A natural approach to cosmetics

Lab Technician, wearing a face mask holding a glass beaker in the air

The cosmetics industry is a multi-billion euro economy and sales in the EU represent the largest proportions of the worldwide trade.

Traditional cosmetics are derived from a mixture of natural and synthetically manufactured products. As we become more environmentally conscious, there is a sharp focus on using more natural products in a sustainable fashion to create all-natural options for the customer.

Through the close connections offered by the Technology Gateway network, the CAPPA centre and Shannon ABC are providing help in this area to Cork-based cosmetics company NADUR. NADUR recently relocated from the UK and is finalising its rebranding efforts and refining a product offering to launch in the first quarter of 2017. NADUR is a natural cosmetic e-commerce company dedicated to creating the most efficacious, natural products from ethically sourced ingredients.

Testing new formulas

“As an integrated business, we create our proprietary formulas, source all of our raw materials and manufacture our products directly. This ‘close to source’ process gives us greater control over the quality and authenticity of our ingredients and finished products.”

In accordance with GMP and EU compliance, stability and safety testing is mandatory and can only be carried out by competent parties in order to meet regulation. Each product is sampled and exposed to a series of stress tests to ensure quality and stability of the end product for the customer. Exposure to prolonged UV radiation, high temperature and high humidity environments are part of this overall testing regime. Working closely with the company’s chemists and product formulation experts, CAPPA can provide continuous feedback on product performance throughout the testing cycle with the ability to adapt the testing procedure when the need arises.

Female Lab Technician standing at a fume hood testing red liquid

Traditionally this testing would have been carried out ‘behind closed doors’ as far as the company is concerned, but the strong relationship allows access for the company to all aspects of the test work while still achieving an impartial and dedicated analysis of the product. It is also the most critical part of the process prior to the product being launched, and having a local facility for the company – which is located less that 5 minutes from CAPPA – is extremely beneficial.

Sourcing new ingredients

When presenting a ‘natural’ product to the marketplace, it’s important that it is exactly that. The sourcing of natural products has become a contentious issue from a resource-stripping point of view and also from the fact that many natural ingredients are sourced from exotic locations around the globe, such as the Amazon rain forest. The tradition has been to stick with these ingredients generally from a convenience point of view but there are alternatives available, many of which are closer to hand than one might imagine.

NADUR is dedicated to researching indigenous Irish ingredients with unique bioactive and anti-microbial profiles as possible alternatives to their more exotic counterparts. Shannon ABC is assisting the company is examining local sources of these products, particularly where different varieties are specifically grown or cultured for their bioactive and anti-microbial properties.

Two male technicians standing standing at a bench looking at a computer screen

It’s also important to consider that this also has local and national benefits beyond value for the company. A sustainably sourced product providing input into the cosmetics market provides stability across multi-disciplinary sectors. It also serves as a starting point for exposing the country as a whole as a place where non-traditional ingredients can be grown and where large multinational industries normally confined to a restricted group of countries can source such ingredients.

Testing new bioactive and antimicrobial products

Once these new ingredient are sourced, it is of course critical that they are tested for compatibility and to ensure that they provide appropriate protection in the product. Shannon ABC specialises in bioactive compounds and screening for activities across a range of applications, including anti-microbial activity. Such testing can be carried out by growing cultured cells in special media and assessing how well the antimicrobial ingredients can inhibit bacterial growth.

Spectroscopic techniques can also be used to determine the type and strength of the microbial element as the product moves through a product lifetime testing phase. This allows the company to tailor the amount and strength of the ingredient to best suit the profile of the product and its customers.

In addition to their bioactive based testing for the cosmetic sector, Shannon ABC have recently begun to offer services based on non-invasive skin probes. These industry standard probes provide quantitative data about a cosmetic product with respect to moisturisation, hydration and elasticity of the skin.

About the authors

Liam Lewis
CAPPA Technology Gateway Manager
021 433 5338
Tim Yeomans
Shannon ABC Technology Gateway Manager
066 714 4217

Sign up for updates from the network!

If you would like to hear from Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway Network, please opt in here. We will use the email you provide on this form to send you updates from the network.

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting info@technologygateway.ie. See our GDPR policy and MailChimp's privacy practices for more information.