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Trends in Organic and Natural Products: A Q&A Session With Barbara Olioso, PhD
By: Katie Anderson
Posted: September 11, 2012
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C&T: Are there specific regulatory bodies or seal certification bodies that you trust more or are more recognized in the industry than others?
As a green chemist, I prefer a tailor-made approach to natural and organic that suits the product, the brand and the environment. However, if a product requires a validation of its natural authenticity, the question a formulator should ask is, “Are people familiar with this standard?” The answers vary from country to country. This is another reason to choose a truly harmonized system, so that organic and natural accreditation becomes globally and easily recognized by consumers for ease of export and cosmetic development.
C&T: What are some common mistakes made by formulators when creating an organic/natural product?
I often conduct INCI reviews for clients, and I never stop being surprised by the lack of antioxidants in products that are full of unsaturated vegetable oils. It is a shame that these lovely oils are going to market without good antioxidants. This is a most common mistake, and to me, it is a big one. The last thing a formulator wants is a rancid smell in a natural product. The solution is to find an effective antioxidant that is tested in the finished product.
C&T: What tools or advice can help a formulator who is just entering the organic/natural market segment?
My advice is to be persistent, to take time to keep up with the latest ingredients and launches, and try them out. Some will be good and some will not—it is a question of finding the “gems” that can help to improve formulations significantly.
C&T: As a formulator, are there specific concerns with sourcing natural/organic raw materials that formulators should be aware of?
Yes, it is paramount that you make sure that the ingredients you are going to use are in good supply. Jojoba oil is one example, where supply is an issue. Its price has rocketed in the last few years. This is partially due to crop availability, as well as supply contracts and stockpiling that limit the quantity in the marketplace. It is always wise to do a little research about the raw materials, especially when they are unfamiliar. And try to have a plan B supplier if possible.
C&T: What is on the horizon of organic/natural products?
One worry that I see on the horizon as a result of the increase in demand for naturals is the growing pressure on nature and the environment to supply these needs. How do we reconcile our need for nature with nature’s needs? I believe the answer to this dilemma is to make sure that we balance what is natural and sustainable. Protecting and promoting biodiversity will become even more important as forests are where a lot of interesting and powerful actives are waiting to be found—and the forests are disappearing fast. Nature and wild habitats must be considered more of an asset to protect rather than to exploit.