Ulta launches Conscious Beauty initiative

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Dive Brief:

  • Ulta on Tuesday announced the creation of Conscious Beauty, an initiative that will launch in the fall and certify beauty brands under five pillars: clean ingredients, cruelty free, vegan, sustainable packaging and positive impact.
  • The clean ingredients label will certify that a brand meets Ulta's "Made Without List," which consists of parabens, phthalates and other ingredients from over 25 chemical categories, according to a company press release.
  • As part of the sustainable packaging initiative, which highlights brands made with reduced, recyclable or refillable packaging, Ulta will pilot a "circular shopping experience" with Loop. The beauty retailer is also pledging that 50% of all packaging sold by 2025 will be recyclable, refillable, or made from recycled or bio-sourced materials.

Dive Insight:

In the midst of a pandemic that has threatened to put many things on the back burner, including sustainability initiatives, Ulta Beauty has announced a wide-ranging effort to hold itself accountable to more conscious practices. The beauty retailer set its first sustainable packaging goals as part of the initiative, and partnered with various third parties for the certification process, including ClearForMe to verify brands have clean ingredients, and PETA, Leaping Bunny and Choose Cruelty-Free to help certify cruelty-free brands. The company also established a Conscious Beauty Advisory Council to "ensure accountability and drive the initiative forward." Currently, the council includes CEO and co-founder of Loop, Tom Szaky, and co-founder and COO of Credo Beauty, Annie Jackson, among others. A partnership with Credo Beauty was announced by Ulta in June, and the clean beauty collection, dubbed the Credo Collection, will launch within the conscious beauty platform. While all of the certifications are meant to help customers identify brands that share their values, it's the sustainable packaging initiative that Ulta itself is committing the most to. In addition to setting a 50% sustainable packaging goal, the retailer also plans to support the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and will use How2Recycle instructions on its owned brand packaging and print materials. Ulta is hitting on some of the biggest issues in the beauty space, and retail more broadly, with this launch. For years, the level of waste created by retail packaging has been scrutinized, and retailers have turned their focus to tackling that and other major sustainability issues, including making products with more sustainable materials and building up the circular economy. Loop is one of the companies at the forefront of sustainable packaging, partnering with companies like Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Kroger in 2019 to test out refillable packaging solutions. Clean and sustainable beauty initiatives have also grown to define the beauty space in recent years, with Sephora launching a Clean at Sephora category in 2018 and Neiman Marcus debuting an online shop centered around clean beauty products in 2019. Even big-box players like Walmart and Target have added brands to their assortment that focus on clean ingredients. "As the beauty retail leader, we have the unique opportunity to inspire positive change in our industry," Dave Kimbell, president of Ulta Beauty, said in a statement. "With Conscious Beauty at Ulta Beauty, our focus is to educate, guide and simplify product choice and elevate those brands doing good for our world. This initiative helps our guests readily navigate our assortment through the lens of what matters most to them."