Natural selection: the naturals market appears to have weathered the economic storm, proving that "green"--and all that it entails--is here for the long haul.
Sure, the market was down, but what personal care sector wasn't? After all, it has been survival of the fittest in the beauty and personal care business, regardless of the chemistry involved.
Yet it appears that even when faced with a tumultuous economy and curtailed consumer spending, some NOPC sectors managed to outperform their so-called "traditional" counterparts.
According to Mintel, the natural and organic oral care segment increased 1.9% to $60 million in 2009, while the overall $3.3 billion oral hygiene market fell 1.1%. And while it remains the smallest sector, sales of NOPC products for babies grew 13.5% in 2009.
Furthermore, according to data culled from a recent Mintel survey, among current NOPC users, 55% reported that they are using more NOPC products than they were year ago.
Having weathered the Great Recession, industry analysts, personal care companies and suppliers agree that green has proved its staying power.
"Companies are seeing a paradigm shift, which is part of the whole environmental attitude pervading the world. It is here to stay," said David Fondots, vice president, sales and marketing, Extracts & Ingredients Ltd, Union, NJ.
Interest in natural ingredients in personal care remains steady, and industry observers suggest that as the economy improves, the market will rebound. Mintel is forecasting the NOPC market will reach $650 million by 2001, a 21% increase over 2009 figures, fueled by new areas for market expansion such as acne treatments. Meanwhile, suppliers expect pent-up projects to be unleashed as consumers begin to spend again.
"In 2009 we saw an amazing increase in the development of finished goods that were geared toward the natural market, unfortunately due to the economic downturn many of them never made it," said Loren D. Miller, president of Caribbean Natural Products, Fairfield, NJ." For the upcoming year, many of these projects will be revisited and finally make it to market."
"With a more favorable look at the economy, companies are starting new product development and with this, the natural ingredient market will continue to grow in 2010, 2011 and beyond," added Mary Ann Sciliano, national sales manager at oil supplier Arista Industries, Wilton, CT.
The Nitty-Gritty of Naturals
While green/natural has become a permanent fixture in the personal care marketplace, what that actually entails is fluid. There's an ongoing evolution in regard to what it means to operate and formulate in a natural/eco-friendly/green manner. The discussion has moved beyond simply listing ingredients on a label. Sustainability has become the major buzzword in both the laboratory and the boardroom.
"Sustainability is more than just in packaging; it is also how you make the product, and how the raw materials are made that go into your products," said Jack Guth, vice president of R&D at Botaneco, Bensalem, PA, which supplies oleosome-based ingredients for personal care, including Hydresia SF2, an Ecocert compliant, 65% dispersion of safflower (carthamus tinctorius) oleosomes in water.
According to Organic Monitor, more beauty companies are taking a holistic approach to sustainability, including tactics such as lowering the environmental impact of their cosmetic products by using greener formulations as well as reducing packaging and cutting greenhouse gas emissions, waste, energy and water consumption. Others are also looking at social dimensions, such as ethical supply chains and corporate philanthropy.
High profile, forward-thinking firms such as Aveda are leading by example. Last year it became the first beauty company in the world--and only the second U.S. company in any industry--to receive a Cradle to Cradle (C2C) sustainability endorsement, with seven of its products achieving Gold Level C2C certification. The endorsement recognizes companies' efforts in developing environmentally intelligent products with a goal of eliminating waste entirely.
"I think over the last three years we've experienced a real thought progression in the industry," noted Dianne Leipold, global new product leader, personal care, Ashland Aqualon Functional Ingredients. "Three years ago, people were talking about 'green' and then it meant 'natural ingredients.' Today's thinking is far more sophisticated, and the industry really understands that not all natural ingredients are sustainable, and that indeed, many synthetic materials can be made in very sustainable and eco-friendly processes."
Behind the Ingredients
In many ways, the "backstory" has moved to the forefront when it comes to natural ingredients. Today's chemists are concerned with what a specific ingredient can do for the skin or hair, but also how it was sourced and its carbon footprint--issues they may have never considered just a few years ago.
"Natural-derived ingredients will continue, but there will be a continued focus on sourcing, sustainability and traceability of raw materials. Being natural in and of itself may not be enough," said Dawn Thiel Glaser, personal care business manager, Glenn Corp.
