RIYADH: Muzon Ashgar, founder and manager of Saudi Arabian brand MZN Bodycare, has always had an interest in the natural skin care products she sources from the United States.
But after throwing a recreational “spa party” for a friend a few years ago, she realized she didn’t have to look abroad to be ethically conscious.
Ashgar has put together her own recipes for natural skin care products and packaged them herself. I established my own company in
Today, her cruelty-free, sustainable products can be found in major pharmacy chains, luxury retailers and spas across Saudi Arabia.
“I am impressed that most of our customers actually care about MZN being a sustainable brand. There is recognition,” Ashgar told Arab News.
However, this perception is not always obvious and does not exist in some communities.
A report by business consultancy Mordor Intelligence found that major players in Saudi Arabia’s beauty industry are animal-free companies such as Beiersdorf AG (the parent company of brands such as Nivea and Labello) and Estee Lauder. .
Where a brand does not test on animals, the company, either through its supplier or through a third party, performs individual testing on the animals themselves.
Procter & Gamble, with brands such as Herbal Essences, Pantene, Olay and SK-II, ranks first in the huge global market. The consumer goods giant recently announced a #BeCrueltyFree commitment across 19 companies, highlighting the industry’s move to become more sustainable.
Coming in third is Avon, a completely cruelty-free brand. Some brands in the Saudi consumer-favorite portfolio, such as Smashbox and Too Faced, have been certified cruelty-free by US-based animal rights organization PETA, although Estée Lauder is not.
The problem is compounded by the fact that some brands sell their products in countries where animal testing is required by law, such as China, which prevents them from developing a completely cruelty-free approach. Withdrawing supplies from such countries would lead to enormous loss of income.
However, Saudi Arabia does not advocate animal testing for skin care and beauty products.
Saudi environmentalist Zahra Al-Qatari told Arab News there was limited awareness of sustainability issues in the kingdom.
“So the demand for cruelty-free and sustainable beauty products is low. As a result, the beauty industry continues to make products that harm us, animals and the environment.”
But that is changing as local brands such as MZN Bodycare champion natural, vegan and cruelty-free products for everyday consumers.
Founded in 2015, the brand believes in using local botanicals to create eco-friendly products.
“Our area is full of plantations that offer amazing benefits such as moringa, olive oil, rose and lavender essential oils, date seed powder and oil. We found it to be very high in beneficial antioxidants and vitamins,” Ashgar told Arab News.
The company has seen a growing interest among Saudis in developing sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyles.
“In fact, some customers have asked for a ‘return package’ program to collect and refill used packaging. Some people call to verify the origin of their ingredients and make sure they’re actually a cruelty-free brand,” he said.
Another cruelty-free brand, Mama’s Alchemy, is based on veganism as a core value and motivation.
“We wanted to offer vegan options in the body care category in Saudi Arabia and the region, as very few brands cater to veganism. We believe it plays an important role in reducing things,” the company’s managing partner Dina Horaniye told Arab News.
The brand’s founder searched for vegan body products for personal use and couldn’t find them, so he created his own. Mama’s Alchemy caters to vegan consumers as well as those looking for clean, sustainable body products.
“The response (from the Saudi public) has been heartwarming. We hope to see more local suppliers offering sustainable options. It is working.
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