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Ingredients & formulation

The growth of green brands sets new directions for the beauty industry in Brazil

The use of renewable raw materials, biodegradable packaging and more efficient manufacturing processes have been changing the way Brazilians produce and consume cosmetics.

In the name of consumer beauty, the cosmetic industry has historically adopted controversial practices, including the use of toxic or harmful chemicals, excessive energy waste and the exploitation of natural resources. But the growth of green beauty brands is creating a real revolution, both from the technological point of view and in terms of consumer demand for more sustainable products.

R&D center at Symrise

R&D center at Symrise

Initiatives including resource optimization – aimed at reducing costs and increasing yield potential – and the use of safe raw materials with low environmental impact are already a common sight in the beauty industry. Adelino Kaoru Nakano, Director of Innovation at Symrise, says three trends have been key to the Brazilian market: the search for natural and renewable materials, the use of biodegradable packaging and the reuse of waste materials. "Today, there are different processes available to convert what was previously considered waste into products of added value and technological relevance," says Nakano.

Investing in more sustainable processes and ingredients is not exclusive to large corporations. Smaller companies with a leaner structure are also willing and able to innovate. With more flexibility to develop new ideas and engage in prototyping, they are often likely to deploy new systems more quickly. Large companies usually have more resources for R&D, but the risks involved in adjusting processes and raw materials are also greater. Nakano points out that in Brazil companies of different sizes are partnering up to overcome their challenges. "Issues faced by small businesses are often related to investment capacity, so in addition to seeking public or private financing, they are also associating with large-sized companies to achieve mutual benefit – more investments on the one hand and rapid innovation on the other."

Local sourcing

Brazil has more than 20% of the world’s biodiversity, but there is still great potential to be tapped by the beauty industry. Nakano says the most popular raw materials among manufacturers are those that have associated traditional knowledge and deliver real cosmetic results. There is also demand for ingredients that are perceived as ‘exotic’ – whether because little is known about them or due to a particular feature such as their source or the local community involved in their collection.

Marianna Cyrillo, Marketing Manager at Beraca, says hair oils and ingredients that add unique textures to cosmetic products are among the most sought after. “The focus is on raw materials that can change the rheology of formulations – for example, an oil that can be used in a gel shampoo.” She also mentions the use of butters such as the murumuru butter, which has high lauric acid content and is suitable for use in professional hair care products and hair treatments.

Although most companies have their main research institutes set up close to their headquarters for strategic purposes, there are several local development centers targeted at key markets, including Brazil. "With the growing presence of qualified researchers around the world, we see the opening of new R&D centers in other countries aimed at promoting local innovation and exploring market opportunities," says Nakano.

Cyrillo points out Brazil’s leadership in the global hair care market, which has led large manufacturers of raw materials and finished products to set up local innovation and research centers, including L’Oréal, Unilever and P&G. "The Brazilian hair care market has gained world attention for its huge diversity and the need to cater to different consumer groups. This has strengthened our position as a global innovation hub.

Nakano believes that the physical presence of innovation centers in Brazil promotes further research on native Brazilian species because it enables them to work with ‘in natura’ raw materials, have access to traditional knowledge and establish a close relationship with the communities involved in their sourcing. Cyrillo also adds that the Brazilian consumer is among those who most look for botanical and herbal claims on product labels, which can drive R&D and support further use of plant-based raw materials in cosmetic formulations.

Green VS sustainable

Research with native Brazilian ingredients may play a key role in the quest for renewable sources, but Nakano argues that products from vegetable sources are not necessarily more sustainable. "There are many steps involved in the farming and processing of plant raw materials. Depending on the species, the yield can be very low,” he says. “There are chemical processes today that use low-toxicity solvents as well as synthetic processes with low energy costs where similar results can be achieved with less economic and environmental impact."

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