Circular beauty solutions: Plant lignin and used cooking oil upcycled into skincare and packaging materials
07 Feb 2023 --- The beauty sector is gradually closing the loop on manufacturing key product components to streamline efficiencies and reduce waste. Among recent moves, suppliers are looking to waste streams of the pulp and carton industries for new skincare ingredients, while circular plastics upcycled from used cooking oil are greening up cosmetics packaging.
PersonalCareInsights explores these latest R&D highlights, each in line with the circularity movement.
“Many if not most of the new cosmetic brands in the market have sustainability in mind from the start point. Also, big brands and companies are creating more circular lines within their portfolio and transitioning in key areas like packaging, formula and brand identity,” says Gabriela Armenta, marketing and business development manager at Lignopure.
“So I think that one movement where we will see a change in the next few years is in the use of full or mostly bio-based materials instead of fossil-based ones for cosmetic packaging and formulations,” she remarks.
“I think that like recycling, one big challenge is to engage in the creation of new circular technologies that enable the utilization of materials to its fullest. Another challenge is that many raw materials potentials have not been fully explored, therefore more research is needed.”
Upcycled lignin as a skin shield
Lignopure is launching a three-ingredient line called LignoBase. Each of these ingredients share a core natural biopolymer called lignin, which is the byproduct mainly sourced from the pulp and carton industries and biorefineries.
The compound – responsible for giving plants their sturdiness – also offers a protective mechanism through its polyphenolic structure that helps shield skin from multiple external factors.
“Lignin is a material found in the cell wall of many plants like trees, grasses, bamboos, etc,” details Armenta. “Lignin’s natural polyphenolic structure has inherent protective attributes like free radical scavenger properties that protects the skin and the formulation itself against oxidative processes.”
Researchers have reported that lignin can increase the solar protection factor (SPF) of sunscreens and provide sun protection to body creams.
“Sadly, over 90% of this precious resource is normally disposed of,” Armenta highlights. “But thanks to Lignopure’s patented particle technology, we are able to upcycle this amazing material and use its natural properties that otherwise would still be unavailable for the cosmetic industry.”
Additionally, the natural brown hue of each LignoBase helps formulators and cosmetic companies to decrease the white-cast effect in sun care formulations and to simplify the color formulation of products where skin tones and brown colors are desired.
“Lignin has oil absorption capacities that give a mattifying smooth effect, which is really useful in multiple cosmetic products,” says Armenta.
Turning used cooking oil into beauty packaging
Material science specialist Dow and LVMH Beauty, a division of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, are collaborating to accelerate the use of sustainable packaging across LVMH’s perfume and cosmetic products.
The partnership is exploring both bio-based and circular plastics to be integrated into several of the beauty multinational’s product applications “without compromising functionality or quality of the packaging.”
Bio-based and circular plastics, which are made from bio-based and plastic waste feedstock respectively, will be used to produce sustainable Surlyn Ionomers – polymers used to manufacture premium perfume caps and cosmetic cream jars.
Within 2023, some of LVMH’s perfume packaging will include both bio-based Surlyn and circular Surlyn. The sustainable Surlyn portfolio will deliver similar crystalline transparency and freedom of design expected from the rest of Dow’s Surlyn range, at a low carbon footprint.
“At LVMH, with our Life 360 program, we made the decision that our packaging will contain zero plastic from virgin fossil resources in the near future. Collaborating with Dow in developing sustainable Surlyn is key as this material is used in some of our iconic perfumes, starting with Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire,” remarks Claude Martinez, executive president and managing director of LVMH Beauty.
Bio-based feedstocks for the production of bio-based Surlyn include raw materials such as used cooking oil. As only waste residues or by-products from an alternative production process will be utilized, these raw feedstock materials will not consume extra land resources nor compete with the food chain.
Hard-to-recycle mixed plastic waste is transformed into circular Surlyn through “advanced recycling technologies.” The technologies break down waste plastics into their basic chemical elements using heat and pressure, creating raw material that is equivalent to those made from virgin fossil feedstock.
This raw material, or circular feedstock, can be used in a wide range of packaging, giving waste that is currently going to landfill or being incinerated a second life.
Exploring other sustainability highlights in the packaging sector, PersonalCareInsights recently featured Kirin Holdings and FANCL’s partnership in developing cosmetics packaging using the byproducts of beer production. In this upcycling initiative, the companies use plant-based instead of petroleum-derived raw materials to lower carbon emissions and reduce global warming.
What’s next for upcycling?
In other recent circular developments, fragrance giant Firmenich has launched Re:New, a collection of ten upcycled ingredients powered by its innovation program Sylvergreen.
Meanwhile, upcycled food-grade ingredients such as coffee, tea, olives and a variety of fruit have transitioned boldly into the mainstream as cosmetic, beauty and personal care companies embrace the idea of circular production.
Coffee, in particular, is fast becoming a champion in the space as its byproducts can be used in an array of beauty products with photo-protecting, anti-aging and lipolytic action properties, according to a study published in the journal MDPI.
“Categories where I would like to see more circularity are definitely sun- and skin-care as well as colored cosmetics,” says Armenta at Lignopure.
“Many companies have successfully adopted the use of ingredients from vegetal origins as the standard for their formulations, but I think it is time to include more ingredients from upcycled origin and from companies with transparent sustainable practices.”
By Benjamin Ferrer
To contact our editorial team please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.