Should ‘quality’ ingredients matter more than ‘natural’ ingredients?

Should ‘quality’ ingredients matter more than ‘natural’ ingredients?

At least one skin science and personal care research consultant thinks so. And, Cosmetics Design spoke with Nava Dayan about the formulation challenges and toxicity concerns that exist when the two attributes overlap.

At the forthcoming in-cosmetics North America event in New York City, Nava Dayan will lead an educational session on R&D as it pertains to the natural skin care market. Ahead of the personal care industry event, Cosmetics Design checked in with Dayan for a primer on the topic.

Toxic naturals

Natural and toxic are not opposites.  And, natural ingredients themselves are rarely the issue: “while some of plant derived components may generate adverse reactions in many cases, it is the processing aids and other components that the plant comes in contact with that can be the toxicants,” Dayan tells Cosmetics Design.

She points expressly to “pesticides, heavy metals, microbial burden, residual solvents,” and notes that the constituent parts and processing of naturals can be a concern as well. “Isolation and purification of natural ingredients can generate unexpected toxicity,” she explains. “For example, cinnamon whole extract can be anti-inflammatory, but its component cinnamaldehyde when isolated is known to be an allergen.”

In the lab

Consistency, stability, and efficacy are the biggest challenges of formulating skin care and cosmetics with natural ingredients, according to Dayan.

Ingredients with the exact same INCI name are not always scientifically the same.  “For example, ‘aloe extract’ can represent variety of different chemistries depending on the nature of the plant, season of harvest, geographic location, extraction method and so on,” Dayan tells Cosmetics Design. “The extract can be rich or poor in phytochemicals and the photochemistry breakdown composition can vary greatly between suppliers and lots.”

When it comes to research, innovation, and product development, the stability of naturals can pose a challenge. “Many of the plant derived components, when removed from their natural environment into the extract, lose their stability rapidly,” explains Dayan.

Efficacy is also an issue and ingredient processing can make matters worse. Dayan says that “heat…used in steam distillation may accelerate oxidation [of] phytochemicals,” and solidified actives that get filtered out “can contribute to loss of efficacy.”

She urges chemists working the natural ingredients to “ask the manufacturer for detailed breakdown composition of the product! And request to see chemical analysis of at least three different lots.”

Learn more here about Dr. Nava Dayan's upcoming talk on R&D for the natural skin care market.

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