There's been a shift in the beauty landscape in recent years with the widespread greening (and greenwashing) of the industry. Virtually all brands have jumped aboard the organic/natural beauty bandwagon, but how many have truly embraced the idea that it's good business to be a good business?
Innocent and Method both work to the hum of this mantra, but, by and large, there are a select few in beauty who do as well. And so many that do are niche players. Neal's Yard Remedies, nude, InLight or Saaf, among others, are all brilliant, holistic brands I readily use... but they're just left of center on price point and youth appeal for consumption by the beautiful-but-broke up-and-comers who simply can't pony up that sort of dosh but still want a quality product. Simply put, so much design-led, good organic beauty has been pricey to this point. There's been a gap where this accessible, cool, ethical beauty market should be, and it's swiftly starting to close with the help of brands like evolve beauty, the latest addition to the ethical skincare scene. The market needs an asos.com equivalent in the ethical beauty realm. We have the NET-A-PORTERS (and we quite like them) but there is room for more!
Recently, I spoke to evolve brand founder Laura Rudoe to figure out just what exactly is this eco smart beauty thing, and why the world needs yet another range of skincare and here's what I have to report back...
evolve, Rudoe's new eco smart organic beauty brand, began with her eternal search for the right beauty product. Growing up, Rudoe says she had quite acneic skin and it was only after years and years of homeopathy, good nutrition and significantly simplifying her skincare routine (using gentler brands like REN) that her skin started to look like it was on the mend, leaving the harsh products of yesteryear far behind. However, it wasn't until post-MBA that ex-consultant Rudoe truly honed her interest in ethical business and returned to the working world a changed woman as one of the original brains behind nude skincare.
With the help of fellow HBS alumnus Brian Meehan, she consulted for Whole Foods (owners of Fresh and Wild) by day while moonlighting with Meehan to create and launch nude. Rudoe recognised a gap in the skincare market for glamorous organic brands and speedily wrote the business plan. With financial backing and endless resources, Rudoe began her ethical business career in a fledgling entrepreneur's dream role as Director of Operations and Product Development at nude, learning first hand how to set up a company and becoming an expert on ethical beauty. By 2007 (and the launch of nude) she amicably parted ways with the brand, found herself working for an ethical venture capital firm and started the business plan for evolve (while concurrently brainstorming an idea to write a book on ethical businesses, which eventually became Good Ventures, the ethical product development company behind evolve... does this woman sleep!?).
What is evolve beauty eco smart skincare?
It's a range of twelve skin, hair and body products with squeaky clean wrap sheets. No nasties here. From formulation to the factory floor and in your door. Packaged in cool, pastel 100 per cent recycled milk bottles, these certified organic products are priced for the masses with an attention to detail that's usually reserved for high-end department store products. The ingredients are certified organic and food-based and the bottles are beautiful enough to display on your bathroom shelf with pride (very Scandinavian-minimalist looking, I must say), the ingredients are good for you (and the bunnies they don't test on) and the brand is doing its best to make both the beauty-scape and environment better.
Rudoe says she wants the brand to help everyone live a little better with high-quality yet accessible organic beauty products that can help us all make little changes. After all, those efforts add up to a sea change in collective behaviour if enough people do it. Welcome to the the world of ethical beauty, where brands practice what they preach... really.
I personally have yet to trial the products but I am in awe of all good female entrepreneurs (and she is one of them) and am also truly intrigued by beauty brands that are evolving (no pun intended) in this direction. Follow this space for full product reviews in the coming weeks.
What is eco smart skincare?
Good question. Since it's a phrase unfamiliar to me until now, I did a bit of research and the loose definition I can cobble together is that eco smart skincare is a phrase that can be applied to products that are healthier and possibly greener with less environmental impact that help you live a bit better while also not compromising on quality simply to make bigger profit margins.
In a sentence, eco smart skincare is skincare that's environmentally friendly and human-friendly, generally speaking.
Personally, I believe the most environmentally thing one can do is simply use less of everything, but within the realm of reality, where we do have to use products everyday, evolve beauty is attempting to give you a smarter choice in what you buy and use to make your beauty consumption just that much better. And they're not sacrificing your product ingredients, brand integrity or the environment to increase margins. It's about making a good product and understanding there's a balance between making money and creating a valuable brand.
Peek inside the evolve beauty founder's bathroom cabinet:
She uses as little on her complexion as possible. Keep it simple, especially if you have sensitive skin. Laura swears by her Clarisonic, with or without evolve’s daily detox cleanser ('it works well with water too.'). Her simplified skincare routine includes cleansing after wearing makeup only, now with evolve's gentle cleansing melt. She uses a hand-blended facial oil now and again (she used a mix of wheatgerm and rosa mosqueta on her face and stretchmarks during pregnancy), and confesses to moisturising less-than regularly.
Hot products from the range
Gentle Cleansing Melt (£ 9.99 for 100ml)
Soap-free, fragrance-free and moisturising, this product is 100 per cent natural and contains only five ingredients. With warm water, it emulsifies and rinses clean away without the need for a muslin cloth. It was created because while Rudoe loved cleansing balms she loathed muslin cloths.
Mega Omega Moisture Cream (£ 10.99 for 200ml)
This body lotion uses organic Peruvian sacha Inchi Oil, the richest known source of Omega 3, 6, and 9, with Almond Peptides and Shea Butter to moisturise and soften.