Green Ingredients in Beauty Spur Technical Challenges


According to Organic Monitor, the growing array of green actives is spurring innovation in the beauty and cosmetics industry, and the organization is finding that novel green ingredients also are bringing fresh technical challenges with them.

Traditionally, plant materials were the source of green actives. But as will be shown at upcoming Organic Monitor events (the North American edition of the Sustainable Cosmetic Summit happens in New York on May 15 and 16, 2014, and the Natural Cosmetics Masterclass takes place in Paris on June 25, 2014), novel actives are now finding their way from food ingredients and marine sources, as well as via new sustainable extraction and processing methods. These novel actives are creating new mechanisms for anti-aging, anti-inflammation, sebum control, skin moisturization and related applications, and hair care uses of green actives include hair growth promotion, hair loss prevention and anti-dandruff.

Organic Monitor notes that new sustainable extraction and processing methods are providing fertile ground for new green actives. For instance, plant stem cell technology is enabling IRB Tech (Croda) and Mibelle Biochemistry to develop novel actives from rare and endangered plant species. Since the actives are produced from plant cells in a laboratory, they have a significantly lower environmental footprint then traditionally harvested actives. And adoption rates are expected to rise as ingredient firms benefit from scale production.

Marine actives also are gaining popularity as formulators and product developers look to the oceans and seas for inspiration. Sources include fish oils and fluids, coastal plants, seaweed, sea minerals and algae, and ingredient companies like Heliae are focusing on algae because of its high rate of regeneration. Unlike fish and agricultural sources, algae feedstock is also less prone to supply fluctuations giving price stability. And the French firm BioTechMarine has developed a range of 80 active ingredients, extracts and stem cells from marine sources.

Actives from food ingredients continue to find new cosmetic applications too. Many product developers are using superfoods—such as açaí berries, goji berries, pomegranates and green tea—because of their high level of antioxidants. The trend is leading some brands to develop entire ranges based on food ingredients; examples include Skin Food and Yes to Inc.

However, Organic Monitor finds the use of these novel green actives is bringing fresh formulation challenges in addition to new opportunities. Product stability and preservation are major issues, especially if brands want to develop natural/organic personal care products. Differences between standards on accepted and prohibited ingredient sources, synthesis methods and formulations are also creating technical hurdles.

The growing use of green actives in cosmetic formulations will be featured in upcoming Organic Monitor events, including the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit North America and the Natural Cosmetics Masterclass, which each will have dedicated workshops on green actives. Practical guidance will be given to formulators and product developers looking at using novel green actives in cosmetic formulations.

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