In this March-April issue we have decided to publish a Panel on a hot topic of the last few years: “Natural Ingredients”. 

We have asked key Players to spend a few words on challenges and opportunities to work with theses ingredients underlining the importance of safety, certification, evidence-based claims and performance. Each participant has chosen one-two topics to concentrate on and has been invited to comment the following statement: Natural Ingredients: Pitfalls, Challenges and Opportunities to formulate natural & organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing.

The following Players have joined this initiative:


Danai Georgiou
Senior R&D Manager

Apivita S.A


It is without question that natural products are leading the way in cosmetics industry and consumers are seeking more than ever for natural/organic labels.  But is there a clear definition of “natural”? Starting from the certification bodies criteria up to consumers perception on natural cosmetics, one can easily realize how confusing this divergence can be.

It happened that the beginning of my career as a formulator in Apivita, a natural cosmetics company, coincided with the flourish of these natural certification standards, and the truth is that I spent countless hours studying each one of them, trying to justify the lack of harmonization among them, figure out the differences and choose which one would fit best Apivita’s natural background. Nevertheless, the innate interest and philosophy of Apivita on humans, society and environment urged us to approach the meaning of natural in a more holistic, 360 perspective rather than being strained in the origin and manufacturing procedure of raw materials.

As things evolve quickly and the constantly increasing demand on natural raw materials has driven to over exploitation of natural resources, we cannot talk about natural products without taking into consideration sustainability and prosperity for the planet.  

Given this, the definition of “natural” seems to be one way. The dynamic challenges on Earth require first of all to include “ethos” in all aspects of formulation, i.e. vertically integrated production using locally cultivated raw materials or from renewable sources, meaningful use of ingredients without material verbosity for marketing reasons. This means that sometimes it is better to use a minor percentage of an effective though synthetic but biodegradable ingredient than higher percentages of natural endangered species which will possibly compromise planet’s equilibrium. It is the general impact on the environment that we should finally have in mind and not the label of an “organic product”. Most importantly, what makes the real difference among natural cosmetics is the capability to respond immediately to the constant variations of natural resources.

Moreover, the use of post-consumer recycled products, use of recyclable materials, or simply reducing the amount of packaging used is of equal if not higher importance.

Last but not least, clean labelling is indispensable when referring to natural cosmetics. Communication of a natural product should involve all above so as to teach and pollinate consumers to another way of living and thinking.


Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

Danai Georgiou
Apivita S.A

By principle, natural/organic cosmetics should follow the same development guidelines as any other cosmetic product in terms of safety, claimed efficacy, quality and sensorial acceptance. 

As in conventional cosmetics, the most crucial challenge in formulating natural products is to score high in all above criteria without compromise in any aspect. In terms of efficacy and sensorial acceptance, there is a plethora of raw materials which allow to create effective and sophisticated cosmetics fulfilling even the most demanding customer requests.

The real risk when working with natural ingredients stands for the quality assurance because of variations in their technical specifications on one hand, and on the other hand their constant availability. Thus, repeated and extended controls are required both in raw materials and in end products to preserve the established quality.

To compensate for, the real opportunity lies in the abundance of active molecules each plant carries maximising their efficacy. That makes natural ingredients not only polyvalent but, in most cases, multifunctional, too. This way, use of less ingredients is feasible satisfying the major demand for clean formulation.


Ute Griesbach
Senior Marketing Manager Personal Care Europe


The “back to nature” trend is having a big impact on the personal care market. Consumers’ increasing demand for natural-based, natural or vegan ingredients has become one of the industry’s most important drivers. As highlighted in the 2015 Kline Report, the natural market is growing three times faster than the personal care market as a whole, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 10 percent. Manufacturers face the challenge of finding natural alternatives to a wide variety of ingredients. However, consumers remain confused over what constitutes a natural or organic product – and the number of different standards, labels and certificates contributes to this perception.

From our point of view, the most important and relevant standards for the European cosmetics market are COSMOS, NATRUE and the ISO 16128 norm. However, each of these has different definitions, categories and certification levels. We support our customers by providing all the necessary information and data for all three standards. With 130 ingredients that have already been registered with COSMOS and more than 50 that are evaluated according to NATRUE criteria, BASF is the largest provider of raw materials suitable for natural and organic cosmetic products.

While concerns of consumers about non-biodegradable ingredients are rising, they do not want to lose performance and sensory benefits. At the same time “free-from” claims are becoming more and more important, challenging manufacturers to find renewable-based alternatives that perform equal to traditional ingredients. In 2017, more than 3,500 new products that claimed to be “silicone-free” were launched in Europe alone, according to GNPD Mintel. That number was up around 35% from the year before, and we expect it to rise further in the coming years as a result of increased scrutiny, including by regulators. We developed a line of light emollients that provide alternatives to volatile silicones and can be used in products ranging from skincare, colour cosmetics and sun care, to hair care and antiperspirants. For example, our readily biodegradable Undecane/Tridecane is very close to cyclomethicone thanks to its volatility. Its performance has been proven in multiple applications, including a liquid foundation where it enhances colour stability (Undecane/Tridecane tested compared to cyclomethicone with two panels of 24 female volunteers) and a sunscreen oil where it delivers UV filter stability (study involving two clear anhydrous sun care systems with the same sunscreen formulation base; one system contained 10% Undecane/Tridecane, and the other 10% cyclomethicone) (1).

Another alternative we recently brought to the market is a wax-based and readily biodegradable opacifier. This can be used instead of traditional opacifiers that are based on Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, and results in the same, pure white appearance in the final formulation.


  1. Yeah-Young Baek, Dr Annette Mehling & Dr Daniela Prinz, High-performing, super sensory & sustainable. SPC, 05/2018, page 48-50.


Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

Ute Griesbach

Because we have a broad portfolio for natural cosmetics that ranges from basic raw materials, surfactants and emollients to additives and active ingredients, we are able to create formulations (e.g. for body lotions or skin creams) based on completely naturally derived ingredients without sacrificing performance. Of course, doing this can be more challenging than creating a traditional formulation, and it requires in-depth formulation expertise. 

