5 reasons that designer biology and brewed proteins are the future of beauty

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (Usis)
© Getty Images \ (Usis)

Related tags Collagen biotech Geltor vegan Halal cosmetics Sustainability Ethical consumerism

At yesterday’s Sparks & Honey culture briefing in New York City, Alex Lorestani, co-founder and CEO of a biotech company called Geltor, presented insights and information on the potential that biodesign has to disrupt and reinvigorate the cosmetics and personal care industry.

Geltor makes proteins. The California-based biotech company founded in 2015 by Alex Lorestani and Nick Ouzounov is in the business identifying proteins that exist in the natural world and replicating them with biotechnology. And in the future, Geltor will very likely design entirely new proteins to meet the needs and expectations of industry and consumers alike.

Speaking as a member of the Spark & Honey advisory board at one of the consultancy’s daily culture briefings, Lorestani called attention to 5 ways that biotech proteins can do just that.  

Proteins made using biotechnology are vegan

Since molecule made using biotechnology require no animal inputs and use microorganisms as the factories of production, they can be sold and marketed as vegan. And vegan beauty is in demand, as a well-defined variant within the natural and clean beauty movements.

Halal beauty has tremendous global market potential

“Our product is halal and our process is halal,”​says Lorestani. The collagen proteins that Geltor makes, replace those conventionally sourced from pigs or fish. And since Geltor’s Collume and HumaColl21 don’t come from animal sources, they are intrinsically halal and can be formulated into products that address the needs of Muslim beauty and personal care consumers.

Indeed, Sharon Foo, managing director at Sparks & Honey, noted during Wednesday’s culture briefing that, framing and positioning [biotech collagen] for the Muslim consumer [and in the] Halal beauty space”​ would make good sense.

Beauty ingredients sourced via biotech are often more sustainable than naturally sourced materials

Biodesign is an opportunity to take biological knowledge and emerging tech tools and sculpt biology in a way that can help companies address their sustainability and supply chain challenges, according to Lorestani.

It’s a tool for manufacturing “valuable products that can make consumers’ lives better,”​ he says; and that can be “more sustainable for both consumers and businesses.”

Asked about the waste generated by Geltor’s biotech protein-making processes, Lorestani hedged his reply saying that there is an opportunity to create a truly circular process with some biotech solutions,”​ but that the processes that Geltor currently uses do create salt waste and “a mass of microbes that can either be recycled or sterilized and disposed of.”

Biotechnology promises an ethical alternative to sourcing

During the course of the briefing, it was noted that ‘sustainability (if you will) has a branding problem’. That is, consumers see green and sustainable goods as being positive but aren’t necessarily willing to spend more to buy sustainable items or to support sustainable supply chains.

But, “education is such a big part of the beauty experience,” ​as Latoya Robertson, VP of strategy and partnerships at Spark & Honey pointed out Wednesday. And this gives beauty makers the opportunity to use inputs like Collume and HumaColl21 as not only ingredients but also teaching tools to get consumer buy-in on sustainable sourcing alternatives like biotech.

Well-designed proteins can be used to formulate more effective personal care products

The real advantage of designer proteins or brewed proteins (so called because microorganisms like yeast are used to produce them) is that they can be even more effective, more pure, and/or more desirable than those extracted or otherwise derived from animal sources.

As Lorestani describes it, biotech can produce proteins that result in “more effective consumer products with [a] richer sensorial user experience.”



Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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