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Factors Influencing the Clean Beauty Movement

Three specific factors that fueled the popularity of the clean beauty movement include consumers becoming more well-informed about the danger of synthetic and chemical ingredients in their cosmetics or personal care products, the rise of people with sensitive skin, and support of the clean beauty movement by some celebrities.






  • Celebrity endorsements are an effective way to promote products as they are capable of reaching a vast amount of consumers using various mediums (e.g., TV and social media).
  • Some celebrities who are known for promoting the clean beauty movement are Emma Watson, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jessica Alba.
  • During a tour for the film Beauty and the Beast, actress Emma Watson promoted natural beauty brands.
  • In 2015, Gwyneth Paltrow was revealed to be in a partnership with a pioneer business taking part in the organic beauty movement called Juice Beauty. She is regarded as one of several celebrities currently promoting the clean beauty movement.
  • Juice Beauty's reasoning for selecting Paltrow for a partnership include her proven capability as a trend starter, along with her undeniable impact and reach.
  • Another actress, Jessica Alba, expanded her Honest Co., which is well-known for providing eco-friendly body and bath products for tots and moms, to skin care and cosmetics products.



To obtain the factors that fueled the popularity of the clean beauty movement, we first searched for an explanation on clean beauty from Vogue, Premium Beauty News, and Enews. We also noted a report from Harvard about the science behind the trend of clean cosmetics. From these sources, we discovered some factors that fueled the popularity of the clean beauty movement. To find ways that personal brands are responding on the clean beauty movement, we leveraged some information from Vox and Well Insiders. In these sources, we discovered the ways personal care brands responded to the clean beauty movement.

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Case Studies - Brands that Reduced Societal Stigma

Three examples of companies that have improved consumers' perception of something from a negative sentiment to a normalized or positive sentiment through marketing are Pepsodent, Breck Shampoo, and Perrier.


  • In the late 19th century, people turned to bottled water due to the health risks of urban water systems.
  • However by the early 20th century chlorination of water supplies made safe drinking water readily available.
  • The sale of bottled water declined and bottled water went out of style and need.
  • Perrier relaunched the brand in 1977 with TV ads voiced by Orson Welles.
  • It launched a $5 million marketing campaign in the US.
  • The campaign used health concerns by positioning Perrier as a healthy alternative to soft drinks.
  • The ads also highlighted their advanced filtration processes as better than the chemical treatment of city water supplies.
  • Played off Americans' desire for status by promoting its French pedigree and premium price.
  • Perrier's marketing campaigns exploited the alleged pollution of city water supplies due to concerns and the association of soda with cancer. People started buying more water bottles because they trusted it more.
  • Sales increased from 3 million bottles in 1975 to 200 million four years later.
  • This led to a new market being created, and the growth and current bottled water industry today.


  • Before the invention of indoor plumbing, washing hair was inconvenient and in some areas only occurred once a month.
  • A New York Times story in 1908 noted that shampooing the hair as often as a month to six weeks is fine if the hair is in good condition.
  • In 1930 Dr. John Breck developed one of the first shampoos to America, and at first it was only known in New England.
  • His son hired an illustrator, named Charles Sheldon for a new form of advertising for the company; Sheldon drew pastel portraits of "Breck girls", and created 107 oil and pastel portraits.
  • Breck girls portraits were used in their ads; used vanity to market to women.
  • Breck Shampoo was synonymous with beauty, and American women changed to washing their hair once a week due to the ads telling them that this would make their hair healthier.
  • In the early days, women felt like they could relate to the Breck Girls due to Sheldon's preference for the average woman to pose for him over models.
  • Later on in the 70s, Breck girls changed from illustrations to models like Brooke Shields and Farrah Fawcett. Ads featured these women in marketing campaigns that convinced women to wash their hair once a day by stating it was unhealthy not to do this.
  • Through the marketing of the "Breck Girls," Breck Shampoo changed American women's habit of washing hair very rarely, around once a month, to as frequent as once a day.


