Sustainable beauty success will be limited unless conflicts are resolved

Tensions between product performance, ingredient science, and regulatory matters could jeopardise successful development of sustainable cosmetic and personal care formulations.

According to R&D consultancy Sagentia Innovation resolving this conflict is essential to enable the creation of commercially viable products that are sustainable, effective, and compliant.

Sustainable beauty is more than a consumer trend. Scrutiny of formulations is likely to intensify as requirements linked to the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability ‘safe and sustainable by design’ ethos and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ‘12 principles of green chemistry’ gain momentum. Green claims are also under the regulatory spotlight.

Camilo Cardenas, Commercial Director – Sustainability at Sagentia Innovation, says achieving usability and efficacy while navigating volatile and inconsistent global regulations is a major challenge. Product developers need to understand the scientific and sustainability implications of every ingredient used. To help drive progress in this complex space, he and Dr Caroline Potter, Sagentia Innovation’s VP Sustainability, co-authored a design framework for sustainable, commercially-sound consumer packaged goods. It outlines key considerations that underpin value creation for consumers, businesses, and other stakeholders.

“Careful management of the conflict between product performance, ingredient science, and evolving regulations is the secret of success,” says Cardenas. “It’s about being pragmatic and making best use of the available data, science, and technologies. Cosmetics and personal care companies that take a proactive, progressive approach have much to gain. A strong portfolio of products that are sourced and produced as sustainably as possible can align with ESG goals and unlock competitive advantage.”

One aspect of the design framework is a matrix for the assessment of ingredient credentials. It encompasses sourcing, processing, product stability, functional properties, and environmental fate. Potter says it’s important to challenge the widespread perception that natural ingredients are always better from a sustainability perspective.

“Any ingredient can present sustainability benefits and concerns,” she explains. “Converting a raw material into a functional ingredient involves various processes which usually require energy and often require water. For the sake of transparency and integrity, it’s important to document any additional resources used in these processes as they may have a noteworthy impact on sustainability.”

The framework also emphasises the importance of consumer experience, suggesting that convenience and sensory factors may be just as important as efficacy. According to Cardenas: “Any changes to the way products are used must be easy to adopt. Sustainable design needs to add to the consumer experience, not detract from it.”

Sagentia Innovation’s design framework for sustainable, commercially-sound consumer packaged goods can be downloaded free of charge here.

Get in touch

By submitting your details you agree to us holding the personal data you've supplied for the purpose of processing your enquiry. For information about how we handle your data, please read our privacy policy