Editor’s note: The introductory material for this “Expert Opinions” is an excerpt adapted from: Grabenhofer, R. (2022). Seven top trends in sustainable cosmetics R&D. IFSCC Magazine. 25(3) (2022).
Sustainability in the rawest sense is about conservation and survival. From this perspective, industries have always been on a path to sustainability, keeping business alive and growing by meeting consumer demand. For beauty consumers, the demand for several decades now has been for naturals, driving companies to source natural materials for the products they create. Companies soon realized resources were not unlimited, however, and recognized it was critical to think differently.
The demand itself for naturals, as the industry knows, is rooted in concerns over health and safety. Many consumers believe natural materials are safer than synthetics – a belief perpetuated in part by misinformation and misguided marketing. More recently, the pandemic has also raised our vigilance over health and safety concerns.
It is at this intersection where health/safety concerns meets growing demand/shrinking supply for naturals that sustainability as our industry knows it has taken an eco-turn. These two facets of safety and eco-consciousness have unfolded side-by-side; from the early days of products being simply natural in origin; to organic, green and eco-friendly; to aligning with bigger-picture tenets of clean, transparent, ethical, responsible, biodegradable, reduced carbon footprint, etc.
Sustainability today is driven by a new sense of urgency for the health of the environment. This has forced the cosmetics industry to take a good, hard look at every facet of the R&D process to revise and refine each with an eye toward sustainability – bearing in mind any potential trade-offs. It means not only formulating with an upcycled ingredient, or using refillable packaging, but doing both and more to take as many steps as possible to become more sustainable, and balancing each decision made for the greatest overall good.
Sustainability is no longer a product perk but a mandate set forth by consumers and industry itself in response to the deteriorating state of the environment. To fulfill this requirement, cosmetic companies are taking holistic approaches: sourcing upcycled ingredients and producing them in greener ways; managing the impact of manufacturing on the environment; reducing or omitting packaging; and more – and certifying their actions to communicate clearly and transparently the steps they are taking.
We asked select industry experts for their take on sustainability and the cosmetics market as we know it today – and where it’s going tomorrow. Following are their responses.
Bio-based Performance Beyond Synthetics
According to Johan Jansén-Storbacka, director of personal care for IFF, the beauty and personal care industry is starting to take sustainability as a given. “Consumers have repeatedly shown that they expect companies to deliver on sustainability without compromising performance. So of course, science-backed claims and robust evidence for efficacy, safety and functional performance are key.”