Sustainable Ingredient Science: Fossilized Coral Powder

Aug 21, 2014 | Contact Author | By: Giorgio Dell'Acqua, PhD
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Title: Sustainable Ingredient Science: Fossilized Coral Powder
coral powderx fossilx calcium carbonatex trace mineralsx magnesiumx sulfurx siliconx exfoliantx astringentx
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Keywords: coral powder | fossil | calcium carbonate | trace minerals | magnesium | sulfur | silicon | exfoliant | astringent

Abstract: Coral powder has applications in cosmetics but its use has impacted the marine environment. Fossilized coral could provide a sustainable alternative for uses such as fillers, cleansing and whitening agents, astringents, sebum absorbers, or to supply trace minerals to skin. Its use as an exfoliant it particularly noteworthy as formulators seek natural alternatives to polyethylene beads.

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G Dell'Acqua, Sustainable Ingredient Science: Fossilized Coral Powder, Cosm & Toil 129(9) 48 (2014)

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Coral powder (INCI: Coral Powder) has been used in several cosmetic products, being touted as luxurious, unique and exclusive. From an application perspective, it has been used to scrub skin and occasionally associated with supplying trace minerals to it. However, the use of coral powder in cosmetic formulations has declined, mainly due to its animal origin and more recently, to its negative impact on the marine environment. Coral reefs are the habitat for a myriad of fishes, thousands of invertebrates and several plants. Therefore, in countries such as Japan, coral miners are only allowed to source dead stony corals.

Composition and Scientific Value

The search for sustainable coral has mainly been driven by the nutraceutical industry and its demand for natural calcium carbonate in food supplements. Fossilized coral material therefore could present a solution for both the nutraceutical and personal care industries. It contains the high content of elemental calcium (> 40%) sought by the nutraceutical industry and can provide a number of functions in personal care products.

Fossilized, above-ground coral material is derived from the reefs of islands historically located in Japan and more recently identified in the Dominican Republic.1 This fossilized material has been outside the ocean for millions of years, pushed either by geological activity, i.e., crushing plate tectonics, or by residing ocean waters. In the Dominican Republic, the fossilized coral has been identified as Scleractinian coral species and dates back to the late Triassic Era.2

The potential for using fossilized coral powder as a new sustainable material for cosmetic applications is supported by its physical, chemical and textural characteristics, as well as its trace mineral content. Chemically, coral powder is a pure material, composed mostly of calcium carbonate, as shown in Table 1. However, this natural marine coral powder may contain 74 additional trace minerals not found in any other form of calcium carbonate, with the absence of heavy metals. Trace amounts are defined as minerals present in minute but detectable quantities-according to certain investigators, < 0.01%.3

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Table 1. Chemical Elements Distribution in Nature5

Table 1. Chemical Elements Distribution in Nature<sup>5</sup>

Chemically, coral powder is a pure material, composed mostly of calcium carbonate, as shown here.

Figure 1. Molecular structure of natural origin fossil stony coral calcium carbonate (left) and synthetic origin calcium carbonate (right)

Figure 1. Molecular structure of natural origin fossil stony coral calcium carbonate (A) and synthetic origin calcium carbonate (B). *Picture courtesy of Coral LLC

It is also important to note that the molecular structure of fossil coral powder is different from synthetic calcium carbonate. *Picture courtesy of Coral LLC

Biography: Giorgio Dell'Acqua, PhD, Freedom Actives Corp.

Giogio Dell

Giorgio Dell’Acqua, PhD, is a scientist with 15 years of experience in applied biomedical research and 12 years in cosmetic science. He is the co-founder of Freedom Actives Corp., a company specializing in the development and supply of natural and sustainable ingredients for the cosmetics, food and nutraceutics markets. He is also a consultant specializing in skin care ingredients and finished product development. Dell’Acqua has helped to bring more than 100 successful skin care active ingredients and finished products to the market, and has authored more than 40 publications in medicine and cosmetic science.

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