The selection of green cosmetics on the market has been on the rise these last few years, with consumers demanding more natural and eco-friendly ingredients. Unfortunately, formulators of green cosmetics still have many hoops to leap through when choosing natural ingredients for their formulations.
Popular cosmetic companies talk about the concept of green chemistry and the use of organic ingredients, yet many only focus on a star active ingredient from natural derivation, while the rest of the formula is questionable. This is only a small aspect of a product’s formulation and its efficacy, yet the impact of this focus vastly limits ingredient choices and their potential formulations on a grander scale.
When a consumer checks a label, the ingredients listed still aren’t transparent, nor are the processes of the formulation as green as they attempt to be. The delicate balance between cost and sustainability present wider challenges the cosmetics industry needs to actively address to flourish when it comes to being green.
Ingredient Challenges in Green Cosmetics
There are many sustainability challenges and technical issues surrounding green cosmetics. New green ingredients are being introduced based on need, but it takes time to test ingredient stability and performance. These ingredients are costly compared to other established and not-so-green ingredients, as green formulators must do their best with what they have on a low budget.
Innovative formulas with ingredients like vegetable derivatives, natural preservatives, preservative boosters, ECOCERT approved surfactants and renewable carbon sources are a primary focus when it comes to creating green cosmetics. The mixture must not diminish the quality of a cosmetic product while increasing green ingredients that perform on a measurable level.
The Brenntag Laboratory Recently developed new formulation with this in mind. European Business Development Manager of Cosmetics Francois Bouton said, “The challenge in formulating green products is to increase the level of ‘green’ ingredients in a formulation without compromising performance.” For example, Brenntag focuses on utilizing multi-functional ingredients with dual performance action in a green product, such as green ingredients that act a surfactant and as a preservative, while reducing its carbon footprint.
However, preservation itself presents various challenges, but it’s necessary when it comes to factors such as controlling microbial growth. Additionally, certain preservatives have side effects of discoloration or scent changes in the formula. Companies dealing with production processes for green surfactants face conflicting agreements about standard practices. The need for clearer guidelines and practices is great. ECOCERT certifications establish the importance of greening the cosmetics industry and establishing growth.
More questions than answers exist about the unintentional consequences of product formulations as well as how green ingredients affect the environment and how they should be sustainably sourced in the face of demand. Successful green product formulation is a compromise of economic sense and a guarantee of product safety and effectiveness that must be achieved, based also on a growing list of approved ingredients from key green suppliers.
The Growth of the Green Product Industry
Smaller companies have the unique position to come up with innovative products and effective ingredients. Based on a precise budget and smaller needs, these companies may carefully experiment with formulations and multi-functional ingredients.
Brenda Brock founded Farmaesthetics; people consider her as a trailblazer in the green cosmetics industry. Brock’s company works with small organic growers to conduct experimentation with the efficacy of unusual ingredients and difficult-to-find herbs. For this company, such a relationship also backs up their commitment to consumers to support land conservation and sustainable farming in the manufacturing of their products. Brock supports a core concept shift of why consumers use cosmetics in the first place, shifting from the word “cosmetic” to “skin health.”
The green product industry should not be focused on keeping up appearances. Challenges the industry faces include a cultural and business mentality shift toward skin health and getting back to basics, rather than maintaining the mainstream. Forget the star ingredient.
The advertisement of natural ingredients paired with vague terms, such as “fragrance,” where confusing chemical processes and synthetic ingredients still obviously take part, frustrates consumers. For innovative green product trailblazers, the best focus is on the formulation and the process behind what’s on the label, with full transparency. For example, pairing with green ingredient fragrance suppliers and marketing this relationship with transparency to consumers is vital.
Consumers Will Help Grow the Green Products Industry
Options are limited in the market, even with the growth of green products. More demand is needed from consumers to force companies to switch up formulations and push for approvals that help these companies work with a wider variety of green ingredients.
Consumers grow the green products industry and pave the way for better, clearer and greener formulations by continuing with their demands. Purchase green cosmetics over mainstream cosmetics and support the smaller companies working toward these innovations by trying out their products. The relationship between supply and demand will bring balance to the green product industry and push mainstream cosmetic moguls to produce innovative green chemistry formulations as a standard practice.