For some formulations, however, it is not yet feasible to do away completely with ingredients that are not natural. One example is sun care products: sometimes, inorganic UV filters such as zinc oxide (ZnO) and titanium dioxide (TiO2) are designated “natural” but are often chemically coated.The term “natural” can be understood in different ways. To our understanding, there is currently no natural sunscreen on the market that provides significant protection with SPF 50 and the desired UVA/UVB ratio. 

For styling products such as hair gels and mousse, it is possible to create formulations with naturally derived ingredients that offer the same strong hold. Consumers, however, still view the sensory experience of petrochemical products as being superior – that’s one of the challenges we are facing and an area where we will be looking at new solutions over the coming years.


Kavita Beri
Medical Director



There exists much controversy and discussion for defining ‘natural’, as the term seems to compete with the term ‘organic’ for those ingredients that are sourced from plants organically in grown.

Natural defines something that is original, unadulterated and closer to its primal source of origin. Therefor it will encompass both geographically natural habitats of plant origin as well as organic farms that grow the same plants. However, when we consider potency, there will be differences based on the geographic location, environments where the plants grow processing and extraction of the ingredients as well from the plant.

When taking into account natural ingredients we must consider ancient holistic approaches that have been using these ingredients for centuries as essential oils, tinctures and herbal preparations that were sourced from natural habitats of plants as well as those that were farmed. Importance is given to the specific parts of the plant (stem, root, fruit) that was extracted based on its circadian cycle and harvesting cycles in the geographic location.

I would consider the importance of the less ‘processed ‘approach for these ingredients to be more a ‘natural’ effect for the consumer when considering the surface microbiome (1). 

The skin-gut-brain connection of the microbiome and host puts emphasis on the connection of three big organs of the body through the immune system, and how it can impact each other and the overall health of the individual (2). Placing emphasis on the fact that natural sources of foods that are plant-based help stabilize the gut microbiome, we can consider that the natural less processed cosmetic ingredients will help provide a healthy microbiome on the skin for the consumer. Theoretically we can make this connection since the microbiome-host concept is based on the symbiosis /dysbiosis theory we are forced to consider that an effective formulation will be one that targets the microbiome in efforts to create harmony/symbiosis (3). Formulations that use natural ingredients with less processing during extraction will have a more ’natural’ effect on the microbiome, just as when an apple plucked from a tree or a farmer’s market is considered to be ‘fresh and more vital in life force compared to one that has been waxed, cut and put in a plastic sealed bag for sale in the supermarket frozen section. There is concerns of how the less processed way will allow formulations to have a shorter shelf life. There is a need for more research to focus on natural preservatives in these formulations. There also is a need to revamp- the way the cosmetic industry defines beauty and the goals of its products. Creating a sense of “harmony “with skin products is an approach that is discussed in Vibrational cosmetics, that is an integrative concept blending eastern and western approaches for rejuvenation (1, 4).

We have to consider a transition in the marketing as well as transparency in manufacturing and sourcing to be put forward to the consumer.  How we define natural ingredients, and natural beauty will need a multi-level transition in the cosmetic industry, not just in sourcing of ingredients.


  1. Beri, K. Perspective: Stabilizing the Microbiome Skin-Gut-Brain Axis with Natural Plant Botanical Ingredients in Cosmetics. Cosmetics 2018, 5, 37. 
  2. Zhou L, Foster J. Psychobiotics and the gut–brain axis: in the pursuit of happiness. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2015
  3. Beri K. Skin microbiome & host immunity: applications in regenerative cosmetics & transdermal drug delivery. Future Sci OA. 2018;4(6):FSO302. Published 2018 Mar 28. doi:10.4155/fsoa-2017-0117
  4. Microbiome and mental health in the modern environment. J Physiol Anthropol. 2016;36(1):1. Published 2016 Jun 27.


Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

Kavita Beri

Natural Active Ingredients that I currently use in my aesthetic laser practice

Turmeric in natural preparations with rosehip oil as an oil-based cleanser. Turmeric has one main potent active curcumin that has shown to have several immune modulating, and wound healing effects. Also known as a potent antiseptic. Excellent in conjunction with exfoliative treatments with peels, microdermabrasion and laser

Frankincense Essential oil in coconut oil as topical moisturizer post a laser procedure to help healing and fibroblastic activity as well to provide a surface barrier post laser resurfacing procedures.

Rose essential oil in a coconut oil base as an aromatic natural moisturizer for the body. With increasing age there is an increased dryness in the skin needed barrier protection, rose essential oil in coconut oil base provides moisture barrier, and adequate surfactant for dry aging skin without parabens or added fragrance, which often times is the reason for increased dryness/sensitivity in aged skin.



Julie Droux
Senior Technical Marketing Specialist
Clariant Active Ingredients


As a supplier of ingredients to the cosmetics industry and established trend forecaster, we are acutely aware of the need for brands to deliver trusted solutions that respond to rising calls for more ‘authentic’, environmentally-friendly and ethical products.

It makes good business sense for brands to embrace this direction and lower the negative impact of their consumption on the planet. Consumers tend to perceive natural and organic products as safe, often with the assumption of sustainable or ethical sourcing and cruelty-free. Brands can help to make this a reality by concentrating on some fundamental aspects. To support our customers’ efforts, Clariant Active Ingredients offers a selection of natural ingredients with sustainable supply.

Natural and organic ingredients often project a positive but ‘non-scientific’ image. Evidence-based claims are therefore important for highlighting not only their performance contribution but also their safety. Every day, we demonstrate the efficacy of natural ingredients by choosing the right plant extract to address a skin issue through extensive screening tests and innovative testing abilities.

For example, our researchers recently discovered a new pathway tackling hypersensitive skin and atopic-prone skin. They focused on specific target areas that contribute significantly to triggering these skin issues: control of eotaxin-1 a newly-found irritation mediator, decrease in eosinophil recruitment, and strong reduction of histamine release.

We tapped into the wide biodiversity of South Korea’s Jeju Island to source raw materials for the development. With our partner BioSpectrum we have put in place different plant supplies on the protected, UNESCO World Heritage listed reserve. The volcanic island / saline habitat combination impacts the phytochemical profile of plant extracts, which may positively influence secondary metabolites biosynthesis such as polyphenols content among others. Through intensive research we discovered the interesting profile of a green Citrus unshiu extract. The island’s specific environment could explain its exceptional synephrine content – the element so vital for realizing this industry advance.

