A flower’s weight in gold - the true cost of making natural cosmetics
Have you ever wondered why natural skin care appears to be more expensive than commercial cosmetics? Browsing through face creams, serums, balms etc. you will notice a wide price range varying from as little as few pounds to hundreds of pounds for a jar. And while the price often doesn’t indicate the quality, truly natural high-quality skincare will be generally on a pricier side.
The answer is in the details:
- The production cost of cosmetic grade natural ingredients
- Different industry standards in synthetic and natural skin care
- Human factor and the ethical aspect
- Product development and accreditations
- Charity work
A flower’s weight in gold - why natural ingredients are expensive?
It takes 1000 pounds of jasmine petals (about one million flowers!) to create one pound of jasmine concrete. Four tons of roses (1 600 000 rose blossoms) are needed to produce 1 kilogram of rose oil. If we also consider climate changes, varying weather conditions that affect the availability of a given plant, and many people that work hard planting, harvesting and processing the crops - it becomes clear that producing natural ingredients is a long and resource-heavy process. All these factors contribute to the cost of each natural ingredient and directly impact the retail price of a cosmetic product.
Organic ingredients are even more expensive because non-GMO crops cultivated without pesticides are susceptible to weather and disease making them challenging to obtain, plus they bear the cost of organic certification.
Price of the organic ingredients on average is higher by a third (sometimes double) the price of non-organic natural ingredients:
*Retail prices incl. VAT from UK suppliers
- 1L organic avocado oil £32.99 vs regular avocado oil £19.39
- 30mL organic bergamot essential oil £20.39 vs regular £6.95
At Deerieo we work with predominantly organic ingredients to offer the highest quality products to our customers.
Greenwashing clean beauty - industry standards in synthetic vs natural skin care
Synthetic ingredients can be easily produced in a lab and don’t depend on external factors nor involve many people to gather and process the crops. The goal is to minimise the production cost and use the absolute minimum viable amount of an ingredient in the product to make either marketing or efficacy claims. This allows for very low production costs and high profit margins.
Examples of natural anti-ageing face lotion (1) and standard anti-ageing face lotion that could be marketed as natural (2) - compare the difference in percentages of natural ingredients:
As you can see, there are hardly any natural ingredients in the second product making it very cheap to produce yet still market as a natural cosmetic with shea butter.
Helping people grow - human factor in the natural beauty sector
People should receive fair pay for their hard work through the entire chain of production, from planting to harvesting and processing plants to the supply chain and manufacturing.
We do not support child labour or modern slavery in any form, and strongly believe everyone should earn a living wage and live in good conditions. Every jar of moisturiser, body balm, serum etc. includes the wages of people who created it and allows employers to invest in staff training, pensions, insurance etc.
Shea butter is a perfect example of natural beauty sector supporting communities and helping people make their living, build their future and receive valuable skills. Shea is a primary source of livelihood for women in northern Ghana and is one of the few agricultural crops where women control the revenue.
Producing and exporting processed shea butter adds value to the product, increasing the incomes of women (by multiple times) and households in some of the most impoverished regions of West Africa. For this reason, the shea tree is described as “women’s gold”.
As a newly launched brand, we are working hard to create job opportunities in the near future and be able to fairly reward and invest in our team.
A badge of honour - Product development and accreditations
You cannot step twice into the same river. The change is constant and at Deerieo we always seek opportunities to delight our customers and remain at the forefront of the sustainable green movement. Being a micro-business, we feel lucky to have the agility yet access to novelty natural ingredients or quality sustainable eco-friendly packaging requires a substantial upfront investment.
Every year many new advanced natural ingredients become available, offering enhanced performance and incredible environment-friendly credentials. Natural beauty has entered its golden age and has much more to offer than ever before.
The cosmetic industry has not adjusted to the emergence of micro- and small beauty brands, having set up incredibly high minimum order quantities (i.e. 5-25kg ingredient batches, 10K-50K packaging units), simply unachievable for a small business without a very significant upfront cost.
Working towards meeting such requirements is a lengthy and costly process, yet brands that are fully committed to quality and the sustainability mission do their best setting funds aside from their revenue to invest in state-of-the-art natural actives and functional, beautiful and environmentally friendly packaging.
We also know that a promise is often not enough. Proving organic, vegan, palm oil-free and cruelty-free claims requires accreditation from a recognised certifying organisation, such as COSMOS, Soil Association, Ecocert, Vegan Society, Leaping Bunny etc. These organisations set up and guard standards recognised by both consumers and the cosmetic industry. Such certifications serve as proof of truthful claims allowing customers to feel more confident that their purchasing choices are aligned with their ethical beliefs.
Obtaining such certifications, however, is a lengthy, complex and very costly process for any brand, ranging from few hundred to few thousand pounds and must be renewed regularly. This inevitably increases the retail price of natural cosmetics to allow for a product certification budget and reassuring the customers that the highest ethical and quality standards are continuously being observed by the brand. At Deerieo we are at the stage of gathering funds for several certifications and will work toward obtaining them as soon as possible to offer our customers confidence and proof that all our products are organic, vegan, cruelty-free and palm-oil free.
The cost of organic, vegan, palm oil-free and cruelty-free certifications ranges from a few hundred pounds to few thousand pounds and requires regular renewals, i.e. £350 per annum or $200+ 5$ for each product every 3 years (quotes obtained directly from certifying organisations).
Charity work - because true beauty comes from within
Natural beauty is rarely just about beauty. Many entrepreneurs and small green beauty brands strongly believe in their mission and share a passion for making the world a better place. Being able to make meaningful contributions to a brighter future of the environment and people requires funds. Most often these funds are a dedicated percentage of revenue, meaning every single sale allows donations to a good cause. At Deerieo we are currently researching charities we wish to support as soon as we can make any meaningful contributions (we’ve launched in February 2020).
When we add all the above factors together, it becomes very clear why running a natural skincare brand is very costly and why there is such a price difference between synthetic and natural cosmetic products. However, truly natural high-quality cosmetics offer unparalleled quality, impossible to find on the shelves of a drug store. With the advancement of green ingredients technology, natural beauty can offer astonishing results combined with ethical and environmentally-friendly approach, creating a luxurious and unique proposition. Isn't it worth the investment?
I hope you’ve found this information interesting and useful. We welcome your thoughts and comments, so please feel free to leave them below and we’ll be sure to respond!