Society of Cosmetic Scientists president: ‘Less packaging is a big trend and very, very important’

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Cosmetic formulators are sharply focused on bringing efficacious formulations that can be used without or with reduced packaging to market (Getty Images)
Cosmetic formulators are sharply focused on bringing efficacious formulations that can be used without or with reduced packaging to market (Getty Images)

Related tags Sustainability Plastic Packaging Formulation SCS Formulate

Cosmetic formulations that work with reduced packaging is a clear and important industry shift, with solid bars, pods, pastilles and pads just some innovations at this year’s SCS Formulate event.

The resounding trend towards less packaging had also been woven carefully into the event’s educational programmes - with a dedicated Sustainability Studio this year covering packaging standards, recyclability and various industry initiatives addressing plastic reduction - and many other sessions touching on alternative formulations, ingredients and certification options.

‘Sustainability running through’ the Laura Marshall Memorial Award for Innovation

This clear nod towards a future with less packaging was also clearly evident in the annual Laura Marshall Memorial Award for Innovation, with four out of the six finalists presenting product concepts to avoid or reduce packaging.

The finalists for the 2019 award - Ashland, Aston Chemicals, Chemlink Specialities, Lehvoss, Safic Alcan and Surfachem - were selected by an independent judging panel made up of a consumer, academic, industry body, product developer and the president of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists (SCS) Mary Lord. Votes for the winner were then case by exhibitors and attendees on the first day of SCS Formulate. Safic Alcan won this year’s award with its ‘Lets Face It’ product concept for a plastic-free, flexible exfoliating and cleansing facial pad designed for repetitive use.

“There were six excellent ideas brought forward and there was a lot of sustainability running through everything, so that was great to see – less packaging, less waste, easy to apply, easy to make,”​ Mary Lord, president of SCS UK & Ireland, told CosmeticsDesign-Europe at SCS Formulate this week.

“Any one of those six entries could have won the innovation award, but only one could in the end. I was very happy with the result.” 

Mary Lord, president of SCS
Mary Lord, president of SCS

Reduced packaging, still portable - it's about 'thinking differently'

The focus on portable cosmetics with reduced plastic packaging, she said, was set to continue in the future. “Less packaging is a big trend and very, very important,”​ she said.

Asked if this shift posed challenging for formulators and those working in the lab, Lord said: “In some cases, it’s a big challenge and in other cases it’s just about doing things differently – thinking differently; coming up with solutions that are scientifically possible.”

And, of course, she said formulations and product concepts then faced standing up to safety and microbiological requirements. Products with little or no packaging that were reused extensively, she said, would have to stand up to testing requirements though it was all possible. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Importantly, Lord said extensive cooperation throughout the cosmetics supply chain – from raw material suppliers through to brand owners – would facilitate innovation that worked.

Full details on Laura Marshall Award for Innovation finalists

Details on the six finalist entries for this year’s award can be found below:

-          Ashland with its ‘Revive, Refresh, Recharge’ shampoo mousse that used its Advantage Polymer. The product had been designed to be applied like a mousse but used like a dry shampoo, avoiding use of additional water. The company said: “It can help improve the sustainability footprint of dry shampoos by delivering improved performance at lower use levels.”

-          Aston Chemicals with its ‘Sensory Reset Cleanser’ balm designed to boost wellbeing and relieve tension and inflammation. The product worked with little water, was mild on the skin and had transformational properties during use. “Our unique, natural pigment derived from radishes gives a vivid pink colour to the mask, which gradually transforms into a calming lavender, as the surfactant melts the creamy anhydrous balm into a milky emulsion,” ​the company said.

-          Chemlink Specialities with its ‘For Goodness…Shake!’ skin cream concentrate designed to align with eco-friendly consumer values. The product came in a liquid pod pouch and required consumers to add water, shake and use. The company said: “It has been developed to reduce plastic waste and transport emissions, and comes in a water-soluble, biodegradable pod.”

-          Lehvoss with its ‘One Hit Wonder’ intensive hand and nail cream designed in the form of single-use pastilles that melted onto the skin. Each pastille represented the perfect dose for one application and could be packed into kraft paper boxes – easily recycled, biodegradable and light to transport. “In 2018, Zero Waste week reported that the cosmetics industry produced 120 billion packaging units per year – the majority of which end up in landfill. ‘One Hit Wonder’ has been designed with this in mind,”​ the company said.

-          <Winner> Safic Alcan with its ‘Lets Face It’ exfoliating and cleansing pad that was reusable, plastic-free and sulphate-free. The product had been designed using potato starch and seaweed technology, and built to last longer than the average bottled face cleanser. The company said: “Lets Face It is a highly functional product that helps us lead a more environmentally conscious life.”

-          Surfachem with its ‘One Bar’ multi-use cleansing bar that had been designed for hair and skin care simultaneously. The product was a hybrid concept that incorporated naturally derived ingredients and was highly-concentrated and water-free. “This formulation is an all over cleanser, allowing the consumer to reduce the number of products they buy whilst also positively contributing to the environment via minimised packaging – requiring 94% less than traditional bottles,”​ the company said.

CosmeticsDesign-Europe interviewed the Laura Marshall Award for Innovation 2019 winner Safic Alcan at the show - watch out for the upcoming article on how the product concept came about, the challenges involved in developing the prototypes and the company's hopes for its future use.

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