21st Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference | June 13-15, 2017 | Reston, Virginia

Facing Forward: Designing sustainable cosmetics & personal care products

Symposium Organizers: Richard S. Blackburn, Head of Sustainable Materials Research Group, University of Leeds; Isamir Martinez, ACS GCI Formulators’ Roundtable

Cosmetics and personal care products include deodorants, hair dyes, hair styling products, make-up, sunscreens, nail colorants, skin & hair care products, and skin & hair cleansing products, among others. We use these products as part of everyday life to maintain personal hygiene and define who we are. Cosmetics are big business and rising consumer incomes and changing lifestyles are driving the global beauty care products industry, which is forecast to reach around $265 billion in 2017 (Mintel). Reportedly, 10,000 components are used as raw materials in this industry (ScienceDaily), hence the opportunity for green chemistry innovations is evident, and there is increasing interest among consumers in more sustainable and natural ingredients.

Manufacturing more sustainable and/or naturally-derived products may potentially reduce pollution and consumption of non-renewable materials, and current technological innovations are aimed at the development of innovative cost-effective product lines. But in a high-value, high profit industry are innovations true green chemistry or simply marketing greenwash? Many green materials are plant-based, produced either by cultivation or from wild harvesting, but the cosmetics industry needs to consider alternative sources of green materials if it is to avoid competing with food crops. Possibilities include marine ingredients, microalgae, bacteria, and food waste.

Cosmetic and personal care products come under scrutiny for their adverse impact on the environment, particularly considering that the majority of the formulation of many cosmetic products are vehicles to deliver an active ingredient, which is typically present at levels of under 5% by weight. Current news has also highlighted issues in marine ecosystems, raising concerns about cosmetic ingredients such as polyethylene microbeads, plastic glitters, and sunscreens.

There is growing consumer pressure on brands to reduce packaging in cosmetic and personal care products. Green chemistry innovation is also needed in cosmetic delivery systems, particularly aerosols where pressurized organic solvents are used, which present both environmental and toxicity issues.

This full day session is co-organized by The University of Leeds (Richard Blackburn) and The ACS GCI Formulators’ Roundtable (Julie Manley) and seeks to include global perspectives from companies and academic seeking to use green chemistry to make cosmetics and personal care products more sustainable.

Practice gaps to be addressed during the symposium
We are looking for speakers from academia, industry, government, NGOs that can address the following of key issues:

  • the growth of more sustainable and ‘natural’ cosmetics and whether this industry represents true green chemistry or a marketing opportunity;
  • application of green chemistry for the sustainable synthesis of novel actives and formulation ingredients in cosmetic and personal care products;
  • the increasing use of natural extracts, the perception of their inherent safety, and whether this presents toxicology concerns;
  • extraction of naturally derived extracts for cosmetic application using green chemical processes
  • source materials for cosmetic ingredients: synthesized from petrochemicals vs. derived from plants specifically grown for cosmetics vs. recovered from other sources, such as waste and by-products. Which is best?
  • how green chemistry can aid in the manufacturing, packaging and marketing of cosmetics.