US is a very interesting framework that could be used in Europe too to define the natural and natural derived claims applied to cosmetics.2B

Cosmetics as a mirror of consumers’ values The 2019 Cosmoprof edition was focused on the theme of sustainability with an interactive board asking visitors to write on post their answers to “what’s your action in 2019 for a better sustainable beauty?”. There were very interesting responses such as: ‘no petrochemicals on my skin’, ‘100% natural’, ‘natural and performing’, ‘transparent’, ‘water and plants are the best’, ‘to give a second life to things’, etc. This shows consumers wish to make a difference with how they spend their money and expect brands to deliver according to these values. They are also starting to realise that natural is good and performance is not necessarily given for granted. It is impressive to see big companies’

response to consumers’ expectations in line with their values and environmental concerns. Unilever has pledged 1 billion Euros in a climate and nature fund,3

and Johnson and Johnson

800 million USD to make its products more sustainable for a healthier planet.4 I find this is a sign the big players realise

they need to align with consumers’ values and act accordingly, as consumers are spoiled for choice and spend their money more and more in line with their values. The expression “put your money where your mouth is” really encapsulates this trend beautifully.

The dilemma The consumers’ mistrust towards traditional preservatives, the extremely unlikely entry of new preservatives in Annex V and the desire for greener as well as milder products left the industry with the dilemma of how to deliver safe cosmetics. Cosmetic preservation is essential for product safety, so what is a potential solution? How can formulators and brands deliver safe products in line with consumers’ values and regulation requirements? For the last twenty years the answer to this question has been to rely on the use of multifunctional cosmetic ingredients with antimicrobial properties. This is thanks to dynamic and creative raw material suppliers that have been using green chemistry to develop and manufacture cosmetic ingredients from natural sources, yet with consistent composition and good end of life (biodegradability and aquatic toxicity). The number of these ingredients and cosmetic products protected by them is growing as this has become a growing trend. The multifunctionals available today are

surfactants (detergents, emulsifiers, wetting agents), humectants, masking agents or fragrant ingredients, antioxidants, moisturisers, antimicrobials, skin conditioners etc. They can be used with the primary function, for example, of providing antioxidant properties while they also deliver additional antimicrobial benefits. As there are quite a few of them, another advantage is that the general exposure to such substances tends to be lower than traditional preservatives of which there is a decreasing number available, while the cosmetic industry is still growing. Some examples of these multifunctionals

are levulinic acid, an organic (carbon based) acid with fragrant function and with good antibacterial properties derived from sugar cane via biotechnology, and Hinokitiol, a tropolone derivative with antioxidant and antifungal properties derived from the sawdust of the Thuja tree. Hinokitiol can also be obtained from petrochemical sources, therefore attention needs to be paid to verify its natural source if that is desired. The one present in the blend Hinoline C (based on levulinic acid and Hinokitiol) is from natural sources. Hinokitiol has been used by the food industry in Japan for many years, therefore there is safety data behind it, even if not the type we are used to seeing in the cosmetic industry.

The age of multifunctionals Multifunctionals are more complex to work with than traditional preservatives: they tend not to be broad spectrum (some are antibacterial and some are antifungal); they may require bespoke blends depending on the formula and application; they have a higher cost than petrochemicals as they are derived from natural sources. Depending on the budget and the application multifunctionals can be used: ■ To create your own blend for broad protection ■ As a ready-made blend ■ To use lower levels of traditional preservatives via a synergistic combination with multifunctionals. Other important factors to be taken into

account when selecting the multifunctionals to work with are the green positioning, the type of formula (pH, application etc), regulations and cost. In fact, I believe today the preservative system is very much part of the green positioning of a cosmetic product. If the product is certified, the preservative system needs to compliant with the relevant standard. If the product is claimed to be 100% natural, its preservatives system needs to be consistent with that. Or simply free from whatever is on the free-from list, even if it is not

declared openly as a product claim. Once that is clear, the other criteria can be

taken into account in the selection process before starting the actual testing. The data behind the ingredients is also important for the safety evaluation. Sometimes the suppliers can provide the necessary data, sometimes it is down to the other data available from other long term uses. The multifunctionals are not as straight

forward to find as the preservatives in Annex V and for this reason I wrote a handbook with over 150 raw materials with information on their INCI and supplier names, Cosmos and regulatory status etc, so it is much easier to start the selection process and the cosmetic preservation strategy.

Conclusions Cosmetics are an emotional affair, and consumers’ desire for natural, sustainable and safer products is driving the industry to find alternative solutions to traditional preservative systems. The regulatory restrictions on free-from claims did not tackle the consumer need to distinguish natural from not natural and to be protected from greenwash, whereas the US is providing an interesting framework to define natural and natural-derived claims in cosmetics. The industry is still required to comply with

the current regulations and use good science to produce stable and pleasant products. Emotions versus regulations and logic is quite a dilemma. In my opinion the solution is to use a win win approach based on using green chemistry multifunctionals which appeal to the consumers with green values. Using them in combination with traditional preservatives also has the potential benefit of reducing the exposure to traditional preservatives reducing the risk of further restrictions as we saw with MI and MCI. For more information about preservation using green chemistry materials you can visit my website where you can also find a virtual presentation I created for NOHBA (Natural and Organic Beauty Alliance) and updates on the free webinar I am organising at the end of September with a great selection of industry experts.

*Disclaimer: the information provided by Barbara Olioso represents her own opinions is for general information purposes only. All information provided is provided in good faith.

References 1 committees/consumer_safety/docs/ sccs_o_132.pdf

2A committees/consumer_safety/docs/ sccs_o_178.pdf

2B house-bill/5017/text?q=%7B%22search%22% 3A%5B%22natural+cosmetics+act %22%5D%7D&r=1&s=1

3 unilever-plans-for-1-billion-investment -in-climate-and-nature-fund.html

4 news/johnson-johnson-commits- 800-million-to-making-more- sustainable-products



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