The cosmetics and personal care sector thrives on what’s now, what’s new, and what’s next. There is an insatiable appetite for novelty among marketers, manufacturers, and media; among chemists, consumers, and CEOs. Everywhere you look in beauty, it seems as if ‘newest’ equates to ‘best’.
We find ourselves now on the brink of the next New Year; and what beauty innovation means in 2023 is more important than ever. As we strive to do our best through creativity, resourcefulness, and invention, the very real necessities of our world today require that we deliver innovation that is not only better for products and profit but actually good for people and the planet.
There are many smart strategies for innovation, including collaboration, experimentation, imagination, tech transfer, etc.; but there is no one formula that guarantees success. To get a sense of what’s happening in the beauty innovation space and to help us dream up what will be possible tomorrow, let’s look at some recent innovations.
Standout Beauty Industry Innovations
These examples of innovation in cosmetics and personal care packaging have captured my attention lately: PACT Collective is a new non-profit working with packaging suppliers, brands, and retailers to eliminate packaging waste in beauty. The organization’s current membership includes suppliers such as APC Packaging, Eastman, HCT by kdc/one, Pacific Packaging Components, Seacliff Beauty, and promotional product design company MaCher. The Collective is dedicated to collaboration and change that takes into account the current realities of the waste management and recycling infrastructure here in the States.
POLLAST!C mailers made from ocean-bound plastic waste are the latest innovation from New Zealand – based startup Better Packaging Co. The mailers are made from ocean-bound plastic collected in Southeast Asian coastal communities. Better Packaging Co. has developed the new packaging to help eliminate plastic pollution, to alleviate poverty in communities where the ‘raw’ material is sourced, and to offer brands a mailer with a remarkably low carbon footprint— 75% less than traditional plastic mailers and 30% less than 100% recycled paper mailers, according to the company site.
And one of the most promising packaging material innovations gaining traction in beauty now is aluminum—not actually new at all. But companies like OX Solutions (in collaboration with Tubex) and Verity are making quality and design improvements to aluminum packaging solutions that makes the classic recyclable material well suited to brands in every market tier and most product categories.
Cosmetic and personal care manufacturers are also innovating in compelling ways: Many, like Italy-based OPAC, are developing solid and waterless product formats. The company has long been known as a wet wipes specialist, but began working on skincare 7 years ago and just this year launched Beauty Pills. The just-add-water skincare and complexion products start as tiny pills and after several drops of water and only 15 to 20 seconds transform into surprisingly luxurious ready-to-apply textures.
ATGpharma has developed small-batch equipment solutions for brands and independent formulators looking to fill products in house. The company’s versatile equipment accommodates a range of product formats and formulation rheologies; can be configured for a range of container heights; and the trays that hold the packaging during filling are molded to each brand’s specifications.
In the product manufacturing sector, contract manufacturer Capsum – artisan scientifique has introduced a couple of innovations to its product production facility here in the States. The Austin, Texas, site operates entirely on what the company calls sustainable water—that is water sourced from a lake deep under the land where the production facility sits. And just this month Capsum announced partnering with Orius to develop a fully water- and energy- autonomous indoor farming project, which will enable the beauty manufacturer to essentially grow ingredients on demand for its partner brands. And all this is in addition to Capsum’s original formulation innovation: microfluidic encapsulation tech, an exercise in fluid dynamics that lets the company mix oil and water without surfactants.
Another company working with innovative fluid dynamics tech for personal care is LiquiGlide. This innovation is what allows Colgate’s luxury toothpastes in the Elixir line to empty the tube cleanly and completely. And LiquiGlide is being used in beauty manufacturing as well, using novel fluid dynamics to the remove friction between solid manufacturing tanks and the liquid product within, making it possible to rinse the tanks with remarkably less water and less product loss.
And biotech is bringing countless innovations to the beauty ingredient space: Legacy ingredient companies and startups are working with biotechnologies to design production methods that bring the wealth of marine plants and organisms, mushrooms and fungi, lichens and trees, and more to the beauty industry while at the same time preserving their invaluable contribution to biodiversity within the natural world. Companies like Geno and C-16, for instance, are using fermentation to bring industrial-scale alternatives to palm oil to the beauty ingredient and intermediaries marketplace.
The Swedish Algae Factory, Microphyt, Bicosome, and Lubrizol are among the many beauty ingredient suppliers working with microalgae to develop ingredients that are both effective and environmentally sustainable. Active Concepts is also doing interesting work with mushroom biotech as well as leveraging the natural collaboration of fungus and alga that is lichen to bring new naturals to the cosmetics and personal care ingredient space.
And the imaginative startup Uute Scientific Oy has developed a forest-soil microbial extract that promises tremendous preventative skincare benefits. The Finland-based company’s ingredient innovation is called Re-Connecting Nature and helps support the skin microbiome in a way that enhances skin barrier function, reduces redness and irritation, and helps raise collagen levels.
Dreaming, Discovering, and Defining What’s New in Beauty
The innovations I have shared here are only a fraction of what’s happening on the supply and manufacturing side of beauty. But they do help illustrate the creativity, resourcefulness, and invention going on in the cosmetics and personal care industry today.
Still, we may find ourselves asking, What does beauty industry innovation really mean? At MakeUp in LA this coming February, cosmetics and personal care suppliers will help us answer that question, discuss examples of innovation in action, and explore best practices for dreaming, discovering, and defining what’s new in beauty.
Beauty Insights from Deanna Utroske reaches an engaged community of brand leaders, industry insiders, and allies. The weekly newsletter features news, commentary, guidance on media outreach, and more.
Deanna is one of the most well-respected critical thinkers in the cosmetics and personal care industry today. She serves the beauty industry as a public speaker, columnist, trade media editor, and consultant. Her work—covering key industry trends as well as ingredients, packaging, and product innovation topics—is dedicated to sharing information that sparks innovation.