Biotechnologies: the future of natural cosmetics?

Sonia Haulet

In a beauty market where the demand for natural formulas has grown significantly, sustainable sourcing and environmental preservation have become key issues. What if reproducing nature's resources in a laboratory was the solution to guarantee the sustainability of the planet's resources?

The need to adapt

The players in the industry, whether brands or ingredient and formula manufacturers, have had to adapt to this growing demand: they must communicate transparently on the naturalness of their products and inform saavy consumers. But they must also adopt a sustainability approach to counter the risk of weakening an ecosystem that could be overexploited. How can this be done?

For the last fifteen years, biotechnology has been at the service of the cosmetics industry, and provides a new green solution to sustainability issues. We even talk about Biotech Beauty.

Combining science and technology with living organisms

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), biotechnology is "the application of science and technology to living organisms, as well as to their components, products and models, to modify living or non-living materials for the production of knowledge, goods and services.

In a simple way, it is the extraction in the laboratory of plant cells (green biotech), of microorganisms such as yeast, bacteria and fungi (white biotech) or of algae and microalgae (blue biotech), which are then replicated using various technologies. The active components are synthesized, but also made more effective than in their original state. This leads to more effective raw materials, which also have the advantage of being traceable, safe and sustainable.

One milligram for 10 tons of product

The experience with the algae jania rubens, shared by Codif, is particularly significant: after 10 years of industrial breeding of this algae, the production made from a single fragment of a dry milligram of the algae, was of a dry ton of material. In other words, a multiplication factor of 1 billion!
" The result after 10 years, as well as the Jania culture, is the best example of Codif CSR approach. We harvested the strain, purified it and didn't touch nature again. This is important. We leave this seaweed alone in its natural environment with all that surrounds it, the small organisms and the other seaweeds. " Romuald Vallee, director of Codif.

A reservoir of alternatives and innovations for cosmetics

In addition to replicating in laboratory materials existing in nature, biotechs allow the development of new cosmetic ingredients and actives: nature offers a fantastic potential. After more than 20 years of existence, Greentech has unearthed more than 300,000 bioactive molecules.

Thanks to biotech, we can find alternatives to petrochemical ingredients, or to controversial raw materials such as animal-based materials. It was at the time of the mad cow crisis that Greentech realized "that there was enormous potential with the two raw materials that are plants and bacteria". Jean-Yves Berthon, CEO of Greentech.

The cosmetic of the future?

Better quality control, a more ethical approach to earth's resources, greater transparency in the supply chain and reduced environmental impact: biotechs are an essential way to anchor cosmetics in a sustainable dynamic.

Their multiple advantages have convinced cosmetic brands, which are using more and more biotech ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, kojic acid, resveratrol, or squalane.

Is Biotech Beauty the "New Natural Beauty", as some experts say?
Or will it more broadly shape the cosmetics of the future?
Clearly, it is emerging as an unavoidable choice, whether in alternative solutions on the natural cosmetics market or on the innovation market.

We'll release a full report dedicated to Biotech in spring 2023. Stay tuned!