Q&A: Recent industry innovations from global chemical manufacturer BASF

By Cassandra Stern

- Last updated on GMT

“We are moving towards a more transparent environment for consumers, and we need to be ready to collaborate with each other and unite efforts for a more sustainable future,” said Brenda Rechy, Project Manager for Ingredient Traceability at BASF. © Charday Penn Getty Images
“We are moving towards a more transparent environment for consumers, and we need to be ready to collaborate with each other and unite efforts for a more sustainable future,” said Brenda Rechy, Project Manager for Ingredient Traceability at BASF. © Charday Penn Getty Images

Related tags BASF digital Innovation beauty tech bioactives metaverse

As a global player in the cosmetic and personal care product manufacturing and supply chain industries, BASF is constantly developing and launching more effective digital and ingredient solutions for formulation companies and consumer brands. In this Q&A, we spoke to several BASF executives for their takeaways on recent company innovations.

Leading global chemical manufacturer BASF continues to innovate the cosmetics and personal care product manufacturing and supply chain industries with a wide range of digital solutions impacting transparency and traceability, product development, and ingredient formulations.

Recently, CosmeticsDesign spoke with Kate Drummond, Head of Marketing in Personal Care North America, Renata Alves in Digitalization North America, Brenda Rechy, Project Manager for Ingredient Traceability, and Kruti Shah, Digital Channel Marketing Manager at BASF for their insights into the latest pilot programs and launches put forth by the company in recent months.

These innovations include the development and launch of the BASF metaverse, the rollout of the company’s End-to-End Traceability Technology, the release of several new bioactive ingredients, and a partnership with Knowde’s digital chemical ingredient platform, all of which were showcased at the Suppliers’ Day convention in New York City earlier this year.

CDU: What are some of the recent innovations in the digital space that were announced at the NYSCC Suppliers’ Day show?

Kate Drummond: At the 2023 NYSCC Suppliers’ Day, we showcased three main digital solutions:

Reimagine transparency and traceability​ 

At BASF, we provide digital solutions that support customers in all areas of product development, from idea generation to market insights to traceability efforts. 

Now more than ever eco-conscious consumers want transparency and information about the sourcing of the products they buy to know whether a product is naturally, sustainably, or ethically sourced. This consumer demand for knowledge will continue to grow year over year. Our new digital technology, Itz Traceable, can put that information in the palm of their hand. 

Itz Traceable blockchain-enabled traceability service allows brands to take consumers instantly to the place of origin or perhaps the very tree from which their ingredients came. Together, we can create a new level of transparency and lift the curtain on the ingredients’ journey from the farm to the consumer. It’s all about having transparency and traceability at the consumers’ fingertips. 

Reimagine product innovation​ 

In today’s highly fragmented and fast-moving cosmetic markets, keeping pace with consumer trends and needs is challenging. Traditional market analysis and product development processes are no longer fast and flexible enough. That’s why we have created D'lite, a single powerful digital service for real-time trend tracking and product innovation. 

The service provides features and insights for idea generation, market intelligence, ingredient selection and product development. With D'lite, formulators have more than 3.8 million consumer products from more than 4,000 brands at their disposal. Additionally, they will get consumer insights from popular social media channels and platform reviews, which show them clearly what consumers want. 

And to meet those wishes, formulators will find complete formulations and respective features using proprietary algorithms - like the Surfactant Navigator or Emollient Maestro - to help them identify suitable ingredients and develop innovative and sustainable products, in just a fraction of the time. 

From marketing concepts and briefings to innovation, D'lite covers the entire product development process and is available for you 24/7, combining market insight with our scientific knowledge as a leading supplier of the personal care industry.  

Reimagine virtual wellness​ 

A revolutionary step has been taken in the personal care industry as BASF collaborated with ZREALITY, a leading provider of virtual reality solutions, to debut the first personal care virtual reality solution in the metaverse during Suppliers’ Day in New York. The virtual, browser-based platform offers an immersive experience to users, guiding them through four distinct spaces: The Lobby, The Spa, The Laboratory and The Traceability Space.  

CDU: Can you share some information about the development and launch of the metaverse program?

Renata Alves: This initiative provides an interactive platform to explore how BASF ingredients are used in personal care applications such as Hair Care, Skin Care, Sun Care and Oral Care, through their four different spaces: 

The Lobby: The Gateway to a New World​ 

The Lobby serves as the entrance to this virtual world, providing a space for users to interact with other participants or engage in events. It is the starting point that will lead participants into the BASF's personal care ingredients.

The Spa: Exploring the Beauty of BASF Ingredients​ 

The Spa provides users the opportunity to explore five different formulas based on BASF ingredients. Here, users become a virtual makeup artist in an interactive game, so they can test and apply these formulas on a virtual avatar. In the meantime, users can learn about the formulas and ingredients used thanks to the different information boards that the space has. 

The Laboratory: Witness the Creation of Personal Care Formulas​ 

At the second space “The Laboratory,” users can learn how 16 different BASF ingredients can be mixed to create different personal care formulas. Like a real-world lab and under the guidance of BASF members, users can formulate with different ingredients. 

The Traceability Space: Experience the Sustainable Journey of Palm Oil​ 

In The Traceability Space, users are taken into a 360° story of sustainable palm oil production. From plantation to transport, refining the oil, to finally, the product's arrival in consumers' hands, the virtual experience illustrates how the ingredient's production process is traceable via blockchain technology. 

The four spaces collectively aim to bring event visitors into their own world to convey the unique selling proposition of BASF ingredients and solutions. During NYSCC, the virtual spaces engaged more than 100 visitors. 

