Rethink Everything You Know About Natural Beauty

For smarter, more credible natural beauty, product development teams may need to shake up their formulating frameworks.For smarter, more credible natural beauty, product development teams may need to shake up their formulating frameworks.

Mark Chandler, president, ACT Solutions Corp., delved into some technical aspects of how product developers can create mindful, scientifically sound natural beauty during his session "Hit 'Refresh' on Natural Innovation," at Beauty Accelerate, held on Oct. 15, 2019, in New York. There, marketing and R&D attendees alike created strategies for naturals success, learned to address brand principles and reconsidered ways of approaching natural product formulas.

Read on for an exclusive look at Chandler's session.

How is the naturals market changing? What new direction is it taking?

Mark Chandler (MC): Companies are asking: Where do you draw the line to define natural? Some look into certifying bodies [for guidance], making it up as they go along, talking themselves into and out of ingredients. ...

The USDA Biopreferred Program is something new and different. It’s an attractive seal that you can put on a label, or not, with the words USDA certified bio-based product and you get the to put the percentage on it. It’s based on an analytical test that is cross-checked, so there’s no “funny business,” by only a few certified labs—and they don’t charge a fortune. It’s only like $500.

Many suppliers want the vagaries out of naturals, too, as there’s been some growing discontent with some of the NGOs over whether a product meets a given standard or not. Companies can even register their ingredient on the USDA Biopreferred site and show their test to say, yes, this polymer is 94% or 100%, or whatever, bio-based.

See related: Proposed 'Natural Cosmetics Act' Gains Traction with Indies

[From a technical standpoint, formulators] have the advantage, then, of not working in the dark as they formulate. When you’re formulating, you don’t want to have to change anything if your natural or organic numbers end up being lower than you had hoped [to meet a marketing goal]. If suppliers get their numbers in this system, you as a formulator can calculate: okay, I’m 95% here, I’m 100% there, I can even afford to put this synthetic fragrance in or some other ingredient because it’s really not going to hurt my numbers that much. Then you can go on with confidence when you formulate knowing how the numbers are going to come out.

What key concepts will Beauty Accelerate attendees learn from your session?

MC: Sometimes, with your natural formulas, you’re just stuck having to formulate to the Whole Foods list, or with only those ingredients that are COSMOS- or Ecocert- approved. What you’re faced with [from a technical standpoint] is getting a better understanding of what those things do. Then you transition to how to best use those materials [outlined in the brief by marketing]; for example, how to make a product thick, or make it foam. So the session will go back to learning formulating fundamentals; for some, for the first time. [It also will reveal to marketers the implications of their marketing brief direction.]

Then you have the wild card, which is wanting to formulate safer products. People perceive that plant-based materials are safer. So how can we [use them] in such a way as to not be greenwashing, but real? ... This session will give you tools to find something that looks good, feels good, doesn’t fall apart and works.

A big part of the lesson will be to recognize up front, [based on marketing requirements], what you can and can’t use, and then develop strategies from there. The goal really should be for a natural product to be every bit as good as anything else if you use good science. This also may mean unlearning some things. We sometimes have a way of formulating and manufacturing that is not necessarily the best. ...

Just by rearranging and not doing it the way everyone does it, ... [you can formulate] using all the same ingredients but taking half the time and half the amount of energy, without the need for any special equipment, and creating a more stable, better-looking final product. 

This session will help to “refresh” and find ways to create natural products smarter and easier by doing things differently. It’s about learning how to formulate, maybe for the first time, and unlearning lots of the things that we currently do. [It's also about understanding the implications of market claims.]

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