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What makes clean skincare really clean

In an interview with Lounge, Juice Beauty founder Karen Behnke talks about her new mask launch, the boom in the Indian skincare market and the modern consumer

Juice Beauty’s founder Karen Behnke with her pet dog.
Juice Beauty’s founder Karen Behnke with her pet dog. (Courtesy Juice Beauty)

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Back in 2005 when wellness entrepreneur Karen Behnke launched her certified organic beauty brand Juice Beauty in the US, the demand for and the conversations about following green practices in skincare weren’t as intense as they are today.

For Behnke, who had overcome a rare blood disorder as a child, wellness turned out to be a serious lifelong commitment. This commitment got a further boost when she had children in her 40s and the resultant hormonal fluctuations made her search for clean skincare that would tackle the onset of fine lines and not affect her health. And that’s how she launched Juice Beauty almost two decades ago.

Also read: Skin smooth enough for social media could burn you

Today, the natural skincare and beauty category has got a major boost, especially after the pandemic, with the 2020 sales of natural and organic products being estimated at $5 billion just in the US. Early this year, Juice Beauty (which launched in India in September 2021) collaborated with Hollywood actor Kate Hudson to create Revitalizing Acacia + Rose Powder Mask.

The latest Juice Beauty offering, Revitalizing Acacia + Rose Powder Mask.
The latest Juice Beauty offering, Revitalizing Acacia + Rose Powder Mask.

As Behnke launches the mask in India, she discusses the modern consumer, why clean beauty is important, and how India is a great market for beauty and wellness. Edited excerpts:

What attracted you to the Indian market?

A lot of consumers in India, who are more informed, well-travelled, exposed and connected than ever before, are leading the way in terms of economic confidence. Today, Indian customers aspire to use largely sustainable skincare and other grooming items since they are influenced by global trends, lifestyles and fashion. This development is also related to the growing initiatives taken by domestic and international players in the beauty sector to ensure that their country is compatible with the offerings of the global markets. Right now, it's wonderful to be in India. The catch is that in order to please the Indian aesthetic palette, tailored organic products must be brought in with a sustainable business strategy in place. 

Are the products designed keeping the Indian skin in mind?

As per the seasonality and the Indian skin texture, the chemists at Juice Beauty put a lot of effort into creating products with the most advanced technology and scientifically sound ingredients. For instance, we mastered the use of sodium hyaluronate, a potent hydrator that aids in replenishing the moisture content of the skin. Indian skins are typically less hydrated due to the hot and humid weather for the most part of the year, and the new powder mask contains low molecular hyaluronic acid, which is highly effective for keeping the Indian skin hydrated.

Are masks really sought after in the industry?

In contrast to conventional topical serums, masks have more durable effects. Customers who use face masks are increasingly favouring combinations of different materials and natural hydrogels. They are actively looking for new, convenient and user-friendly face masks.

What is your clean beauty checklist for products?

Cruelty-free, vegan, sustainable, and made with certified organic ingredients. Formulated without potentially harmful ingredients such as parabens, petroleum, propylene or butylene glycols, silicones, talc, carbon black, phthalates, sulfates, PEGs, TEA, DEA, GMO, artificial dyes or synthetic fragrances. And Juice Beauty has a list of thousands of ingredients that we have researched, that we would never use as they may harm the planet, animals or humans. My husband and I purchased the first-ever Juice Beauty Sonoma County farm in California in 2018 and began sourcing its ingredients from a group of organic farmers. We committed to farm to beauty, a sustainable initiative that brings the brand’s organic ingredients to life.

How has the beauty industry evolved over the years?

The two forces influencing beauty today are inclusivity and sustainability. What makes you feel wonderful about yourself is more important than what other people think of you. Indeed, one's own perception of beauty is important. What individuals can relate to in their daily lives is replacing old-fashioned beauty stereotypes. The way that people are embracing wellness more holistically is undergoing a significant change. They are working to strike a balance between the newer drivers of wellbeing, such as social, professional, and financial wellness, and the classic ones, such as physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. Making thoughtful, personal decisions in support of one's wellbeing has become more important. People have learnt from the pandemic to prioritise prevention over treatment.

Learnings from the pandemic?

Try to be mindful and joyful every day. And plan ahead.

Also read: The difference between skincare siblings retinol and retinal


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