Skincare Brands Turn to Sustainable Sourcing of Marine Ingredients

Sustainable Skincare // Photo credit: LauraDin/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Beyond the many benefits marine ingredients provide to the skin is the fact that they also provide a natural and sustainable option. “We are seeing a trend in cosmetics in that most ingredient manufacturers are turning to more sustainable approaches to ingredient production, specifically, fermentation and stem-cell cultivation, to minimize environmental and plant species impact,” says Michael Bruggeman, founder and CEO of Organic Male OM4. “Marine-based ingredients are less vulnerable, as the regrowth rate is significantly faster than any land plant, making algae an attractive medium for innovation.”

New harvesting technologies have also made some ingredients more affordable. “According to a study conducted by Royal IHC in 2016, the time it takes to harvest one ton of seaweed by hand averaged eight hours, whereas mechanized harvesting averaged 1.3 hours for the same amount,” says Bruggeman. “This equates to a 50 percent reduction in cost and 90 percent reduction in time.”

Innovation when it comes to harvesting also makes some ingredients more readily available. For example, Phytomer has established a marine farming and laboratory cultivation program, which allows employees to grow their own raw materials. As a result, the company doesn’t deplete precious resources from nature. The company also utilizes hydroponics to grow a variety of seaside plants used in its products. “Utilizing marine biotechnology in developing performance skincare ingredients is by definition a highly sustainable approach,” says Lenette Casper, president of Phytomer Group Brands. “We can eliminate our impact on the marine ecosystems, because we only need to collect one tiny micro-algae from the environment. We then freeze the sample and store it until we need to use it.”

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For some manufacturers, however, old school is best. “As with all things, demand often creates new and exciting ways of doing things, but at Voya, we talk about being guardians of a tradition,” says Voya's Emma Roberts. “A huge part of that, for us, is maintaining the tried-and-tested hand-harvesting approach. We could, of course, look into growing more seaweed in different ways and using machinery to allow us to harvest more, but we’re committed to sustainability and the traditional approach we started when the company was set up.”

Although sustainability makes marine ingredients especially attractive to both manufacturers and consumers, the environment in which they’re grown matters. “Seaweed has this amazing ability to absorb essential nutrients from the ocean, but it can also absorb pollutants,” says Jenefer Palmer, founder of Osea. “When it comes to working with marine-based ingredients, source is everything.”



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