How has HABA changed over the past year? It’s changed right in line with all the other trends, says Brandon Boothe, Thrive Natural Care Co-Founder and COO: “The last year has been so challenging for everyone. Many of our friends and family and customers have started re-evaluating their lives. We are seeing lots of career transitions and lifestyle transformations. Our customers are thinking more about their health—it’s been put in great perspective—and I think we will see that focus on real health play out in HABA. Simple products that focus on health of the skin and holistic care will have an advantage.”

A market analysis from Reports and Data backs this up. Globally, the natural skin care products market was $11.44 billion in 2020, and is expected to register a CAGR of 5.5% between 2020 and 2028 (1). “Skin is a part of everyday routine,” the authors of the report state, “and consumers are shifting preference towards more natural ingredients in their products that are less likely to have negative effects on the skin in the long run.”

Looking at buying power, the report authors cite a study that found that 75% of consumers prefer to buy products that have a smaller impact on the environment, and 40% indicated willingness to pay more for all-natural products (1). Plus, consumers were willing to pay more for products that positioned wellness front-and-center.


Meeting Needs and Values

The overarching trend in HABA, and particularly in skin care, is products that align with customers’ values, as well as their needs. The “clean beauty” trend is well-established, calling for products free of parabens and sulfates, as is the desire for products not tested on animals. But consumers are taking this one step further. They don’t just want products to be free of things that could harm them, they want products to be free of things that could harm the environment—and, moreover, they want products from brands that want to take things one step farther still: Consumers don’t just want brands that don’t cause harm, they want brands that make things better.

It’s a trend “several years in the making,” according to Boothe, who tells WholeFoods: “Skin care consumers, especially younger ones, want their brands to reflect their values. Brands that are committed to a mission—like regenerative business!—to sustainability, to fair labor practices, to social justice, to animal welfare, and to responsible sourcing, have a leg up, and we expect to see big conventional brands adopt some of these principles in the near future.”

Thrive’s blog details the snowballing effects of its regenerative practices, as those practices impact the land, the people who work it, and the products. Plus, the company’s products are packaged in recyclable materials made from plants. Videos, blogs, and more information on Thrive’s regenerative mission can be found at

Don’t just rely on claims of “natural,” though. It’s important to get the specifics, according to a blog post by William Levins, posted on Reviva Labs’ website. Why? “First, let’s admit that clean beauty is really a marketing term coined by our industry that completely lacks any oversight,” Levins writes (2). “Essentially, anyone can claim their products are clean without having to offer any proof.” Levins’ advice is to use third-party sites like or to get breakdowns of product formulas and information about ingredients.

Seconding that, David English, Innovation Leader at Montagne Jeunesse, and Celine Delasalle, Marketing Holistic Lead of Earth Kiss, note that certifications and well-known ingredients can help bring customers peace of mind. “The modern consumer expects something for themselves, but is also concerned with the impact on the planet. This is where sustainable sourcing and independent accreditations like CFI, Ecocert Cosmos Organic, and Vegan Society take the anxiety out of the purchase, and classic functional natural ingredients like charcoal, aloe vera, kombucha, and shilajit deliver the benefits and sensorial delight. The technical and regulatory demands to deliver this are complex and time consuming, but they are essential investments, and are part of the bargain we have been delivering on for decades.”


Dig Deep

With skin care products, as with all other products, it’s important to look past un-certified label claims, dig deeper, and educate your customers on what you find. For instance, many may look for all-natural products, but Levins says that that often isn’t worth the hype (2): “For Reviva, clean beauty doesn’t necessarily mean all natural. To us it means reviewing information on various ingredients and carefully formulating in a manner that is the safest for humans and for Mother Earth.” Sometimes, he notes, this means using synthetic ingredients, which can be perfectly safe and have proven benefits. And even natural ingredients often require processing, in order to remove contaminants and to guarantee stability and efficacy—and as long as the processing methods are safe and ethical, Reviva considers it clean.

Clean beauty products may also involve preservatives, Levins explains. Why? “The simple answer is… to preserve them,” he writes (3). Preservatives mean that skin care products don’t grow mold or bacteria, keeping products stable and safe. “Once manufactured, products intended for distribution generally need to be shelf stable for two to three years. And finally, the products must be resilient enough to stay fresh for months after you’ve opened and started using them. It’s almost impossible to create a product that doesn’t rely on some type of preservative.” In fact, Levins explains, Reviva gets suspicious when brands show off preservative-free products, which generally aren’t sustainable, long-term (3). Retailers and their customers should look for products with safe preservatives—even if those preservatives are difficult to pronounce: Levins maintains that Benzyl Alcohol, Phenethyl Alcohol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, and Dehydroacetic Acid are safe, gentle preservatives, that have been in use for years. And a combination of multiple preservatives can offer a wider prevention range with minimal use of ingredients. The full blog—and a webinar on the topic—can be found at

As to how brands and retailers can make this work on a shelf, Boothe offers some advice: “On our products, we’ve started adding small logos to our packaging so that customers can easily see what we care about. Similarly, retailers can curate spaces in-store for customers to find brands that have strong missions, like using regenerative agriculture or that practice responsible sourcing. This is a great opportunity to introduce customers to products and brands that they will love and come back for.” (More on regenerative agriculture here.)


