It's my job to keep up to date on cosmetic ingredients.
After over two decades of working in the cosmetics industry (with the last 13 as a formulator) I have seen almost every trend there has been with regard to ingredients. When I started, in the early 1990's, the most important type of ingredients were ones which could slowly be released in o the epidermis (time release). Then came the high grade pseudo-medical grade anti wrinkle ingredients (alpha hydroxy acids), then came the synthetics (titanium dioxide), then the biologically active (L-ascorbic acid). It seems every year there is a "better" choice for ingredients to be used.
In the last few years the trend has been to formulate with natural and, by extension, organic ingredients.
The benefits of these types of ingredients I have discussed in previous posts - but today I read an article that may turn all of the hype surrounding organic ingredients on its head.
In the quest for safe, reliable, and effective cosmetics researchers have been using science to find ways to better deliver cost effective ingredients to the industry. And now the next wave of "revolutionary" ingredients is about to be front and centre.
Consumers want ingredients that are not only perceived to be safer but also have lower impact on the environment. Biomimetics may give organic a run for its money in the personal care industry:
1. Producing a biomimetic requires less resources of water, soil and electricity than organic materials.
2. There are no pesticides or fertilizers required to produce a biomimetics.
3. Organic materials require hundreds of kilos of water, soil, and solvents to grow and extract the key elements for use in cosmetics. Biomimetics do not.
4. Biomimetics can be produced with incredible cost control (not subject to good or bad crop years) thus passing savings on to consumers.
Overall these ingredients can deliver the exact same results as organic and natural ingredients without impacting the environment at all. In effect the ingredients provide a fully sustainable manufacturing capability which can be duplicated at will.
Biomimetics are not widely used in cosmetics just yet - but this type of technology is being quickly developed for such an application - so much so that a recent report has indicated the practice of using biomimetic materials is shifting away from the exlcusive realm of paramedical formulations and starting to be seen in mass consumer products. The most common biomimetic used today is lanolin.
So what does this mean for consumers?
Organic and natural material may be used less and less by formulators in favour of the synthetically created material and the trend of the cosmetics industry may swing from the realm of "all natural" to " fully sustainable".
I will be very interested to see what happens in the next year or so.
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