The Formulation Summit 2021 returned to examine industry trends in an age of sustainability and well-being

audience sitting in an auditorium setting

Marking the in-cosmetics Group’s first physical event to take place in Europe in over two years, the in-cosmetics Formulation Summit returned to London from 29-30 November to examine how R&D professionals and formulators can advance in the age of sustainability and well-being. With a host of leading international experts speaking, delegates from the likes of Unilever, TerraCycle, Solent Group, Rodial, Rahn, SOLFARCOS, Oriflame Cosmetics and more gained unparalleled insights into current and future trends, with a focus on ‘COVID Cosmetics’ and ‘Sustainability and Neurocosmetics’.

Delivering the opening remarks and moderating the two-day conference, Dr. Barbara Olioso, Founder, The Green Chemistry Consultancy kicked off the 2021 proceedings by calling on attendees to revisit the themes that had dominated in the past 12 months. Here, self-care proved to be the biggest trend noted among delegates, with anti-viral, holistic beauty, microbiome, sanitiser, wellness and adaptability also emerging as notable topics of interest.

DAY 1: COVID Cosmetics: how the pandemic altered the beauty and personal care space

Shining a light on how the pandemic has impacted the personal care and cosmetic industries, speakers on day one reflected on how the industry – and consumers – have responded to the challenges of the past 18 months.

First to address the challenges of ‘formulating in an age of uncertainty and wellbeing’, Mary Lord, former president of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists (SCS) spoke about the widespread disruption and pressure the pandemic had put on all corners of the industry.

Ahead of her session at the Summit, Mary interviewed four industry leaders, including Emma Hagemo, Vice President R&D, Oriflame; Sam Farmer, Owner, Samuel Farmer & Co Ltd; Sean Monaghan, Operations Director, The Handmade Soap Company; and Heidi Bannister, Founder and MD at Arthur Edward Global Cosmetic Recruitment, to get their views on ‘the good, the bad and the future’.

Among the good, the respondents noted a transition in traditional R&D methods, a strategic shift in digitalisation and a greater understanding of cosmetic claims and formulations among consumers.  The interviewees also reflected on the most notable challenge: widespread supply chain disruption. Looking ahead to future opportunities, respondents anticipated a higher and deeper level of transparency along with a greater focus on digital marketing and business process automation.

Following Mary’s session, Samantha Dover, Global Beauty & Personal Care Analyst, Mintel discussed how shifts in consumer behaviours are expected to be habit-forming. Samantha provided a deep dive into post-pandemic beauty and grooming trends across Europe. For example, in Germany, 30% of adults intended to actively look after their mental health, while 29% of Brits planned to limit non-essential spending. In Spain, 66% of make-up users cited skincare as a top consideration when making a purchasing decision.

Samantha also revealed how emerging trends are increasingly blurring category lines, illustrated by Rose Inc’s use of proprietary bioengineered botanicals; and Nue Co’s use of patented olfactory technology that stimulates the neural pathways to boost a consumer’s mental state. In summary, Samantha urged delegates and brand owners to consider and respond to post-pandemic usage trends, pay attention to value perceptions, and cater to the growing audience of consumers online.

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Fast-tracking sanitiser production and holistic hygiene

Looking back at the unprecedented growth of hand sanitiser production, Mauro Bleve, R&D Division Lead, Laboratorios Maverick outlined the differences between biocidal and cosmetic products, along with the relevant EU regulations and claims that can be made in each category. Mauro explained why efficacy, safety and quality were key differentiators as mandatory efficacy tests were required for biocidal products, unlike their cosmetic counterparts.

Offering first-hand insights into the production of hand sanitiser, Paolo Camattari, Formulation and NPI Manager, Cosmetic Ireland took to the stage to chart the unprecedented path to market taken in the development of its AirMedica alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Paolo highlighted how at the end of 2019 the company had celebrated exceeding 85,000 units per week, and within the first three months of 2021, the company had doubled output, adding a new production line to keep up with demand.

From production to the efficacy of personal care formulations, Sayandip Mukherjee, Senior research scientist and leader – Hygiene, Protection and Resilience Technology Platform, Beauty and Personal Care Division, Unilever shared research undertaken to understand the efficacy of product formats and their effectiveness against both the Beta and Delta COVID strains. Highlighting that no single intervention was perfect at preventing the spread of the virus, Sayandip revealed how a ‘swiss cheese model’ or using multiple methods to achieve cleanliness – from handwashing to using alcohol-based sanitisers – were resulting in success.

Elsewhere, Professor Marie Loden, CEO, Eviderm Institute discussed whether alcohol-based hand products could deliver hygiene as well as much-needed hydration. Considering the role of cosmetics vs. biocides, Marie reflected on the role of medical classified products and stressed it was important for brands to know exactly what they are claiming their formulation can deliver.

