The growing public concern surrounding the environmental consequences of microbeads has led to significant changes in the cosmetics industry.
Several countries have imposed bans or restrictions on microbeads, driving cosmetic companies to innovate and embrace more sustainable materials.
While the ongoing efforts to eliminate microbeads have been commendable, there is still much to be done to eliminate the use of microplastics.
“There’s an endeavour to phase out microplastics or any sort of synthetic skin abrasives. Exfoliation is quite self-explanatory but besides that, there’s a large field of invisible microplastics. We’re talking about very finely ground microplastics and even liquid polymers that are added to cosmetics in order to change the viscosity, the rheology or add properties like waterproofing,” said Kathrin Schilling, managing director of BioPowder.
BioPowder produces powders made from nut shells and the pits of stone fruits. The company started in 2017 with olive stone powder.
It has since expanded to others including argan shell and avocado stone powder. All its products are produced in its facility in Spain.
“We have transformed a wide range of raw materials as cosmetics is a very fashion-drive industry that’s subjected to trends,” said Schilling.
“We are able to mill and sieve and micronise them to produce particles in a wide range of different grain sizes. These grain sizes all have different textures. They give the end user different sensory experiences and that makes them suitable for a wide range of applications.”
The lion’s share of revenue comes from skin care exfoliants, however, Schilling sees a huge opportunity to replace more microplastics in beauty.
“I would say, over 80% of the world's cosmetic brands or manufacturers still work with some sort of polymer,” said Schilling.
The company has developed bio-sourced powders that can be used in various products, including colour cosmetics.
“We have, for instance, argan shell powder. It’s a very effective base for makeup products. It is very compatible with pigments and depending on how fine the particles are, it can really modify the sensory experiences of lipsticks. A high degree of hydrophobicity is inherent to these powders because they still have some residual oil content.”
Targeting Asia’s natural beauty market
The company is now targeting the Asian beauty market, where demand for natural cosmetics are growing fast, said Schilling.
“Compared to Europe, the natural and organics market in Asia is experiencing much higher growth rates. We’re talking two-digit annual growth rates in most Asian countries, especially countries like Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore. The market has become very open to fully plant-based alternatives.”
Shilling highlighted that the company’s opportunities in Asia lie beyond exfoliants. “Not just in exfoliants but with texturisers and rheology modifiers. Asia is very, very, very, centred on aesthetics when it comes to cosmetics.”
She added that there was massive potential in Asia’s colour cosmetics market.
“There are a large number of natural cosmetic startups in Asia, I think it’s much higher in Europe or North America. This is great because this means people are experimenting with formulations, creating new textures and catering to identities that have not been previously noticed in the industry. Asia is such a diverse continent and our powders do very well with natural pigments and low doses of pigment.”