Clean Beauty Tech: Novi helps brands source ingredients that meet clean beauty retailers’ guidelines

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (cienpies)
© Getty Images \ (cienpies)

Related tags clean beauty beauty tech Sephora Ingredient suppliers

Kimberly Shenk founded the Novi platform in 2019 and already the venture has partnered with suppliers like Inolex and retailers like Sephora to streamline clean beauty ingredient sourcing for brand leaders, R&D pros, and formulating chemists.

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Novi uses artificial intelligence or AI to do the work that commonly takes product developers and cosmetic chemists precious time.

Every ingredient in a clean beauty formulation must meet the sourcing, processing, and compositional criteria set by the brand and, more often than not, the brand’s current and prospective retail partners, as Luciana Coutinho explains so neatly in episode 3 of the Cosmetics Deign Clean & Ethical Video Series​. Many retailers today have some sort of chemical, sustainability, or even clean beauty guidelines—think, Credo, Sephora, QVC—that brands have to abide by to even have a chance of working with them or earning a particular seal.

Novi has partnered with Sephora to help brands meet clean beauty ingredient standards

This month, Novi announced a partnership with Sephora that will help brands meet the retailer’s chemical policy and achieve the Clean at Sephora Seal.

“Novi is providing an innovative service to brands we’ve never seen before,”​ says Carley Klekas, Sephora’s Senior Manager of Product Sustainability, in a news item posted on​.  “The public chemicals policy is crucial to Sephora, showing clients we are prioritizing ingredient safety and sustainability, but it can be challenging for some brands to act on, which is why Novi is a game-changer in helping brands get more sustainable products into the hands of our clients.”

And the Novi platform lets “retailers verify that brands only use ingredients that meet their standards,” ​as Yashaswi Shrestha, Director, Science and Research at Novi, tells Cosmetics Design.

Beauty and wellness brands can use the Novi platform to find the right ingredients

Brands start to work with Novi much the same way they start any product development and formulation product, with a brief outlining the criteria that matter (to the brand, the retailer, a third-party certifying body, etc.).

“On Novi, brands create product development projects to assess new formulations according to the brand’s ingredient policy or vet a product for re-formulation,” ​says Shrestha.

“Novi,” ​she explains, “provides instant access to a wide selection of ingredients, vetted according to the brand’s ingredient policy, to meet the product development requirements for ingredient safety and sustainability goals.”​ And she notes that Novi does include both sourcing and ingredient processing data.

With Novi “brands [connect] directly to the supplier(s) who manufacture each ingredient, allowing formulators to sample and make selections from a wide variety of qualified options, without making tradeoffs in efficacy or performance. Novi reduces the cost and risk in sourcing by providing transparency into every ingredient up-front, eliminating the expense of collecting data and conducting chemical reviews in order to find ingredients that meet their standards,” ​says Shrestha.

“Through the Novi platform, brands get access to all the substantiating data and documentation behind each ingredient assessment per their internal regulatory needs,” ​she tells Cosmetics Design. And, “Novi also keeps this documentation up-to-date, alerting brands when anything from the supplier changes, and as brands produce batches over time.”

Is Novi a shortcut around cosmetics and personal care industry tradeshows and distributors?

Product development professionals commonly rely on online resources like UL Prospector, in-person events like in-cosmetics global, Uplink Live, and NYSCC Supplier Day, as well as ingredient distributors to find the newest and best ingredients for the formulations and reformulations they work on.

Novi could be a shortcut to all that, and a welcome one as the beauty industry turns to digital solutions more and more to accommodate the safety precautions and economic challenges precipitated by COVID-19. And Shrestha tells Cosmetics Design that “for ingredient suppliers, there is no cost to list and/or get connected to brands.” ​The platform’s revenue model relies on brands, which, she says, “can reach out to Novi for pricing details.”

How Novi uses digital technology to help ingredient suppliers connect with beauty brands

According to the overview of Novi posted on crunchbase, “The company is dedicated to solving the large hurdle of scalable data management by acting as the third-party to translate relevant proprietary information between suppliers and brands.”

“Novi is,”​ best described, according to that overview, as “a technology platform that uses AI to ingest proprietary chemical information from chemical manufacturers or suppliers and create chemical profiles at the trade material level. It enables brands and formulators on the platform to access data for any trade material of interest to assess an ingredient currently in use, find safer alternatives, or discover new ingredients that meet their standards.” 

For suppliers like Inolex, “Novi has been an incredible platform to showcase our leading-edge technologies for sustainable ingredients and safer alternatives in front of brands actively reformulating to meet consumer demands for safer alternatives,”​ comments Lisa Gandolfi, PhD, Director of Marketing at INOLEX, in the item on noviconnect. A full list of participating suppliers is not available. According to Shrestha, this information is kept confidential to safeguard suppliers’ proprietary data.  



Deanna Utroske writes news of clean beauty, beauty tech, and cosmetics and personal care ingredient innovations quite regularly.​ As Editor of, her focus is on business of beauty in the Americas region; and beyond the many text articles she writes weekly, Deanna frequently produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders.

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