Beauty Spot: Anti-pollution beauty – Why Europe needs to step it up

September 18, 2017
5 min read

While anti-pollution beauty is almost mainstream in regions like Asia and the US, in Europe, the market still lags behind. Despite European governments taking steps to alert consumers to the dangers of urban pollution, the beauty and personal care industry has been slow to respond. Beauty brands need to step up their launch activity, creating targeted formulations backed with compelling and meaningful marketing.

Anti-pollution launches lose share in Europe

The relatively affluent European cities may enjoy better air quality than those in poorer countries, but the issue is nonetheless hitting the headlines. Public campaigns about the dangers of pollution are clearly having an effect on consumer awareness: only 4-7% of consumers in France, Germany and Italy believe pollution is not an issue in their country, and around four in 10 French consumers say levels of pollution are only going to get worse in the coming years.

[one_third]Tint-my-brows[/one_third][one_third]Total Renew Self-Foaming Oil[/one_third][one_third]Tint-my-brows[/one_third]
[one_third]Medik8 Hydr8 B5 Hand Cream SPF 25: A hand treatment formulated to create an invisible “urban-shield” on the surface of the skin that prevents the absorption of airborne pollutants such as cigarette smoke, exhaust emissions and industrial fumes.[/one_third][one_third]Biotherm Biosource Total Renew Self-Foaming Oil: A self-foaming oil cleanser designed to remove urban impurities such as dust, dirt, pollution, as well as foundation, long-wearing lipstick or waterproof mascara.[/one_third][one_third]REN Clean Skincare Flash Defence Brume Anti-Pollution: A fine mist said to protect from the ageing effects of free radicals and environmental pollution by forming a non-sticky invisible barrier to shield the skin.[/one_third]
Despite the high level of concern, anti-pollution new product development (NPD) in Europe’s beauty and personal care market is stagnating. According to Mintel Global New Products Database, such products accounted for 1.3% of European beauty and personal care launches in both 2015 and 2016, and fell slightly to 1.2% of launches in January-May 2017. In contrast, Asia Pacific saw anti-pollution launches grow from 1.2% in 2015 to 1.7% in 2016; in North America, the share rose from 1.3% to 1.4% over the same period.

Using clinical data to convince consumers

In the past, brands couldn’t back their anti-pollution claims with data, creating a credibility gap with consumers. As a result, a third of German consumers say anti-pollution skincare products are of no use, and a quarter of French consumers don’t believe anti-pollution haircare has any validity. At the same time, almost half of Spanish consumers and a third of French consumers would like to learn more about how to protect themselves from pollution.

In the last two years, however, testing agencies have worked on protocols that can evaluate anti-pollution protection, which brands can leverage to convince sceptical consumers and move towards an on-pack anti-pollution index that mimics SPF ratings.

Haircare can add a top-to-toe anti-pollution dimension

Only 15% of Italian consumers have purchased anti-pollution haircare products, but 37% say they would be interested in doing so. These low numbers may be due to lack of availability. Although NPD and category share doubled in Europe in 2016, anti-pollution products still represented just 1.1% of total haircare launches.

[row][one_half]Hydro-Nourishing Double Serum for Dry Hair[/one_half][one_half][/one_half][/row]
[row][one_half]Shu Uemura Art of Hair Urban Moisture Double Sérum Hydro-Nourrissant: A leave-in combination of two serums that work together to nourish and shield the hair’s surface. Formulated with moringa extract and red micro-algae extract, it claims to offer protection against urban aggressors, such as dust, pollution, and hard water.
[/one_half][one_half]Aveda Pramasana Purifying Scalp Cleanser: According to the manufacturer, the plant-derived cleansing agents from babassu is said to help gently cleanse and purify the scalp, while wintergreen-derived salicylic acid exfoliates and removes pollution to create a clean, healthy-feeling scalp foundation.



Few brands have created an anti-pollution haircare regimen. Honorable exceptions include Aveda, whose Pramasana range offers a scalp cleanser and concentrate designed to nourish and support the scalp’s protective barrier against pollution. Shu Uemura is another, with the Urban Moisture shampoo, conditioner, treatment and serum designed for hair facing dust, pollution and hard water. Shea Moisture is one of the very few to add a styling component, an area worth exploring to jumpstart the ailing styling category.

Beauty brands step in

As more and more beauty brands develop products that combat pollution concerns, there have been accusations that they are merely seeking to profit from pollution rather than help alleviate it, creating an opportunity for beauty brands to step up and take action. In 2016, Shiseido created a vast advertising banner in Madrid, Spain, which claimed to remove greenhouse gases from the air. In May 2017, The Body Shop piloted a similar campaign in London, using Airlabs’ technology to create outdoor advertising posters that remove nitrogen dioxide and particulates from the air, leaving it up to 95% cleaner. Efforts such as these will please commuters, given the concern they are voicing about harmful emissions.


Visit Mintel on the “Trend Zone” at Cosmetic 360 to find out about the latest trends and product innovations related to environmental stress.
Cosmetic 360 – Paris – Caroussel du Louvre – 18th and 19th October

Vivienne Rudd, Director of Global Insight & Innovation, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel, has been writing about the beauty industry for more than 20 years. The former editor of European Cosmetic News and Cosmetics International, Vivienne has travelled the world, interviewing leading industry executives and reporting on corporate, consumer, marketing and product innovation developments.

Vivienne Rudd
Vivienne Rudd

Vivienne is the Director of Innovation & Insight for Mintel’s BPC team, creating and delivering trend presentations and focused insights to clients around the world.

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