“With food-grade pigments, we have a way to reassure them that pigments are healthy and that's why they are more important in China compared to other countries,” said Virginie Boulier, marketing and application manager of Sensient.
Making colour safe
Sensient believes the colour cosmetics category will continue accelerating as Chinese consumers become more interested in make-up.
“I was told only 40% of women in China wear make-up to work. That means there are still 60% of women who are not, so there’s a big opportunity to grow in the make-up category,” said Boulier.
Those who do not wear make-up hesitate because of safety concerns.
“It is very important in China to have safe products. Chinese women were not wearing make-up because they thought it was unsafe and that pigments can damage the skin,” said Boulier.
“If ingredients are accepted in the food industry, consumers will think it’s safer and healthier to apply lipstick for example, because women eat a lot of lipstick in a year.”
Boulier explained that using food-grade ingredients could be more difficult in China compared to Europe.
“In China, it is more complicated because they need a special certificate and only suppliers who sell both food-grade and cosmetic-grade ingredient, like Sensient, can give this certificate. That’s one of our strengths.”
She added that Sensient had the technology to conduct tests for both food and cosmetic products.
During Personal Care and Homecare ingredients 2019 (PCHi 2019) held in Guangzhou, Sensient showcased its range of food-grade pigments, including Unipure LC.
“They are the best because they are an excellent batch to batch consistency and because they are micronised, which means they go through a special process which makes their particle size very small,” said Boulier.
She added: “The fact that they are micronised make it easier for formulators to introduce the pigment into the formulation.”
Using food tech knowledge
Boulier said the company was able to develop high-performing food-grade pigments thanks to its expertise in the food industry.
“In fact, the food industry is more advanced than cosmetics in the replacement of colours from synthetic to natural. There is a lot of innovation coming from the food industry that we can deploy into cosmetics.”
She added that because the company sees the trend for food-grade ingredients rising, its Asian Excellence Centre was focused on “deploying food innovation to cosmetics”.
It continues to develop its food-grade pigments at its Global Innovation Centre in Singapore, which consists of different business units, including food and cosmetics.
“This way we can exchange knowledge easily and do transfers of technology. Singapore is the only place in the world we do that,” said Boulier.
The future is natural
Moving forward, the company’s strategy is to focus more on natural ingredients, said Boulier.
“The strategy is to work on natural products and in colours, we will focus on made from vegetables and fruits.”
She added that the focus for colours would be on lipsticks, which are popular in China, followed by foundation and eye make-up.
Besides colour, Sensient is also developing natural texturising agents.
Boulier said one of its most successful formulations was a bi-phase make-up remover that uses natural oils.
“What makes it unique is that when you shake it, it stays clear. Before, when you have a formulation like that it will not be clear. This is because of the particle size and the structure of the product. Here what we have is micro-emulsion. We also adjusted the refractive index so that it is completely transparent.”