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Walmart executive shares the drive behind the company's new clean-beauty initiative: 'Direct response to a growing ask from our customers'

"The more we learn, the more we can do better."

"The more we learn, the more we can do better."

Photo Credit: Walmart

Clean beauty is doing numbers these days, racking up 1.4 billion views on TikTok and over 6 million posts on Instagram. Big-box stores, direct-to-consumer brands, and even celebs are getting on board — including America's biggest retailer.

Walmart has entered the room with Clean Beauty, its new online shop featuring more than 900 skin care, hair care, and other beauty products that are free from over 1,200 potentially harmful ingredients. Walmart's "Made Without" list includes lead, formaldehyde, and other harmful and hard-to-pronounce chemicals.

In an interview with The Cool Down, Marco Reyes, senior director of sustainability at Walmart, told us their focus is on transparency with affordability — which ensures that sustainability is for everyone, and not just a luxury good. 

💸 Clean beauty at the right price

Nearly 80% of the products on Walmart's Clean Beauty site are under $10, a more accessible price in an industry where a simple moisturizer can go for over $50 a pop.

"We want to help our customers find products that meet their — and our — standards at every price point," Reyes said. "Clean Beauty provides shoppers with an accessible way to identify products that fit their values and their budget."

👂 ISO sustainable products

"Clean Beauty was a direct response to a growing ask from our customers for products without certain ingredients and better transparency around what goes into them," Reyes said.

More than 70% of consumers are seeking beauty products that align with their values. And that can be a double-win — helping customers make mindful choices while also reducing environmental footprints.

Reyes said Clean Beauty "supports [Walmart's] work to have a lasting, net positive impact on society through our products, services, and business practices."

💪 Suppliers are upping their game

The upstream effects of Walmart's Clean Beauty platform are helping catalyze broader change in the beauty and personal-care industries — not just for customers but for manufacturers too. 

"Clean Beauty programs such as ours provide commercial incentives for suppliers to move away from prohibited ingredients," said Reyes. "The response from suppliers has been great so far." 

♻️ And that's great for packaging too

Reyes pointed out that packaging isn't an explicit criterion for Clean Beauty products, but that "it has been very exciting to see how many of our suppliers are innovating in that space. 

"They are exploring packaging optimization and innovation, evaluating the carbon emissions associated with production, and adopting cruelty-free and ethical standards."

🏆 Your ride-or-die clean beauty product?

Reyes really likes Herbal Essences avocado oil shampoo: "The bottles use 25% less plastic!"

And the shampoo's plant-based ingredients are certified by the world's leading experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens in London. Talk about royal treatment.

🌹A rose by any other name

"Clean beauty" is a hashtag seen around the world, but what exactly makes a product "clean" or "cleaner" than others? It's still open for debate.

But for Walmart, "Clean Beauty is about meeting customers where they are. That's why our 'Made Without' list was inspired by industry 'clean' standards." 

To develop the list, Reyes said they reviewed state and federal regulations, consulted suppliers, and gathered input from authoritative experts such as the global safety science company Underwriter Laboratories and the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental nonprofit. 

"We aim to continue reevaluating the 'Made Without' list annually," said Reyes, "periodically revising it as needed to keep up with industry standards and customer expectations."

Which means the definition of clean will "continue to evolve as we reevaluate the 'Made Without' list … the more we learn, the more we can do better."

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