Sustainability, supply and certification are the biggest challenges for natural formulators – expert

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Sustainability, supply and certification are the biggest challenges for natural formulators – expert
There are a plethora of obstacles when it comes to tackling organic and natural formulation says formulation expert Dr Barbara Olioso, who points to ‘technology, knowledge and common sense’ as the best navigation tools.

“If we want to determine what is natural, we need to look at the whole manufacturing and sourcing process and its environmental impact both before and after its final application. Simply applying the ‘natural’  label on the basis of origin is not enough,” ​said Dr. Olioso in an exclusive interview with Cosmetics Design.

“How do we find the sweet spot between our need for the natural and nature’s needs?I believe technology at the service of green intent is the key to this question and the way to a sustainable future.”

The Interactive Natural and Organic Workshop

Dr. Olioso is due to hold a workshop at the forthcoming in-cosmetics Asia event in Bangkok, on November 8th​, The Interactive Natural and Organic Workshop, which will highlight some of the pitfalls and a few simple rules to avoid them.

One of the main challenges is the fact that natural botanicals can be expensive, while there are fluctuations in supply, together with inconsistency with quality and potency, which requires a skilled and experienced professional to handle.

“These are living products, and they are sensitive to light and heat.  This is why the skill of a Green Chemist formulator, who is aware of, and can manage, all of these issues is a necessity,” ​Dr. Olioso said.

Sustainability is too important to ignore

Inextricably linked to this is the issue of sustainability, which Dr. Olioso says should be a core part of the sourcing process, as it is also integral to a  more reliable supply, as well as consistent quality. Clearly ingredients that have been linked to environmental damage can damage brands.

“Another challenge is the lack of an agreed official international standard for ‘naturals’.  There is a huge variation in what is considered natural.  In the case of ‘organic there is no agreed official standard, only self certifying organisations based in a variety of countries.”

In particular Dr. Olioso points to hybrid ingredients, which are a combination of synthetic and natural ingredients, and the fact that there is no clear distinction between these and ‘truly’ natural ingredients, which leads to a gray area.

Navigating these challenges is down to certification

For Dr. Olioso, the integral factor to navigating this potential minefield is knowing how to target and identify the certification process.

“There are several destinations to choose from because the certification bodies are different private companies. They all have slightly different systems of interpreting what is natural and this can have a major impact on what ingredients can be used or not,”​ Dr. Olioso said.

“Another important tip is to make sure that the certification body of choice is known in the target market otherwise its message will be diluted or meaningless. The customer has to easily identify and understand the mark.”

More information about Dr. Olioso’s workshop and how to become an attendee can be found at the in-cosmetics Asia website.

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