Organic certifications like COSMOS-ORGANIC guarantee a certain quality – including sustainably sourced organic ingredients, natural colours and fragrances, and transparent manufacturing processes. O&3 is Soil Association Organic Food certified, COSMOS-ORGANIC certified and COSMOS-NATURAL certified, and without an industry-wide agreed definition of what ‘clean beauty’ means, these organic certifications can provide brands and consumers with assurance.
“In the UK, products with ‘natural ingredients’ claims are among the most sought out by consumers,” says Kerfoot. “The demand for natural-product based ingredients has been reflected in O&3’s sales over the past five years, with considerable growth since 2017, as consumers are increasingly interested in products that they believe are better for their skin and the environment. We fully expect demand for natural ingredients to continue to grow over the next few years as the notions of clean beauty and responsible consumption show no signs of slowing down.
“More and more, we’re seeing brands go back to basics in response to this – utilizing the natural properties of an oil simply by bottling it, rather than creating complex formulations. Consumers want more control, knowledge and transparency of their products, especially when products are used on their skin. It’s all about simplicity, which plays perfectly into the natural ingredient space,” he adds.
“More mindful” approach to beauty
Kerfoot says his company is also seeing a more mindful approach to beauty, with simpler routines and multi-use products: A”t O&3, we source hard-working, versatile natural ingredients, which can be used in a number of ways for a range of formulations, so holistic products that deliver on more than just appearance also open up a really positive opportunity for the sector.
“We champion openness in the industry with our technical database on our website, which offers transparency around our ingredients and support for our customers online. We want to arm R&D teams with everything they need to make decisions, including our products’ origins and manufacturing processes, when it’s so important that consumers know the origins of their natural products,”he says.
No animal testing
O&3 has a very strict no animal testing policy, every one of its products being audited to make sure it is not tested on animals being one of the company’s core policies: “For the products we deal with – cold pressed oils, refined oils, butters, waxes and infused oils – animal testing is not at all necessary,” says Kerfoot. “We are dealing with 100 per cent natural ingredients, many of which are organic. There are no chemicals, surfactants or non-naturals in our ranges, which means there is no need to test for certain reactions.
“It is absolutely a competitive advantage to be free from animal testing. Vegan and vegetarian products are a hot topic in cosmetics, with vegan products rising by 175 per cent from 2013-18, according to market research company Mintel.With more logos and accreditations now appearing on finished products to confirm the ingredients used are not affecting animals in any way, it’s clear this is something consumers are increasingly looking out for.”
Natural-product based ingredients: reassurance and transparency
“Natural-product-based ingredients provide reassurance and ingredient transparency, while also facing into the big issues of sustainability and quality,” Kerfoot adds. “However, using entirely natural ingredients is not necessarily the easiest option when approaching formulation. This is because natural ingredients are subject to a certain volatility. A change in harvest, weather patterns or even farming techniques could drastically change the make-up of the ingredients. Consistency is hard when it comes to the profile of a natural ingredient – which is why it’s key to work with natural oils experts to manage any challenges.
“Although synthetic ingredients can be seen to be more consistent, there are major drawbacks: in our opinion, they are not always as functional as a natural ingredient. We believe the marketability factor of synthetics to be low in a world where consumers want products to be fresh and cleanly produced in a natural environment.”
Growing the business
“As a family start-up, we take a lot of responsibility for supporting and enabling other start-ups,” says Kerfoot. “We have an ethos of not turning our noses up at small quantities, and we can match start-ups for speed and agility in ways some of the more established manufacturers can’t. There’s something special about working with other young, dynamic businesses to help them succeed and ultimately grow together.
“We truly believe this is only the beginning and as a family team we are all committed to the long-term journey. O&3 is well set for sustainable growth in the future, through long-term partnerships with clients around the world,” he concludes.