What would you say are the major trends in the market at the moment concerning green chemistry?
As a green chemist and cosmetic formulator, I see green chemistry gaining more popularity thanks to new functional ingredients released onto the market that have good performance and biodegradability. I see a few trends where green chemistry is mingled with other concepts.
For example, the Cosmos standard for organic and natural cosmetics takes green chemistry principles, such as biodegradability and renewability into account, as well as the chemical impact of the manufacturing process, and sets some criteria for ingredients that are naturally derived and chemically modified.
This will have an impact on the product as a whole and sees green chemistry being combined with organically produced ingredients. On the other hand, companies such as L’Oreal are now openly talking about green chemistry, although only in the context of active ingredients, which are a tiny percentage of the whole product.
These are welcome developments, but there is room for a third option. It's contrasts such as these that gave me the inspiration to look at the development of sustainable cosmetics using purely green chemistry principles, which I will explain in my presentation at the in-cosmetics Global workshop on sustainability in London this year.
Could you give an overview of the major challenges within chemistry facing formulators at the moment?
Even though there are a few new green chemistry ingredients on the market today, it takes time to get to know them, to see how stable they are, how they perform or how positively the consumers receive them.
In fact, consumers tend to associate some sensorial properties with efficacy even if the new ingredient has a higher performance. For this reason, more green chemistry ingredients are needed as well as an approach to product development that gives more time and resources to R&D.
Innovative green chemistry ingredients cost more and formulating on a low budget according to green chemistry principles simply does not work. A balance needs to be found between sustainability and cost.
Which formulators/brands are leading with green chemistry innovation at the moment?
In my opinion it is the smaller and faster companies that are daring to innovate at the moment, in order to create a valuable point of difference from mainstream products.
For this reason the haircare brand Windle and Moodie in Covent Garden, London has been really innovative, not only in using new green chemistry functional ingredients in its range when possible (haircare is quite a challenging product category) but also in its approach to consumers - as well as hairdressers - education, which makes a great combination I think.
Could you give an example of a beauty or personal care product you think is particularly innovative, and why?
The Windle and Moodie hero product - Invisible Day and Night Cream - happens to be a green chemistry based product and without any silicones. Considering it is in range of twenty products, it is really remarkable, showing how embracing green chemistry fully pays off and how it can generate the best products.
Dr Barbara Olioso is the founder of The Green Chemistry Consultancy and will host a session entitled What’s new in cosmetic green chemisty as part of the workshop on Sustainability: the environmental and societal impact of cosmetics, from 2-5.30pm on Tuesday, 4th April at in-cosmetics Global. See the full free-to-attend education programme here.