Furthermore, as customers pay more and more attention to transparent sourcing and full traceability, we too are continuing to work in that direction. We harvest some of our plants directly from Jeju. All of our extract production is performed at a dedicated facility on the island to develop Jeju’s local economy, protect local biodiversity and decrease carbon footprint.

By continuing to study new technologies, new cultures or green extraction processes our industry can push back the limitations of natural ingredients and develop effective solutions to support safe, ethical products.


Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

Julie Droux
Clariant Active Ingredients

Key considerations when choosing natural ingredients for formulating such products are raw material reproducibility, stability and organoleptic profile.

A good example of an active that ticks all these boxes was inspired by the exceptional biodiversity of Jeju Island and our understanding of a local tradition - the “Haenyeo” female divers known for their independent spirit, strong will and determination in looking after their family. These women collect a brown seaweed which grows directly on the rocks. The tidal movements of the sea allow its harvest.

From this unique marine organism, we obtained an active, rich in oligo fucoidan, for boosting skin firming and elasticity – conditions normally degraded by aging and environmental factors. Like all of our actives, it comes in an easy to use liquid form, and has good organoleptic stability over time and pH range. It can be used in basically all types of formulations. Consequently, it offers formulators a solution that performs, is safe and is derived from sea material, while supporting the development of local women.



Andrea Poggi

Federica Ruggeri

Ludovica Germani





A growing concern over the safety of certain cosmetic ingredients and the rise of environmental consciousness have encouraged consumers to change their behaviour and choose organic and natural products. Consumers are looking for products with low environmental impact, superior performance as well as better safety and quality.

Today, there is not a unique definition for the terms “natural” & “organic”, being both not legally regulated and defined for personal care products. What states a cosmetic as “natural” or “organic” depends on currently private-sector standards, given by independent bodies.

Organic and natural cosmetics show qualitative formulation similarity, despite with notable differences.

A common thinking is that naturals are products that contain at least 95% of natural/naturally derived ingredients, while organics are products formulated using ingredients obtained from the organic production method.

This worldwide lack of rules and guidelines has contributed to increase uncertainties in this confused panorama. Consequently, cosmetic industry takes this opportunity to drive consumers towards their products instead of those from competitors.

Costumers are therefore induced to think that a natural or organic product is safer just because not composed by synthetically-derived substances. Is that real? It should not be forgotten that everything is chemical, both synthetic and natural (the difference is based on the sources and the processes used to produced them); indeed, controlled and standardized industrial production of synthetic ingredients can provide more information and ensure less unexpected results than nature-derived materials. Natural active ingredients, excipients, oils and other substances extracted from nature are influenced by variability linked to types, species, country of origin, cultivation area, working and extraction processes, for example. Producers have daily to face the content of allergens, heavy metals and other soil contaminants as well as the poor quality of certain raw materials or crops storage conditions variability, just to list some of the many critical points of natural products management. Furthermore, complex and expensive laboratory tests are necessary to assess raw materials safety. The natural origin of an ingredients does not prove per se its safety or quality.

These declarations should be considered as mainly marketing-driven attributions rather than claims, being not clearly defined and supportable through experimental evidences.

In conclusion, despite their numerous efforts, companies still have to take several steps forward, in order to find a better way in this current undefined regulatory framework with the view of meeting consumers expectations and the global market increasing demand.

Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing


Cosmetic R&Ds are asked to formulate “green” products in order to fulfil the increasing demands, a trend that is not restricted to cosmetics only, although nowadays there are a lot of uncertainties, starting from the definition of natural ingredients. 

Moreover, market requests increasingly safe, innovative and obviously performing products, so the real challenge in formulating products using natural ingredients is the peculiarity of each substance. These compounds in fact may affect physical-chemical and toxicological characteristics as well as the efficacy of finished product. On the other hand, employing commonly used and standardized cosmetic ingredients increases the confidence of formulators in achieving stable and reproducible formulations. To pursue this purpose, R&Ds may choose manufacturers able to supply natural raw materials with definite and reproducible quality that are safe and eco-friendly. Doing adequate clinical testing is also important to ensure products tolerability, because people may be sensitive to natural ingredients. 

Although replacing synthetic substances with natural ones can be difficult, natural alternatives exist and their employment may pay back time and costs of the research satisfying green consumers.



Carsten Dietz
R&D/Quality Director
Cosphatec GmbH





The market share of natural cosmetics is continuously increasing because customers are more sensitized and have a higher interest for ingredients and their side effects. In the past a scientific background was needed to understand an INCI list, whereas nowadays rating apps, test magazines and numerous websites make it easy for laymen to check the rating of each substance simple and fast. In most cases the rating of natural substances is much better which means better test results and marketing possibilities for the cosmetic product.

Therefore, more and more cosmetic manufacturers, including the big multinationals, consider to change gradually to naturally certified cosmetics. However, there are still great concerns regarding a 1:1 replacement of synthetic chemicals with natural raw materials.

Our company – the Cosphatec GmbH – is focused on the production of natural and nature-identical substances for product protection against microbials, oxidation and instability. 

Our service includes consulting our customers on their way to develop green cosmetic products. 

Based on our experiences there is not always a 1:1 replacement for all raw materials but often a combination of carefully chosen natural substances can counterbalance the effect of synthetic chemicals. On one hand formulators are more limited for example regarding the preservation but on the other hand natural antimicrobials and natural substances in general have a higher number of positive effects and less side effects. Our portfolio includes both: natural substances and synthetic, nature-identical raw materials. This allows our customers to change their ingredients in a first step to nature-identical substances and in a future second step to natural and certified raw materials.

Cosmetic manufacturers need to keep in mind that there are several certification labels existing. Each one has specific requirements. From a global point of view COSMOS is the most popular label but each country has typical national labels as well: NaTrue in Germany, Soil association in UK, Korea Eco-label in Korea, Swan in the Scandinavia area and so on. 

Each manufacturer needs to decide which label suits the brand best as the requirements of the labels are different but still similar. COSMOS certified raw materials fulfill most of the criteria of the other labels.

Finally, we are convinced that green cosmetics are the future and if the quality of raw materials is high, the cosmetic products involve less risks for the final consumer, are environmentally a better alternative and have a much higher marketing potential.


Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

Carsten Dietz
Cosphatec GmbH

The formulation of natural cosmetic products is no magic, it is much more going back to the roots. The big advantage in comparison to the early years of natural cosmetics is that the number of available raw materials is much higher now. Nevertheless, in comparison to standard cosmetics a couple of challenges are existing and can be categorized into three groups: number of allowed substances, preservation and costs. On one hand the restrictions during the production processes are high and a lot of chemical steps and solvents are forbidden, on the other hand some substances are chemically designed and not existing in nature. Nevertheless, the variety of natural emulsifiers, thickeners, actives, antioxidants and alternative preservatives is high enough to produce a very broad and interesting portfolio of cosmetic products. The biggest difference regarding the natural preservation is that it’s much harder to find effective preservatives for high pH values. Finally, each cosmetic manufacturer needs to consider that the costs for raw materials are higher because the production yield is lower, production costs are much higher and a compliance to the restrictions of the certification labels costs time and money.

Serena Zanella
Technical Manager
Gale & Cosm






The trend of natural products is growing fast and every formulator has certainly found himself facing a request of this kind in the last years. It’s important to consider that a finished product can be certified natural if contains not only 100% natural ingredients but also derived natural ones that are impossible to be replaced. Since the formulations that can be obtained using only natural ingredients are quite limited, the green chemistry is used to create new molecular structures able to give more performing products.

There are a lot of natural-derived ingredients that are able to give a pleasant skinfeel. Polyglycerol and Sorbitol Esters with vegetal fatty acids are good emulsifiers that can give light and silky emulsions particularly compatible with the skin for their liquid crystal structure.

Formulating with these emulsifiers is quite easy, there are also liquid versions for cold process allowing to make a stable emulsion in a very short time. Depending to the kind of emulsifier and to the structure of the formula, with some tricks, it is possible to obtain very performing textures. An important role in the formulation of natural emulsions is the addition of good stabilizers. There is a variety of gums used to stabilize the structure of the emulsions and to modify the rheology, each one with peculiar characteristics: acting as gelling agents to give an increase of viscosity, giving a thixotropic behavior in sprayable formulations, conferring suspending power and so on. The combination of gums in different percentages or the addition of silkening powders is helpful to avoid the stringy and sticky effect given by some gums. There are natural texturizing agents derived from starch, cellulose, amino acids, minerals, used as sensory enhancers for their velvet touch. In particular in make-up formulations they are good alternatives to synthetic powders, with soft-focus and mattifying properties.  Also the demand for natural make-up products is increasing, there are different performing mineral powders widely used, the difficulty in color cosmetics is to obtain vivid colors using natural colorants that could have problems of light/heat stability. Otherwise there are different light and silky emollients, some of them derived from Olive Oil or Sugar Cane, with a great sensoriality.


Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

Serena Zanella
Gale & Cosm

Natural and organic products, in particular containing a high quantity of vegetal extracts or aromatic waters, may be more exposed to instability problems. Color and odor changes are the most common, considering for example that compounds such as flavonoids and polyphenols could have color variability and influence the color of the finish product. Vegetal oils are susceptible to oxidation and it is important to protect them using the right quantity of antioxidants ingredients. Another trouble may be the loss of viscosity during the time that could be generated from the high concentration of electrolytes in the system, so it is important to choose electrolyte tolerant emulsifiers and thickeners.  Also the pH is a variable to consider for the stability and functionality of some ingredients, there are recommended pH range of use to respect and an alteration could cause precipitation or crystallization phenomena. After evaluating and overcoming any possible stability problem it is possible to obtain formulations with a pleasant appearance and skinfeel. The safety profile and the efficacy are always to be demonstrated with appropriate tests.



Philippe Daigle
Product Line Manager for the Southern Cross Botanicals and Borēaline
IFF Lucas Meyer cosmetics




No doubt about it, natural ingredient are on the rise. It can be easy to state “Natural” only to attract more consumer towards a specific product. Are natural cosmetics or natural active ingredients more than just imagery?

If we look into natural active ingredients coming from botanicals (flower, leaves, plants…), great variation can occur depending on country of origin, environmental climate and growing process. Chemicals such as pesticide could be used if sourcing if not well known. To avoid such variations and perhaps offer a more “green” active ingredient, stability and knowledge of the sourcing is of upmost importance. At Southern Cross Botanicals, an IFF- Lucas Meyer cosmetics company, we provide, for all our actives ingredients, a complete sustainable review which includes economic (to ensure ethical sourcing), social and environmental impact. By covering those three axis we ensure a complete and fair “naturality” of our active ingredients. 

Even if sourcing process is controlled and sustainable, how the product is being manufactured can bring variation towards efficacy. To avoid such variation and offer a product that is more than just an image, we standardize our natural active ingredients with one active component present in the extract and even, with Anigozanthos flavidus extract, our latest totally organic active ingredient, we standardize based on two compounds present in the extract (rutine and fructose). By doing so, we ensure a stable and reproducible manufacturing process providing constant quality and mode of action from batch to batch as well as total tractability from farm to jar.

Even though the active is natural and standardize does it have any efficacy? Natural ingredients are no different than chemical ingredient in the aspect that to be able to claim any action, complete testing shall be done. With Anigozanthos flavidus extract we made a complete technical assessment including in vitro testing, clinical and consumer trial to prove the complete and innovative anti-aging approach, including increased production of tenascin-X, a recently found glycoprotein, playing a crucial architectural role by regulating spacing and cohesiveness between collagen fibrils and elastin fibers while improving the organization and biomechanical properties of the extracellular matrix , . 

Natural extracts offer endless opportunities for product development. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that even if natural actives offer a sense of security, these products should be evaluated, same as their chemical counterparts. Anigozanthos flavidus extract is an example of such offering and a nice alternative to chemical active as it offers a complete technical and safety assessment.


