From employing renewable energy to banning microbeads and using recyclable packaging, more firms are recognizing the importance and necessity of eco-conscious alternatives. This is a natural – yet surprising – turn of events, considering that the beauty industry hasn’t exactly had a clean record when it comes to crimes against the environment. Nevertheless, it seems like new hopes are arising and it’s all thanks to the new emerging biotechnology.
The Beauty Industry & Sustainability
To understand the size of the beauty industry’s impact on the environment, it’s worth mentioning that it’s considered one of the top major polluters of single-use plastics on the planet. This is no secret as the beauty industry has long been condemned for its role in harming and degrading the environment. Not only is it considered the greatest user and polluter of single-use plastic, but it also disposes of the majority of its waste in landfills.
Most product packaging takes hundreds of years to degrade, leaving it in landfills, polluting our seas, and endangering the health of plants, animals, and humans. It’s also worth mentioning that the product formulation processes itself is contaminating in its nature.
The main challenge with a new drive towards clean and more sustainable beauty won’t be customer demand it will be figuring out how to acquire, manufacture, and distribute clean products. On the other hand, customer demand won’t necessarily be a problem as many large companies’ sustainable approaches are only a response to consumer demands for options that are most eco-friendly.
Biotech: A Different Approach for The Beauty Industry
The increased sense of responsibility towards the environment along with the significant biochemistry and biotech advancements that are currently happening within the field present us with an opportunity to produce new green solutions and let them into our cosmetics cabinet.
The genuine dedication to environmental causes doesn’t mean that people are ready to drop their beauty products. However, it does mean that there’s been an explosion of various beauty micro-trends, including blue beauty, waterless beauty, refillable beauty, biodegradable beauty (also known as zero-waste beauty), and more, all falling under the banner of sustainability, with biotech beauty being the most recent to take the main stage.
At the moment, biotech businesses are actively searching for innovative formulations everything from hyaluronic acid to collagen, as more customers seek potent but safe goods and ecologically responsible beauty and wellness solutions.
What is Biotech Beauty?
Biotechnology is essentially lab-based technology that is used to replicate endangered elements, in order to better people’s lives — or, in this case, beauty and skin products — or to help address a long-standing problem.
The word ‘Biotech beauty’ itself can be used as a word to describe lab-made compounds that either blend natural materials with synthetic chemicals or develop synthetic replacements to use instead of seeking these natural elements altogether. It is a perfect merging of technology and nature. This merging of natural components with lab-made elements creates synthetic alternatives to our planet’s depleting natural resources
The Science Behind Biotech Beauty
Biotechnology has had a significant influence on the cosmetics industry. It’s now being used by cosmetic firms all to find, develop, and create cosmetic formula components.
Biotech Beauty is a technology that employs microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, and algae) to generate high-tech skincare actives sustainably for effective results. These bacteria serve as ‘micro-factories,’ allowing cells to proliferate and reproduce by fermenting them.
The components that come out of this process are a mix of microorganisms (bio) and microbe-engineered DNA (tech) as a result of this manufacturing process, hence the word biotech.
The Word ‘Natural’ is Earning a Different Reputation
The way we think about skincare and cosmetics, categorizing them, and judging whether they’re natural or not is definitely evolving.
When the term “natural” was placed on a product in the not-too-distant past, it was enough to affect a consumer’s choice to buy it. A new generation of ecologically conscious beauty customers, on the other hand, is looking for a more radical level of transparency.
Being eco-cautious is no longer simply committing to buying only natural substances, whose supply is continually reducing. Consumers are now putting a little extra effort into making sure that these different supplements are gathered in a responsible manner and that the whole process of creating this product, from A to Z, has little or no negative environmental impact.
Real, Clean Beauty Products
In reality, the very idea of creating a fully ‘clean’ product using traditional manufacturing processes seems like a distant dream. There’s no doubt that it would be exceptionally difficult to confidently call a product ‘clean’ as this term necessitates insight throughout the whole development process to ensure that every ingredient is safe and obtained responsibly.
