Organic cosmetics: unleashing beauty fromroots

Organic cosmetics: unleashing beauty from the roots

6:25 AM, 5th November 2016
From rare exotic herbs and roots of the East to deep down the ocean bed, global cosmetic companies have now come under the scanner of conscious customers who are demanding greener options over harmful
From rare exotic herbs and roots of the East to deep down the ocean bed, global cosmetic companies have now come under the scanner of conscious customers who are demanding greener options over harmful chemicals based cosmetic products.

After decades of drenching the skin into different types of chemical ingredients, consumers across the globe have finally started to realise - what is natural, needs to be preserved and protected in a natural way. And thus, began the search for beauty from the core of nature.

By Debarati Das

Bird’s saliva. Snail’s slime. Sea anemones. Fish skin.

No, we are not dealing with Nat­Geo’s episodes.

Bamboo grass. Roasted brown rice. Mushrooms. Rice bran. Pomegranates.

Neither are these a part of some exotic recipe. These are instead some of the ingredients used by global cosmetic companies to bring out youthful radiance. The cosmetics industry today is delving into the traditional alchemy of natural ingredients and age-old beauty rituals from Asia to device modern cosmetic solutions.

From rare exotic herbs and roots of the East to deep down the ocean bed, global cosmetic companies have now come under the scanner of conscious customers who are demanding greener options over harmful chemicals based cosmetic products.

Market Update

The global demand for organic per­sonal care products was over $7.6 billion in 2012 and is expected to reach $13.2 billion by 2018, grow­ing at a CAGR of 9.6 percent from 2012 to 2018, according to Trans­parency Market Report.

This dramatic growth has been due to the rise of more curious and well informed next generation customers who are conscious about every ingredient listed in micro-lettering behind the product packs. These set of customers are well aware of the constant degeneration that a human body has been undergoing due to the constant attack of polluted, synthetic and chemically processed products in form of food, water, air and cosmetics and are now stepping up to it.

“Changing consumer perception towards organic products coupled with growing utilisation of environ­mentally sustainable products has fueled the growth of naturally derived products. In addition, manufactur­ing of organic or naturally derived products aids in reducing pollution by consuming natural resources and reducing reliance on petroleum-based products,” noted a global market research firm, Grand View Research Inc.

Hence, cosmetic companies are finding a drastic rise in the de­mands of eco-friendly products in all aspects of their lives, including body products, skin care, perfumes, bath and other toiletries.

“There is an increasing concern about chemicals used in everyday consumer products due to the current “green” movement. Con­sumers are becoming more aware of the potential harm that some chemicals may have on them and their families are driven by increased knowledge from the internet and social media,” said Rohit Aggarwal, vice president and managing direc­tor, Huntsman India.

For decades, West is said to have inspired the East. However, off late, it is the ancient Eastern beauty regimes and the knowledge of nature which have been taken the Western cosmetics industry by storm.

From collagens to exotic herbs, some of the major cosmetics industry has been taking lessons from the Eastern science. Accord­ing to a survey by Euromonitor International, despite the slowdown being witnessed in many develop­ing markets worldwide, South-east Asian countries are positioned to see industry growth in the coming years.

The cosmetics and personal care industry in the ASEAN countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar has been growing at an average CAGR of approximately 8.4 percent during the course of the past five years, to reach the current value of $14.9 billion, as per Euromonitor interna­tional.

Out of this, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar represent a very small, yet fast growing market. Thailand is undoubtedly the biggest market in the region with estimated value of $4.1 billion. Malaysia is a $1.7 bil­lion market and is growing at a cur­rent rate of 5.7 percent per annum while Indonesia also is expected to make notable growth in future.

