Food ingredients in cosmetics – challenges and overcoming them

Related tags Food ingredients São paulo Industry

Dr. Fernando Ibarra, head of sales and technical marketing, Dr. Straetmans
Dr. Fernando Ibarra, head of sales and technical marketing, Dr. Straetmans
Food ingredients have been increasingly incorporated into cosmetics formulation in recent years, especially on the back of the rise of natural products, but there are challenges to overcome, points out Dr. Fernando Ibarra of Dr. Straetmans.

Dr. Ibarra is head of sales and technical marketing, and in this role he has had a good window in on some of the many challenges that formulation experts have to overcome when incorporating food-based ingredients.

“The requirements for quality are not always on the same level as that for cosmetic ingredients,”​ says Dr. Ibarra.

“This means that formulation may require more care or background knowledge in some cases. This of course is not true for all food ingredients, many of them have identical quality to cosmetic grades. There is a large number of food ingredients that has been used in cosmetics for decades, and these can be found in almost every category of cosmetic raw materials.”

Formulating with food ingredients is straight forward

On top of the requirements, there can also be some additional challenges of sourcing ingredients that are normally used in food formulation, Dr. Ibarra says.

“There may be competition for the use in different industries and a conflict of interests. A debate has arisen in the last years about the fairness of using food ingredients for other industries like cosmetics, while a large part of the world's population is dealing with low nutrition levels.”

“Likewise, legal requirements can be a hurdle for converting food ingredients into cosmetic raw materials.”

The advantages of using food ingredients

But, besides the challenges, there are also a lot of advantages, including the fact that consumer perception of food ingredients in cosmetics is generally positive, on account of it following the naturals trend, while formulation compatibility is invariably quite straight forward.

“Food ingredients are usually based on established and economic production processes and the sources are normally natural, reflecting a major trend in the cosmetic industry,”​ said Dr. Ibarra.

“Due to the high output of raw materials, the availability of food ingredients for the cosmetic industry is usually not limited. Furthermore, there is a growing number of organic sources for food ingredients that may also satisfy the growing demand for such products in the cosmetic industry.”

How will the use of food ingredients evolve in cosmetics

Looking to the future, Dr. Ibarra believes that the move towards the use of food ingredients will grow within the industry and is likely to evolve in a new and more technologically advanced direction, as well as picking up on some of the natural and organic trends already seen in the food sector.

“I can imagine that by-products from the food industry will become increasingly interesting in the light of growing awareness for sustainability,”​ he said.

"I am sure that in the segment of active ingredients we will also see many new concepts that may be based on exotic food ingredients like fruit. But also the use of regionally produced ingredients marketed as ‘from the farm around the corner’ may increase.”

Dr. Ibarra will be giving a presentation about food ingredients in cosmetics at the forthcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit​, to be held in Sao Paulo Brazil, 18 – 20 September.

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