The Arizona-based company specialises in precision-farming, a platform that enables the production of algae and according to Rohlfsen; more and more marine ingredients such as coastal plants, seaweeds and sea minerals are making their way into cosmetic products and hold the key to be the future's sustainable ingredient alternatives.
Despite this, the director says that while nature utilizes the full value of algae, society and in particular, the cosmetics industry is a little bit slower, and has yet to fully realise the full potential of algae.
“The importance of investing in high quality and managing scarcity wild capture is maxed out and alternatives are needed," he explains.
Algae and innovation
According to Rohlfsen, the nutricosmetics market is worth over $31 billion, an area where the use of algae has doubled in the last 8 years. "The ingredient itself is best suited to sun protection with custom-designed to pass on their protective nature, a billion+ years of solar protective measures."
The first ingredient the director highlights as set to trend is spirulina, the largest commercially grown species which has a legacy presence in cosmetics, due to its' skin smoothing and wrinkle reduction properties.
Next, he notes chlorella to become a sought after ingredient in the personal care industry as it acts as a great coloring agent, is ideal for skin firming, and research is increasingly coming to understand its anti-acne properties.
The third and final ingredient the algae expert predicts to be a success is 'nannochloropsis' which has anti-aging, photo protection, elasticity, and inhibition of melanogenesis properities, which will be useful to formulators of sensitive skin treatments.
"With the right partnerships, algae producers can rapidly develop new ingredients or novel ways to producing existing ones. Algae are much more varied and prolific than terrestrial plants, some can literally duplicate in hours and there is a great platform for developing plant based bioactive compounds."
There are still challenges…
Despite the good news of algae offering sustainable alternatives for the industry, Rohlfsen says a few challenges remain in that the sector is limited by a lack of commercial technology, efficacy is still evolving, there is a stigma of 'natural' vs science and some companies have work to do to tighten up their data and rigorous science.
Other challenges for cosmetic companies he says can be anything from high costs, the stability of certain ingredients, and the positives/negatives of color.
"For certain applications this can be of big benefit and additive to marketing and new product development, whereas in other cases where companies require little color in an ingredcient, that can be difficult to extract in certain components of the biomass."