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It's a Natural



Personal care manufacturers can choose from a wide range of natural ingredients.



Published November 11, 2005
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Natural ingredients can't escape our attention-they are everywhere. Suppliers are in a race to discover the next great natural ingredient. In the coming year, the market will see many new products containing natural oils and herbs from fruits, seeds and the ocean. Organic ingredients are also continually gaining popularity.

The Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), Boulder, CO, reported natural personal care products in natural foods and specialty retail channels was worth $3.8 billion in 2000. This figure was up 10% from the previous year. Natural personal care products represent about 10% of the $37 billion U.S. health and beauty care category and are growing three times faster than the market as a whole, NBJ said.

Other observers are even more bullish on the natural category. Industry expert Daren Duber-Smith, and president of Green Marketing, Nederland, CO, said, "The natural personal care market has been growing at a rate of 20-25% and is predicted to grow 20% each year over the next five years."

Larger companies are starting to take advantage of this niche since consumers are demanding natural, if not organic ingredients. Baby boomers are searching for antioxidants in anti-aging products. Younger generations have grown up with the emerging natural personal care market and expect such products. "Generation X and Y adopt natural products faster than older consumers," Mr. Duber-Smith said.

Green tea and genestine from soy are two ingredients that are getting a lot of attention not only for their antioxidant properties, but also their ability to repair UV damage. Whatever the hottest ingredients for the second half of 2002 will be, industry experts insist consumers are looking for not only recognizable ingredients, but also those that seem like a good fit for personal care. "People are looking for ingredients to solve their problems, not necessarily just because they recognize them," explained Mr. Duber-Smith. "For example, I don't think you will see echinacea or St. John's wort in personal care products."

Organics Take the Lead
Organic ingredients are becoming increasingly popular in personal care products too. The boom in the natural personal care market first began with the term "natural," but since this word can be elusive, consumers have started to feel more secure with the term "organic," which are products that have been certified during harvesting and processing.

"The term 'natural' doesn't necessarily mean anything because it is not regulated," explained Mr. Duber-Smith. "With organics, marketers gain consumer advantage without the green-washing."

Seventy-five percent of Americans said products labeled "natural" should contain at least 90% natural ingredients and 86% believe that "natural" products are safe, according to the National Consumers League (NCL), Washington, D.C. Sixty-five percent of consumers falsely believe that products claiming to be "natural" must include on the label which of the product's ingredients or processes are natural.

"The word 'natural' on packaging means even more than products these days," said Rob Brown, vice president, essential oils and fragrances, Lebermuth Co., South Bend, IN. "In five or six year's time, this will start catching on with the term 'organic.'"

Organic ingredients are seen as a sure fit for natural products since they are basically guaranteed to not only be natural, but also free of pesticides. The Freedonia Group, Cleveland, OH, reported organic product sales grew 567.5% during the past four years. And whether the ingredients are natural or organic, Mr. Duber-Smith insists the public is starting to take notice of what is in the products they use.

"Dusting-not including a lot of natural ingredients in the product even though the label says so-creates mistrust with consumers. And believe me, they catch on," he said.

Some suppliers have noted that organic sources are much harder to manage than other ingredients, but Mr. Brown said that is not true. Organic essential oils are limited, he said, but only in the short-term. If given enough time to harvest, it is possible to build up the stocks to supply organic ingredients to the multinationals. "As long as consumers demand these products and we are willing to pay the producers, the ingredients will be produced," said Mr. Brown.

Many new natural ingredients, such as algae and sea parsely, are derived from oceanic sources.

Measuring Up
Testing the efficacy of natural ingredients can be tricky. Personal care ingredients cannot claim to penetrate the skin unless they are drugs or OTC products. But certain actives in the ingredient have been explored. Nate Cairney, marketing communications director of Atchison, KS-based Midwest Grain Products, Inc., said adaptations of current technologies will help lead the industry to the next generation of natural ingredients. Others noted that with the increased demand of natural ingredients, spectroscopy, ELISA, electrophoresis, HPLC and other physical-chemical methods used to measure actives levels in extracts and finished products have become less expensive and more accessible to smaller manufacturers.

The most unique obstacle for natural ingredient suppliers is turning old wives' tales into hard, scientific facts. "The key will continue to be providing demonstrated, substantiated benefits rather than relying purely on folklore or historical usage," said Ben Blinder, director of marketing, Tri-K Industries, Northvale, NJ.