  1. Joan Attia, Marty Shortt, Phillipe Daigle, Isabelle Lacasse, Estelle Loing, Remodeling effect of Kangaroo Paw flower extract: modulation of hexabrachion-like protein (TN-X) to regenerate functionalities of the skin, IFSCC Poster session 2018, # P-S4-079
  2. Attia, Jonven & Shortt, M & Lacasse, I & Loing, Estelle. (2018). 1456 Tensor effect of anigozanthos flavidus flower extract: Modulation of tenascin-X to regenerate the skin. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 138(5):S247 (2018). 
  3. Available from IFF-Lucas Meyer Cosmetics, 2600, boul. Laurier, Place de la Cité – Tour de la Cité, bureau 900, Québec (Québec) Canada, Ph : +1 877-886-4739,


Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

Philippe Daigle
IFF Lucas Meyer cosmetics

Many challenges arise from formulating with natural ingredients. First of all, the selection of natural actives and functional. Depending on the final certification you want for your formula, the choice of actives and functional may be limited, giving less possible composition to work with. 

Second, the color and smell. Natural ingredients may, along the manufacturing process, come with some of the color originating from the initial botanical source. But this color is sometimes related to the active compounds providing this extract the actions it is used for. Also, some naturals may be more prompt to oxidation which can impact self-life or have higher specification in regards of microorganisms. 

However, many new recent products now offer great alternatives. Botanicals extract like Backhousia citriodora leaf extract and Anigozanthos flavidus extract offer a nice story to which consumer can relay to while being only very slight colored with minimal impact on the formulation and have a complete technical dossier proving their mode of action. Recently, a new natural and efficient alternative to parabens or phenoxyethanol came into the market (Origanum vulgare leak extract). Those new natural ingredients have toxicological studies making natural formulation safe and performing.



Belinda Carli
Institute of Personal Care Science 





Claiming ‘natural’ continues to be a growing trend; but as the popularity and demand for ‘natural’ products grows, so too does the misinformation! From a purely chemical perspective, there is no compelling reason to select natural over synthetic where the substance achieves the desired purpose and has been proven suitable for use in cosmetic products. However, the growth of the naturals/organic sector could be due to:

• Consumers perceive natural as safer: there is a very common misconception that a natural ingredient means it is safer – but in reality, there are many ‘natural’ compounds that can still be toxic if used incorrectly! Natural ingredients can also cause skin irritations and sensitivity issues by virtue of their chemical structure (e.g. many essential oils) or if impurities are present. Just because an ingredient is of synthetic origin does not mean it is any more likely to impose a health risk different to natural ingredients. The safety of natural ingredients and their finished products should be evaluated the same as for a product containing synthetic ingredients and/or a combination of both.

• Natural materials often have other ‘beneficial compounds’ present: natural lipids are usually composed of multiple fatty acid chains, cholesterol and naturally occurring antioxidants to provide a more nourishing effect to the skin than ‘just’ moisture protection. Natural extracts contain various phytochemicals that can provide synergistic effects to a formulation that simple synthetic chemicals may not have. The performance of the material and effect it has on the skin (or hair) may therefore be more beneficial than can be explained by the chemistry of the substance alone.

Currently, there is no legislation in the cosmetics sector that clearly defines what is an organic and/or natural cosmetic product. It’s not even a ‘requirement’ to be certified before claiming natural or organic, and in many cases, those promoting products in the marketplace don’t understand ingredient processing to know if they are making incorrect claims. Unfortunately, too many products are branded as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ when they may only contain a small amount of such ingredients. There are however several Certifiers for Natural and Organic products that have established ‘standards’ and will provide Certification of products where the formulation and manufacturer have complied with their requirements to achieve ‘natural’ or ‘organic’. Brands that want their products to be recognised as truly natural or organic should aim to achieve this certification for true consumer transparency.


Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

Belinda Carli
Institute of Personal Care Science


• Synthetic ingredients may be cheaper and/or supply more reliable: natural ingredients require cultivation and often require a refining step to remove impurities, adding to cost and time to produce. Natural ingredients may also be subject to batch variation based on environmental conditions throughout growth and/or continuity of supply affected where crops do not provide the required yield. Synthetic ingredients go through refining steps as part of their processing and are not subject to environmental or growing conditions. 


• Some performance elements can’t be duplicated naturally… yet: prolonged water resistance, durable hair styling hold, deep conditioning without residue… these are just some of the performance attributes that truly natural/naturally derived materials can’t reproduce - yet. But with the increasing demand for truly natural products, we’ll continue to see suppliers rise to the challenge and no doubt, given enough time, find solutions to these problems. 


• Synthetic chemicals are non-renewable: this means that once the source is used, it cannot be replaced. Certified organic and natural ingredients are from renewable sources, because one can always re-grow the starting raw materials. Non-renewable sources are in limited supply, and once used, are gone forever.



Andrea Mitarotonda
Consultant in Cosmetic Formulation Chemistry






It is a fact that the natural & organic segment of our industry can no longer be classified as “just a passing trend”.

Steady and consistent growth up to 10% CAGR (1) speaks clearly of a rather healthy industry.

Consumers’ demand for “green” products is on the rise, now including concepts well beyond mere certifications, for example circular economy, sub-zero waste, compostable, vegan, etc.

However, no one would want to buy “green” products, even multi-certified ones that are not performing!

Technically speaking, formulating with natural ingredients to create performing, safe and aesthetically pleasing products still poses a number of challenges.

The lack of consensus on a globally harmonised definition of natural and organic within the cosmetic industry is something that should be addressed as a starting point.

The organic food industry is much more advanced in this field: for example, in Europe, different aspects concerning production and sales of organic products are regulated by law.

COSMOS Standards are a really good attempt of harmonisation between several major European natural & organic labels but still far from a globally-accepted definition.

Likewise, I don’t see ISO 16128 as the answer to this problem.

In the end, too many labels are present in the market and this is “diluting the good message” and creating confusion for both Consumers and Formulators.

The key to formulating natural & organic products is, obviously, good availability of ingredients.

This has been growing exponentially and life of Formulators of natural & organic products is definitely easier than it used to be in the past.

As an example, the number of commercial references approved for use in cosmetics products certified to the COSMOS Standards increased from 1294 to 4660 in the last four years (2): this doesn’t take into account organic-certified ingredients, but it shows major efforts are being made into this field.

In return, the widening of the ingredient availability enables Formulators to create natural & organic products that deliver an increasingly sophisticated sensorial experience as well as potentially clinically-proven performance.

What challenges need overcoming depends on several factors, for example: “how genuine should your product be?”, “how performing?”, “what sensory is it supposed to deliver?”, “will it bear any certification?”, “is there any internal Policy in place that could limit the ingredients used?”.

