Brook Harvey Taylor has been in the beauty game for quite some time. She launched a beauty brand in 1996, with the ethos that it had to be good for the planet, good for animals and good for the customer. Hence, her brand is cruelty free, vegan and clean.
Who can argue with these noble attributes? Everyone wins right?
Well, you may or may not be aware but there has been a movement against clean beauty within ‘science community‘ in the beauty industry. It’s been dubbed a ‘pseudoscience’ and generally just ‘anti-science’. Many in this community believe in order to be ‘clean’, products have to be ‘dirty’. Something they don’t think is possible if we consider the regulation and formulation that goes into cosmetics.
Also, the demonisation of certain ingredients has left a bad taste in the mouths of many a science communicator.
Hence, many believe clean beauty is intrinsically anti science. But is this a fair perspective? Probably not, because what this doesn’t include, is the personal definitions of clean beauty to those who want it.
So, when Pacifica launched into the UK market a few weeks ago I was keen to see what Brook thought of this. And Brook Harvey Taylor is more than qualified to explain why ‘clean beauty’ is important to so many. Arguably, she’s the one who started the movement in the beauty industry and so can give an accurate description of its origins.
Essentially, the core of this very special interview is to understand a different perspective. A perspective which may be different to yours, but still has reasons for which it exists. It’s important to be inclusive and understand the needs and wants of every consumer and therefore, why Pacifica has been able to sustain success for 25 years.
Why did you want to create a beauty brand?
I didn’t create Pacifica beauty because I couldn’t find products that didn’t work for me, rather 25 years ago, I couldn’t find a brand that aligned with my values.
Brands were not speaking to being vegan or cruelty-free. Beyond that, I really wanted to create the next big thing- a true lifestyle brand that would transcend categories, expectations, time, and would be anchored in accessibility.
What are the hardest and best parts of running your own beauty
I would have to say that it is building a marketing department. We have only had a real marketing team for the last two years, which is probably one of the hardest things that I have done. For me, product has always been king and I have believed that it should stand on its own, without big marketing dollars behind it.
We started this brand with a grassroots movement, and I imagined that this ground swell would
just keep growing. But with something like 5 new beauty brands launching daily, products are no longer what brands trade on. Marketing is. This has been a hard shift to watch. And of course, all of the intricacies of dealing with supply chain, demand, distribution is all hard as well.
Has it been a challenge to formulate with only vegan ingredients?
Up until more recently it was a challenge. When we were creating our first mascara, we were creating something very new yet I demanded that it perform as well as an prestige mascara in the market.
Just because our customers wanted to push the boundaries on ingredients with us didn’t mean that they were willing to compromise on performance. The same is true today. I was even fired by a filler after 25 submissions because they just couldn’t get it right. But we persevered and now this is one of our best-selling products.
But today it is far easier because raw material suppliers are more focused on creating replacement ingredients and calling out what is vegan, CF or even allergens.
Your best-selling collection contains Vegan Collagen, what is this and how did you source it?
The company that created the ingredient came to us actually because of our positioning around using vegan ingredients and the synergy with our companies’ values.
This is a lab grown ingredient that uses plant-inputs and creates a protein through fermentation without using animals. Our whole collection is based on addressing signs of ageing including elasticity, promoting a dewy appearance, and hydrating your skin.
How do you go about deciding which products you want in your range?
Need states is always where we start. We do a lot of social listening, run surveys and communicate with our customers.
It is important to listen, not only through the success or failure of products, but just actually listen to what people are saying. It can get easy to lose touch with the actual person who interacts daily with your products if you don’t give them time to be heard.
What does ‘Clean Beauty’ mean to you?
Clean is a standard that encompasses a set of “free-of” ingredients, usually defined by a retailer or safety standards from a third party or government.
We like to say that we are “beyond clean”. We were a brand that grew up in the natural product industry, and for us, replacing as many petrochemical ingredients or synthetic ingredients as
possible with ones that were natural or whose source material is natural was our ultimate goal.
The word “clean” was a lab word that the cosmetic chemists would use to describe ingredients that were either petrochemical in origin or that were not natural BUT were still considered acceptable ingredients on one or another list, generally created by retailer standards. The term has been around for as far as I can remember but has been more consumer facing for the last 10 years.
You may be aware that some people think Clean Beauty is anti-science, what’s your take on this and what role do you think science has to play in the development of beauty products?
In regard to the development of beauty products: The reality is this – we are ALL using science to create our products. Clean beauty isn’t anti-science, it is asking for MORE science, for more thoughtful consideration around the ingredients we are inviting people to put on their bodies daily.
Clean beauty creates MORE rules around what is in a formula, removing a list of chemicals that may or may not be safe while still following all of the same rules that other brands have to follow.
At Pacifica, we are beauty activists. We see the clean movement as a part of an environmental and social justice movement.
Other clean beauty brands have created lists of ingredients they’d never use, what do you think about this and is this the case at Pacifica?
This is great. Our list is huge. We require all of our formulators to follow it.
Do you think science and clean beauty can co-exist?
If “science” is code for a patriarchal industry that seeks to define beauty for all and tell us what to use, wear, how to look, what is right and what ingredients are safe without question, then my answer is no.
If “science” is defined by its ACTUAL definition, “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment” then yes.
Clean beauty relies on science to exist. That is the ridiculous part. Clean beauty IS based on science. It comes from a scientific understanding of ingredient performance.
Pacifica was creating vegan beauty long before it was trendy, what do you think the next big beauty trend will be?
Right now, there is a flood of trends starting to come forward. I think the biggest thing we will see are huge changes in how we think about self-expression and activism.
Are you excited about launching into Cult Beauty?
OVER THE MOON! (Shop the brand here).
Finally, where do you see Pacifica in 10 years?
I see Pacifica as continuing to be a disruptive brand that challenges the status quo
and works hard to make the world a better place for animals, the planet and people
and always leading with kindness.
With thanks to Brook Harvey Taylor and the whole Pacifica team for being so open to this conversation!