Biotech Beauty emerged as a solution that might hold the key to solving this dilemma. Here are some reasons explaining how biotech can shape the beauty industry:
Biotech Beauty Developments Equal Better Quality Control
It’s easy to understand the concept of how biotech beauty can make the results more effective and controlled than ever, being a fully monitored process, with vigorous testing, and with the creators having full control of the outcome.
It is possible to avoid impurities. The potency of the ingredients is consistent and standardized so that in every batch, you are sure that you have established consistency. When it comes to ingredients that are farmed, mined, or fished, this isn’t always the case.
Simply put, when genetically engineered microbes synthesize active ingredients in the comfort of a monitored lab, this allows the ingredients to be produced with higher reliability, better quality control, and less room for error.
To put it another way, because these components are cultivated in a controlled environment, formulators are able to manage their growth and development more efficiently, reducing the risk of contaminants and abnormalities. When components come from farms, mines, or fisheries, however, it becomes considerably more difficult for companies to control their supply chains and account for the quality control at each step.
A More Ethical Approach than Exploiting the Earth
While natural plant-based active substances are often promoted as being safer and more ecologically friendly, they aren’t necessarily as “green” as they promise to be.
Many of these plan-based and cruelty-free products are, in fact, taking a substantial amount of valuable cropland, water, and energy to manufacture. This means that consumers might be leaving a significantly larger carbon footprint than they are led to believe.
This is because the very process of producing plant-based products necessarily involves significantly more land, water, sun, energy, and labor. After all, it’s a process revolving around depleting the earth’s resources. It’s also important to consider which portion of the plant was taken. The crop doesn’t have to be sacrificed if you’re using leaves, flowers, or fruits. However, if you use seeds, bark, or resins, the plant’s life cycle comes to an end.
Biotech Can Allow Supply Chains to be Fully Transparent
In the beauty industry, where terms like “natural,” “organic,” and “vegan” don’t have legally enforceable definitions, transparency and traceability are issues. However, while transparency between the customer and the company is incredibly important, supply chain transparency is also key to sustainability. Companies must be aware of what is going on upstream in the supply chain and convey this information both internally and externally to have supply chain transparency. Part of this process sharing data and information on the impact of their products, services, and businesses.
Biosynthetically grown ingredients are the most direct and efficient way of obtaining raw materials, as they avoid some of the negative consequences of farming, fishing, and extraction. However, another hidden blessing is that it avoids the use of intermediaries, as well. This can ultimately decrease the cost and carbon footprint of long, global supply chains.
Biotech Beauty Might Solve The Palm Oil Crisis
Palm oil, the world’s most extensively used oil, may be found in a wide range of consumer goods. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the actual expense of this substance, despite its popularity. The major source of criticism for palm oil is the widespread clearance of tropical rainforests, resulting in the extinction of innumerable species’ living habitats, all for the goal of expanding palm oil farms to meet growing global demand.
Biotechnological techniques may potentially be a viable alternative. Many biotechnology firms are now striving to provide a sustainable alternative to palm oil. Food waste and industrial by-products are converted into a product that is chemically extremely comparable to natural palm oil using genetically engineered microbes.
Biotech Beauty is Already Making a Difference
Squalene is an organic substance derived mostly from shark liver oil and a common active component in cosmetics. More brands are turning to its 100% plant-based, shelf-stable alternative, which was developed through biotechnology. This sugarcane-derived squalene is not only a more ethical alternative to shark-derived squalene, but it is also chemically superior, yielding even better outcomes.
The difference can be seen when comparing the two versions and examining them in different vials. Because the animal version is hazy and low-quality, it’s more likely to oxidize on the skin. Squalene derived from biotechnology, on the other hand, is entirely transparent and weightless. It also has the added benefit of being able to produce enormous quantities without leaving a single negative mark on the planet.
As seen above, Biotech Beauty is a new wave of ingenuity when it comes to the beauty industry and with all of its innovations, we will be able to become more sustainable, transparent, and quality-focused.
Dr Martin receives his MD from University of Iowa. His expertise includes microbiology, anatomy and clinical psychology. He also dedicates himself to continuous learning in different fields.