CDU: What is the potential impact of the digital ingredient transparency program on manufacturers and suppliers to the cosmetics and personal beauty care product industries? How is the program being rolled out?

Brenda Rechy: The pilot for the project was done with an emollient that is PKO (Palm Kernel Oil) based. As part of the roll-out, we are trying to bring in more products with this digital End-to-End Traceability Technology, exploring a wider range of raw materials, not only PKO.   

The potential impact is that as consumers keep demanding more information, and disclosure of “behind the scenes” details, not only in the beauty industry but beyond, transparency will become a standard. We are moving towards a more transparent environment for consumers, and we need to be ready to collaborate with each other and unite efforts for a more sustainable future. 

CDU: What are some of the most exciting new ingredients being launched? What are some of their most notable benefits for product formulation?

Kate Drummond: BASF showcased different solutions during NYSCC, focusing on natural ingredients and the bioactives solutions. 

Reimagine natural and ​bioactives

Reimagine sustainable polymers​ 

We protect our planet and its resources, creating naturally derived, responsibly sourced, environmentally kind ingredients – with a focus on biodegradability, transparency and traceability along the way. When it comes to environmentally conscious products, BASF is building a holistic approach with the development of new ingredients and digital tools.

A great example is the Verdessence product line, a wide range of biopolymer ingredients suitable for hair care, skin care, color cosmetics and sun care applications. The ingredients in this portfolio are COSMOS-approved, biodegradable and biobased. 

Reimagine a biodegradable, wax based pearlizer​ 

To address consumers’ demand for opacifying and pearlizing effects without using pigments, BASF is presenting its first wax-based pearlizer, Euperlan NL Pearl. Not only is it biodegradable and COSMOS-approved, but it is suitable for EO-free and sulfate surfactant-free applications.

The ingredient has outstanding attributes in hair care applications, especially on wet and dry combing tests, anti-hair breakage measurements and suppleness tests. 

Reimagine emulsifiers

Finally, BASF will highlight a broad emulsifier portfolio including a new nonethoxylated, polyglycerol emulsifier for O/W formulations, Emulgade Verde 10MS. This new ingredient is naturally derived, readily biodegradable and versatile in many personal care applications.

The full portfolio consists of both single ingredient emulsifiers as well as emulsion bases that include co-emulsifiers and waxes, to allow for flexibility when formulating for applications such as skin care, sun care, body care, AP/deo and hair care. 

Reimagine graceful aging​ 

At BASF, we have a team dedicated to developing breakthrough technologies that add to our extensive portfolio of specialty bioactive ingredients. These solutions are focused on high performance, innovative science and environmental sustainability. 

We are excited to introduce two new, innovative bioactive ingredients to the portfolio, Probiolift and Postbiolift, both of which are made by isolating native skin bacteria, Lactobacillus crispatus​, to develop a cosmetic probiotherapy that counteracts signs of aging. 

Unlike other biotics existing on the cosmetic market, Probiolift uses a bacterium that is found naturally on the skin. Made of millions of live, but dormant bacteria that wake up in contact with water on the skin. 

Probiolift increases the dermal density, improves the appearance of forehead wrinkles, and protects skin from oxidative stress. It is perfectly complemented by Postbiolift, derived from the same biofermentation process with no living bacteria.

The combination of this probiotic and postbiotic solution supports the appearance of younger, fuller and more elastic skin. 

Reimagine sustainable sourcing​ 

In addition to the new developments related to the microbiome, BASF has focused on creating active ingredients for cosmetics that are highly effective and are also sustainably sourced. While working with a local long-time partner in Vietnam, BASF initiated the exploration of the rambutan tree’s various cosmetic properties. 

With the ambition to ensure a sustainable use of the resource and generate a positive impact on the supply chain development, this program would trigger a real social and environmental engagement.

Additionally, through this program, BASF developed Nephoria to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and increase skin elasticity; Nephydrat to increase moisturization and help the skin look visibly younger; and Rambuvital to help protect the scalp and hair follicles against pollution-induced stress and hydrate the scalp. 

Other products within BASF’s specialty bioactives portfolio with sustainable sourcing stories include:​ 

Castaline, an active ingredient for cosmetics that is clinically demonstrated to help improve the appearance of skin prone to extreme dryness and atopy. Castaline is a 100% natural, organic solution that is derived from French chestnut leaves, and is an innovation in BASF’s growing portfolio of ingredients for personal care products that comfort skin with common epidermal conditions. 

Seanactiv, an active ingredient for cosmetics that uses the power of algae-derived fucoidans to help decrease the signs of aging around the eye and help create a healthier and fresher look. Seanactiv helps to reduce the appearance of dark circles and crow's feet wrinkles, while simultaneously enhancing the luminosity and vitality of the eye area. The macroalgae from which Seanactiv is extracted is certified organic, fully traceable and manually harvested in Nova Scotia.

CDU: What is the potential impact of the relationship with Knowde and what programs will be developed as a result of this partnership?

Kruti Shah: Having a digital storefront on Knowde can be beneficial for BASF in multiple ways, including:  

Increased visibility:​ Knowde is an online platform for chemical ingredients and products, allowing BASF to reach a wider audience and potential customers.  

Improved customer experience​: Digital storefront allows for a personalized shopping experience, with customers being able to browse and compare products, request documents, samples and quotes, and select the best fit for their requirements.  

Streamlined proces​s: The online platform simplifies the customer journey across variety of different industries we serve in, making it a truly efficient and seamless one-BASF experience for customer base globally.   

BASF and Knowde’s partnership have been initiated as a pilot. Further activities will be planned based on the success of the pilot. 

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