NEWS > 11 January 2024

Ideas to Innovation: Developing Tomorrow’s Cosmetic Ingredients Today by DEANNA UTROSKE

Even in an increasingly circular economy, it’s fair to say that ingredients are the starting point of the cosmetics and personal care supply chain. And after interviewing companies from the US, the UK, Europe, and Asia—all of which will be exhibiting in the Ingredients Zone of Cosmopack at the 2024 edition of Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna—I believe that it’s also fair to say that the cosmetic ingredients of tomorrow start by extracting information from plants. 

In some cases, that information is a literal extract that is then bended or processed by distillation or fermentation. In other cases, it’s literally information that is then translated into advanced manufacturing techniques or synthetic organic chemistry to produce beauty ingredients.

For example, at  ExoLab Italia, they “produce new innovative ingredients using plant exosomes derived from Italian organic fruits and vegetables.” It sounds simple when Dr. Valerio Carconi, Co-Founder and Head of Sales and Marketing says it like this; but, sourcing and blending plant exosomes to deliver skincare benefits ranging from skin cell regeneration, to improved elasticity, to reduced hyperpigmentation, sebum regulation, age reversal, etc. is a very careful science.


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The science behind  ExoLab Italia originated at the National Institute of Health, where two of the company’s four Co-Founders hold scientific and research roles in the Department of Oncology and Molecular Medicine. Professor Stefano Fais and Dr. Mariantonia Logozzi have amassed years of scientific evidence demonstrating that “plant-derived exosomes (PDEs) are safe, non-toxic, naturally beneficial, and an optimal drug delivery system; [and that] compared to exosomes of animal and human origins, PDEs show a greater bio-availability of their natural endogenous cargo, higher bio-mimetism with consequent lower associated risk of immunogenicity, resistance to the gastric acidic pH, and the unique capacity to overpass the transdermal barrier,” explains Carconi.  

With this foundational knowledge and in partnership with Dr. Lorenzo Cilli and Dr. Valerio Carconi, Fais and Logozzi, established ExoLab Italia in 2020. And today the company’s portfolio of skincare ingredients includes, ExoComplex® Reverse Aging, ExoComplex® Skin Cells Regeneration, ExoComplex® Elasticity, ExoComplex® Hyperpigmentation, ExoComplex® Seboregulator. Each of which is “produced in lyophilized [freeze-dried] form and then resuspended in sterile water for use in formulation.” 

ExoLab Italia’s specialty is not only the PDE science but the combining of PDEs for optimal skincare (and soon haircare) benefits. As Carconi tells me, “Our ingredients are based on different mixes of exosomes that meet different application purposes. For example, we have a mix based on Apple, Tangerine, and Papaya for a reverse-aging effect.” 

And he emphasizes that, “All our ingredients come to market after numerous tests both in vitro and clinical studies on volunteers. We believe it is important to provide ‘wow’ scientific evidence to our customers. For example, our ingredient is able to reduce wrinkles by up to 55% in 50-year-old women in 45 days.”

 To further illustrate the benefits and complexity of blending PDEs, Carconi tells me about the mix of exosomes in ExoComplex® Seboregulator. This ingredient is a blend of tomato, green tea, and watermelon exosomes. Here is just some of what he shared with me about the benefits of these exosomes:  

  • Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum): Tomatoes and their derivatives are considered main sources of lycopene, a liposoluble carotenoid that has a huge ability to scavenge singlet oxygen, promoting an antioxidant activity in lipidic phases by blocking free radicals that harm lipoprotein membranes, in addition to being an efficient inhibitor of cellular proliferation. Antioxidants have been proved efficient in controlling the activity of sebaceous glands. Lycopene demonstrated profound efficiency in decreasing the sebum level.
  • Green Tea (Camellia sinensis): Polyphenols are antioxidant molecules with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antineoplastic properties. Tea polyphenols can be used for reducing sebum production in the skin and for treatment of acne vulgaris.  
  • Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus): In particular, lycopene and β-carotene protect the architecture of plasma membranes from oxidative stress and decrease the bioavailability of nitrogen oxide. Among fruits, watermelon contains the highest levels of bioavailable lycopene, [which] makes it an excellent source of antioxidants. Moreover watermelon contains many phenolic compounds that can induce the antioxidant potentials in the human body and helps in the improvement of cell signaling, adhesion, and other biological activities. In addition, Vitamin C in watermelon exerts several beneficial effects, especially promoting collagen synthesis.” 

And while the blending of PDEs is the stand-out science that ExoLab Italia brings to the beauty ingredient marketplace, there is also much to be said for the terroir (if you will) of the company’s raw materials, which are not only organic but also sourced in partnership with Italian farmers and producers.   

