Natura’s head of R&D opens up about formulating with actives

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Alessandro Mendes, R&D director, Natura
Alessandro Mendes, R&D director, Natura

Related tags Natural ingredients Cosmetics

We spoke with Alessandro Mendes, research and development director at Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura to find out about how the evolution of active ingredients has impacted the company’s formulation team.

The world of novel active ingredients has been revolutionized in recent years by the advent of new technologies that have raised the bar on the functionality of cosmetics and personal care products, but that in turn has also brought fresh challenges in the lab.

Ahead of a presentation titled ‘Formulating with Novel Actives’ to be given by Mendes at Organic Monitor’s Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, we put some questions regarding this topic that are specific to the naturals space that Natura occupies.

What are the challenges of formulating with natural actives?

One of the biggest challenges is the process of obtaining the active, which also involves the harvest. In the formulation, the biggest challenge is to stabilize the effectiveness, color and smell of ingredient into the formulation and ensure its effectiveness over the life of the product.

How has the world of natural actives evolved in recent years?

The science of natural ingredients has increased a lot in recent years. It was possible because we need to find alternatives that are more sustainable, using renewable ingredients and green chemistry.

Currently Biotechnology plays a role of great importance for the development of this science of natural ingredients. And since its debut, Natura has developed natural products with both benefits and inspirations from nature.

What kind of new functionality are we seeing in this area?

There are many new features that natural ingredients have to offer. An ingredient can be an active to act in a biological mechanisms or it can be part of the formulation to give structure, sensorial qualities or stability.

New functionality and new benefits have been discovered using proteomic science. Biotechnology has been used to produce ingredients at a large scale that substitute commodities ingredients. A good example of this is microalgae oil as a substitute to mineral oil.

How is this functionality being achieved?

Industry investments in scientific research, including partnerships with scientific community.

What kind of products are these ingredients showing up in?

In all kind of cosmetic products. From bar soaps to anti-aging products, but also in make-up and perfumes. 

What type of functionality can we expect of natural ingredients in the future?

In cosmetic science we expect that natural ingredients in the future can be preservatives, colouring or act as sunscreens in formulations.


For more information about the Alessandro Mendes’s presentation at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Sao Paulo, September 14 – 15, please click here​.​ 

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