To take this one step further, several executives are studying cellular information, all the way down to genetic expressions, to determine how an ingredient acts inside the cell. "Many new assays look for the activity rather than measure the level of a particular active ingredient or group of active biochemicals," explained Barbara Brockway, development director, Stony Brook, NY-based The Collaborative Group. "These are often cell-based and can even look at the level of gene expression. Many of these assays are designed to measure very tiny increases in specific biochemicals synthesized or released by individual cultured skin cells in response to natural ingredients."

Other new tests use complex skin models or are carried out in vivo and employ non-invasive techniques to determine the changes in skin. "The more we understand the underlying mechanisms the better we are able to select and develop new natural raw materials," said Ms. Brockway. "There has never been a better time for measuring the activity and understanding the way natural extracts work."

Despite consumer perception, the reality is that not all natural ingredients are safe for the body. But some manufacturers claim they use synthetic sunscreens because ingredients such as PABA cause allergic reactions, Mr. Duber-Smith said. But regardless of the material, natural ingredients should be thoroughly tested. Often natural personal care ingredients, such as green tea, are borrowed from the nutraceuticals industry, but this sometimes presents problems. "Many of these products have been tested on animals in the nutraceutical market," said Mr. Duber-Smith. "This has to shift. They have the same customers who are concerned with health, have a social conscience and are also environmentally and economically responsible."

Biotechnology has also been influenced by a distrust of animal-derived materials, such as bovine ingredients, Ms. Brockway said. Research has compensated for this by creating biomaterials similar to animal-derived materials. For example, hyaluronic acid can now be made using the bacteria Streptococcus zooepidemicus.

Tales of Trends
The skin care segment was previously most impacted by the natural ingredient boom, but this is starting to change. Industry experts said the availability of anhydrous extracts makes the use of botanical extracts in makeup easier. Collaborative Laboratories, for example, offers Silox GT, an anhydrous extract of green tea that retains its powerful antioxidant activity. "Makeup has only recently been considered as a vehicle for 'actives.' We will see the number of 'natural actives' in makeup formulas increase," noted Ms. Brockway.

Others insist that natural ingredients will increasingly appear in skin and hair care items, but only those with a demonstrated purpose, such as anti-aging. "The next advances in the industry will come from raw materials that address the basic performance of the components of skin and hair, such as cell strength, matrix elasticity, barrier resistance to foreign substances and speed of repair from UV damage," said Tri-K's Mr. Blinder.

Tri-K offers TRI-K Protective Milk, an all-natural blend designed to offer protection against daily environmental stresses. The mixture contains ginkgo biloba, bisabolol, dog rose hips seed oil, oat and pansy extracts in addition to water, sodium hyaluronate and glycolipids.

Sabinsa, Piscataway, NJ, launched Ursolic acid, an anti-inflammatory ingredient derived from rosemary that is also an anti-microbial and an antioxidant. "Inflammation is responsible for the aging of the skin," explained Dr. Vladimir Badmaev, vice president of scientific and medical affairs. "Actually, wrinkles can be considered micro scars due to this very slow process. By preventing the natural inflammation of the skin, you can slow down the wrinkling process."
Tetrahydrocurcuminoids, a Sabinsa product derived from tumeric root, is a potent antioxidant that has been de-colorized for topical use and contains polyphenols.

Strawberries contain anthocyanitins, a flavone-like material that improves capillary circulation.

Seeing What the Sea Offers
Vitamins and the other natural antioxidants are also expected to rise in popularity due to their ability to repair damage caused by UV rays and pollution. Many of these ingredients are derived from land-based resources, while others are derived from the sea, a resource that is only just being explored for its potential.

"Extreme environments including those found at the bottom of oceans or within the ice pack are proving to be interesting sources of unusual functional biological material," noted The Collaborative Group's Ms. Brockway.

Phillip Rockley, Stony Brook, NY, an affiliate of The Collaborative Group, offers several marine extracts. Seamollient is a blend of sea plants that gives personal care products improved feel, texture and viscosity control while delivering sustained moisturization. Another sea-derived ingredient, sea parsley, contains elements that soothe inflamed skin. Executives said clinical skin irritation studies have confirmed that the sea parsley extract outperforms commonly used and much more expensive materials. The ingredient is grown under controlled conditions so that the most active varieties are selected and delicate natural ecosystems are not damaged.

Phillip Rockley's blue algae extract for skin care products has been clinically proven to inhibit progressively higher percentages of extracellular matrix degradation. Executives said this makes it an excellent ingredient to promote skin suppleness and reduce inflammation. Ms. Brockway added that unusual polysaccharides are currently being developed through bio-transformation, such as bio-transformed seaweed and oligosaccharides and monosaccharides such as inulin and trehalose.

