Why are natural cosmetics so popular?

The popularity of natural cosmetics has skyrocketed in the past couple of years. Who are the people buying natural cosmetics today - and why? We spoke with Johanna Koskinen, marketing director at our partner, Finnish eco-trade pioneer Ruohonjuuri, to get her insights from the frontlines of the natural cosmetics market. 

How has the market for natural cosmetics evolved from Ruohonjuuri’s perspective? 

At a fast pace, in terms of both sales and product selection. In the past five years, the amount of brands has exploded! We get offered two or three new product lines every week, and natural cosmetics is now our fastest growing product category.

Why do you think interest towards natural cosmetics has grown so much?

People have become more aware. We have been taught to pay more attention to what we put in and on our bodies. I often see that people start with organic food, and then start using natural skincare. People realise that it’s not just food - what you put on your skin also matters.

Who buys natural cosmetics? How has the buyer profile changed over the years, and can you spot the changes in Ruohonjuuri’s customer base?

It really depends, because now there are brands that cater to all kinds of customers. Anyone who uses cosmetics is able to find a natural option that suits their wallet and preferences. On average, I’d say that people who buy natural cosmetics in Ruohonjuuri are women who live in cities and are between the ages of 20 and 50. About 15 years ago, people who bought natural cosmetics were a lot more conscious about the environment. There weren’t many options available and you usually needed to compromise on something for the natural alternative. Now, environmental concerns are still important, but not as crucial as before. Natural products have become tempting for other reasons, too.

Have the reasons for buying natural cosmetics changed? If yes, how?

It’s a little less about the environment, and more about wanting cleaner products for yourself. The environment is still really important, but not the driving factor. You want the products for yourself. The environment is a great bonus that comes with the purchase.

How has the selection of natural cosmetics developed in recent years?  

It has grown a lot. The amount of imported brands has increased significantly. It’s also been thrilling to see that many more local companies have entered the market. Thanks to buyouts, a few large players have also emerged. They’re an interesting addition, because they can compete with non-natural cosmetics, as well.
In terms of the product selection, trends have always played a big role. Face oils were huge at one point, and our shelves were full of them. Now, we’re living in the era of serums - and new ones keep appearing!
Some emerging trends I would keep an eye on are zero waste, anti-plastic and short INCIs. They are being discussed increasingly often, and it’s likely that they will start influencing purchase decisions. In terms of INCIs, I’d say that Laponie is already representing the trend quite nicely.

Does the natural cosmetics market in Finland have any special characteristics that set us apart from e.g. Sweden? 

I think it has more to do with how you market items. Finnish and Swedish consumers, for example, tend to have the same skincare needs. We saw it when we launched our Happy Food Store in Sweden. When we marketed the same items in both countries, they would sell just as well.
There are some small differences in how people find products. I think in Sweden people are more likely to follow trends set by influencers. If a popular blogger recommends a product, Swedes are more likely to shop it in crowds!

Is there anything else you would like people to keep in mind, when it comes to natural cosmetics?

Make sure the cosmetics you buy are actually natural. Since natural cosmetics have become so popular, some companies flirt with the idea of being natural without actually checking all the boxes. If you’re not sure, look at certificates. There are also some apps you can get to make sure the natural cosmetics you are buying are, in fact, natural.