According to Glaser, customers are becoming increasing selective in terms of sustainable sources for their raw materials. "Deforestation issues have forced customers to inquire about the sourcing of the raw materials. Energy consumption in processing raw materials is being questioned as are irrigation needs for certain natural ingredients," she said, noting that Glenn's roster of suppliers address those issues--such as Evonik, which uses a sustainable enzymatic production process to produce oleyl erucate, which uses 62% less energy and produces less waste than conventional esterification processes, or Rhodia which touts a palm and sugar cane derived sodium laureth sulfate that is 100% renewable carbon-based and produces 50% less greenhouse gas emission than petrochemical-SLES.
"We're finding that addressing sustainability issues is good for business. We're lowering energy costs, eliminating problematic byproducts and offering innovative ingredients that formulators--and consumers--want and need," said Gary Neudahl, product application manager, personal care ingredients, The HallStar Company, which offers HallGreen vegetal-derived products for skin and hair care." As we develop and expand the line, we're also carefully monitoring our company's carbon footprint," said Neudahl. "How much energy does a formulation require? How productive are the yields?"
According to Danielle DeWolf, marketing associate at DeWolf Chemical, Inc., East Providence, RI, fair trade and fair practice produced and sourced ingredients will continue to become more popular, "as they have in the food and beverage industries. Not only is it important to know where and how ingredients in products are sourced, but also, who the laborers are behind the sourcing. Both natural product regulations and labor regulations will become more stringent and correspondingly important to consumers," she said.
Having information at the ready can help a firm sort through the maze of information. For example, Cognis' customers can utilize its Green Chemical Solutions Guide, which provides specific data on a wide selection of actives, emollients, emulsifiers, surfactants and other products, and the Formulation Easy Guide, which helps them evaluate how green a finished formulation is. In addition, a Certification Easy Guide relays information about the different certifications that are available globally and provides an overview of the certification, requirements, starting formulations and approved Cognis ingredients.
"Another approach that Cognis is taking is using the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry and the 12 Principles of Green Engineering as a compass," said Denise Petersen, marketing manager skin care, Cognis. According to Petersen, Cognis adopted these internationally recognized principles as central guidelines for the development of concepts, products and processes. "These principles encourage the use of lifecycle assessments and ecobalances; tools that Cognis has been using for years to determine how green products and processes are," she said.
Even with a growing selection of sustainable natural ingredients at their fingertips, chemists recognize that creating aesthetically pleasing, efficacious green formulations remains a blend of art and science. Crafting a results-driven green product requires laser focus on critical areas of formulation development.
According to Misha Hughes, who worked with XanGo LLC to formulate its mangosteen-based Glimpse Topical Skin Nutrition line, careful consideration of the entire formula is critical when working with natural ingredients.
"When we first saw cosmeceuticals coming out, we saw a real focus on specific ingredients, like antioxidants. I see an evolution; we are finding out what the skin really needs and optimizing what the skin naturally does, which is regeneration. It is all about how we can optimize that."
Hughes said companies need to find that "sweet spot" with the preservative--which ensures safety and doesn't negate the efficacy. "But the two big issues I am concerned with are bioavailability and delivery," she said. "You can maximize both by crafting a precision formulation, by selecting the right proportions of ingredients in relation to each other, which opens communication between the skin and formula."
Added Hughes, "Bioavailability, deliverability and performance--that is the holy grail of green chemistry."
Combining Nature with Science
"Bio-availability is very important," stressed David Djerassi, wellness and cosmetic marketing consultant for LycoRed Corp., Orange, NJ. "The whole idea of using a natural is good, but the activity must be scientifically substantiated. Using it just for label claims won't generate confidence with consumers and will wear out over time. Also, the use of adequate levels of the natural ingredients and proper vehicles of delivery are crucial for good performance."
"The overall move to 'just natural' won't sustain itself. It has to combine nature with science," he added.
Moving forward, the natural marketplace will continue to evolve. According to companies HAPPI interviewed, the market will be shaped by trends such as "extreme ethical," encompassing both sustainability and traceability, "eco invisibility" and "free-from" claims as companies look to move away from specific ingredients.
Stakeholders suggest the best way to regain the momentum the market once enjoyed is to marry science and nature, such as combining the best botanicals and high-tech actives, as suggested by Centerchem, and taking a wide-lens approach regarding what it means to be green, as noted by Mibelle Biochemistry.
"No doubt, the trend for natural, organic and bio products will continue to boom. Yet, the market demands a broader vision of 'natural'--a vision that is less focused on certifications like Eco-Cert, BDIH, NaTrue, organic, and more on results and safety," said Beata Hurst, marketing and sales manager with Mibelle Biochemistry in Buchs, Switzerland. "Today's and tomorrow's cosmetic consumer expects efficacy and believes in natural and scientific concepts."
