11 Jan 2022 --- Environmentally sustainable products may have an ethical advantage in the crowded beauty and personal care space, but trust and performance issues can prove tough barriers to climb when competing against long-standing “favorite” brands. A strong social and ecological message carries great weight, but only if the product stands up and delivers for the consumer.
Providing insights on whether beauty and personal care (BPC) consumers are turning towards solid formats for their products, Dirk-Jan Oudshhorn, Founder and CEO of Forestwise, shares: “The number of inquiries Forestwise receives either online or through exhibitions makes it clear that this is a distinct trend.” Adding that “it is easy to see why”, Oudshhorn highlights: “Solid formulations require less packaging, less space and therefore less transport impact, less shelf space in supermarkets and, as we understand it, less energy to manufacture.”
While sustainable products are important to BPC shoppers, the efficacy of their chosen items is too. “Consumers won't compromise on performance however, so there is a responsibility on formulators to ensure anhydrous products perform just as well as their ‘wet’ counterparts,” Oudshhorn emphasizes.
Click to EnlargeForestwise is sourcing ingredients to make solid formulations work. Source: Forestwise.In recent years, sustainability has catapulted to the forefront of BPC marketing campaigns and innovations in a bid to reflect consumer demands and priorities. “Sustainability is a global megatrend as governments, organizations, corporations and, most importantly, consumers finally buy into the concept,” says Oudshhorn. “Although sustainability is only an important step in the move to the regeneration of the environment, it is clearly massively important.”
“Consumers make environmentally aware buying decisions in many aspects of their lives and their personal care is no exception,” states Oudshhorn. “We see that consumers are not prepared to compromise on performance, but emphatically make demands on the provenance of the ingredients and packaging.”
Forestwise adopts a wild-harvest approach to selecting its ingredients. The European Business and Biodiversity Campaign (EBBC), which supports companies with integrating biodiversity into their management, states that medicinal and aromatic plants play a key role in wild harvesting, providing the basis for cosmetics.
Sharing how consumers want to be sure that their product choices do not adversely affect the environment, Oudshhorn says: “The ongoing issues with petrochemical-based ingredients and, of course, palm oil, are in the public mind not least due to the efforts of campaigners and influencers.” Focusing on butter and oil production in the BPC space, Oudshhorn states: “Consumers are aware that their choices are making an incremental difference, but added together consumers can engineer genuine change and influence.”
Creating sustainable formulations
The Dutch ingredients supplier seeks to prevent deforestation by increasing the economic value of the remaining rainforest. Forestwise strives to do this by conserving wildlife and supporting local communities to create income while preserving their habitat, in an approach it calls ‘Rainforest Value’. The company aims to provide its customers with better sourcing opportunities that are fully traceable. By doing so, it hopes to enable its BPC customers to make specific product claims, such as bio-diversification, organic, fair trade and forest conservation.
Consumers are looking for brands to answer their calls to respect the environment and seek to protect and preserve it throughout the production process. “Brands complete the chain between the sustainable ingredient and the consumer,” says Oudshhorn. “Creating formulations from entirely sustainable ingredients is a well-established skill among formulators.”
Click to EnlargeWorkers need resources and incentives to manage environments. Source: Forestwise.Even when BPC formulators are equipped with the knowledge, capabilities and equipment to embark on sustainable formulations, Forestwise points out that key obstacles exist within the segment today. These hinder the ability to make products that are fully environmentally conscious.
One challenge impacting BPC brands’ ability to uphold these sustainable values is price. “Cost is obviously a challenge as sustainable ingredients can be more expensive as the hidden, long-term environmental costs of petrochemical ingredients are ignored,” says Oudshhorn. “The cost gap can be bridged by the ability of brands to share the provenance stories of sustainable ingredients. There is a large consumer cohort that is prepared to pay a little extra to know that they are not damaging the environment. Sustainable suppliers are very keen to share material to support marketing and social media programs.”
However, another hurdle that the industry needs to overcome is the proliferation of marketing claims - often referred to as greenwashing - that do not accurately reflect the content of the BPC product. “Consumers are aware and wary of greenwashing,” notes Oudshhorn. “I would say that this is a big challenge and needs to be called out wherever it is identified.”
Forestwise anticipates additional and considerable obstacles moving forward in the BPC solid formulation sphere as consumers pay close attention to the ingredients within their chosen formulations. “There are some big challenges ahead though, as the focus of campaigners shifts to other ingredients that are more difficult to match sustainably with similar performance,” says Oudshhorn. “Silicones are a clear example of this.”
Going big to cut costs
As the industry looks for solutions to overcome these expected challenges, Oudshhorn relays that one of the outcomes following the COP26 summit in November was the European Union’s commitment to eliminating ingredients that damage rainforests. “If implemented, this will help,” says Oudshhorn. “In addition, as demand for sustainable ingredients increases then economies of scale kick in and unit prices should tumble.”
Commenting on the implementation of a financial penalty on ingredients that damage the environment, Oudshhorn details: “It would be interesting if governments committed to introducing a tax that affected petrochemical ingredients to reflect the damage they are causing the environment.”
Forestwise is producing its flagship product using the Illipe Butter (INCI Shorea Stenoptera Seed Butter) ingredient at its factory in Sintang, Borneo. “Illipe is a well-established cosmetic moisturizing butter that finds use in solid formulations,” says Oudshhorn.
Organic Arenga Rainforest Sugar (INCI Sucrose) is the company’s latest product, new to the personal care market, which can be used in water-free scrubs or as a sweetening ingredient in solid lip products.
As we move into 2022, Oudshhorn notes that from what Forestwise has seen, solid formulations is a trend that is here to stay. “It is in everyone's interest,” confirms Oudshhorn. “Consumers will know they are making a difference and producers are going to cut costs and be able to lower their carbon footprint. It is a win-win.”
By Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe, BPC Insights Senior Journalist