The 3 Marks of a Sustainably Sourced Extract (#3 is an Absolute Must)

With U.S. consumption of botanical actives in personal care products forecast to reach $168.5 million by 2021, many formulators are sourcing extracts from traders. Although this approach generates favorable pricing and availability, the extracts often show inconsistent levels of phytochemicals—and the human connection is obscured.

Meanwhile, the term, “natural,” remains undefined and unregulated, with many brands settling for label claims that underdeliver. What does sustainable sourcing really mean in cosmetics?

1. Clean

While “clean” may be another buzzword a la “natural,” most brands and formulators will agree that it has more to do with safety than anything else. Formulating products to standards such as COSMOS and those set forth by the USDA is a great start, but recognize that additional standards are coming from retailers—and from consumers, who are becoming increasingly concerned with chemicals vs. natural ingredients.

To ensure your ingredients are truly clean, partner with suppliers that give deep insight into their techniques and processes. Sensient, for example, employs sub-critical fluid extraction using a polarized fluid rather than a solvent to extract phytochemicals from a plant. In many ways, sustainable sourcing draws the dividing line between “natural” and yet another buzzword, “real.” Our definition of real means genuine, authentic, mindful and efficacious.

2. Powerful

Once you have committed to clean ingredients, you will be left with a reduced number of ingredients from which you can formulate. The ingredients you do select must therefore perform, all while you remain careful of the environment. It’s quite a challenge, but one that is extremely rewarding when you see it through.

In the heart of Central Uganda, perfectly alkaline soil and an ideal microclimate enable our partner farm to grow the rosemary used in our NatPure™ Xtra Vitality botanical active. Biodynamic farming, which enhances ecological harmony, is used to harvest rosemary with higher levels of phytochemicals than what is typically grown in the Mediterranean. Subsequently, our solvent-free PhytoClean™ technique ensures a pure, repeatable extraction of the targeted biomass, backed by in-vitro testing. Rosemary reduces the effects of pollution on humans, visible in reduction in DNA-damaging 8-OHdG.

3. Ethical

The farm mentioned above doesn’t just harvest beautiful, potent rosemary from the land. It is certified as a Fair for Life farm. This certification sees that human rights are safeguarded, workers have access to good working conditions, and smallholder farmers receive a fair share. Uganda is one of our many feel-good stories of ethically sourced botanicals, alongside green tea from Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, guayusa from a small family farm in the Ecuadorian region of the Amazon rainforest, and others.

COSMOS, one of the most recognized certifications for organic products, also holds a strong focus on environmentally friendly production, human health, responsible use of natural resources and recyclable packaging. The Rainforest Alliance certification symbolizes environmental, social and economic sustainability as well.

While certifications set benchmarks, ethical sourcing happens in the heart of a brand. It allows the environment, people, society and supply chain to flourish in a process that maintains balance and care for all. Is the ingredient being harvested properly? Is a waste management program in place? Are the workers being treated well? Do their children have access to education?

Consumers want social and environmental progress. If you are ready to lead the future of sustainable and ethical cosmetics, contact Sensient and ask about our NatPure™ Xtra line of botanical actives.

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