now making safer choices for their children.

With headlines about chemicals in conventional baby and kids products, parents pulled out of buying kid-specific personal care products entirely. Now they’re picking back up with their purchases, but putting money into naturals.

Kids brands like California Baby, Episencial and Dolphin Organics are firing out new products, while body and sun care companies such as Hugo and Eco Logical are expanding their kids offerings.

Kids hair care, body care, sun care (my prediction), oral care? I’m curious to see where companies put the most resources.  

6. What’s happening with certifications?

There's still a question mark surrounding personal care certifications for many customers, retailers and, well, editors for that matter. Here are a few of the top questions I'll be addressing. Are more products boasting the personal care-specific organic label NSF/ANSI 305 or striving for USDA Organic certification? Is green chemistry helping to solve formulations challenges? Or, are personal care companies shying away from organic certification entirely? Most importantly, are manufacturers finally being honest about organic claims? (Enter recent COPA lawsuit, and check out our education session on the topic.)  

Beyond organic, is ethical sourcing where it’s at, with an increased focus on fair trade? And what about natural: Is the personal care industry (NPA, Natrue, NSF) proving the term can actually mean something? Across organic and natural, will we see more international consistencies and collaboration?

What personal care products and trends are you excited about? Share in the comments.

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