In the first part of this article series we found out about the different kinds of options are out there, what is the best kind of approach in the development of effective products and what consumers make of these products.
In the second part of the Judi Beerling, who heads up the technical research division at Organic Monitor explains about how biotechnology is stretching the functionality of natural anti-ageing ingredients, while also pinpointing the brands she believes are getting it right and what the category might look like in ten years' time.
How do you explain that a natural ingredient developed using biotechnology is still natural?
There are a couple of factors. Human beings are known to have made fermented foods since Neolithic times and so if we count wine, beer and other fermented foods as natural then the same philosophy must apply. Also, biotechnology does not tend to use petroleum derivatives or traditional chemical reactions and many companies involved in the field ensure that genetically modified organisms e.g. enzymes or bacteria are not used during the manufacturing process.
COSMOS, for example, classifies biotech ingredients as ‘chemically modified agro ingredients’ since they are not simply physically extracted from a plant or other natural source. They state that natural cosmetics “may use ingredients derived from culture or fermentation and other non-GMO biotechnology, [but] the cultures must use only feedstock from natural vegetable or microbial raw materials without using genetically modified organisms or their derivatives”.
Can you point to any specific brands that you feel have the right approach to combining natural-based formulations as anti-ageing products?
The approach taken by the brand Tata Harper Skincare in the USA, which was probably the first natural luxury anti-ageing product range, is very interesting. Using the highest quality ingredients at the maximum recommended dosage and multiple actives to achieve real results has been their mantra since the start.
There are also many worthy products at more upper mass market price points, such as Green People in the UK and a host of others. Many were on show at the Natural and Organic Show in London recently and it was great to see how far this market has come in just a few years. Whilst you can still find the 100% organic balms and the simpler creams, there is now a plethora of anti-ageing products from all over the world.
What do you think the naturals anti-ageing category might look like in ten years’ time?
If recent history is an indication, the future is very bright. Since ingredients tend to come first, then the indications from trade shows are that we will see many more natural or at least products with real efficacious natural actives coming onto the market. The challenge will be for brands to differentiate themselves and find their own unique space in the market and for the industry as a whole to keep the regulators happy.
As the activity of products increases we may attract greater scrutiny and already making somewhat pharmaceutical-like claims is becoming a minefield. However, if every product is telling a consumer that the product moisturises and ‘helps with fine lines and wrinkles’ it becomes a little boring. So, testing and explaining the science may become even more important than actually using it to develop the products.
There of course is always the possibility of a real game changer where we suddenly get a small pill or a device we use that means we don’t need topical skin care any longer. Ten years is a really long time in this industry!