As purchasing power rises in Asia, the sale of cosmetics has continued to increase. However, the growth has come with a backlash, as some are claiming that Asian cosmetics are engaging in “greenwashing” of their products.
According to industry watchdog group Organic Monitor, many Western brands that specialize in natural and organic cosmetics have withdrawn from the market in China, complaining about animal testing methods they claim are used in China.
But in other markets in Asia, the natural cosmetics business is booming. Overall, the natural cosmetics market in Asia is growing by 15 percent, according to Organic Monitor.
Asian cosmetic boom
Hong Kong now has, possibly, the highest number of green cosmetic retailers on the globe, according to Organic Monitor. Brands with stores in Hong Kong include: Apivita, Jasmin Skincare, Aveda, Neal’s Yard Remedies, Jurlique, Melvita and Comvita.
Meanwhile, Japan remains a world center for cosmetics, or, as the Wall Street Journal reported, a “breeding ground” for beauty trends. South Korea has also become a big market in cosmetics. Overall, Asia is expected to account for almost half of the cosmetic sales around the world in 2015.
Most countries in the region are reporting double-digit percentage growth in the number of cosmetic sales, according to Organic Monitor.
However, environmental issues are a big concern in the rapidly growing Asian market.
Greenwashing cosmetic products
A report on cosmeticsdesign-asia.com stated that Organic Monitor believes the Asian market is “rife” with cosmetic brands making false claims about being natural or organic products. Some, the report stated, have placed fake logos and symbols on cosmetic products to promote them as being organic or natural products.
Such false marketing has led to confusion among consumers about which companies are truly offering “green” products.
The site also reported, however, that the market for natural cosmetic products is growing, particularly in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. And Organic Monitor reports on its site that China remains a huge market despite the “greenwashing” issue.
Still, the country is being hurt by its lack of green products, according to the watchdog group, which posted this on its site: “Growing consumer awareness of health & wellness issues is boosting demand for organic and natural products. Few Chinese companies however are producing natural and organic cosmetics because of formulation and ingredient issues.”
The issue will certainly be taken up at the upcoming sustainable cosmetic summits. One will be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in September while another is Paris in October.