Advances in bio-derived cosmetic ingredients


Richard S. Blackburn1, Christiana G. Briddell*,2
*Corresponding author
1. Sustainable Materials Research Group, School of Design, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
2. American Chemical Society, Green Chemistry Institute, Washington D.C., USA


Nature is rich in biologically active molecules of interest to the cosmetics industry. Brands are leveraging these “natural” chemicals to tap into the growing market for organic and “natural” products. Advances in chemical analysis and extraction technology were recently discussed in a symposium organized by Dr. Richard Blackburn, University of Leeds, at the 21st Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.

The organic personal care market is expected to grow to USD 25.1 Billion by 2025 (1). Fueling this demand are consumers whom are anxious to avoid problematic chemicals and look favorably at products that contain natural ingredients. Likewise, brands are interested in reducing their environmental footprint by using renewable raw materials, greener processes and more sustainable packaging.

Unlike other industries, where biobased chemicals have to “drop into” existing processes seamlessly—cosmetics and personal care products can often leverage the novel ingredient as a selling point.

Humans have been using natural products to color hair, oil skin and heal wounds for eons. But new naturally derived products are not the same as yester years. Advances in chemical analysis and extraction technology help scientists identify and locate the “good stuff”—say an antioxidant—while removing other compounds that may have adverse impacts—for example, that cause inflammation.  This precision helps companies know exactly what is in their product and improves the uniformity of natural products.

Another hurdle chemists are helping us jump is to ensure that b ...