From sanitiser to skincare

Shifting the focus from sanitiser to skincare, Manuela Lanzafame, In Vitro Safety and Efficacy Technician was joined by colleague Agnes Lavoix, Dermatech Operational Director (COO), Complife – the Summit’s silver sponsor – to explore the impact of environmental conditions on the skin. Together, they revealed the results of a large-scale study where 254 skin samples were collected and analysed. Measuring actinobacteria, proteobacteria and firmicutes, the findings demonstrated a difference among genders, with statistical differences noted alongside seasonal changes.

Keeping skincare at the centre of the discussion, Alain Mavon, Senior Director of Science and Innovation, Oriflame, stepped up to discuss the role of blue light in skin damage. Using his own Instagram account to poll his followers, Alain revealed that 81% were concerned for their skin health. This is no surprise given the 3,400 products referencing blue light and 220 referencing High-Energy Visible (HEV) light launched in the last five years, according to Mintel research.

Here, Alain stressed the importance of understanding the direct, and indirect impacts of blue light on our skin and why biological impacts of light emitted by the sun and light emitted by screens cannot be compared. For example, 150 hours of screen-emitted blue light was the equivalent to one minimal pigmentary dose, while a 10-hour (600-min) cell phone call equated to just one minute of sun.

While blue light may not be directly responsible for skin damage, there is cause to suggest that it creates an indirect skin health concern. Alain stressed that to maintain skin health, consumers should prioritise mitigating sun exposure; reducing screen time and increasing physical activity; focusing on minimising evening screen blue light exposure; establishing a consistent sleep cycle and beauty routine.

Keeping up with the regulations

Moving to help delegates understand the regulatory mayhem created during the pandemic, Mojgan Moddaresi, Cosmetics Safety Assessor, Personal Care Regulatory Ltd, explored how the pandemic has created an increased demand for transparency, and greater respect for authenticity in green and environmental claims. Furthermore, consumers want brands to be authentic in their sense of purpose, be that with the efforts they make to reduce or recycle packaging materials, or through their regulatory classifications.

Addressing the specific impact of Brexit on cosmetic regulations, Dr Emma Meredith, Director General, Cosmetic Toiletry & Perfumery Association (CTPA) shared an update on the UK’s regulatory framework for cosmetics and the different rules that apply by location. For example, products sold in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are legislated under the EU Cosmetics Products Regulation and EU REACH. Whereas those sold in Northern Ireland AND Great Britain face double compliance; the EU Cosmetics Products Regulation, EU Reach UK Cosmetics Regulation and UK REACH are all applicable.

Helping delegates understand the new UK legal landscape, Emma explained that while many of the EU Cosmetics Products Regulations were absorbed and copied over to UK Cosmetics Regulations, those that came into play after the official Brexit deadline did not apply. For example, publication of regulations such as the CMR Omnibus III or DHA will require re-review by the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group on Chemical Safety (SAG-CS), as no changes can be made to the annexes of the UK Cosmetics Regulation without independent scrutiny.

DAY 2: Sustainability and Neurocosmetics

Returning to open day two of the 2021 in-cosmetics Formulation Summit, Dr. Barbara Olioso, Founder of The Green Chemistry Consultancy, set the tone for the day highlighting the role of green chemistry and the use of renewable materials to create a new era of sustainability and wellbeing.

The big packaging debate

As a big topic of debate across any FMCG sector, Paul Shipton, Technical Director, PS Partnership

took to the stage to talk about sustainable plastics, attempting to answer the question, is there such a thing? Paul highlighted that the pending Plastics Packaging Tax created a big challenge for the cosmetic industry. To combat this, he suggested that the industry would need to embrace standardisation and employ a ‘mono-material strategy’ in the design stage. He called for transparency about a product’s packaging and suggested an increased use of more sustainable materials such as compostable bags.

Recyclability remained at the top of the agenda in a session on closed-loop beauty businesses. Here, Clare Lot, Business Development Manager, TerraCycle asked delegates, what makes an item practically recyclable? She stressed the importance of recycling know-how and making sure that the right funding is in place to facilitate the right processes, before speaking in detail about the current initiatives to create public collection points to drive volume, process hard to recycle waste and efficiently sort and process materials.

Further tackling the topic of circular beauty and packaging, Ed Thorne, BID and Partnerships, Loop™ (TerraCycle) spoke about eliminating the idea of waste out of the supply chain, before it has even been developed. As a global platform for reuse, Loop enables consumers to easily return products so they can go back into the supply chain with the cost of recycling embedded into the product. Offering accessibility, affordability and convenience, Loop enables brands to create a much-needed step change.

