Biotin, or vitamin B7, is a common ingredient found in topical hair and nail care products, as well as supplements. Conventionally, biotin has been synthetically produced from non-renewable petrochemicals.
As health and well-being continue to be a priority for consumers, the company is observing rising demand for biotin. In particular, it is eyeing tremendous opportunities in the Asian’s personal care market.
“Number one, this market is very big. People are very interested in anti-hair loss products and hair thickening products. South Korea is one market we are targeting. They are interested in premium ingredients. Other markets of interest would be Japan as well, where people are very focused on their health and they are very knowledgeable about what they are putting on their skin,” said Joe Power, sales director, Biosynthia.
Biosynthia is a Danish start-up that has developed a process to produce fermentation-based biotin called BIO-B7. It is based on non-GMO sugar beet carbohydrates sourced which are converted into biotin by microorganisms in a fermentation process.
“During this fermentation process, the sugar is converted to biotin. We do a bio-based filtration or extraction, and we're left with very high-quality pure biotin,” explained Power.
Power elaborated: “Our product is chemically identical to synthetic biotin with all the same properties. Our main advantages are all in the production method being much more sustainable and better for the environment. So pretty much every step of the process, we have a reduction in fossil fuels, energy usage, water usage and carbon emissions.”
In addition, the company is also targeting the nutricosmetics market. “People are already taking biotin supplements, but those are from a synthetic source. The market is already there, we just want to introduce our natural alternative,” said Power.
At the moment, the company has yet to start producing BIO-B7 commercially. The first small-batch commercial production round is scheduled for September.
The company’s next ingredient is forskolin, an ingredient that claims to reduce cellulite when applied topically. Forskolin is extracted from a plant extract that is not sustainably grown.
“Forskolin comes from the coleus forskohlii plant. You need quite a lot of land to grow this plant. It's obviously very dependent on a harvest as well, which is dependent on the weather. And then there can be pesticides and solvents that are not desirable” explained Power.
“Again, we can produce this, just through the fermentation of sugar – this time with yeast and not bacteria. It’s a very similar process, so we end up having less land usage. We don't have harmful chemicals used in our process and we can have higher purity.”
He added that the plant typically has 10% to 30% of actual Forskolin content. “You need quite a lot of it to get quite a small amount of this plant extract. And then even within this, you'll get your plant extract which will have a very small amount of that's actually forskolin.”
The company is aiming to begin production trials of this ingredient by the end of this year. Beyond that, it is working to develop flavonoid ingredients.