Beauty brands, do customers care for ‘natural’ based on skincare reviews?

Published on — Written by Wonderflow

beauty cosmetic skincare

Using our text analytics technology, our Business Intelligence team analyzed dozens of cosmetic brands and compared them among one another, particularly studying the hot topic of ‘naturality’ and whether being healthy matters among today’s consumers. In the end, the results may surprise beauty brands while providing useful insights on how to better their skincare products.  This article was also written specifically by Liang Liu, our Market Intelligence Analyst. 


Obtaining a “healthy lifestyle” has been a hot topic for years. It may relate to various aspects of our daily life, from exercise to quality of sleep, from whole food to mental wellness. 

Stemming from this trend, beauty care products have been put in the spotlight as well. As the skin is the largest organ of the body, consumers have increasingly realized that they apply a large number of chemicals onto themselves on a daily basis. 

As a result, more and more people are wanting to make sure that they use non-toxic products in order to achieve healthier skin. At the same time, they consciously want to reduce negative impacts on the environment. 

Let’s first examine the growth of the ‘Clean Beauty’ trend.

Background on the trending skincare topic of ‘healthy’/‘natural’

In the last decade, the consumer choice of consumption has shifted towards products focusing on natural ingredients. Reading natural ingredients like coconut, almond or aloe vera on a label makes consumers feel more at ease than reading chemical ingredients like oxybenzone, hydroquinone, and phthalates. 

For example, when the vague term “Fragrance” is mentioned on the ingredient list, it indicates that Phthalates are included. This chemical ingredient is related to reproductive and hormonal harm. It can also cause an allergic reaction. Therefore, and in the last several years, cosmetic product giants like Unilever and Johnson & Johnson have committed themselves to provide fragrance transparency.

Ultimately, new brands focusing on natural ingredients have emerged who are challenging existing market leaders in the cosmetics industry. They tag themselves as ‘clean beauty,’ using food-safe ingredients whilst being sustainable. 

A changing demographic of skincare customers

According to a report about clean beauty from, about 24% of the US adults are customers of ‘natural’ skincare products. The portfolio of the customers are urban and have multicultural backgrounds, under 35 years old, with a high education level and mid-high income. 

Moreover, their demographic includes Gen Z, a group that is more or less concerned about sustainability and green-related issues than say previous generations. At the same time, this consumer group is expanding and becoming more inclusive. Those aged 55-64 are becoming more and more interested in the clean beauty trend.

As shown in the graph below, products focusing on naturality and sustainability have faster growth than the industry average. Specifically, products free from paraben, sulfates, and phthalates have a growth of 13% compared to the total industry growth of 2%.


Why are we seeing so many natural or healthier beauty brands?

The emergence of such beauty brands have spread fast, becoming more and more popular because they’ve mainly taken advantage of two situations: 

  1. The internet promotes the growing trend of naturality – a trending concept regarding the consumers’ purchase decisions based on the use of natural ingredients in products
  2. Secondly, there were not yet many leading players in the green and natural beauty care market.

Regarding the first point, with the aid of the internet, customers are now more aware of the concept of natural beauty care products. Clean beauty brands’ main target is those who are concerned about self-care, lifestyle, and sustainability.

With regard to the second point, once a beauty brand understands the consumer’s value for the clean beauty trend, such brands have tried proposing a line of ‘green’ products as a result. However, they deal with the challenge of consumers forming a negative perception of their company. Consumers tend to think such brands are ‘greenwashing.’ Thus, consumers prefer trying other new and similar products.

Other factors influencing the Clean Beauty trend

Here are some other factors that drive the consumer’s demand for healthier skincare products:

  • Consumers are increasingly searching for plastic-free skincare products, indicating that consumers are more concerned about product ingredients in general. For example, refillable packages are popular because they help reduce waste. Reef-free sunscreen is some consumers’ first choice because it is more environmentally friendly for the ocean. 
  • The trend of clean beauty has also been greatly promoted or influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. More consumers have also focused on using more effective skincare products.
  • At the same time, it has also become evident that shoppers are increasingly researching online to educate themselves on beauty brands. Marketing terms like ‘clean’ and ‘natural’ can be broad and subjective at the same time.
Why do cosmetic product ratings & reviews matter for skincare brands?

When consumers try a new skincare product, they look at the product description, ingredient list, and most importantly, they rely on product reviews. Natural cosmetics brands highlight key topics, such as healthier skin conditions, natural ingredients, non-artificial smell, etc. 

