Guest Article

Today, choosing the right cosmetic ingredients goes far beyond their chemistry

By Barbara Brockway

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Supply chain

Today, choosing the right cosmetic ingredients goes far beyond their chemistry
We caught up with expert formulator, Barbara Brockway, head of personal care at Applied DNA Sciences, on her insights from the show floor at this year’s SCS Formulate event in the UK.

The SCS Formulate event is organised annually by the Society of Cosmetics Scientists and attracts over 1000 visitors to explore and discuss the latest in cosmetics research and formulation.

Here, Brockway reports on the highlights from the show floor that point towards cosmetics science trends extending beyond chemistry, including the microbiome, next generation sequencing with DNA technology, sustainable sourcing and ‘natural’ accreditation.

Insights from the floor

I am just recovering from two ridiculously busy days, at SCS Formulate UK. I am pleased to say the show was very well attended.

The presentation on trends was 'standing room only' and exhibitors were offering a wealth of new exciting ingredients to help formulators stay with these trends.

DNA & The Microbiome

My own talk on the microbiome was perhaps a little too ambitious in trying to include next generation sequencing (NGS) in 30 minutes. But I just could not resist.

The ginormous advances in DNA technology and our new understanding of the Microbiome are as dependent on one another as we are dependent on our microbiota to function correctly.

NGS is revealing the detailed complexities of skin's microbiome and how skin dysbiosis can result in damaging levels of inflammation.

Advances in DNA technology are also enabling the industry to go beyond chemistry. Ingredients specifications can now include tech like SigNature® molecules that carry in code the material's origins.

The DNA Revolution

DNA evolved to efficiently carry information. The forensic control of supply chains is being achieved by including uniquely coded information on DNA sequences that are added into materials at just parts per trillion.

These sequences act as green bar codes carrying information of where a material comes from, when, where and who grew or prepared the material etc.

This information is conveyed with the material, as it securely travels to manufactures and on into the final product.

When Quality Controllers (QC) check a materials chemical/physical quality against the specifications, they can now also check for its provenance.

Brands claiming that they do not use materials derived from petrochemicals or are special because they only use sustainably grown, organic, fair trade, ethically sourced, halal ingredients or the materials used originated from a defined place on the planet etc., will soon be able to have the documented information supporting these claims, forensically confirmed.

This is so important because, as the food industry discovered, documents are not proof. It was DNA analysis that revealed horse meat in the foods labelled 100% beef, in Europe. The documentation was wrong and it begs the question, 'how many incorrect documents are we believing?'.

The trend for brands to be totally transparent, requires more than paper-work describing where ingredients originate. It requires scientifically forensically verifiable supporting proof.

Choosing ingredients for more than chemistry

As I wandered around the show talking to suppliers, it soon became obvious that formulators are choosing ingredients on more than their chemistry. They require ingredients to be from sustainable sources and to be certified as such by accredited organisations.

I had the privilege of chairing one of the last sessions on the final day and I was impressed by how many visitors stayed on to the end of SCS Formulate, to hear the presentation on the many different 'natural' certifying bodies.

All the certifiers basically rely on audited document trails to confirm their certified materials adhered to their special rules.

Alternative to paper trails?

Applied DNA Sciences' CertainT Certified materials stand out from the crowd because their providence claims can be forensically verified by DNA technology.

The emblem of CertainT® on an item or product certifies to customers that there is a forensically transparent supply chain leading to that product.

Claims being made for a CertainT certified product, such as ‘Halal’ and ‘ethically sourced’, can be supported by a technology, which is now being used successfully in a variety of vulnerable commercial global supply chains.

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