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Cosmetics Ingredients
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Cosmetics Ingredients
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Sustainability Claims in Cosmetics - Interview with Dr. Barbara Olioso

Dr. Barbara Olioso – Jun 26, 2019

TAGS:  Natural/ Organic      in-cosmetics   

Sustainability Claims in CosmeticsFresh from moderating the Sustainability Corner at in-cosmetics Global in Paris and attending the NYSCC Suppliers’ Day event in New York, leading expert, Barbara Olioso shared her thoughts on sustainability with Sreeparna Das, Editorial Program Director at SpecialChem.

Read on to know more about her opinion on water-safe claims to some of the key takeaways from the leading events.


What are some of the most promising sustainability claims today?


The concept of Sustainability is complex and evolving. In my opinion, for the present, claiming that a product is absolutely sustainable is not quite correct. It is more a question of intents and potentialities, of what you, your business or brand “can and will” do to help the environment and people.

Nevertheless, there is an increasing number in specific claims related to aspects of sustainability in general and cosmetics manufacturing in particular, such as the nature of packaging and use of water.

Most of the queries from entrepreneurs that I get on my website are concerned with sustainable packaging. It is quite a dilemma for all industries, as the reality is that there is no perfect choice for sustainable packaging. One can only make a conscious project of a sincere hunt for solutions; looking at the advantages and disadvantages of different materials and containers, either recyclable, compostable or refillable.

There is an increasing number of products claiming to be water-less, water-free or formulated to require less rinsing water. These are predicated on the concept of water being a very valuable resource. This is an up and coming trend to watch and will affect how we manufacture cosmetics as well as how the products are used by consumers and what happens at the end of the product’s lifecycle.


We see ingredients now being derived from by-products or waste material. Which are the most interesting examples?


  • I came across a facial scrub containing calcite taken from Amsterdam’s drinking water, called Naif circular face scrub. I thought that was really innovative.
  • I have also seen a coffee scrub by the beauty brand Upcircle that is made from repurposed coffee grounds, which is quite challenging from a microbial point of view; nevertheless, they have made it possible.
By-products Derived Ingredients
By-products/Waste Products Derived Ingredients


The concept of transmuting waste into something valuable is such a great feel-good story.


What is your opinion on ‘water-safe’ claims?


I’m glad you asked me this question! Water is so important, yet there are increasingly more pollutants found in water streams and the seas, and this is having a domino effect on the food supply chain and ecosystem.

The regulators for cosmetics are mainly focused on the product’s safety rather than environmental safety. Therefore, as an industry, we do need to define the criteria and tests behind water safety; what does it mean, where, what products, what tests? This is a complex area to investigate, but nevertheless, it needs to be done to future proof the industry.
Water-safe Claims

We cannot risk a backlash on our use of such a vital and essential ingredient as water, as there is already on palm oil derivatives from example. If the industry does not own this, the risk is that somebody else will – and rightly so. So, we have to get our act together. … For this reason, I’m setting up a group on LinkedIn to start a conversation, either technical or philosophical, on the meaning of being water-safe for the industry. The group will be called “ Water-safe Cosmetics”.


What were the top 3 takeaways from in-cosmetics & NYSCC Suppliers’ Day?


  1. The sustainability corner at in-cosmetics Global and the Sustainability Conference at NYSCC Suppliers’ Day showed me that sustainability is evolving and spreading very quickly. This needs to be considered in new product development projects. Launching new products without a sustainability charter or some kind of sustainability-related claim is like going to the ball with the last season outfit, or even going without clothes!

  2. The second takeaway is to get a supply chain as transparent and as traceable as possible. Ingredients certifications (there are many of these!) QR codes and Blockchain are useful tools to select the suppliers of ingredients that go the extra mile to gain your trust.

  3. The third takeaway is that metrics are useful but cannot be used as the key assessment tool. In my opinion, it is best to use a sweet spot between a qualitative and quantitative approach. In fact, not all parameters are measurable, and of those that are some are complex and tricky to take into account in the general assessment. For example, in Life Cycle assessments, the parameters usually evaluated are CO2 emissions and water consumption, but biodegradability and aquatic toxicity are left out, and yet these are so important.


To know more, visit https://thegreenchemist.com/



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