Among these popular beauty topics, which characteristic would be the most important to customers? 

Well, let’s now find out in the next section where we demonstrate with our powerful analysis. It’s key for skincare brands – both clean beauty brands and cosmetic giants – to understand what consumers value the most. In that way, brands can understand how to emphasize or highlight more of a topic when it comes to marketing new or additional ingredients that match consumer values. 

Deep  Analysis of the Skincare Category (Every Top Beauty Brands vs. the All-Natural Beauty Brands) 

In this section, our Business Intelligence team used our text analytics technology to present an in-depth analysis of skincare-related consumer reviews. We compared different cosmetic brands across several major skincare categories.

Finding 1: A slight shocker

For the skincare category in general, topics regarding clean beauty like “ingredients” and “natural” are not popularly mentioned among the analyzed reviews. The most popular topics found were actually related to product experience and performance

For instance, 17.7% of the total feedback mentioned fragrance, 14.7% mentioned smoothness/evenness. Other product-performance-related topics like hydrating, oiliness, and moisturizing are also mentioned frequently. The graph below reflects these statistics:


Graph 1: Topic Popularity Of All Skincare Products Brands 

Finding 2: How relatable is the topic ‘natural’ to shoppers of beauty products?

When it comes to the topic-relevance score, the aspects that influence consumer ratings the most are fragrance, irritation, and product performance factors. Smoothness/evenness and hydrating aspects are considered to be part of the product performance factors.

Topics related to ingredients and naturality were found to not have a significant impact on product ratings.

Below is a graph depicting what we said about topic relevance:

Graph 2: Topic Relevance Score Of All Skincare Brands

Finding 3: Again, consumers choose Performance over Naturality

Now, when we filter for brands that use ‘natural’ or ‘clean’ ingredients, the story is similar. Consumers who chose so-called natural brands mentioned topics related to fragrance and product performance the most. These two topics also hold the highest relevance scores.

Graph 3: Topic Popularity Of Natural Skincare Products Brands 

Graph 4: Topic Relevance Score Of Natural Skincare Brands

Explanation of Our Results

From at least using our technology and analyzing the results through our dashboard, Performance was found to be the most important factor when it comes to buying new skincare or cosmetic products. 

‘Natural’ ingredients were barely mentioned among the thousands of product reviews we analyzed. Consumers want to be and feel healthy, thus seeking more safe or natural skincare products. However, indeed, in the end, they prefer the most that the product actually works.

Why? Some of the reasons we believe are to be because: 

  • It’s not always easy for many consumers to fully understand a list of ingredients that contain complicated chemical terms.
  • Most likely there’s a lack of understanding of the definition of a ‘healthy’ ingredient. For instance, there are some products with natural ingredients like essential oils, but they’re not always suitable for sensitive skins. There are some products with synthetic ingredients that can be more effective on people and are also environmentally friendly. 
Key Takeaways

Based on our own analysis, we’ve concluded with these key points for ‘clean’ or natural skincare  companies to consider when marketing new products:

  • Our research shows that skincare brands should still hold product experience and performance as a priority. Therefore, customer experience should be your company’s top priority.
  • For clean beauty brands, it’s important to educate consumers more on what it means to be a “clean” or “natural” product so that consumers can fully understand the add-on value of naturality. They can also be better oriented when later purchasing and reviewing your products.

Are you a cosmetic company or skincare/beauty brand looking to understand your customers better? With the support of our powerful and predictive analysis, we’re able to help you develop better products tailored to the needs of your audiences. Find out more by requesting a demo and seeing our AI in action. 


About Wonderflow

Wonderflow empowers businesses with quick and impactful decision-making because it helps automate and deliver in-depth consumer and competitor insights. All within one place, results are simplified for professionals across any high-UGC organization, and department to access, understand, and share easily. Compared to hiring more analysts, Wonderflow’s AI eliminates the need for human-led setup and analysis, resulting in thousands of structured and unstructured reviews analyzed within a matter of weeks and with up to 50% or more accurate data. The system sources relevant private and public consumer feedback from over 200 channels, including emails, forums, call center logs, chat rooms, social media, and e-commerce. What’s most unique is that its AI is the first ever to help recommend personalized business actions and predict the impact of those actions on key outcomes. Wonderflow is leveraged by high-grade customers like Philips, DHL, Beko, Lavazza, Colgate-Palmolive, GSK, Delonghi, and more.

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