For at least 25 years the global fragrance and cosmetic industry has turned to nature to find inspiration and build its corporate image. Global retail chains like Aveda, Body Shop, Kiehl’s and Yves Rocher, to name just a few, have built their multimillion-dollar empires upon this green and natural image. Baby boomers, like myself, who were their early customers, were the first green warriors—the founders of Green Peace, Friends of the Earth and the modern environmental movement.
The Origins of “Natural is Better”
Over the last quarter of a century, fostered by clever media and advertising, we were all led to believe that “natural” beauty products were better for our health and welfare, and also for our environment. All things man-made were, on the contrary, considered “synthetic,” harmful and unsustainable. This highly simplified outlook continues today partly because the fragrance industry does not want to say too much about how fragrances are really formulated, nor inform the public about how and where their aromatic ingredients are sourced, processed and refined.
There is a strong and fairly well-founded belief that if the pubic really knew what natural chemical isolates and nature-identical aroma chemicals were or just how small a percentage of plant-based ingredients are used in most “natural” fragrances they would probably no longer buy these products.