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What is Slow Cosmétique®?

When you think about “clean” beauty, you might expect to get reassurance from a label guaranteeing that beauty products are clean. Only in the absence of an official definition, there is no clean beauty label! So it’s wise to gravitate towards associations offering guarantees around beauty products that are ethical, free from pollutants and much more, as endorsed by the organic and Slow Cosmétique®labels. Let’s take a closer look at the details of Clean Beauty consumer behaviour.

What is the Slow Cosmétique® association?

Slow Cosmétique® is an eco-friendly and ethically-sound approach, based on a shared wish to point consumers towards natural, healthy, reasonable beauty product purchase and use. A way of behaving differently as a buyer and user of beauty products. It’s a militant and international association, set up in 2012 by Julien Kaibeck. 250 brands currently bear the Slow Cosmétique label, 216 of which are French.

The unique nature of the Slow Cosmétique® endorsement

It’s the only beauty product label that’s concerned with both the formulations and the business model of a brand (claims, production and capital structure included). This label scrutinises brands in their entirety, on the basis of more than 60 criteria arising from the Slow Cosmétique® Charter. Besides having clean formulations, these brands take a “smart” and “reasonable” approach to beauty.

In what way is the Slow Cosmétique® label a guarantee as to clean beauty credentials?

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The Slow Cosmétique® label’s Charter is designed around four pillars (for beauty that’s eco-friendly, smart, healthy and reasonable), two of which are very close to the criteria of organic labels. The top priority: no toxic or polluting substances are permitted. Where there is any doubt as to the toxicity of a substance for humans or the environment, Slow Cosmétique® errs on the side of caution and avoids using it.

From a public health and ecological standpoint, the guarantees afforded by the organic and Slow Cosmétique labels are broadly the same, with the exception of sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) surfactants. These are not permitted in organic preparations, and tolerated by the Slow Cosmétique® Charter by way of exception for solid beauty product formulations. This is because the latter help to foster the general public’s awareness of the zero waste approach to beauty products. If once rinsed away they were to prove polluting, they would be prohibited.

Photo : Slow Cosmétique

Eco-friendly beauty products

This first pillar of the Slow Cosmétique® Charter indicates that qualifying brands must formulate their products in a way that’s considerate of the environment. Gone are inert, inactive and pointlessly-processed ingredients. Instead they must be natural and organic, with the least possible processing going into formulations. The following are of course not permitted: substances derived from the synthetic chemicals industry, the petrochemical industry and animal exploitation, as well as any substance that’s potentially polluting to the environment. By contrast, organic labels allow up to 5% ingredients from the petrochemical industry.

Clean because of short supply chains, too

A factor accentuated by the COVID-19 effect is clear demand from the consumer for more local production, a human dimension, short supply chains, ethical compliance – in summary, something meaningful! This is fortunate for Slow Cosmétique®, which has been advocating all of that for the past nine years. To bear the label, beauty brands must strive to minimise their impact on the environment in all areas of product design and use. Short supply chains, local trading and zero waste must be favoured. These categories are the ones that can’t (yet) be read by demystifying apps, since they don’t consider the product and brand in their entirety. Who is the producer? And the subcontractor? What production methods are used? Where do the raw materials come from? To what extent does the product represent value for money? etc.

Clean, reasonable beauty products

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This notion is the one most absent from clean labels and guarantees. And for good reason, since it calls the existing, predominant marketing model into question too much. Only the Slow Cosmétique® Charter mentions it: beauty products must not make false promises! “Beauty products must not create new needs for the skin. Reining in the number of products and steps necessary to keep the skin healthy is fundamental to avoid being ensnared by marketing”. Slow Cosmétique® prohibits greenwashing, manipulation and any kind of retouching or masking designed to fool consumers… “A company that promotes plant extracts in its adverts but uses conventional formulations is not in line with Slow Cosmétique®”. That is why you’ll find this label applied to a lot of artisan brands, which genuinely put their heart and soul into their work. They promote ancestral, traditional knowhow in an ethically-sound way, which is just what today’s consumers are seeking. Something that’s less apparent is that through its operations, Slow Cosmétique® works to improve the standard of living of all those in the production chain. Like fairtrade, it is about buying and selling at a fair price that reflects the actual quality of a formulation or service

In summary, Slow Cosmétique® is about clean beauty products that also prompt the consumer to buy less but better, whilst encouraging them to get in direct contact with nature without seeking to recreate it artificially. It affords precious guarantees as to where a brand stands from a humanitarian, artisan and reasonable point of view (value for money, family businesses that are also under family control, short supply chains, action taken towards reaching the zero waste target, etc.).

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