Provenance partners with Cult Beauty to end greenwashing in beauty retail


Cult Beauty, one of the UK’s fastest growing online beauty retailers, has partnered with digital transparency platform, Provenance, to bring honest beauty product details – from origin and efficacy to social and environmental impact  – to shoppers.

This is the first application of blockchain tech by a beauty retailer and the first of its kind to digitally verify information at the point of sale in the beauty industry. The programme now live on Cult Beauty with brands such as REN, de Mamiel, Omorovicza, Oskia and Sana Jardin –

 – is radically improving transparency and building integrity – whilst enabling consumer education.

It’s time for transparency with integrity

The beauty industry is rife with greenwashing, largely due to poor labelling, unsubstantiated claims and a lack of industry benchmarks and standards, leaving shoppers confused and misled. 

Added to which, trust in business is at a low. Only 56% of people have trust in business to do what is right, according to a 2019 global survey of over 33,000 people by Edelman.

Integrity through consistency, accessible information and proof

In order to radically overhaul this established norm within the beauty industry and build confidence in the consumer market, Provenance has created a blockchain-based tool for brands called Proof Points. 

Proof Points connects data shared by brands and their suppliers and with evidence that can be verified by reputable, independent third parties (both human and machine). The Proof Points are then surfaced in a consistent, easy-to-understand manner within the Cult Beauty shopping experience. Producers, suppliers and third-parties (such as certification bodies, NGOs and labs) validate information using the Provenance platform, which is then integrated into Cult Beauty’s site. Provenance is working with up to 25 beauty brands initially to gather information about the origin, ingredients, process and claims of their products.

Many retailers are making “green” or “clean” claims about their products without being clear on the products or brands merit. A “clean” stamp can be given to any products that don’t contain ingredients from an arbitrary list of “nasty” ingredients – however, there is little agreement in the scientific community about which ingredients are harmful (beyond those banned at a national or international level). Retailers across the board are using ‘icons’ to indicate specific points, e.g. an ‘eco-friendly’ badge, but these aren’t helping shoppers understand what this means or how they’ve qualified this – nor can they easily compare like for like across sites. 

In the case of Cult Beauty, using the Provenance Proof Points framework, shoppers can click to see how something is qualified, e.g. the specifics around “recyclable.”

Shoppers are able to view this trustworthy information in a new “transparency” tab on the product page and brand pages.  

Why blockchain-backed proofs?

It’s hard to know what to trust when shopping online today. Cult Beauty has already built a trusted community through their approach to honest efficacy by only selling products they believe in (see the “Why It’s Cult” section on their product pages). Going beyond product testing to share with consumers information on ingredients and impact requires a tech solution to ensure the level of trust Cult Beauty shoppers have come to expect. 

Blockchain is an open, incorruptible and decentralised way to hold data – enabling a single source of truth on the claim and it’s veracity. These Proof Points, once verified, are tamper proof, meaning once a claim has been made – it can’t be erased or changed. Any edit will be logged, so you can see the transformation or updates over time to create an open history of the revisions. This means brands can’t change their story or dissolve their commitments when they change their business strategies.

The first step in a radically changing industry

Jessi Baker, founder and CEO of Provenance, said: “We are seeing more brands make claims on ingredients sourcing and quality, and the social and environmental impact – from charitable donations to veganism. However, as an online beauty shopper, it’s hard to know what to trust or to even compare like for like. We’re extremely excited to work with Cult Beauty on establishing what will become a new norm across the beauty industry. Armed with information about the products they buy, consumers are more able to vote with their wallets and reward the truly honest and ethical beauty brands out there.”