Trend Setters

Cosmetics is one such industry segment which is driven by con­stant change and latest trends. The use of natural ingredients to “un­leash the beauty within’ has been a trend which has been catching up across all segments of cosmet­ics industry alike. Here are some of the unusual trends which have caught global attention:

Use of Exotic Ingredients:

Probiotic, ayurvedic, post-biotics, microbiome are some terms which have been catching the fancy of the customers these days. But bird’s nest, sea anemone, sea weed extract, fish skin … no matter how disgusting they may sound, have been scientifically proven to be the source of youthful skin. Global cosmetic companies are spending million in the research of these far eastern beliefs which is known to have anti-aging and anti-wrinkle properties.

For instance, a rare and extremely expensive type of birds’ nest made out of bird’s saliva can help reduce wrinkles and reverse the effects of ageing in the skin. Similarly, microinjectors of sea anemones, which are used to inject venom into the prey can be used to deliver an­ti-wrinkle and brightening creams deeper into the skin.

Traditionally, marine collagens extracted from fish scales and skin has been the secret for youthful radiance among Japanese women. It also nourishes hair, increases growth, thickness, texture and shine. The slimy discharge from a snail’s trail has been one of the latest ingredients which have taken the global cosmetics market into its stride.

Apart from these, an extensive study on the regenerative ability of stem cell is also being extensively adopted into beauty care products to bring back smoother skin, blur wrinkles, and roughness around lip contours.

With these rare and exotic ingre­dients and extensive investments in researches, although the cost of these skin care products has gone up, however, there has also been a rise in the earning class customers who are able to afford these ingredients.


According to a study, 60 percent of what is applied on the skin gets absorbed into the blood stream. Over 95 percent of chemicals in most common fragrances are synthetic compounds derived from petrochemicals which when absorbed by the skin does more harm by changing the chemistry of the body than just leaving you smelling good.

Natural fragrances from essential oils are derived from botanical ingredients like a flower, fruit, sap, seed, plant skin, bark leaves, roots etc. hence, natural perfumes too are catching up. However, rose, lavender, sandalwood are things of the past. Customers are looking for fine fragrances.

Flora and fauna bringing in the summer, autumn, winter- like fragrances, are marking the trends. While forest scents are also sought after, coniferous woods scents are the latest ones to be in vogue. Researchers are now tapping the scents of coniferous trees like cypress, cedarwood, pine, fir and juniper to meet the trend of fine fragrances.

Drinkable Cosmetics

What you eat and drink is what reflects on your face.The quality of food consumed has a direct effect on the body. And in this era of junk food, stressful lifestyle, cosmetics can do as much as hide the dark circles and wrinkles on our faces.

For decades, with wrong food choices and lifestyle people have been literally poisoning themselves. Amidst this, consumers have been eagerly accepting greener options. Hence, a new industry for ‘beauty from within’ is catching up. These drinkable cosmetics which have become the latest buzz in the cos­metics market is nothing but bottled calorie- free botanical ingredients infused with vitamins and minerals.

These drinks range from lychee, pomegranate, grape seed, aloe vera, and green tea extracts to exotic berries such as goji ber­ries, acai, seaweeds and algae etc which are being marketed as an elixir of life and claims to have complexion lightning, anti-wrin­kle, acne healing qualities. The principle remains the same. While most cosmetic firms are infusing these ingredients in their skin care products, the same is being sold as edible products to enhance the skin.

The concept traditionally may not be new in the Asian context which, for generations has incorporated various such plants, herbs, leaves and roots with medicinal qualities a part of a daily culinary process. How­ever, the West has shown much enthusiasm in this as a changing formulation which is being mar­keted as liquid gold in skin care regime.

Halal Cosmetics:

A new line of cosmetic and per­sonal care products with the halal label is rising in Muslim countries. These halal cosmetics are noth­ing but products, which meet the Sharia law and have permitted and prohibited set of ingredients. The Halal products are fast catching up with the Muslim consumers who are looking for authenticity in their cosmetic products and do not have animal-derived ingredients like gelatin and collagen.

