Shields welcomed Frank Voelkl, principal perfumer, Firmenich and CEW Chairwoman Jill Scalamandre, president, bareMinerals and Buxom, to discuss sustainability and ethics in ingredient sources and development.
Scalamandre asked Voelkl to address the sustainability question as it relates to consumers today. Voelkl said the subject of sustainability is huge, adding that in recent years Firmenich created an approach to “Create for Good,” which seeks to combine the best of nature and science, to be clean, and eco-friendly. It is based on three pillars, climate change, preserving nature, and caring about people.
“The whole sustainability issue is definitely a huge buzzword and something close to our heart at Firmenich. Carbon impact, responsible sourcing, biodegradability and transparency are key. Consumers want to know how ingredients are sourced, where they are harvested and who made them. It’s all about transparency. All of these details which people didn’t pay attention to many years ago are now extremely important,” said Voelkl.
All farmers who work with Firmenich abide by strict rules of conduct and all the products they farm must be traceable, harvested and produced in such a way that they have a positive impact on the social fabric, according to Voelkl.
Firmenich’s program, Naturals Together, was created in 2014 by Dominique Roques. He chose farmers who were on board with the company’s idea of sustainability and created a platform with 28 partners in every continent, with very high standards, who were willing to work in the same ethical and sustainable way together, according to the firm.
“Environmentally friendly and really beautiful, we work with them as a group, having meetings with all the global partners, during which we can share experiences,” explained Voelkl.
For example, in Morocco, Firmenich works with the orange flower pickers, and empower the women there locally. The company created a school in Madagascar, as well as a partnership in India, with jasmine farmers.
“Every farmer drops off their jasmine flowers, and it is a very beautiful system. I was able to experience it myself on a trip to India several years ago,” said Voelkl.
He also had the opportunity to go to Guatemala and work with the producers of cardamom.
“Basically, cardamom for the families in Guatemala, is the currency that their families live on,” explained Voelkl. “We had a town hall meeting in the middle of nowhere with the growers, and we know that every time we use cardamom from Guatemala, we have a direct impact on their lives.”
Relationships with suppliers and the people who till the land remains an important part of the collaboration.
Although natural and nature-derived ingredients account for the bulk of Firmenich’s offerings, the company also works biotechnology. In June, Firmenich launched Feel Good, a new technology to extract biomass. The company started working on the concept a couple of years ago in the south of France. Today, there are three ingredients based on Feed Good—a pear, ginger and a bell pepper.
“We’re able to go to the farmers market and can take the essence of the pear, ginger or bell pepper and extract it without the use of any solvent or high heat,” explained Voelkl. “We basically extract the water within the biomass and extract the odorant component out of the water. There is not a lot of alteration when you do this. It’s very low energy consumption, organic, and it’s highly sustainable because you don’t need a lot of biomass to get the product.”
Scalamandre asked if the consumer can tell the difference between the natural material and the Feel Good product.
“It’s like holding the fresh pear, ginger or bell pepper in your hand. That’s how real to nature it is. People don’t always realize that when you smell a rose extract it doesn’t smell like the rose itself, but this is the essence of the fresh pear or ginger,” said Voelkl.
“It sounds like you’re getting kinder and closer to nature and I’m excited for the future,” concluded Scalamandre.
According to Nielsen IQ, 43% of customers are willing to pay more for products with recyclable packaging.
The Future of Skin Care
During the CEW event, dermatologists, Dr. Corey L. Hartman, Dr. Josh Zeichner, and Hee Jeong Son, innovation team leader, Presperse, addressed the future of skin care in a panel discussion moderated by Andrea Nagel, VP-content, CEW. As lockdown restrictions have lifted, more consumers are seeking skin care treatments and services. While at-home and DIY treatments soared during COVID, consumers are returning to clinics, dermatologists offices and the like for in-person treatments.
“In terms of procedures post-COVID, I’ve never been busier,” said Zeichner. “People want to look and feel their best.