Addressing these questions will enable one to understand what level of technical difficulty they will be facing, e.g. stability, colour, odour, preservation, sensory, etc.

However, one should bear in mind that the more “hard-core” a formula is, the more hidden pitfalls can be found: going from simply nature-inspired to more extreme cases, for example certified organic or even multi-certified (e.g. organic, environmental-friendly, low allergy risks, etc.) makes the challenge grow exponentially.

And some of these challenges are not easy to solve.

For instance, when vegetable ingredients are used extensively, if not exclusively, one should take into account that environmental conditions, such as weather variability, have a significant effect on both their performance and availability: ensuring consistent supply and quality of such ingredients can be a serious issue.

If I had to mention a couple of tough technical challenges, I would say preservation and sun protection of organic-certified products can still give some headaches.

But nothing that a skilled Formulation Chemist would not be able to overcome!


  1. Organic Personal Care Market Analysis by Product and Segment Forecasts to 2020, Gran View Research, 2015
  2., checked between November 2014 and November 2018.


Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

Andrea Mitarotonda

Consultant in Cosmetic Formulation Chemistry

In my view, there are no technical issues that cannot be overcome: challenges are to be seen as opportunities to learn new things and to grow one’s knowledge.

We, Formulation Chemists, are enablers: we transform ideas into products.

This is why, I believe, it is vital for Formulation Chemists to get stuck at the bench…that is the place to put theory into practice!

And, to quote Einstein, “the only source of knowledge is the experience”.



Shaheen Majeed
President - Worldwide





Any product which is labelled as “natural” – it must contain no artificial ingredients or added colors, and must be minimally processed, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The products are claimed as natural which guarantees that they do not contain genetically modified (GM) ingredients, parabens, phthalates, synthetic colors, dyes or fragrances.

Any food or cosmetic products are labelled as “organic” – it has been produced through approved methods. If the organic standards describe the specific requirements that must be verified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent, those can be labelled as USDA organic. Interestingly FDA does not regulate the use of the term “organic” on food as well as cosmetic labels. The USDA oversees the National Organic Program (NOP) and enforces the NOP regulations and standards. The organic regulations prohibit the use of pesticides and synthetic chemicals, irradiation, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients and bioengineering.

If the product is labelled as organic, it will not give the indication on safety. Organic farmers use manure or compost for this purpose. Unfortunately, the use of manure can lead to E. coli and Salmonella contamination. Salmonella can survive in the soil for almost a year. The organic cleaning products are less effective than the synthetic compounds, which will lead to an increased likelihood of bacterial surviving on products. The heavy metals naturally present in soil and water may also contaminate the organic products. Hence it is always advised to test the organic products for contaminants, heavy metals, pesticides residue, PAH, dioxin, etc. before using. The manufacturer must use well-researched ingredients supported by safety and efficacy, maintaining uniformity from one batch to another batch (also called as standardization), sustainable, genuine and authentic raw materials in their products. So that companies ensure the quality products throughout their product supply.

There is no legislation in the cosmetic sector using natural or organic ingredients by USFDA. But the cosmetic products / ingredients are regulated by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. They do not require to have FDA approval before they go on the market, but are to be safe when consumers use them according to their labelling.

Natural / Organic products are sourced by ethically and should be cruelty-free. The raw materials sourced either from the approved vendors or contract farming or own cultivation of the botanicals make the manufacturer reliable and sustainable. In this processes, the flow of raw materials from the farmer to a vendor to a manufacturer, will not include refugees, child labours, bonded labours or animals.


Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

Shaheen Majeed

In Ayurveda, each herb comes with its unique benefits and carry equal importance. It is depending on the factors like plant part used, the method of extraction, identification of the right bioactive as marker(s) and also delivering them in the correct dosage form.

One of the greatest challenges faced by the industry is the constant supply of raw material and adulteration since a majority of the raw materials used are in dried form and the chances of adulteration are maximum. With increasing demand for natural products in the market, there is a tendency among manufacturers to use cheaper sources of raw material, to adulterate natural products. A typical example is that where the natural curcuminoids are often adulterated with synthetic curcumin.

Other challenge includes standardization of herbal extracts. Also, the secondary metabolites may vary due to the geographical conditions, time of collection, an age of the plant, method of preparation etc. For example, during summer vasicine content is highest but during monsoon, it is very low. The plant also contains contaminants like heavy metals, pesticides which is also the biggest challenge for the industry to control in the final products. The use of herbal extracts is based on traditional knowledge, hence safety and toxicity is also a challenging aspect. The finished formulation is also challenging since it is based on the nature of the active and the delivery target.

Finally, care and attention have to been given to the use of packaging materials for natural ingredients, since few are prone to oxidation while others may be hygroscopic in nature.  To overcome all these challenges, Sabinsa has its own contract farming to supply the authentic and genuine raw materials and state-of-art analytical facility to carry out the testing protocols.


David Boudier
Scientific communication manager





The need for natural & organic beauty ingredients has strongly expanded in recent years. Indeed, more and more consumers reject chemistry and prefer green alternatives that are better for their health and the environment.

Safety, along with performance and innovation, is at the heart of each natural active ingredient developed by SILAB. To meet these requirements, an essential step, settled in SILAB’s DNA for 35 years, is the “Mastery of Nature”. Each natural or organic raw material is authenticated with the support of experts in botany, agronomics, microbiology, toxicology or analytics. At the production level, all stages (from extraction to purification) are also perfectly controlled in-house. 

Some technologies, like enzymatic bioengineering, are besides inspired by the food-processing industry. These processes are supported by a quality management system, in order to comply with the most stringent safety requirements and guarantee the ingredient’s quality. Today, each new SILAB’s active ingredient comes with a safety assessment report for cosmetics use and a biodegradability study, proving the absence of risk for the consumer and the environment.

A supplier specialized in the development of natural “active” ingredients, SILAB considers performance as a priority. As a result, each active has a scientifically proven efficacy. In this objective, year after year, SILAB invests in cutting-edge technologies to decipher the skin under different conditions of stress or across aging. The recent opening of a Microbiota Platform is a perfect example: multidisciplinary, this specialist platform enabled to discover that the skin microbiota was disturbed across aging (1).