Globally, Halal-certified cosmetics and personal care products is a $5 billion market and apart from Middle Eastern countries, Asia too is showing a growing number of halal-certified cosmetic products with Malaysia being one of the largest markets for halal certified cosmetics.

However, several non-Muslim countries like Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines are joining this brigade to promote Ha­lal certified products giving strength to the growth potential of this indus­try. According to a market research, the halal cosmetics industry is set to record an annual growth rate (CAGR) of just under 10 percent through to 2020 and is expected to reach a valuation of $2.47 billion in Asia alone.

Learning from the Indian Vedas

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medi­cal science had opened the secret of goodness that nature stores in itself, centuries before terms like‘herbal’, ‘organic and ‘natural’ took the Western world by storm. Unlike the West, Indian culture has passed on this knowledge for gen­erations and has also incorporated this science as a part of their daily culinary and cosmetic regime for centuries. Herbs like turmeric, tulsi, neem, Brahmi, shikakai etc have been used for skin care, oral care or hair care in its raw form right off the tree. 

However, while the last few generations have been slowly bending towards the more glamor­ous, chemically laden, beautifully packaged western products, the recent shift of the global attention­to organic products and India’s ancient science has also made the new generation Indian customers take their heritage seriously again.

“Indian ayurveda industry is already recognised globally and the country has a natural access to medicinal plant and qualified scientific acu­men,” said Philipe Haydon, CEO, The Himalaya Drug Company.

The herbal or Ayurvedic cosmetic industry in India is seeing a major growth in the country with not just Western labels embracing organic ingredients in their products but also a sudden spur in new Indian companies launching herbal prod­ucts to suit Indian skin types.

Today, the Indian cosmetics in­dustry has a wide range of herbal cosmetic brands like Forest Essen­tials, Biotique, Himalaya, Blossom Kochhar, VLCC, Dabur, Lotus, Aza­fran and Patanjali with many more adding to the list who are offering products for skin care, hair care, colour cosmetics, fragrances and oral care segments.

“People in India are slowly and gradually shifting to organic per­sonal care products to protect their body and skin from harmful ingredi­ents. Increasing awareness about the environmental damage, and growing to go green consciousness has fueled the demand for organic personal care products in India,” said Aditi Vyas, director, Azafran Innovacion.

While the current market of organic personal care products in India has estimated at Rs 500 crore it is expected to grow at 20-25 percent per year giving this market a major impetus.

French beauty products maker, L’Oreal, to meet the demand in In­dia, announced its plan to strength­en its herbal portfolio. “We have a research & development centre in Bengaluru, which is working on formulations that marry convention­al science and Ayurveda. Action on this front will grow in the future,” said Jean-Christophe Letellier, MD, L’Oreal India.

Amidst the growing demand from customers for natural ingredients, while global cosmetic brands are feeling the pressure to research and incorporate Asian herbal and natural ingredients in the products, Indian brands too are facing the heat to not just utilize the home­grown knowledge of herbal science but also to package and market this knowledge like any of the glob­al cosmetic products to appeal to the Indian masses.

India has also become a potential market for the global brands as it is easier to sell these cosmetic products to a set of customers who already have the knowledge of the ingredients unlike Western custom­ers who have to be educated about the beauty benefits that is found in a certain root or sap of a plant which is unheard of in the Western geographies.

“During the last decade, the herbal beauty care business has emerged as the new growth frontier for beau­ty business in India. The market for ayurvedic cosmetics products in India is expected to grow at a rapid pace over the coming decades. The market is only beginning to get populated with ayurvedic brands and it will be a while until it gets too crowded,” noted market research firm, Kuick Research.

Hence, this growing demand for chemical-free skin and personal care products, the changing life­style of consumers, growing knowl­edge and awareness about healthy lifestyle and the ability to afford such a lifestyle has contributed to the growth of organic cosmetics market globally. 

© Chemical Today Magazine


See the Story Coverage in Chemical Today magazine (Pg 58)



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