L'Oréal x Debut biotech partnership to “replace conventionally sourced ingredients”

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

L'Oréal Groupe image: Artfully Photographer/ Shutterstock
L'Oréal Groupe image: Artfully Photographer/ Shutterstock

Related tags biotech Ingredients Sustainability green beauty R&D

The French multinational will work with the biotech pioneer to create new bio-based ingredients made with proprietary advanced biomanufacturing processes that combine fermentation and cell-free technology.

L'Oréal Groupe has just signed an agreement with US-based biotech pioneers Debut for the company to develop more than a dozen bio-identical ingredients that will replace conventionally sourced ingredients currently used in various L'Oréal global brands across the skin, hair, colour cosmetics and fragrance categories.

With the effects of climate change, the ever-increasingly demand on natural resources, and pressures from governments and consumers​, the beauty industry must find routes to more sustainable ingredient sourcing.

With a multitude of strategic acquisitions, partnerships and initiatives​, the French multinational has placed itself firmly at the forefront of new scientific innovation​ across various beauty categories.

Beauty biotech based on “potency, purity, and performance”

Vertically integrated biotech business Debut creates scientifically-engineered, bio-based and clinically-proven products and brands at scale and claims its practices are “based on potency, purity, and performance.”
The San Diego-based company said it is focused on facilitating the beauty industry's shift from traditionally sourced ingredients – derived from petroleum and cultivation – to high-performing yet potentially more sustainable biotech ingredients.
Working with Debut will complement L'Oréal's global R&D efforts and the business can be a key partner towards L'Oréal meeting its L'Oréal for the Future sustainability commitments.
L'Oréal Groupe’s global managing director of augmented beauty and open innovation, Guive Balooch, commented: "Through this exciting partnership and adoption of breakthrough technology, we are well-positioned to drive the creation of more sustainable and effective products that meet the demands of our consumers and fulfils our duty of care for the planet."
Balooch said that the long-term agreement with Debut is another example of the company’s commitment to the Open Innovation ecosystem and “building the future of beauty by collaborating with best-in-class partners."

A new generation of cosmetic bioactive ingredients

Debut’s founder and CEO Joshua Britton stated: “Green sciences such as Debut's breakthrough biotechnology processes unlock a new generation of cosmetic bioactive ingredients and products that marry the best of nature with supply chain transparency, safety, purity, consistency, quality and science-backed data.”
He said that creating bio-identical ingredients at scale helps “preserve global biodiversity and secure responsible ingredient supply chains while continuing to prioritise quality and product performance."

He added that: "Debut is committed to creating bio-based formulations for all its beauty products and has unmatched capabilities in biotechnology, formulation and scaling to catalyse this transformative shift in beauty." 
“Our mission is to pioneer the shift to biotechnology. We capture value across the entire supply chain, ensuring that Debut's bio-identical and novel ingredients and products satisfy the huge global market demand for next-generation sustainable beauty.”

What’s happening in beauty biotechnology?

Brands using biomimetic ingredients are a hot topic for beauty businesses right now and many of the major player companies are investing in this area.
For example, Unilever has acquired the biomimetic hair brand K18​ and previously L'Oréal, Unilever and Kao all invested in a venture led by biotechnology company Geno, to create more sustainable alternatives for key ingredients in beauty products.

L'Oréal’s Green Sciences division has previously stated that this will “replace traditional ingredients with bio-based alternatives” and now this is beginning to materialise.

Biomimicry itself is a type of biotechnology that involves creating ingredients and products that emulate natural biological processes or structures. As an example, a moisturiser that mimics the hydration abilities of a certain plant or the regenerative qualities of natural enzymes.

One of the main reasons many cosmetics companies are embracing the biotechnology boom is due to issues sustainability and availability issues for natural ingredients and the resulting biodiversity loss​, both on land and in the ocean.

Innovation in beauty biotech ingredients

There is also plenty of innovation happening on the ingredients side, as well as with the finished products.

Biotechnology company Cellugy​ raised €4.9m in seed funding to scale up production of its dry cellulose ingredient EcoFlexy to industrial volumes.

According to the Danish startup, the natural, bio-fabricated, cellulose-based ingredient could replace petrochemicals in various industrial applications, including cosmetics.

Meanwhile, the French natural ingredients company Robertet Group partnered with Italian green-biotech business Aethera Biotech​ to create new ingredients and the duo launched a new patented ‘rose’ extract at the InCosmetics Global show in Paris in April 2024.

Going forward, the partners plan to work together in the biotech phytocomplexes field, on what they have dubbed “a sustainable and visionary partnership”, which will combine Robertet Group's natural ingredients sourcing expertise with Aethera Biotech's scientific innovation.

The two companies said they hoped to redefine industry standards for plant-sourced active ingredients, while promoting sustainable development and preserving biodiversity.

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