To counteract this modification, SILAB developed an active ingredient bio-inspired by the regulating capacity of the microbiota of floral nectar, the Nectarobiota®. This ingredient was obtained from the yeast Metschnikowia reukaufii, isolated from the porcelain flower Hoya carnosa. It was substantiated in vivo by metasequencing to demonstrate that it specifically rebalances the microbiota of mature skin. This development is therefore an evidence that the mastery of biotechnologies is also essential to produce high quality raw material, rich in effective natural molecules.

As a result, safety and efficacy of natural or organic active ingredients are concrete, especially when suppliers are capable of providing the evidence expected by their customers and consumers.


  1. Jugé et al., Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2018 Sep; 125(3):907-916.


Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

David Boudier


Being independent, SILAB asserts a complete freedom in its investment and development choices. Since its creation 35 years ago, the company has been focusing its strategy on naturality, paving the way for innovation. It thus develops easy-to-formulate active ingredients with 100% natural raw materials (exclusively plants or biotechnologies), transformed through environmentally friendly processes. Thanks to its in vitro and in vivo laboratories, SILAB substantiates its active ingredients through robust protocols and innovative modeling. The company also guarantees the safety and traceability of its supply chains.

At a time when natural products are occupying a growing place in the market, offering relevant solutions to meet consumers’ expectations also leads to technological challenges. Preservatives, for instance, are often questioned and SILAB decided to implement a spray-drying technology on its production site to offer a range of preservative-free products in powder form.

As a result, Nature has always been considered to be a main source of inspiration for SILAB. The company’s legitimacy in mastering nature was besides recognized by its peers, as it was chosen to lead the Aspa-Ingrecos working group, responsible to provide tangible technical answers regarding the new ISO 16128 standard.




Barbara Olioso
The Green Chemist Consultancy 






Even though we have a common sense about what natural food is, for the authorities - either in Europe or the US - there is no official definition for what is “natural”, and this makes identifying – and labelling - natural food, or indeed any product made from natural sources, a grey area.

There are, however, official definitions for natural flavours in Europe (EC 1334/2008) and in the US (1).

The first says it is “a substance that comes from nature (animal, vegetable, microbiological)” ..that has been “Identified in nature (either raw or partly processed for human consumption… The latter definition goes on to say that natural flavour means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive… which contains flavour constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice… or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring”.

If we used these criteria to define natural cosmetics, we would be left with very few ingredients available for use, and these would be limited to oils and alcoholic tinctures. 

A similar effect would happen using the organic food legal definition (EC 834/2007).

Where are we to go with this?  Consumers clearly want organic and natural beauty products, as they associate “green” with healthy, and yet are unaware of the complex scientific dimensions behind these categories.  This presents us with quite a problem.

Natrue came up with their solution to this problem, first acknowledging the difference between cosmetics and food, and then addressing the need for modern natural and organic cosmetics by giving a technical definition (see my article on ecolabels in the February issue) and then setting up a voluntary scheme for beauty brands.

With so many natural and organic labels, which criteria should one follow to get products certified?

When one is considering an ecolabel it is important to look at a few criteria before deciding:

  • financial criteria
  • consumers criteria
  • technical criteria

Certification creates a point of difference from competitors, however it comes at a cost, in terms of using more expensive ingredients and having to comply with additional voluntary schemes on top of the current cosmetic regulations. This means that the numbers have to make sense and the product has to be economically viable.

The second criteria is based on the brand message and ethics and how you wish to put these to your consumers. Having a certification makes the message more credible, however the voluntary certification chosen has to be recognized in the market place where the brand is sold.

The third criteria is the reality check of what is feasible in formulations and performance-wise. Depending on the application there are some limitations attached to ecolabels that need to be evaluated and understood from the start.

The task is to find the sweet spot between these apparently conflicting criteria.

Natrue’s answer is not the only one possible, however they are the sole body that seem to be addressing this problem head on.  One interesting avenue would be to find out how the industry defines natural and organic cosmetics in the 21st century,  developing a definition that is authentic for the consumers, workable for the manufacturers and clear for the regulators.




Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

Barbara Olioso
The Green Chemist Consultancy 

When I started my career in the cosmetic industry nearly 20 years ago, the challenges associated with green cosmetics were far greater than we have now, especially in terms of sensorial properties and availability. I still remember the smell and heaviness of some organic oils! In the last few years, thanks to green chemistry and the cosmetic ingredients suppliers, I have seen a quantum leap in emulsifiers, film formers, emollients and vegetable oils, allowing a great evolution in green cosmetics, even to the point where green can compete with main stream products (for example Omia Laboratories’s exfoliator is the second best seller in this product category on the Italian market (1)). Obviously there is still lot to do, for example it would be great to have a plant derived UV filter or more biodegradable hair conditioners and styling polymers to increase performance in a more environmentally friendly way. 

It is also important to mention palm oil or palm kernel oil derivatives, as sustainability is gaining momentum on a global scale, something to keep in mind when selecting suppliers, ideally with a transparent supply chain. 

As the  Delphi oracle said “know yourself” when you enter the temple, you need to know your supply chain when you formulate natural and organic products!



Marco Biagi
University of Siena






In cosmetic the properties of some plant phytocomplex are claimed and well known for example in maintaining skin barrier from chemical and physical stresses and promote re-epithelialization (1. Just to cite one of the most studied species, Aloe vera (L.) Burm. leaf gel, rich in acemannan and mannose derivatives, proteolytic enzymes and magnesium salt, could still be considered one of most effective skin protecting agent.  It acts in fact at the same time with different phytochemicals. On keratinocytes, A. vera gel promotes cell turnover through the enhanced release of growth factor, modulates the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and activates moisturizer factors. It also acts signalling fibroblasts receptor increasing collagen synthesis (2). Nowadays, phytocomplexes with multi target mechanism on skin aging are also a thriving field of research, and Salvia henkei Benth. extract represent just one of the last examples of new effective anti-aging agent  (3).

Nevertheless, the growing market of natural products in nutrition and cosmetic has been arising also in the idea that “natural” is synonym of non-toxic, safe. This is categorically not true, mostly because natural products are all too often poorly known by customer and producer as well to be really safe. The most underrated risk of this “green abuse” is the scarce quality of many preparations, natural but definitively the less adequately chemically defined. Organic products don’t create exceptions. In cosmetic, in particular, the most part of herbal preparations report the used species and the solvent of extraction, but rarely phytochemicals are defined. 

