How can the industry fight its corner when it comes to the falling number of ingredients available for formulation?

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

How can the industry fight its corner when it comes to the falling number of ingredients available for formulation?
Kevin Gallagher, industry consultant with Kevin Gallagher Consulting LLC and formerly of ingredients supplier Croda, here suggests that industry bodies could do more to protect the beauty supply chain when it comes to the ingredients suppliers and the need for wide palette of ingredients.

I asked him how industry bodies could do more, and how this would help?

Stone Soup: collaborative approach needed

The key, in my opinion, to protecting innovation and the development of new ingredients is for the entire industry to work together to achieve this protection.  

It’s just like the story of “Stone Soup”​ that exists in many cultures.  

Although no one person or company has all that is necessary, the collective ability of people and companies can accomplish amazing things. 

So, even if you start out with boiling water with only stones, you can ask others to help, and one by one achieve a great caldron of soup for the entire industry to enjoy.

What does this mean in practical terms?

In practice, this means ingredient suppliers and beauty companies, along with technical consultants and contractors to work together to protect the entire supply chain, not just their own narrow segment.  

Ideally, this would best be done by having ingredient suppliers and beauty companies in the same industry organizations, and not have separate organizations who are going to view the needs of “their” members more narrowly.  

Together there is great strength, divided there is only weakness.

Better representation of all industry stakeholders would help

This concept also extends to the executives who represent their companies and industries.  Ideally, these should be a mix of business, commercial and technical executives who understand the different dimensions of product and ingredient challenges.  

Having only business executives make decisions on technical  issues, is not likely to bring about the best outcome, but often beauty companies are represented in their industry groups by only business executives.  

This is as problematic, as asking technical executives to make unilateral business decisions.  It’s just not a recipe for the strongest outcomes.

Limited ingredients are particularly a challenge for the industry when it comes to preservative ingredients. Can you suggest what can be done to move forward?

There are a number of ways of looking at the challenges of limited ingredient selection for preservatives.  

One way would be the historical perspective.  We’ve seen ingredients dropped from the available palette before, due to regulatory and/or societal pressure. The industry has found a way to make substitutions.

Companies, like Inolex, have done great work in adopting the “hurdle technology” from the food industry.  

Instead of conventional chemical preservatives, they’ve found ways to prevent problems by using ingredients that pose a “hurdle” to the growth of bacteria.  

This is a well-known approach in the food industry, and allows them to offer “clean label” foods by avoiding the need for traditional chemical preservation.  

Avoid any further reduction in ingredients

The second way to look at this challenge is to look at what would happen if alternatives were forbidden by regulation, for instance, because they are not traditional “preservatives” or because of some other regulatory issue. 

Then, we’ve cut ourselves off from the solution to our problem!  This could have disastrous consequences.

We can solve problems through innovation, provided that we are not prevented from using innovation.

Unfortunately, this is the road that we risk taking, when we being to allow things like basing ingredient decisions on hazard alone, rather than risk.  

This is an unscientific approach and is not going to serve society’s needs.

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