Clean beauty means a lot of things these days—a lot. As a term that isn’t regulated by the Federal Drug Administration, “clean” has no true definition. But we all have our ideas of what clean beauty means to us.
Clean beauty should mean products using innovative ingredients that are safe for humans without extracting too much from the earth or producing excess pollutants. Essentially, helping the planet when possible. In that case there is no better industry to provide true clean beauty than biotechnology.
Companies like LanzaTech, Amyris, and Cargill are leading the science to develop clean beauty ingredients.
Amyris’ specialty is synthetic biology which is the science of replicating biological systems that are already found in nature, to achieve a similar effect without having to source from animals or plants.
Squalene is a moisturizing agent most sourced from shark liver. However, Amyris can now produce a copycat known as squalane which can easily be substituted for squalene. Their skincare brands Biossance and Pipette feature this moisturizing agent in moisturizers, sunscreens and facial cleansers.
Cargill is a massive name in agriculture, but did you know they dabble in personal care as well? Cargill produces erythritol, a sweetener alcohol which can be made from fermented corn. Erythritol appears naturally in small amounts in different kinds of fruit, but in larger quantities it can slow tooth decay which is why it’s an essential ingredient in oral care products.
Ethanol is an important beauty ingredient in all types of makeup and perfumes. Earlier this year, LanzaTech announced they would be providing global beauty conglomerate, Coty, with carbon-based ethanol.
This is ethanol sourced from greenhouse gasses that have already been released into the atmosphere. With greenhouse gasses being a pollutant and abundant resource, this will remove carbon from the earth’s atmosphere while still helping create all the materials and items we relish for our appearance and presentation. LanzaTech also uses the technology to repurpose carbon for plastics. We spoke to LanzaTech’s CEO Jennifer Holmgren about what this partnership means for the beauty industry for an episode of the I am BIO podcast—take a listen.
The beauty industry has always leaned on scientists to increase product effectiveness and highlight the ways in which we want to glow. And now biotechnology is helping the industry become more sustainable.
So, what is clean beauty? There isn’t one definition, but moving forward it can’t be defined without biotechnology.