Mastering Plant Chemistry to Unlock Powerful Claims

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Cosmetic actives are more than "just ingredients." Instead, they are key contributors to cosmetic claims, helping brands support their marketing concepts with efficacious and inspiring ingredients.

While requirements for sustainably-driven product development have never been so real, the importance of natural actives as a key components of cosmetic formulations increases greatly. And this is said without compromising on efficacy! An equation that plant chemistry can certainly solve successfully.

From the Treasures Hidden in Plants

The plant kingdom is extraordinarily full of potential for those who know where and how to capture it. Traditional medicines or phytotherapy understood this early on. These millenary practices are based on the use of phytochemicals to heal or protect the organism. They are an undeniable source of inspiration for today’s cosmetics, in a quest for the perfect combination between sustainability and efficiency.

This is where plant chemistry has a role to play. Overall, plant chemistry refers to industrial activities using biomass to replace fossil resources. In the field of cosmetics, this science consists of the mastery of botanicals and extraction technologies for the selective capture of metabolites with the final objective of developing efficacious active ingredients.

Photos Gattefossé Laboratory

Gattefossé Harnesses the Power of Plants

Extracting the best of nature to deliver scientifically proven skin care benefits is one of the primary missions of the French cosmetic bioactives maker, Gattefossé.

Its research team has long excelled at plant chemistry. It all dates to the turn of the last century, with the distillation of essential oils in Provence, France. The company gradually expanded this core expertise to include selective extraction of phytochemicals and provide the cosmetics industry with ever more innovative claims. Various fields such as ecology, ethnobotany, agriculture, phytochemistry and plant physiology inspire scientists to select the best raw materials for first-class market products.

New Horizons for Natural Cosmetics with the NaDES Technology

Gattefossé’s science team has been working on the design of a new generation of 100% natural solvents to create highly functional active ingredients: they are called Natural Deep Eutectic solvents or NaDES.

This category of green solvents is directly inspired by botanicals and the way in which metabolites are solubilized inside the plant – through eutectic combinations of simple chemicals such as sugars, nitrogen compounds and organic acids.

Completely natural, NaDES benefit from a perfect affinity with plants enabling to reach high extraction potential. The botanical extracts obtained unveil unique phytochemical signature, and performance that would be impossible to reach using conventional solvents.

Gattefossé makes the most of this technology to rediscover plants in cosmetics. For example, researchers worked on Horse Chesnut rich in active molecules (i.e. flavonoids, tannins and amino acids) or Indian ginseng, an iconic plant in Ayurvedic medicine, containing rare phytochemicals like withanolids.

Selective Extraction of Lipophilic Metabolites: Triterpenoid Acids to Improve Microcirculation

Triterpene compounds can be found in many plants and are the subject of numerous scientific studies that demonstrate their role as health-supporting molecules.

More particularly, triterpenoid acids (mainly ursolic, maslinic, and oleanolic acids) have direct effects on skin microcirculation by reducing inflammation-induced vascular permeability. Interestingly, they also present potential in the degradation of the red pigment of dark circles.

Gattefossé took an interest in the upcycled leaves of sea buckthorn, reputed for their remarkable phytochemical richness, especially in triterpene compounds. An eco-designed process using supercritical CO2 was developed to maximize and standardize the triterpenoid acids content while ensuring quality, security and energy sobriety, aligned with Gattefossé’s CSR commitments.

This gave birth to Eyeglorius™, a new oil-soluble bioactive rich in triterpenoid acids that corrects two under-eye concerns at once, dark circles and eye bags, through an action on microcirculation and vascular permeability.


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