  • Oral hygiene was not common in the early 20th century.
  • Dental hygiene was so bad that the US Army called poor dental hygiene a national security risk when drafting men for WW1, because many had rotting teeth.
  • Pepsodent had to not only market his product but convince the public to start brushing their teeth.
  • Claude Hopkins is the marketer responsible for convincing people to use toothpaste.
  • He needed a trigger that would create a need for the daily use of toothpaste.
  • He did this by appealing to vanity -- removing the film/plaque would make teeth clean and whiter; the ad featured people with beautiful, white teeth.
  • He used slogans like "You wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent!"
  • The marketing campaign emphasized and appealed to people's desire to be more "beautiful" and have a prettier smile; this drove sales for Pepsodont.
  • However, the "film" alluded to in the advertisement is a naturally occurring membrane which cannot be removed by toothpaste so the claim was actually untrue.
  • Also, Hopkins removed all the risk from the consumer by offering a 10-day trial instead of attempting to sell Pepsodent.
  • They used mint oil and citric acid to create a cooling and tickling effect. This feeling created a cue that people missed when they forgot to brush their teeth.
  • The mint has nothing to do with the toothpaste's dental function.
  • A decade after the Pepsodent campaign, 65% of Americans brushed their teeth, up from 7%.
  • Within 10 years, Pepsodent was one of the top-selling goods worldwide and was America’s best-selling toothpaste for over thirty years.
  • Through marketing campaigns, Pepsodont created a habit of Americans brushing their teeth regularly.

Research Strategy:

We began our research with well-regarded business media such as Forbes, Washington Times, Mabbly, Business Insider, Sustainable Brands, All Business, Marketplace, and Capital and Growth. This strategy revealed a wide range of possible examples of companies reversing popular perception via marketing.

Any kind of "top list" contains some degree of subjective judgment. In choosing the three examples above, we selected examples that seemed to have the most radical, ongoing effect on the American or global market and resulted in dramatic, sustained profit increases for the companies in question.

From Part 01
  • "Buchanan says two things have driven the change: “An obsession with wellness and detoxification, both in terms of diet and products, is fuelling a demand for stripped-back, ‘clean’ ingredients. Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about possible irritations caused by synthetic ingredients in fragrances and preservatives and are reading labels more carefully, a habit picked up from the grocery aisle.”"
  • "The second factor is the rise in sensitive skin. “Dermatologists are reporting a growing phenomenon of sensitised skin caused by increased exposure to pollution, stress and digital aggressors,” says Buchanan. "
  • "The clean cosmetics movement seems to have arisen from frustration over regulatory oversight of cosmetics and personal care products (lotions, toothpastes, shampoos, etc). "
  • "Like many beauty trends, it all started with food. The #cleaneating hashtag has garnered over 42 million mentions on Instagram, to the point where it has its very own eating disorder, orthorexia."
  • "Indeed, while we're already seeing an upshot—Anne Hathaway is currently promoting her latest flick Colossal with only sustainable fashions—it was really Watson's decision to also include natural beauty brands that will surely have a major impact on the clean beauty movement."
  • "There is one clean beauty brand that has signed an A-lister as its creative director. Perhaps you've heard of Gwyneth Paltrow."
  • "A few months after Paltrow coupled with Juice Beauty, Alba expanded her already successful Honest Co.—well-known for their safe, eco-friendly diapers, toys, bath and body products for tots and moms—to also include skin care and cosmetics. "
  • "Amazon just ventured into the skincare game with its launch of an affordable lined called Belei—and it seems they’re paying attention to what consumers want. "
  • "This is big news for the clean beauty movement, as it means that more companies are responding to demands for safer beauty products with more transparency around ingredients."
  • "Then there have been some high-profile lawsuits like the Johnson & Johnson ovarian cancer talc cases, in which juries have awarded multimillion-dollar settlements to people who claimed using baby powder for years caused their cancer. Then the hair care company Wen settled a $26 million class-action case because one of its products was allegedly making people’s hair fall out. Consumers have become afraid of chemicals and started looking for products they think would be “natural” or “safer.”"
  • "In February, Unilever announced it was voluntarily disclosing the fragrance ingredients in its beauty and personal care brands like Dove, Axe, and Suave. "