Further reading: Beauty ingredients.
Pomelo juice. Prickly pear seed oil. Tiare flower. Indian neem oil. If any of these ingredients pique your interest, then you’re probably a little like your target consumer.
The trend toward natural products continues to grow in personal care, and the stories behind these products will become even more important to set them apart. One example of a business catering to this trend is Credo Beauty, which opened last month in San Francisco.
Launched by a founding member of the Sephora USA team, the apothecary exclusively sells natural, artisan beauty brands that feature sustainably sourced ingredients.
“Natural products are one of the quickest-growing categories, and we will see more small-batch companies pop up as a result,” says Mandi Griffiths, manager of education, Dr. Hauschka Skin Care. “The defining quality that will set companies apart is the story of their ingredients: where it was sourced, how it was farmed, its unique qualities, plus ethical considerations.” Indeed, it’s not only about finding the right exotic ingredients for your brand—it’s also choosing how to source them.
First, Do No Harm
Being a good steward of the environment is a top priority anytime a supplier or brand sources natural ingredients from a region.
“We pay attention to the nature of the environment where we are, mainly the typical Mediterranean plants,” says Pedro Marcet, owner of Provital Group, based in Barcelona. “There is a great diversity of interesting species that have been used in personal care products for centuries. Our ingredients are chosen not only because of their uniqueness but also because of their cosmetic benefit.”
Once it’s ascertained that sourcing ingredients from a region will do no harm to the ecosystem, the payoff can be great in terms of an attractive, hard-to-find addition to your product line.
“The Body Scrub with Bora-Bora sand contains white sand particles from the shores of Bora-Bora to provide a mechanical exfoliation,” says Angela Eriksen-Stanley, director of education, Phytocéane. “The Bora-Bora Moisturizing Lotion is formulated with tiare flower, giving it an exotic, summer scent. And, our Mediterranean Shower and Body Cream contain key ingredients from the Mediterranean, including olive oil from the region and sea lavender of the Camargue extract, providing an ultra-moisturizing, exotic sensory experience.”
Environmental advocacy is becoming increasingly more important as well, and shows your customers your commitment to sustainability. Croda is one supplier on the forefront, and is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
“Palm oil is primarily produced in Malaysia and Indonesia, and there is a real environmental need to encourage farmers to produce in accordance with the RSPO guidelines to avoid the practices that are destroying the wildlife and air quality of the region,” says Jennifer Donahue, marketing manager, skin care, Croda.
“Croda is now using the Mass Balance system for tracking our consumption of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO),” continues Donahue. “We are adding new materials to our Sustainable Palm portfolio every month, and they are core chemistries that are used in every application, such as emulsifiers for creams and lotions as well as emollients and conditioning quats. By producing mass balance, sustainable, palm oil-based products, Croda is helping to change the palm oil industry, which will protect the future of our planet.”
Sourcing exotic ingredients from around the world impacts more than the environment—it also impacts the communities. Brands and suppliers that work with the communities to harvest them in an ethical way and support the locals can make a major impact on global microeconomies.
Dr. Hauschka has made this commitment in several countries.
“In India, Dr. Hauschka Skin Care supported a farming cooperative to get up and running on the production and certification of the world’s first organic castor oil,” explains Griffiths. “We have provided similar assistance to a shea butter cooperative in Burkina Faso and rose growers in Turkey and Afghanistan, where we work with the World Hunger Organization to offer approximately 700 farmers the opportunity to earn income using organic rose cultivation methods rather than turning to opium production. Dr. Hauschka provides fixed orders for these operations while they get off the ground, but it is important to us that they remain independent, fully free to provide these high-quality ingredients to any and all customers. The way we see it, the whole planet benefits when organic and biodynamic growers are successful and in demand.”
John Masters Organics also supports small economies when sourcing its ingredients. For many years, they have partnered with a collective in Morocco to source its pure argan oil, and have recently added their local prickly pear seed oil to the John Masters portfolio.
“It’s one of my favorite ingredients right now,” says John Masters, founder. “It has so many amazing benefits, with an extremely high concentrate of vitamin E, and essential fatty acids like omega 6.”
Éminence Organic Skincare farms many of its ingredients in Hungary, supporting both its communities and traditions—for example, paprika, a red powder made from grinding dried sweet red or green peppers, is a key ingredient in Éminence’s relaunched Eight Greens Collection.
“In Hungary, six different varieties of paprika are available with flavors ranging from delicate to hot,” says Boldijarre Koronczay, president, Éminence Organic Skincare. “Paprika is not just a spice that adds color, but is also rich in vitamin C and carotenoids, providing a variety of health and beauty benefits.”
Additionally, Provital Group plans to launch an ingredient later this year to bring balance to stressed and rosacea-prone skin.
“For the sourcing of the plant, we are cooperating with a women’s community in Querétaro, Mexico, where its tea has been traditionally used for the treatment of stressful situations,” adds Marcet.
Conservation by Cultivation
Unexpectedly, exotic ingredients may be even more attractive to a savvy consumer when they’re replicated in a lab or on a supplier’s premises. If harvesting an ingredient on a grand scale would truly harm its environment, a true eco-consumer wouldn’t support it; however, if it can be grown and reproduced ethically without losing any of its beauty benefits, that story is just as compelling.
Croda-owned IRB by Sederma (Istituto di Ricerche Biotecnologiche SpA) specializes in plant cell culture technology, which allows for the use of small levels of plant material to use in the creation of highly effective ingredients.
“The benefit is that we can now access plants that are typically difficult to source because they are rare or grown naturally in very remote locations,” says Sonia Dawson, marketing manager, botanicals, Croda. “These ingredients are also highly sustainable as it only requires the one-time use of very small levels of plant material to gain unlimited access to their most beneficial ingredients, and this process conserves significant amounts of water as well.”
Likewise, Phytocéane lives up to its philosophy of conservation.
Says Eriksen-Stanley, “Active ingredients within the brand come directly from the the Coral Bay, a zone rich in coralline located in Northern Brittany between the Talbert sandy rock bank and the island of Bréhat as well as from the most beautiful and rich seas of the world. Phytocéane Research has developed an unprecedented process for cultivating rare protected algae in the laboratory to conserve natural resources and guarantee optimal quality ingredients.”
Marcet sums up the keys to sourcing unique ingredients responsibly: “Respecting biodiversity, fair trade, sustainability…at the end, and as one of the core points in Provital’s values, reconcile development with respect for the planet in a harmonious way.”