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Ingredient Innovation: Inspired by Nature

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

page 6 of 6

One of the industry’s biggest concerns is preventing contamination and controversy over preservative use, as well as the alternatives to parabens. Antimicrobials are often toxic and promote bacterial resistance. However, nature itself has many different antibacterial strategies. The red seaweed Delisea pulchra, for example, doesn’t have a slimy surface from bacteria like others. It uses natural chemicals—furanones—to effectively avoid bacterial infections altogether. The furanones repel bacteria, interfering with cell-to-cell communication that allows the bacteria to form and maintain biofilms, without breeding any bacterial resistance to its defensive chemistry.

There also has been a synthetic surface developed by Sharklet Technologies, for possible packaging solutions. Inspired by the skin of the Galapagos shark, which is structured such that bacteria cannot adhere to it, the artificial surface works without killing microbes. Similar to the seaweed, there is no selection for resistance. Nature indeed has elegant engineering solutions.

Building Better Beauty

It is the responsibility of all to use ingredients that are safe. Safe for consumers and, by way of consumer demand, safe for the environment. Any opportunity for companies to solve problems or innovate new products without toxicity or environmental side effects is good for business and the industry. It also helps companies develop an interesting and engaging story to tell their customers, which also provides a new way to develop a closer consumer connection.

Sara Mason is a freelance writer based in the Chicagoland area. She was previously managing editor of GCI magazine.