An Orchard of Possibilities
Two ingredient categories that are poised for significant growth are lighteners and free radical scavengers in skin care products, according to Draco Natural Products executives in San Jose, CA. Many of these materials are derived from well known fruits. "Fruit-based nutraceuticals are ready to make a leap," commented Brien Quirk, technical director, Draco Natural Products. "The market will start to see more anthocyanitins, which are derived from the berry family and have great benefits for capillary microcirculation to bring about that healthy glow to skin."

Anthocyanitins are found in cranberries, cherries, strawberries and blueberries. Flavones, which are closely related to anthocyanitins, are currently used in skin care products. Draco Natural Products also offers Vital seabuckthorn berry extract, 8% flavonoids. This skin care ingredient can be used in anti-aging products. "Seabuckthorn is just emerging in the cosmetic industry," Mr. Quirk said. "It is a great emollient and antioxidant with high levels of vitamins C and A."

Collaborative Labs offers Micromerol, an apple extract that reduces inflammation of the skin by inhibiting elastase released during inflammation. Elastase inhibition also helps reduce the effects of aging, executives said.

Arista Industries, Wilton, CT, introduced several extracts that are fruit-based, such as raspberry oil. Soon, the company will offer more. "The next food-based ingredients to make an impact on the natural ingredients market will be fruit oils," insisted Mary Ann Siciliano, national sales manager. "Cranberry and raspberry oils are new products that Arista has just started to offer in the last few months and blackberry, elderberry and strawberry oils will be available in the near future."

A Fruit Cocktail
Fruit is not only showing potential in the natural skin care market, but also in the natural essential oils marketplace. In the past few years, the ever-popular essential oils market hasn't showed any signs of slowing down. "The market has grown three or four times its size in the past few years," insisted Lebermuth's Mr. Brown. "For instance, five years ago, we sold 100-200 pounds of organic peppermint oil. Last year we sold 5,500 pounds. Even large companies that would not consider organic ingredients before are doing so now."

Mr. Brown said more personal care companies are developing natural products, and many of them are using essential oils even if the products are not aromatherapeutic. Lebermuth specializes in fragrance blends, including organic essential oils and synthetics. Perfumers primarily source their fragrance ideas from hot consumer food items, he said. During the past few years, Mr. Brown has watched certain trends emerge in the fragrance business.

"Two or three years ago, exotic fruits were in," Mr. Brown observed. "For the past year and a half, anything related to lemon verbena was very popular, even in combination with other herbs. Now we are selling fruit and spice combinations, especially citrus and ginger or basil. We sold 20-30 different ginger concepts in the past few months alone."

Eat Your Brussels Sprouts!
Mom always said to eat your vegetables, but what Mom didn't know is that a compound found in green leafy vegetables, carotenoid, has topical applications for the skin too. FloraGLO Lutein, a natural antioxidant and carotenoid available from Des Moines-based Kemin Personal Care, absorbs blue light in both UVA and UVB rays and has mitigating effects on UV damage, according to executives. Lutein already has high awareness in the nutraceutical market.

"Lutein has a high awareness in vitamins-44% of Americans-and this will help propel lutein as the next natural ingredient," insisted Karen Nelson, vice president and general manager, Kemin Personal Care. "It is a great ingredient in both its efficacy and market awareness."

FloraGLO Lutein is extracted from marigolds in northern Thailand. To test the compound's efficacy, Kemin executives use indicators of photo damage. "Typical UV damage causes swelling and we measure these effects," said Ms. Nelson.

Other measurements involve enzymes that fight UV damage such as catalase and superoxide dismutase, which can be replaced by lutein to scavenge free radicals. Lipid peroxidization is another indicator of photo damage.

Hello Aloe
Active-Aloe, manufactured by Aloecorp, Broomfield, CO, is used in the skin care market as well as the nutraceuticals market. The ingredient can be used in moisturizing and anti-inflammatory products and cosmetics, skin care, shaving creams, hair care, oral care, deodorants, sun care products and many other personal care applications. In functional foods, aloe can be used to treat inflammation, gastrointestinal disorders and boost the immune system. Aloecorp executives insist aloe is one of the most market-resilient ingredients due to its popularity with consumers.

"Aloe has been around for so long in the U.S., since the early 1970s," said Jeff Barrie, sales manager, Aloecorp. "Since then, many ingredients have come and gone, but aloe has always been there. Aloe is the most asked-for ingredient in the skin care market."

