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Ingredient Innovation: Inspired by Nature

By: Sara Mason
Posted: March 2, 2012, from the March 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Identifying and studying natural active materials to serve as alternatives to problematic chemicals has long been a core philosophy at CoValence, and traditionally, this concept catered to a niche crowd. However, today’s consumers are far more educated to the effects of harsh chemical materials.

Consumers have clearly stated that the products they use must be more and more natural while also delivering on the performance claims they make. It’s about providing options. “Today’s natural products work better,” explains Duber-Smith. “We don’t have to sacrifice functionality for natural anymore.” But there are still improvements to be made. From emollients and surfactants to preservatives and beyond, consumers want the function without sacrificing the aesthetics and experiences associated with their beauty products.

In its efforts, CoValence looks for ways to boost the efficacy of plants typically found in natural products for more reliable results. Certain species of plants like green tea, aloe vera and various berries all contain active chemical compounds that are unique to their respective biology. For example, green tea’s activity is attributed to a molecule called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and berries get their antioxidant power from a class of compounds called anthocyanins.

“Formulations can harness this simple fact, as it’s been proven that the addition of a plant’s active molecule in addition to an extract of the host plant will outperform formulations that contain an extract of the host plant alone,” says John Stanek, manager of new technologies and purchasing, CoValence. Presently developing ingredient products with most of the traditional plant’s active molecules, CoValence is also continually researching and testing new plant molecules.

The company also aims to master the science of encapsulation in the coming year. Encapsulation methods have been used in the pharma industry for decades, and the ability to stabilize an unstable compound or increase its penetration ability and subsequent activity is of interest to many in the beauty industry. Stanek envisions traditional actives with custom-tailored encapsulation systems capable of providing dramatic boosts in efficacy, compared to their non-encapsulated counterparts. “Our research groups have successfully developed a series of prototypes that are currently in late-phase testing and are showing much promise in making our dream a reality,” he explains.