The 'conscious consumer' is one of industry's hottest topics at the moment and the focus of this week's in-cosmetics Formulation Summit in London - the scientific programme of which has been designed by Dr. Andrea Mitarotonda, PhD.
The concept is reshaping how our industry operates and the development of beauty products by demanding that what they buy is both ethically and sustainably produced.
CosmeticsDesign-Europe caught up with Dr. Mitarotonda to find out more about his part in producing this year’s presentation programme and how the theme has been repeatedly interwoven into it.
What is behind the theme ‘formulating for the conscious consumer’?
Assuming we are all consumers, I think we have become more educated about our choices when purchasing goods and what we don’t already know can be easily found on the web. I think the rationale for many of us is 'if I can buy something that will not negatively impact the world around me, then why not?'
The cosmetic world is heavily affected by such considerations and consumer behaviour can determine whether a brand is successful or not. Ultimately this reflects on us – formulators – as those who are interpreting consumer’s needs and 'transforming' them into products. This is what went through my mind when I was asked to design the scientific programme for the Formulation Summit. I wanted to create a programme that would address current trends from a technical/formulation standpoint and that would give something that our fellow formulators could then bring back to their labs and work on.
What exactly is your definition of a conscious consumer when it comes to cosmetics and personal care?
The team at Reed Exhibitions and I define a conscious consumer as someone who is educated about what they purchase and somebody who wants to know what the impact of their purchase is on the planet, for the next generation as well as on their own well-being. It’s that complex interaction between body and mind. It is somebody who, in few words, cares and has a holistic view of life.
What kind of challenges is this trend presenting to formulators?
I like thinking more in terms of opportunities rather than challenges. Formulators should see technical hurdles as opportunities to learn and progress, not as something to lose sleep over.
There are many varied hot topics. Amongst others, the ability to formulate products that are as sustainable as possible (which goes well beyond the mere concept of being natural or organic) as well as high performing products that are also aesthetically pleasing.
Then there’s creating products that can make the skin healthier, formulating with fewer ingredients and possibly less water, as well as with integrity and no compromise.
The educational programme touches on the body, mind and planet. What’s the idea behind this?
The idea is simple, and the word “holism” explains it all. The body, mind, nature are all interconnected: what I do today will affect the environment and other beings (not only humans). This is becoming very clear now as we realise that some ways of life are no longer sustainable, or at least, not for much longer.
I support the idea that, in formulation chemistry, we should go “back to basics” as a way to embrace a more holistic view of our industry. And contrary to what many may think, a return to basics does require a great deal of knowledge and expertise. The Formulation Summit is the ideal venue to share this expertise and knowledge and to learn from one another.
What is your own connection to this theme, both as a scientist and as a consumer?
As a scientist, I started to explore the connection between mind and body a few years ago, prompted by events in my private life. I came to realise that many fellow scientists undermine this connection and believe there is no scientific evidence behind it, when in fact, it’s all published and a simple matter of taking the time to do proper research.
I think what defines a scientist is the curiosity and the open-mindedness to believe everything is possible unless proven otherwise. As Einstein once said, imagination is the true sign of intelligence!
What are you most looking forward to about the Formulation Summit programme?
Many things, both educational and social. I must say that I am looking forward to attending each and every lecture I curated, as well as meeting all the industry-leading speakers I recruited to deliver those lectures. I have my preferences of course, but I will leave a little bit of mystery around this for now…
Dr. Andrea Mitarotonda produced the programme for this year’s event. He will lead a session at in-cosmetics Formulation Summit on ‘New preservation strategies: green and alternative preservation in formulations’ today, Tuesday 19 November at 11:15.