What you need to know

The clean beauty movement is experiencing a moment of evolution. With the pandemic increasing the concerns consumers have around safety, demand for clean beauty products has seen growth, catapulting the once niche category right into the mainstream. Simultaneously, the pandemic has given rise to several “expert” beauty influencers, challenging claims seen throughout the clean landscape and further raising the bar on how brands need to communicate with consumers. As discussed in this Report, differing ideological beliefs and perceptions toward clean among key audiences in the beauty space demonstrate that there is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach to either providing a clean product or communicating about clean beauty. Brands playing in the clean beauty space need to address the increased expectations consumers have.

The future of clean beauty is going to be nuanced and complex. Expect brands to adjust their communication strategies and NPD to reflect the values and beliefs of their core audience. While usage of the term “clean” may evolve to reflect the changing landscape, the tenets that define clean (safety, sustainability, inclusivity and positive impact) will continue to grow and shape beauty into the long term.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the clean beauty market.

  • Affordable clean brands at mass retailers are poised to grow.

  • Motivations and barriers to clean beauty.

  • Importance of product claims/attributes.


For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions of products that have natural ingredients, organic content, or are non-GMO:

  • Haircare (includes shampoo, conditioner, hairstyling products and hair color)

  • Skincare (includes skincare products for the face and body such as soap, shower gel, body lotion, facial skincare, sun protection, deodorant)

  • Oral care (toothpaste and mouthwash)

  • Color cosmetics (including facial, lip and eye)

  • Shaving creams/gel

The following categories are excluded from the scope of this Report:

  • Fragrance

  • Nail products

  • Children’s and baby personal care products

COVID-19: market context

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health pandemic, and on March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency in the US.

Across the US, state-level stay-at-home orders rolled out throughout the months of March and April, and remained in place through May, and in some cases June. During this time, referred to as lockdown, nonessential businesses and school districts across the nation closed or shifted to remote operations.

During reemergence, all 50 states have relaxed stay-at-home orders and allowed businesses to operate with varying levels of social distancing measures in place. The continued spread of COVID-19 infections has driven some states to slow down or reverse course on reopening plans. Mintel anticipates the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021 until a vaccine is available.

Consumer research for this Report was fielded in September 2020 and reflects consumers’ attitudes and behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic as restrictions on movement began to ease and businesses began to reopen across the US. The Report was written November 9-December 2, 2020.

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