RELATED ARTICLE: Ingredients in Abundance
HAPPI SURVEYED LEADING suppliers regarding their hottest natural ingredients and what benefits they offer to formulators in terms of chemistry and sustainability. What we found was an expanded collection of natural ingredients for diverse applications.
For Lipo Chemicals, Gorgonian extract, which is derived from renewable marine resources, is one its most successful naturally-derived ingredients. Its active components have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. Also, Lipo touts Lipo VI 40/60 and 60/100, natural exfoliants made from grinding the seeds of the Ecuadorian ivory palm (commonly known as vegetable ivory or tagua nut). They are ecologically harvested, sustainable rainforest products that offer uniquely off-white natural color. Bringing this product to the personal care market not only offers a natural alternative when a white exfoliant is desired, but also offers economic relief to rainforest communities, according to the company.
At Ashland Aqualon Functional Ingredients, N-Hance cationic guars have been garnering attention. These NPA listed materials are great polymeric hair conditioners on their own, according to Dianne Leipold, global new product leader, personal care. "Formulators can also use cationic guar in shampoos that contain natural oils, such as jojoba, to enhance the deposition of the jojoba and hence the conditioned feel of the hair," she said.
Homeostatine--a botanical active manufactured by Provital Group of Spain that reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles--is one of the hottest natural ingredients on tap at Centerchem. It is an algae extract utilizing a botanical sequential molecule-release system, and its applications are in the hot anti-wrinkle category.
In addition, Centerchem recently helped a mid-size colorceutical company that was developing a blush with actives. "Their preference was to use natural ingredients. We introduced Noline as a cutting edge concept for plumping the cheeks which would reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in the cheek area," said Tom Ko-vats, vice president, Centerchem.
At Chemyunion Quimica Ltda, there's Aquasenseis, an Ecocert validated moisturizer that promises to prevent skin aging. A standardized extract of piptadenia colubrine, it increase fibronectins, aquaporins and envelope proteins, increasing moisturization from inside out, according to the company, which operates from Sao Paulo.
Like anti-aging, another hot product category in the beauty business is eyelash treatments, as new ways to thicken and plump lashes hit counters, dermatologists' offices and websites on a daily basis. At the recent New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists Suppliers' Day held in May, Extracts & Ingredients was seeing great interest in Stimu-cap for potential eyelash loss applications as well as in its Olivoil Surfactant, which is PEG-free.
HallStar's best-selling all-natural ester is glyceryl stearate. "It remains a favorite, whether purchased as is, or in combination with stearate soap as a self-emulsifying base. Its all vegetal derivation, biodegradability, excellent safety profile, low comedogenicity and consistent performance as an emulsifier make it ideal for oil-in-water emulsion-based products for skin care anywhere on the body," said Gary Neudahl, product application manager, personal care ingredients.
For Caribbean Natural Products, Buriti oil--produced in the Amazonian region--is big. "This oil is an excellent antioxidant and posses tremendous anti-aging properties. It is very rich in unsaturated fatty acids making it an excellent moisturizer. Naturally it is used in anti-aging creams and lotions," said Loren D. Miller, president.
Mibelle is touting PhytoCellTec Alp Rose, a new active based on alpine rose stem cells, which improves the skin's barrier function and ability to resist environmental stress. With the PhytoCellTec technology, Mibelle Biochemistry says it has created a basis to combine nature and science to obtain innovative phyto-ingredients for new applications.
At Jeen international, Jeeplex NAS is the first of several planned proprietary natural blends from the company. It is billed as antibacterial and antimicrobial and has been found to be effective against H1N1 and TB, according to Jeen, which said it is developing business partnerships that will position it strongly in the sourcing of natural, "natural synthetics," and sustainability responsible technologies.
Premier Specialties, Middlesex, NJ, offers sustainable Palm Kernel Oil harvested and produced in Central America from the Elaeis Ofeifera species, which is different than the universally used palm oil from Southeast Asia. This sustainable product will be certified FSC and Rain Forest Alliance in September 2010.
In addition, Premier is offering a Sustainable Soap Bar, surfactant and emulsifier containing and/or derived from its Certified Palm Kernel Oil. By using this oil and its derivatives customers can pass on the Certified Sustainable labeling of Rain Forest Alliance and FSC, which is becoming very key because consumers are understanding what sustainable means, said Premier's president and chief executive officer, Roger Rich.
Looking for more natural ingredients? See page 58 in this issue.