SPECIAL EDITION: MARINE-DERIVED INGREDIENTS

Beauty in ‘early adoption stage’ with microalgae, says Israeli startup

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

As consumer demand for natural products continues to rise, microalgae remains an untapped market with significant potential, according to Yemoja (Getty Images)
As consumer demand for natural products continues to rise, microalgae remains an untapped market with significant potential, according to Yemoja (Getty Images)

Related tags microalgae Algae Marine derived ingredients Formulation

The beauty industry has yet to fully explore the potential of incorporating microalgae into cosmetic formulas, though interest is starting to bubble, says the CEO of microalgae startup Yemoja.

Founded in 2017, Israel-based Yemoja is just about to move into Round B funding, after raising just over €3.6m in seed funds and investments from the Israel Innovation Authority, and has big innovation plans once funds are secured.

Using patented technology, Yemoja currently produces three species of pharmaceutical-grade microalgae in an indoor closed system. The microalgae ingredients – a range of red, green and brown – come in several forms, including powders, aqueous extracts, oil and pastes and can be used in a wide variety of cosmetic applications, including those targeting UV protection, anti-ageing or anti-wrinkle.

Cosmetics firms have ‘not yet explored’ microalgae potential

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, Yemoja CEO Eyal Shalmon said cosmetics was an important category.

“Currently, our primary products are aimed towards cosmetics, and it is one of our main directions,”​ Shalmon said.

However, whilst microalgae was well-established in food supplements, natural colourants and fish feed, he said use of these "marine supercrops"​ in cosmetic applications remained nascent.

“I strongly believe the [cosmetics, beauty and personal care] industries have not yet explored microalgae. It is an untapped market with significant potential, especially given the consumer demand for natural products to replace chemicals and synthetic ingredients.”

Shalmon said most beauty companies were “not that advanced”​ in incorporating microalgae into formulations. “The beauty industry is in its early adoption stage. A few American, French and Japanese cosmetic companies are already use microalgae ingredients, and we see more and more ingredient suppliers for this industry showing interest.”

The reason for the slower uptake? Largely because microalgae had “not yet proven itself to be scalable”, ​he said, and there were only a limited number of species being produced – aspects Yemoja hoped to address.

Microalgae 4.0: High production standards the goal

Through use of its indoor, patented production system, Shalmon said the company was able to scale-up production of microalgae whilst maintaining “critical parameters”​ in the final product.

Yemoja harvests its microalgae indoors in a closed system (Image: Yemoja)
Yemoja harvests its microalgae indoors in a closed system (Image: Yemoja)

“As an experienced team in the microalgae field, we have encountered the frustration most companies are facing, mainly challenges of scalability, controlling the process parameters, and the diverse selection of algae species. Our goal was to bring ‘Industry 4.0’ to the microalgae space and connect between biology and scalable industrial process, with the highest production standards.”

“...Our mission is to boost the entire microalgae value chain with new varieties and yields, and bring them to the mainstream of high-end nutraceutical food and cosmeceutical spheres with additional formulations in the pipeline,” ​he said.

Yemoja’s microalgae ingredients were COSMOS certified and production followed ISO and GMP guidelines – important considerations for cosmetics companies, Shalmon said. “Cosmetics firms will first look at your product data sheet, then assess the quality of your research, and most importantly, the extent to which they can trust your supply chain.”

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