Words by Terri Vinson: BSc.DipFormChem.DipEd ASCC
Founder and Formulator of Synergie Skin – www.synergieskin.com
Sustainability in business allows for the needs of the consumer to be met without jeopardising the balance of our delicate eco-systems. This environmental awareness must extend into our beauty industry, and skincare manufacturers need unite in our commitment to minimise the impact we leave on our environment and its natural resources.
It’s not just about using recyclable packaging; it’s about understanding the ingredients inside the bottle and their effect on our eco-systems. There are currently major concerns with the effect of microbeads in our waterways, the impact of chemical sunscreens on our coral reefs and the careless pillaging of our environment for ‘natural’ but often non-sustainable ingredients.
Microbeads may be microscopic, but they are causing a stir in the beauty industry by creating serious problems for our aquatic environment. These tiny plastic beads serve no benefit to the skin and are used as cheap alternatives to effective mineral and plant-based exfoliants.
Many consumers may not even be aware that the products they are using contain microbeads. Most commonly they are added to facial cleansers, scrubs, body washes and even wrinkle-filling facial creams.
Environmentalists and scientists have discovered large quantities of microbeads in Australian waterways that are causing long-term damage to marine life. The beads enter our waters via sewerage systems and are non-biodegradable.
Every day, billions of these plastic particles are being flushed down our drains and into our lakes, rivers and oceans. Microbeads act like sponges and are capable of absorbing toxic by-products from our waters. If eaten by our marine life these toxins can make their way up the food chain, back to you and me as consumers.
Numerous countries across the world including the USA, Europe, Canada, Sweden and now Australia are in the process of banning polyethylene microbeads in personal care products. Leading Australian supermarket chains have pledged to withdraw products containing microbeads from their shelves by the end of 2017.
There are many alternative naturally derived materials that can be used for exfoliation such as walnut husks, coffee grinds, sugar and salt, and premium aluminium oxide crystals.
Advances in biotechnology:
There is often a push for using 100 percent natural ingredients in skincare. I believe in combining the very best of laboratory-made ingredients with natural ingredients whilst avoiding questionable additives.
An example of this is the use of a complex sugar naturally produced by a bacteria living on the surface of seaweed found exclusively off the coast of France. Rather than directly harvesting the seaweed and compromising the delicate ecosystem in this region, scientists are able to take the bacteria from the seaweed back to the laboratory and create bacterial clones that are bio-identical to what is found in nature.
This ingredient is able to improve regeneration of healthy skin and address premature ageing whilst at the same time being 100 percent sustainable and having no impact on the environment. Furthermore, this ingredient is 100 percent pure as it is laboratory manufactured and does not need to be purified as is the case when ingredients are taken from a natural environment. The use of this biotechnology has positive and far-reaching consequences for formulating many skincare products of the future… what this space!
There is no doubt that sustainability is at the forefront of all aspects of business and manufacturing, and as formulators we must also be aware of sustainability and harness our knowledge to create ethical and sustainable products that do not have a negative impact on our delicate eco-systems.