Two Views: Smart science makes beauty better

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Personal care Skin Cosmetics

Two Views: Smart science makes beauty better nugg and Ginkgo Bioworks
In this edition of Two Views, industry experts weigh in on how science improves and enhances cosmetic, fragrance, and personal care products. Christina Agapakis, Creative Director of Gingko Bioworks, explores the value of sourcing cosmetics and personal care ingredients with biotech. And Conny Wittke, founder of nügg Beauty, shares insight into that brand’s oil dispersion technology.

From ingredient development through to product effectiveness, smart science makes beauty better.

Christina Agapakis, Creative Director of Gingko Bioworks​:

“Beauty begins with biology. The ingredients that power cosmetics and personal care products are largely bioactives originally found in biological sources — whether botanical, animal, or microbial. Innovative new ingredients continue to be identified from unique organisms: rare plants, algal extracts, invertebrate excretions, and even living microorganisms themselves. But while biology’s diversity is a perpetual source of new innovation, ingredients harvested in the wild or even carefully cultivated offer a limited and less sustainable source of the ingredient itself.

“In contrast, cultured ingredients—those that are the product of bioengineered fermentations—offer a more stable and sustainable source of innovative biological molecules for cosmetic actives and personal care. Imagine an active ingredient found in vanishingly small quantities in a plant growing in a delicate ecosystem. Harvesting the plants and extracting the ingredient in the wild, or even shifting it to small scale cultivation, would generate a small amount of product and a large resource cost—if not ecological damage. What if instead, the ingredient-producing enzymes encoded in the plant’s DNA could be transferred into a yeast? That genetically modified yeast will produce the plant enzymes and the plant molecule as a byproduct of fermentation. Your active cultured ingredient could now come from a microbrewery at a much higher yield, in a much more rapid timeframe, at a much lower environmental and economic cost and with better traceability.

“Designed yeasts and cultured ingredients are already making the power of biology more accessible, in flavors, fragrance, nutrition, health, and cosmetics. As the technologies evolve, organism designers will also be able to access the power of biology to innovate and evolve entirely new ingredients—the undiscovered and untapped areas of biological diversity—in the lab. Smart science is creating more traceable, sustainable, and innovative ingredients for the future of cosmetic actives.”

Conny Wittke, founder of nügg Beauty:

“Smart science is driving a lot of innovation in beauty and it allows indie brands to excel and break into an incredibly competitive market because we are often faster and more courageous in adopting new concepts and approaches. I know K-Beauty is all the hype right now, but we should not forget that we also have wonderful science and science-driven innovations right here in the US.

“Our nügg face masks are manufactured with natural oil dispersion technology that uses physics instead of chemistry to blend oil and water. This is achieved through a high pressure, high shearing action performed mostly at room temperature through which the particle size of the oils is dramatically reduced; and they combine with water, building a stable solution.  

“As a result, we do not need to use chemical emulsifiers that can impair the natural skin barrier function. This is very important because the skin is meant to be a barrier that keeps water and key nutrients in the skin and irritants out of the skin and if it is impaired, that can result in a lot of skin issues like irritation, dryness, etc.

“Also, the natural oil dispersion technology​ achieves ultra-fine oil-in-water particles that can penetrate into the skin more easily and effectively. Plus, the effectiveness of the skin oils and extracts is not compromised by heat since the process happens at room temperature or low heat conditions. We also use no heat in the filling of the individual nügg pods in order to keep the natural oil properties intact.”

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