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In Depth and In Focus at in-cosmetics

Posted: April 30, 2009

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“Tension and compression balance biological cells and make them active,” said Seigneur. “Without tension, cells die.” She described one major focus of the company’s work as examining integrins, which link cells to the matrix, in addition to tensin in fibroblasts, an intracellular protein that is important for adhesion and to maintain tension in the skin. “We now know what to do [with these biological factors],” said Seigneur, “but now we need to find a molecule or active that will do it.”

While some innovations have pushed the industry toward a concept of techno beauty, others remain firmly rooted in naturals and organics. In fact, a vast majority of suppliers at the show focused efforts on re-launching bio-derived or eco-friendlier versions of former ingredient offerings. Botanicals were highlighted to enhance products with a sense of well-being, and materials such as natural cherry powder and dried palm tree milk powder sparked interest as novel sources for natural materials.

Within this natural vein, the representation of two particular firms at in-cosmetics was interesting. NaTrue, a natural and organic certification group out of Brussels, was present to describe its approach to labeling simply as “the truth” about ingredients. According to Vincent Letertre of the group’s scientific committee, “We do not view parabens as ‘bad,’ we just acknowledge that they are not natural.” Letertre added that some ingredients are necessary in formulations to ensure efficacy and safety, and the group considers this fact in its labeling requirements.

Minimum and maximum levels for ingredients are set per product category and classed in a 1-3 star rating system, including: genuine natural cosmetics, natural cosmetics with organic ingredients, and organic cosmetics. “We strive to be transparent,” explained Julie Tyrrell, secretary general for the group, “Consumers expect that materials labeled as natural are in fact natural.” To which Letertre added, “Half-truths are not sustainable.”

Looking ahead, the Union for Bioethical Trade presented on the next wave in the naturals segment: biodiversity. According to the group, with so many industries focused on natural materials, questions about the preservation of ecosystems from which they are derived are raised. In a new study of 4,000 consumers in France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S., one out of two consumers said they had heard of biodiversity, and 85% of study respondents said they wanted to know more about how companies in the cosmetics sector source their natural ingredients. Rik Kutsch Lojenga, executive director for the union, explained, “While consumers have heard of biodiversity, they are just beginning to understand what it means.” He added that as they become more educated, consumers will seek natural products that maintain the natural ecosystem. “The year 2010 will be the year of biodiversity.”