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Consumer perception of health benefits drives use of novel food ingredients in cosmetics

By Katie Nichol , 20-Oct-2011

The growing perception among consumers that 'if it is good enough to eat, then it must be good for my skin', has led to a trend for the use of novel food ingredients in cosmetics according to Judi Beerling, head of technical research at Organic Monitor.

“Formulators and product developers are interested in making use of ingredients and actives that are viewed by consumers as green, effective and healthy,” she told CosmeticsDesign.com USA. “Indeed, scientific studies show that many natural ingredients have an affinity with the skin's structure, providing many beneficial effects.”

Beerling said that the cosmetics industry is searching for visually appealing, readily available and sustainable raw materials for ingredient sources. As many food ingredients are available in certified organic grades, she said, their use in cosmetics can be marketed on natural or ecological attributes.

Companies that have embraced the trend for food ingredients in cosmetics include the Israeli company Yes To that has built a family of brands based on foods, UK-based Oat Cosmetics and Intelligent Nutrients in the US that markets its products as ‘safe enough to eat’, Beerling noted.

Oats and sweet blue lupin appearing in cosmetics

Examples of food ingredients that are appearing in cosmetics include oats and sweet blue lupin from Canada, she said.

“Once largely used for human or animal nutrition, the active components have been identified and the ingredients are staging a major resurgence, based on their proven efficacy in skin and hair care.”

Increased use of food emulsifiers, such as those based on lecithin from non-GMO soy, to provide interesting new textures and market concepts are also being seen.

Formulation and certification challenges

Beerling said that replacing synthetic ingredients with chemically unmodified food ingredients could lead to formulation issues, such as poor sensory properties, stability or preservation issues. However, she noted that many of these issues are gradually being ironed out as improvements are made.

“Other issues such as price fluctuations or harvest failures, leading to possible shortage of supply in some areas, as we have seen in the food commodity markets, are a concern,” she said.

Beerling highlighted that many buyers prefer not to source food ingredients from traders or in the open market as traceability is important for certified ingredients where the supply chain needs to be fully identified and there needs to be a guarantee the ingredients are non-GMO.

A presentation on the use of novel food ingredients in cosmetics will be given by Beerling at the upcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit organized by Organic Monitor that is taking place on 28-30 November 2011 in Paris.

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