One example is explicative: hypericin is a photosensitizing agent and it has a weak penetration in normal epidermis, but significant in erythematous skin (4). Thus, the safety of Hypericum perforatum L. herba preparations for topical use depends on the hypericin content: oil extracts normally contain few or no hypericin, but alcoholic extracts could be very rich (5).

Another example regarding the importance of chemical knowledge for safety concerns is propolis. This bee product should be better known, because it is chemically very variable, depending dramatically on flora of collecting zone but also on extraction procedure (6); caffeate derivatives rich propolis are linked with risk of skin irritation (7).

Summarizing, it is not a natural or an organic product that intrinsically guarantees safety, but the rationale design of extracts and preparations chemically defined.


  1. Tsioutsiou EE, Miraldi E, Governa P, Biagi M, Giordani P, Cornara L. Skin Wound Healing: From Mediterranean Ethnobotany to Evidence based Phytotherapy. Athens Journal of Sciences. 2017; 4:199-211
  2. AA. VV. WHO Monographs on selected medicinal plants. 1999; vol. 1, WHO, Geneve. 
  3. Matic I, Revandkar A, Chen J, Bisio A, Dall’Acqua S, Cocetta V, Brun P, Mancino G, Milanese M, Mattei M, Montopoli M, Alimonti A. Identification of Salvia haenkei as gerosuppressant agent by using an integrated senescence-screening assay. Aging (Albany NY). 2016; 8(12):3223-3240.
  4. Wilhelm KP, Biel S, Siegers CP. Role of flavonoids in controlling the phototoxicity of Hypericum perforatum extracts. Phytomedicine. 2001; 8(4):306-9.
  5. Miraldi E, Biagi M, Giachetti D. Chemical constituents and effect of topical application of oleum hyperici on skin sensitivity to simulated sun exposure. Nat Prod Comm. 2006; 1(3), 209-213
  6. Cornara L, Biagi M, Xiao J, Burlando B. Therapeutic Properties of Bioactive Compounds from Different Honeybee Products. Front Pharmacol. 2017; 8:412.
  7. Walgrave SE, Warshaw EM, Glesne LA. Allergic contact dermatitis from propolis. Dermatitis. 2005; 16(4):209-15.
  8. Gertsch J. Botanical drugs, synergy, and network pharmacology: forth and back to intelligent mixtures. Planta Med. 2011; 77(11):1086-98.


Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

Marco Biagi

University of Siena

The re-discovery and interest towards natural products is definitively very important, in cosmetic and in all the field of human health, because many plants especially contain active mixture of molecules that could trigger multiple target and modulate complex pathways rather than a single receptor. 

This is the so called “network pharmacology” (8), which better contributes, in comparison with single molecules, to the homeostatic balancing of physiological processes. These peculiar aspects could be well exploited in many fields of cosmetic research: barrier integrity maintenance, anti chrono- and photoaging are the sectors best clinically investigated. Currently, the major issue regarding natural products, herbal extracts especially, is the scarce chemical knowledge. This is a pivotal pitfall because, we know: “dosis sola facit, ut venenum non fit” and the subject are phytochemicals theirselves, that are responsible of efficacy, they drive the use of different excipients and, at the same, time, they need to be known for safety concerns.



Mayte Fernández,

María Barbero Calderón







Generally, when the consumer looks for natural or ecological cosmetics, its interpretation is to associate it with safer and more beneficial products, however, we cannot attribute their consumption to an increase in safety and consequently to the reduction of the associated allergy risk.

Currently, there is a great increase in the natural ingredients field, known progressively more as “trending topic”, therefore this leads to carefully study them more in detail. It is for this reason that we should not get confuse and believe that just by having the term “natural” or “ecological” implicitly implies their security and tolerance. These products may be totally safe, but like synthetic cosmetics, they must have pass and comply with all the necessary tests to verify that they will not harm the skin.

Also, there is a high prevalence of sensitization to natural cosmetics based on plant extracts or essential oils, one of the reasons is because in natural substances the entire composition is not identified, compared to synthetic substances, in which we know their total composition and we know what ingredient we should avoid just by reading the labeling. As a result, cosmetics that are better tolerated are those that are simpler.

The tests should be realized in human volunteers in order to evaluate the safety of it before launching the product into the Market. This includes epicutaneous tests, such as patch tests or others. These tests are carried out on cosmetic products, whether natural or not, to ensure adequate skin compatibility of the product.

This type of studies should be carried out in companies specialized in testing the safety  and tolerance of cosmetic products, similar to those carried out in allergology clinics, in which batteries of potentially allergenic products are used. The tests are performed on volunteers who are placed on the back under occlusion (patch) a certain amount of product, and by different protocols the potential irritant or allergenic of the product in question is determined. However, it should be noted that the claim “hypoallergenic” does not guarantee complete absence of risk of allergenic reaction.

In conclusion, it is important from the industry side, to insist that all cosmetic products on the market follow safety standards, and therefore, the inclination of the consumer for natural cosmetics shouldn’t be to “think that the cosmetic that is not natural may not be safe”.


Natural ingredients: pitfalls, challenges and opportunities in formulating natural and organic products that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and performing

Mayte Fernández

Zurko Research

When we want to formulate natural and organic products, the first challenge we face is to know what we understand by natural product and by organic product as manufacturers and what do our consumers understand by the same terms.

The first challenge when developing a natural product knowing the needs and expectations of consumers, not only aesthetically but also at the level of tolerance and effectiveness.

 The second challenge is to convert these needs and expectations into a cosmetic formula, with the difficulty that the source materials that we can use may not be as many or as effective as we would like to, the final smell, color or appearance are not as pleasant as we had imagine. Also, the stability of the formula is not always as good as we desire and the tolerance or effectiveness of the formula are not always the same as other “non-natural” market equivalents.

The third challenge is to get a good traveling acquaintance for this formula, a packaging “so” natural, resistant and compatible.

Although it can be countless challenges, the important thing is to be clear about the objective of responding to all those consumers who are increasingly demanding the approach to natural ingredients and the use of more sustainable products at all levels.