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Markets & trends

Food trends start to impact the cosmetics industry

Beauty products that are gluten-free or free of ingredients from animal sources focus on niche consumers with restrictions, be they for dietary or moral reasons.

Brazilians are increasingly more aware of their dietary habits. A survey published by the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (FIESP) in 2018 showed that 80% of respondents try to eat healthy. Therefore, it is no wonder that the organic produce sector has been growing at an annual rate of 25% a year since 2015, with a revenue of R$ 4 billion, according to the National Council for Sustainable and Organic Produce (ORGANIS).

Márcio Accordi, director at Biozenthi

Márcio Accordi, director at Biozenthi

This trend is now also being observed in the cosmetics industry. Even though its numbers are still comparatively small, the category of natural and organic beauty products is already a reality in Brazil, attracting mostly consumers that are looking for products that align with their health, wellness and environmental concerns. Other trends stemming from dietary habits have been gaining traction among different consumer niches that cater to people with restrictions either because of health concerns or advocacy issues.

Vegans, for instance, do not use any products of animal origin or which are tested on animals. Recent estimates put the number of vegans in Brazil at more than five million, bolstering a market that has been growing at an annual rate of 40%, according to the Brazilian Vegetarian Society (SVB).

Surya Brasil is a pioneer in the manufacturing of vegan cosmetics. Over its 25-year-history, the company has always worked exclusively with natural, organic and additive-free products that have not been tested on animals. “It is possible to be an ethical, successful, and sustainable company that provides beauty with no side-effects,” says Priscila Ferri, who is responsible for marketing at the company. “Our goal is to cater to consumers that seek quality of life, quality of the products they consume, and who are concerned about the origin of product ingredients, because they either love and respect animals or because of the damage caused to society and the world as a whole,” she says.

Manufacturing vegan products since it was founded, Biozenthi also caters to another niche. Starting in 2011, the company was the first-ever in Brazil to have an exclusively gluten-free product line with the appropriate labeling.

Gluten is a type of protein commonly found in different types of cereal, such as wheat and oats. Gluten-intolerant individuals have difficulty digesting it or may even be unable to do so altogether, leading to gastrointestinal issues. Celiac disease, on the other hand, is a more serious condition, because it affects the immune system, causing problems such as anemia, brittle nails and skin rashes.

Symptoms appear after the ingestion of gluten. Therefore, cosmetics which contain this protein or may have come into contact with it during production should not be cause for concern, since the product is used topically and will not be absorbed into the intestine. “The problem is that a large number of people who suffer from celiac disease also develop herpetiformis dermatitis, causing skin to become extra sensitive and leading to an inflammation. In order to prevent an allergic reaction, people with this condition avoid cosmetics that contain gluten,” says Márcio Accordi, biologist and director at Biozenthi.

Any type of cosmetics may contain gluten, but its presence is more common in shampoos and lotions. “Products that contain gluten can be easily identified by the INCI, the international standard that is included on cosmetics labels, which is observed globally,” says Accordi. “However, there may be cross-contamination, when a product is technically gluten-free, but the manufacturing plant uses the same equipment to manufacture products that contain gluten. The best solution is to choose products from a company whose entire portfolio is gluten-free.

Surya Brasil’s best-selling henna lotion for hair coloring is gluten-free. “We expect the vegan and gluten-free markets to grow in the next few years,” says Vinicius Salvatore, from the company’s marketing department.

Márcio Accordi also believes these two categories will continue to grow. “These are two still-untapped markets. The availability of gluten-free products is expected to grow, given that many people with celiac disease are not aware of their condition. Vegan products will also gain more traction, since an increasing number of people are getting involved in this movement,” he says.

Renata Martins

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