Zeichner noted more patients are interested in injectables, fillers and resurfacing lasers to address redness and brown spots.
Hartman said patients haven’t stopped coming in since his office reopened in May of 2020. When masks were in full force, the upper face was the area of treatment. But now that the lower face is revealed again, he is noticing an interest in tightening the skin on the jaw line. To accomplish that Hartman is using a lot of radiofrequency micro-needling, and injectable treatments to tighten the skin on the jawline, as well as injectable fillers to help shape the lower face, jawline, chin and the profile.
“Those are the top treatments that patients can’t get enough of,” he added.
Hartman noted that virtual interactions were commonplace throughout COVID, which brought about a new sensibility and awareness.
“The Zoom boom was definitely a thing because it forced us to interact with ourselves and watch ourselves and our expressions and it gave us a different perspective about how we felt about those things,” he explained.
Zeichner addressed the spike in at-home skin care, particularly in the area of devices, with at-home devices growing in popularity. He noted that there are some great devices on the market, but they don’t take the place of what dermatologists offer in terms of professional services.
“But, they are a great maintenance or bridge for patients who come in,” he added.
Within skin care, facial exfoliators were the top gaining sub-segment in 2020, and panelists addressed their usage, particularly during the pandemic.
“Exfoliation is one of the bedrocks of good skin care regimens,” said Hartman, “and people who were at-home had a chance to educate themselves about exfoliation with mechanical and product exfoliation.”
But Zeichner offered some words of caution.
“We’re living in a society of over-exfoliators,” he said, noting that while many patients turned to in-home products and devices, they may have been over-exfoliating and irritating the skin.
Jeong Son of Presperse, agreed, and recommended products to exfoliate twice a week and not to break the surface barrier, which leads to irritation.
“We offer encapsulation and natural silicas, which offer the benefits of gentle exfoliation,” he said.
Demand for serums is on the rise, too. Category sales have 77% since 2018. Zeichner said serums are important, but thye are also misunderstood.
“They are simply a skin care product that delivers a high concentration of ingredients to the skin. They can hydrate, tighten, brighten, and exfoliate. The key is to look at the targeting of the ingredients that are specific to your need,” said Zeichner.
Jeong Son told attendees that for hydrating, the number one item is hyaluronic acid. Presperse offers four different molecules from film-forming to building collagen and hydrating. Jeong Son added that Presperse is developing an ingredient acid that holds five times more molecular weight than hyaluronic acid, as part of their advances in hydration.
Other topics of interest for the panel included the effects of blue light and LED bulbs on the skin; the use of tinted sunscreens with iron oxide pigments in sun care products to minimize the penetration of blue light getting into the skin; and the use of vitamin C serums and stabilized retinol. Iron oxide pigments that give the sunscreen their tint will help to minimize penetration. The vitamin C ingredients and antioxidants come in to minimize the damage.
Innovations include increased stability in ingredients.
“Ingredients like retinol and vitamin C are highly unstable and the latest generation of products are giving us stabilized forms of these ingredients that can be combined with other actives,” said Zeichner.
Hartman added that retinol is one of the most important in skin care, but it can be irritating. Some of the newer products have stabilized the ingredient and allowed patients to use it without irritation.
Trends across categories included the use of ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, and niacinamide in skin care; as well as ingredient solutions to combat acne. Sales of facial skin care appliances were up 32.6% in the past year, according to NielsenIQ; and the DIY hair trend saw the biggest growth in hair color remover. On the flip side, sales of hair color remover grew 28.5% this year, according to NielsenIQ.
In the area of sustainability, 43% of consumers are willing to pay more for recyclable packaging, according to NielsenIQ; fragrance sales were up 6.3% this year, Nielsen; and the ingestible trend continued with searches for supplements and vitamins seeing huge growth with collagen, apple cider vinegar, and zinc trending as top ingredients. Sustainability also had a big impact in the Bath and Body category, with searches for eco-friendly body products up 74%, compared to last year, according to Spate.