Green Actives Spurring Cosmetic Innovations

The growing array of green actives is spurring innovation in the cosmetics industry. Novel green ingredients are also bringing fresh technical challenges.

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. Adoption rates are expected to rise as ingredient firms benefit from scale production.Plant materials were the traditional source of green actives.

As will be shown at upcoming sustainability summits, novel actives are now finding their way from food ingredients, marine sources, as well as via new sustainable extraction and processing methods. These novel actives are creating new mechanisms for anti-ageing, anti-inflammation, sebum control, skin moisturisation and related applications. Hair care uses of green actives include hair growth promotion, hair loss prevention and anti-dandruff.

Marine actives are also gaining popularity as formulators look to the oceans and seas for inspiration. Sources include fish oils & fluids, coastal plants, seaweed, sea minerals and algae. 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. The French firm BioTech Marine 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. 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 Intelligent Nutrients and Yes to Inc.

Ecovia Intelligence (Organic Monitor) finds that the use of these novel green actives is bringing fresh formulation challenges. 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 are regularly featured in the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit. This executive summit now takes place in the major geographic regions of the world: Europe, North America, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific. More details are on the website


Posted: May 6th 2014

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