Sustainable Ingredients Science: Natural Oils

Most natural oils are formulated in skin or hair care for feel, consistency and emolliency; however, their added value on skin physiology due to their chemical characteristics (from their fatty acid profile to their content of vitamins, phytosterols, etc.) is often underestimated. Their use in personal care has been limited not only by their stability against oxidation, with possible oxidation leading to rancidity and instability of the final formulation, but also by their color, smell and cost. To appreciate a sensorial difference, high amounts of these oils may have to be utilized, with the aforementioned limitations considered. These limitations, together with the common problems of lacking skin safety profiles and unrefined materials, have pushed the industry to invest in more stable, inert and less costly synthetic oils—many of which demonstrate excellent sensorial properties. However, the growing market demand for natural alternatives to synthetic is pushing brands to continue to consider the use of natural oils in their formulations.

In the past few years, formulations containing jojoba oil or apricot oil have increased, natural oil-based formulas with exotic oil blends have become popular, and cosmetic lines containing argan oil (and most recently baobab oil) have appeared with a certain frequency on the market. The increasing presence of natural oils in finished products has pushed marketing and R&D departments to argue efficacy claims linked to these oils, although these claims are mostly based on traditional usage feedback and rarely supported by scientific evidence. On the supplier side, the high market demand has forced traders to consolidate and leverage their supply chain to avoid risk of shortage and discontinuation. At the same time, these traders are identifying novel sources for less known but promising natural oils, with particular attention to sustainable sourcing.

Sustainable Sourcing

Recent market analysis has shown that consumers are increasingly looking for finished products with sustainably sourced ingredients.1 Sustainable sourcing is often communicated to consumers as ethical sourcing. In effect, sustainable sourcing defines the search for ingredients derived from sustainable development that would include actions linked to and promoting economic development, social equity and environmental protection. By doing business with ingredient producers operating within this framework and, therefore, respecting, protecting and promoting social and environmental issues, the supplier has an ethical and virtuous approach. A finished product formulated with ingredients derived from sustainable development can communicate an ethical business model and world vision to consumers.

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