Active-Aloe is biologically active and offers 10% by weight polysaccharides. The aloe is highly active due to a complex scientific process. Aloecorp uses the time, temperature and sanitation (TTS) process that insists biologically-active components work synergistically to perform basic biological activities and a set of procedures that control time, temperature and sanitation are necessary to preserve these actives.

"If you have an orchestra, the music is good," Mr. Barrie explained. "But if you add a maestro, the music is much fuller. Aloe has some 200 components-aloe is the orchestra and the polysaccharides are the maestro."

To test polysaccharide amounts, Aloecorp also uses a proton NMR, HPLC and size exclusion chromotography.

Seeds for Skin Care
Natural ingredients are becoming increasingly functional, such as lutein to fight sun damage and berries to promote capillary action. Oils derived from seeds are also joining the club. Technology has contributed to their development with the addition of cold water-dispersion processing.

"Healthy seed oils, such as grapeseed oil, olive oil and cocoa butter, can be made cold water-dispersible," explained The Collaborative Group's Ms. Brockway. "This opens the gate to completely new types of formulas and formulation techniques."

Collaborative Labs offers grapeseed oil. Executives said the ingredient was designed to enhance the skin's resistance to oxidative damage using grapes' potent antioxidants.

Tucson, AZ-based Desert Whale Jojoba has several jojoba oil-based products featuring diunsaturated and oxidation-resistant esters with a dry and luxurious feel. Desert Whale also offers pistachio seed oil, a moisturizing compound containing the essential fatty acid linoleic acid.

Executives at Presperse, Piscataway, NJ, said olive oil is a valuable personal care ingredient. "Olive oils are the next food-based ingredient to make an impact on the natural ingredients market," said a Presperse spokesperson.

Presperse offers Olivem 1000, an olive oil-based product for skin creams, lotions and hair conditioners. The ingredient is said to be a functional lipid and emulsifier that moisturizes and increases skin hydration.

Charkit Chemical Corp., Darien, CT, offers Hempseed Oil Refined, an oil loaded with omega 6 fatty acids which has a soothing effect on the skin and reduces scaling and cracking.

Executives said hempseed oil helps repair the skin's moisture barrier, replenishes the scalp, enhances spreadability of sunscreens, modifies the greasy feel of some styling aids, can serve as a shaving lubricator and counteracts the drying effects of bromo acid dye solvents found in lipsticks. The main component of hempseed oil is linoleic acid and its metabolite gamma-linolenic acid, which have been clinically proven to improve problems such as neurodermatitis, dry skin, atopic eczema and psoriasis. Executives said hempseed oil can also be used to prevent and alleviate acne breakouts.

Charkit's hempseed oil is winterized, clear and bright with virtually no flavor or odor and no traces of THC. It is offered in several varieties including virgin, refined, water-dispersible, cationic and gel technologies.

Charkit also distributes Nurture oat oil, a rich antioxidant that imparts stability and biological activity. Several studies have revealed that Nurture oat oil inhibits lipid peroxidation, treats winter xerosis and protects catalase against degradation by UVA rays. Nurture oat protein, also available from Charkit, offers many benefits. "Oat beta-glucan and oat proteins are among the most exciting new ingredients, along with hempseed and meadowfoam seed oils," said Dan O'Neill, sales, Charkit Chemical.

Nurture oat protein has a volumizing effect in hair care formulations, increases foam volume, enhances hair resiliency and emulsion stability. Nurture oat beta-glucan, on the other hand, increases photoprotection, reduces perceived stinging of alpha hydroxy acid formulations and stimulates collagen growth, according to skin care studies.

Syrup is for More than Pancakes
Several new natural syrups are now available from industry suppliers. They often have different actives than extracts and oils. "New modified starches hydrolyzed biotransformed syrups are now available to formulators with their own unique properties will make an impact on the industry in the near future," said The Collaborative Group's Ms. Brockway.

Natural oils, such as olive oil, contain skin moisturizers.
What's on the Horizon?
Whatever the next natural personal care ingredients will be, there's no doubt suppliers have to work harder to find proven benefits, and more applications for well-known ingredients to maximize profits. "Multifunctional natural ingredients that combine attributes of multiple segments are the next natural ingredients that will become popular," said Midwest Grain Processing's Mr. Cairney.

The dominant trend in the market is for organic ingredients. However lengthy the growing process for these ingredients, they will increasingly be introduced by suppliers, who have been quick to pick up on this trend.


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