N-Collage: The Halal and ‘cruelty-free’ alternative to cosmetic collagen

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

N-Collage: The Halal and ‘cruelty-free’ alternative to cosmetic collagen
Geltor CEO Alex Lorestani reveals more about the firm’s ‘cruelty-free’ alternative to collagen, N-Collage, and the wealth of possibilities it offers the cosmetics industry.

He was speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Asia at the recent in-Cosmetics Asia show in Bangkok.

The San Francisco-based bio-tech start-up has found a way to engineer and develop an animal-free collagen that the company claims is designed specifically for human skin.

“A pig wasn’t designed to make your skin look better, they are just what we have,” ​said Lorestani. “We can use tools that search the tree of life to find the right collagen for anti-aging or moisturising – whatever you want to make.​”

Building and designing collagen

Lorestani explained that collagens are made up of amino acid proteins that “rhyme” with each other. Typically, it is a triplet made up of glycine amino acid followed by two other amino acids that repeats itself.

“The two other amino acids can vary. Depending on the composition of the protein, the way that it works changes,” ​Lorestani elaborated.

“Right now we are restricted to the kind of collagen and amino acids inside fishes and pigs, but if you can find collagen with different amino acid sequences and structures, then you can make different functions.”

According to Lorestani, there are dozens of types of collagen available in bovine, porcine or marine sources. Geltor is able to search these protein sequences that they can design and build functionalities around. “That’s why we call it ‘designer’ [collagen], it’s designed for your skin.”

The protein solution itself is made using a sustainable fermentation process that converts renewable plant-based inputs into a pure, high-performance protein product.

Flexibility and possibility

N-Collage is nothing like you would imagine collagen to be. It is a clear, colourless and odourless liquid that can easily be mistaken for water in both appearance and texture.

With these properties, the ingredient is incredibly flexible and can be used to create a variety of product formats from creams to sheet masks, said Lorestani.

Through in-vitro tests, N-collage was found to boost long-term collagen production by human skin cells.

More interestingly, Geltor found that its product was able to promote recovery from UVB exposure, decreasing the molecular signature of sun damage by 67%.

“We see it as being very differentiating,” ​said Lorestani. “Right now for after sun care… there isn’t an ingredient that can provide such a function and that’s one thing we’re really interested in, providing long-term collagen boosting with added daily benefit.”

A solution to the toughest problem

N-Collage’s most obvious benefit to cosmetic manufacturers and consumers is the fact that it does not involve animal-inputs, which is perfectly aligned with the trends and demands of the market today.

Lorestani believes that with N-Collage, Geltor has solved one of the toughest challenges in the animal-free beauty space.

“In terms of manufacturers and brand owners that were looking to make their products sustainable and animal-free, collagen was really the last parts of product portfolio they needed an animal-free solution for,” ​he said.

“I still think the industry can do a lot better in terms of making products that are sustainable, transparently made, and don’t have cruelty involved in the product. I think we’ve solved the hardest problem in that space.”

Asia and the future of Geltor

With a sizable Muslim population, Asia is definitely an important market for Geltor. 

Conventional collagen derived from pork is not considered Halal, while collagen from bovine sources are only allowed if the animal is slaughtered in a way that is compliant with Islamic law.

Completely animal-free, N-Collage completely by-passes these issues, which has allowed Geltor to obtain a Halal certification for N-Collage.

Looking into the future, Lorestani told Cosmetics Design Asia that he is excited to delve deeper into “the world of collagen” and discover new functionalities it is capable of. “We are excited to share all the functionalities inside the tree of life already.”

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