Simplify Without Sacrifice

Consumers are getting more choosy with where they put their time. “Many of our customers have spent the last year and a half at home and their self-care routines have changed because of that,” explains Boothe. “Now that we are starting to get back to a more normal life, our customers are telling us that they appreciated their simpler routines. Natural, environmentally conscious products with multiple benefits that are great everyday basics, and that simplify life are going to be great options for HABA customers.”

That said, customers are willing to put in a little effort to relax, and to create boundaries for themselves. “People are making time for themselves and nurturing their own self-care rituals—simple treats, or just a moment to reflect,” say English and Delasalle. “The blurring of home and work leaves many people in a ‘switched on’ mental state all day, impacting health, work performance, and anxiety levels. People are becoming more aware of this risk to their wellbeing and are looking for easy comfort options to reset and recenter. From feedback, we find use of masks provide this—it’s a skin care benefit but also a mini break, 20 minutes of ‘me time.’”

As people look for ways to care for themselves (and, maybe, get some family bonding time), create that opportunity—merchandise face masks with nail polish, candles, chocolates, bath bombs, scrubs, and moisturizers, for at-home luxury.

Too Much of a Good Thing

It often feels like if something is good, then more of it would be better—but that isn’t always the case, Levins explains in a blog post (6). For instance, he points to hyaluronic acid: “Our Hyaluronic Acid Serum contains 1% sodium hyaluronate,” he writes, noting that there are brands out there promoting 2% or up to 10% hyaluronic acid, “but it becomes silly—since as you move beyond 2% hyaluronic acid you start to transition from a serum to a gel. And by the time you reach 10% you’ve got a goopy mess, unless you transform the hyaluronic acid…So when we see serums promoting 10% hyaluronic acid, we’re fairly certain it’s simply marketing run amok.”

And beyond the chemical impossibility of some claims, Levins notes that it might not even be a good idea. “In most scenarios, skin care ingredients have very specific ranges of percentages where they’re most effective…sometimes using more of an ingredient can have the opposite effect overall. You can’t simply ignore the maximum recommended percentage of 5% and naturally assume that doubling or tripling that amount will be better. Perhaps higher concentrations will be irritating or damaging.”

Levins’ full post, in which he discusses ingredient penetration versus absorption, dangers of higher ingredients, and the benefits of layering products, can be found at

Skin Protection

There’s plenty to protect the skin from: sunlight, pollution, and blue light. People may still want to meet outside as often as possible, in order to help prevent transmission of COVID-19, increasing sunlight exposure. And, of course, people should consider wearing sun protection regardless. Plus, with people spending more time in front of screens, it’s worth incorporating a blue light protectant. This can still fall under the category of simplification, if you can offer multi-functional products.

Boothe notes Thrive’s offerings: “Thrive’s plant-based, gentle products are simple, but effective in daily skin wellness routines. Products including our Energy Scrub, Daily Defense Sunscreen Balm with SPF 30, or our Sensitive Skin products, all contain our antioxidant-rich super-plant blend give skin-protecting and skin-restoring care against daily stressors.”

Also offering multi-functional sunscreen: Derma E. “In addition to UVA/UVB protection, look for nourishing, hydrating ingredients, because you can have it all,” Jianni Miller wrote in a blog post for the company (4). “An ideal sunscreen is one that can prevent and repair sun damage. Look for ingredients that support skin regeneration like Allantoin, Hyaluronic Acid, Panthenol, Vitamins C&E, and other plant derivatives.”

In another blog post, Miller tackles blue light, noting that “in a pandemic, just about everything has turned digital. We spend hours a day in front of a screen where blue light is being emitted. Blue light has a longer wavelength, causing it to penetrate the skin deeper than other lights” (5). And exposure to blue light without proper protection can cause premature wrinkles and fine lines, Miller says. Derma E offers a Digital Protection Set, a line of products that help to shield skin from environmental and digital pollution.

The goal of HABA is no longer just to look good. These days, customers want to feel good—about the product, its functionality, and its effect on society and the environment. Partner with brands that are already there, and customers will be happy to say yes. WF


  1. “Natural Skin Care Products Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Type, By Product, By End-Use, By Distribution Channel, By Region Forecast to 2028,” Reports and Data. Published 04/06/2021. Accessed 08/01/2021.
  2. Clean beauty William Levins, “What is clean beauty to Reviva Labs?” Reviva Labs. Posted 02/20/2021. Accessed 08/01/2021.
  3. Preservatives William Levins, “Preservatives in cosmetics; why do we need them?” Reviva Labs. Posted 11/05/2020. Accessed 08/01/2021.
  4. Jianni Miller, “Upgrade Your Sunscreen,” Derma E. Posted 06/04/2021. Accessed 08/01/2021.
  5. Jianni Miller, “10 Skin Care Trends You Must Follow in 2021,” Derma E. Posted 01/29/2021. Accessed 08/01/2021.
  6. William Levins, “Why higher percentages of key ingredients isn’t always a good idea.” Reviva Labs. Posted 12/05/2020. Accessed 08/01/2021.