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Happy Earth Day
By: Rachel Grabenhofer, Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine
Posted: April 1, 2009, from the April 2009 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
Earth Day is celebrated yearly in more than 140 countries, in some at the vernal equinox and in others on April 22.* Its intent is to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the environment. I can’t think of a much larger eco-friendly effort—although every little bit helps.
To this end, in the personal care world, efforts to make chemistries more earth-friendly have been under way. At a recent media event held in Bolingbrook, Illinois, USA, a new company was founded upon that principle. Preceding the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the firm hosted a panel discussion on the topic of green chemistry, and Nobel Prize-winning chemist Robert Grubbs, PhD, was among the panelists. Grubbs founded the olefin metathesis technology used by the company to convert renewable resources into specialty chemicals.
“These chemicals are important,” said Grubbs. “Evidence to this fact lies in the [chemical] market’s interest in them. Four of the last nine Nobel Prizes [in chemistry] have been awarded for work on catalysts. The other five were on biology.” Grubbs explained that catalysts can reduce the number of byproducts formed from chemical reactions. They also create new products from old materials by scrambling the double bonds between carbon molecules. “We’re at a point now that we are putting catalysts into seed oil and they convert the oil to new materials. It’s really exciting to watch this technology,” he said, adding that “catalysts will open up an amazing array of new materials. It will be a fun time.”
Producing eco-friendly materials is just one piece of the “green” pie. On Earth Day this month, one silicones company will celebrate its anniversary by launching an initiative to show product developers how to use minimal levels of silicones to achieve improved eco-friendly ratings, yet provide consumers with the cosmetic elegance they demand.
A last approach to being eco-friendly is what this issue is all about. Formulating for sensitive skin considers consumer safety and comfort—after all, human beings are a part of ecology. Bernard et al. first examine the science of inflammation, followed by Stamatas and Martin’s look at baby vs. adult skin. Lee et al. also blend medicinal plant extracts together for anti-inflammatory effects.