Meanwhile, Dr. Christina Raab, Vice President, Strategy & Development, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, suggested that future-proofing ingredients and products with cradle-to-cradle principles was the globally recognised measure of safer, more sustainable, products for a circular economy. With just 8.6% of the global economy circular, Christina stressed that to keep the world liveable, the circularity rate would need to be doubled. By rethinking, redesigning and transforming the system, Christina suggested that product circularity could be achieved by intentionally designing them for their next use.

Finishing off the series of sessions on packaging, Chris DeArmitt, a world-class expert in plastic materials and Author of ‘The plastic paradox’ delivered a provocative session that called on delegates to consider the uncomfortable truth about plastics.  He suggested that rather than the destructive and dangerous picture painted by the media, plastics weren’t as harmful as many believe. Making up less than 1% of materials and waste by weight and volume, he suggested that removing plastics wouldn’t reduce waste as it would take 3-4lbs of other material to replace just 1lb of plastic. He called upon delegates to read beyond the headlines to readdress what we all think we know about plastics.

Speaking about the Summit, delegate Hannah George, Technical Sales Manager, Gattefossé UK Ltd, said: “Coming from the workplace, the summit is very relevant, it’s got a good reputation so it will be useful to me. All of the sessions are very valuable, and the main highlights are the talks and seeing people in person from the industry after the pandemic is great. The themes from today on sustainability, the full supply chain traceability, and also changes with post-Brexit on the cosmetic industry is interesting to see.”

Sustainability and the future of Green Chemistry

From recycling to sustainability and green chemistry, Francesca Morgante, Market Development Manager Europe, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) joined the programme to discuss how sustainable palm oil could contribute to a more conscious cosmetic sector. It is estimated that more than 70% of cosmetic products contain palm oil. The RSPO aims to transform markets to make sustainable palm oil the norm through global standards and multi-stakeholder governance.

Francesca outlined the eight principles growers need to adhere to in order to achieve RSPO certification, from demonstrating a commitment to transparency; compliance with applicable laws and regulations; use of appropriate best practices by growers and millers; environmental responsibility and conservation of natural resources and biodiversity; and responsible development of new plantings.

Preparing the next generation of scientists to lead the sustainability debate, Professor Andrew Burrows, FRSC, SFHEA, Head of Department of Chemistry, University of Bath gave delegates an overview of the University’s commitment to Green Chemistry education and development. Here, Andrew highlighted some of the projects being undertaken by PhD students from biodegradable microbeads to new sustainable plastics.

Neurocosmetics in action

Demonstrating the link between wellbeing and sensory enhancement, Dr Karl Lintner, President, KAL’IDEES suggested well-ageing could be the new anti-ageing trend. He cited the cosmetic anti-ageing challenges from dry skin and wrinkles to anisotropy and glycation, and how the industry has moved from neuroscience and neurocosmetics to neuromarketing to discuss customer’s needs, motivations and preferences that traditional methods cannot reveal.

Continuing with a focus on how emotions impact skin health and beauty, Dr Katerina Steventon, Independent Skincare Consultancy Ltd, highlighted how we are evolutionarily wired to see ‘visible’ changes in the skin, with happy people looking more ‘radiant and beautiful’. Katerina spoke about how skin health and beauty is proven to affect our well-being and self-esteem, with ‘skincare as self-care’ critical for mental wellbeing.

Speaking after her session, Katerina added: “It is great to be surrounded by industry professionals who are offering very technical sessions which we can all learn from. I like the data-driven approach to the event and it’s a great opportunity to network and make new contacts in the industry.”

From emotions to the science of scent and attraction, Professor Charles Spence, Head of the Cross-modal Research Laboratory, University of Oxford reflected on the explosion of research into the cross-modal influence of olfactory cues on multisensory person perception – from attractiveness, likeability, gender, age/youthfulness and sympathy.

Jasmine Greenhalgh, Product Development Chemist, Omorovicza Cosmetics Ltd UK, added: “I value the Summit as an extremely beneficial way to learn more about consumer trends and to network. It’s been very valuable so far; some talks have even made me question what I believe in such as plastics and packaging. It has shed a light on how the problem centres around the supply chain.”

Roziani Zulkifli, Event Director of in-cosmetics Formulation Summit, said: “I can’t describe how fantastic it feels to reunite the cosmetics and personal care industry, face-to-face once again after almost two years without a physical in-cosmetics event in Europe. To be able to provide the industry with a much-needed opportunity to hear from industry experts and network with peers is invaluable. The conference programme once again took a deep dive into the industry’s most pressing trends, bringing together R&D professionals and formulators in a safe and engaging space. We have already received such overwhelmingly positive feedback and look ahead to returning to Paris in April 2022 for in-cosmetics Global.”

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