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Old Science Meets New Science

By: Shilpi Jain
Posted: August 28, 2012, from the September 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Another challenge is with plant peptides. These are larger molecules, so they are harder to deliver to the skin, unlike synthetic counterparts such as silicones and polymers. And certain synthetic ingredients, and many preservatives in particular, just can’t be substituted with natural ingredients as they function better and have a wider pH range and are broad-spectrum.

The three categories of ingredients that do possess the greatest challenge for green chemistry are emulsifiers, surfactants and polymers. Also, while consumers typically don’t care exactly how the end product is developed (with most of their concerns centered on what is in the product, i.e. the ingredients), manufacturers are constantly looking to reduce the carbon footprint of their manufacturing. There also are increasingly better, healthier options for delivery, surfactants and emolliency that mimic silicones and polymers for beauty products.

However, educating consumers that, for example, the “perfect” cream does not have to be white is important for the success of products with botanically derived ingredients. The driving force behind much of the demand for green products are health-conscious women and men, and these types of consumers are often hungry to learn new facts about ingredients and products. This means it’s part of a natural brand owner’s job to provide these consumers with facts that support the products as well as nature-based principles.

And there are other challenges...

For more medically oriented skin care products such as those sold through dermatologists’ offices and medical spas, there is still a demand for non-natural products because of a perception that synthetic products work more effectively and are more potent than natural ones. When products are used or retailed in these locations, whether synthetic or natural based, there often is a demand for a lot of backup research supporting effectiveness. This poses a greater problem for many naturals, as even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not recognized certain natural ingredients that may work more effectively than synthetic ingredients.

Gaining Ground

It is a tough, long and arduous path for natural products to gain the respect they deserve. But it is not impossible. Actions speak louder than words. With advanced medical interest in these ingredients and more physicians and beauty science experts willing to try plant-based products, these kinds of products will gain greater awareness, helping to further increase the demand for these tried-and-tested ingredients.

Shilpi Jain, president of SASA Cosmetics and Consulting, has experience consulting with various clients in the medical field and cosmetic industry, and holds a master’s degree in organometallic chemistry from the University of Toronto, Canada. She also has held several positions in pharmaceutical firms. Raised in Eastern Indian culture, she was automatically exposed to ayurvedic herbs, and she now markets Skinveda, her own ayurvedic skin care line.