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C&T: What are some ingredient trends that you are seeing in the organic/natural beauty industry?
Recently, I have been working with a number of food ingredients, which I love—food being a big passion of mine. One of these has been oats. Oats are a mine of cosmetic “gems,” from simple oatmeal to more sophisticated ingredients such as peptides, beta-glucan, avenanthramide, oat oil and even surfactants. These resulting products have different properties but have a common denominator of mildness.
Another key trend I see is natural alternatives to silicone. At in-cosmetics in Barcelona, there were several ingredient launches in this area, which I was really excited to see because they have the potential to upgrade and enhance the sensorial properties of natural and organic cosmetics without the biodegradability issues linked to the synthetic silicones.
C&T: What formulation technology(ies) have revolutionized the organic/natural beauty industry?
This is a tricky question because a revolution is needed in natural and organic cosmetics but not in technology. What is urgently needed is a global definition, and regulation, of natural and organic products and claims. Can natural ingredients that are hydrogenated still be called natural? Can propanediol, which is prolylene glycol derived from fermented corn, be classified as natural? It has a synthetic molecular structure but due to biotechnology, it has a natural origin. Different certification bodies have different views on what is acceptable. Personally, I think that these are not acceptable as naturals, but I am interested to hear what other people in the industry think about this. I will be writing a post about this topic on my Organatural blog.
C&T: What are some challenges encountered when formulating an organic/natural hair care product?
I am working on such a project right now, and I am facing two main challenges—a human one and a technical one. The human challenge is the client and consumer expectations for an instant sensorial gratification, which are unrealistic for a natural product. This is hardly a surprise given the way synthetics are marketed posing as naturals. For example, argan oil is often promoted as the miracle worker, but the silicones that produce the glossy sheen on hair in these products are often not mentioned.
The technical challenge I came across was to find natural conditioning actives that could compete with the mainstream actives. Ultimately, the product had to sell to an audience with these unrealistic expectations, so I had to use a raw material that was not completely natural but gave good conditioning on the hair and had good biodegradability.