In beauty, regionally specific waters—think La Roche-Posay, Evian, Blue Lagoon Iceland, etc.—are hero ingredients. The concept of terroir is being used to help discuss how the human skin microbiome varies globally. And soil extracts from Finland are being sold as cosmetic and personal care ingredients (by a company called Uute Scientific) for their skincare benefits. The place where an ingredient originates matters. The water and soil and the microclimate matter. So when Carconi tells me that, at ExoLab Italia “We produce new innovative ingredients using plant exosomes derived from Italian organic fruits and vegetables,” I have to believe that this isn’t merely a matter of national pride and that it’s significant even outside of any sustainability advantage that comes when sourcing is done in close proximity to the production facility; these ingredients are distinctive, in part, because of the physical origin of the raw materials. 

image Ideas to Innovation: Developing Tomorrow’s Cosmetic Ingredients Today by DEANNA UTROSKE


Sparxell technology centers on information gathered about the photonic structures in plant and animals. Simply put, photonics is the science of light waves; and that science includes exploring and learning how light is generated, transmitted, modulated, and amplified to then be perceived as color—this is color that is not the result of any pigment but is, rather, the result of a pattern created within a plant or animal’s outer cell walls. It is color that results from configuration not pigmentation.  

Leveraging this science, Sparxell makes colorants for cosmetics as well as for other industries by creating a large film with a given photonic structure; and this film is comprised of cellulose nanocrystals. As it happens, these nanocrystals are “colloidal particles capable of forming photonic films by solvent-evaporation-driven self-assembly,” as explained in a recent article by Sparxell Co-Founder and CEO Benjamin Droguet and Co-Founder Silvia Vignolini (along with other colleagues from the University of Cambridge, UK) published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal called Nature Materials. 

Now, neither structural color nor this self-assembly facility of cellulose are exactly new discoveries. In fact, back in 2015 when I had been covering beauty ingredient news (on the site CosmeticsDesign) for less than a year, I wrote an article about how new research on the photonic nanostructures of beetles and butterflies and other insects was being considered as “the blueprint that scientists need to make iridescent pigments commercially practical.” Moreover, I was cautioned at the time by my editor that this sort of science was fairly commonplace but never amounted to any real innovation in beauty. 

If you read academic journals, you know that there is no shortage of novel and mesmerizing technologies that have potential applications in beauty and personal care. One of the factors that determines which of these technologies actually make an impact in our industry, is how readily they can be scaled up.  

And this is where Sparxell may just have a viable and valuable advantage. In that Nature Materials article, the researchers describe “using roll-to-roll deposition to produce large-area photonic films, which required optimization of the formulation of the cellulose nanocrystal suspension and the deposition and drying conditions;” and they describe “how metre-long structurally coloured films can be processed into effect pigments and glitters that are dispersible, even in water-based formulations.” And these methods or manufacturing techniques, it seems, are key to producing photonic colorants at commercial scale. 

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  As Droguet explains it to me, “Sparxell offers innovative pigments made with cellulose, with a diverse range of vivid hues. These pigments” he says, “are customizable in size and shape. They exhibit excellent mixing and dispersion qualities, effortlessly integrating into both water and oil-based formulations….due to their low density. Sparxell's pigments are particularly well-suited for a wide range of cosmetic applications, [including,] eye shadows, lipsticks, nail polishes, hair dyes, and other makeup products, and sunscreen.” 

Plus he tells me that because “reflecting light across different wavelengths using cellulose as a single source material is at the core of Sparxell's innovation. Our pigments…are designed to offer UV and near-infrared reflectance.”

In the Ingredients Zone at Cosmopack 2024, Sparxell will be showing “a range of our pigments along with our product mixed in a cosmetic formulation.” 

“Our company's mission,” Droguet is quick to add, “extends beyond just providing innovative cosmetic ingredients; we aim to collaborate and partner with brands dedicated to sustainability. By incorporating our sustainable ingredients, brands can enhance their products’ appeal while contributing to a greener and more responsible beauty industry.” It’s worth mentioning that the company’s cellulose pigments also make sense in beauty packaging.  

If you haven’t pieced it together by now, I will tell you that  Sparxell—is the name blending moniker you get when you treat ‘sparkle’ and ‘cellulose’ as if they were a celebrity couple.

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 As we’ve just been reminded, for materials and ingredients to be widely available across a global industry like cosmetics and personal care, they first must be scalable—which is why ingredients like Bakuchiol and, more recently, Chebula have taken the cosmetic and personal care industry by storm. Science has driven the development of these active ingredients over the last decade. 

Harnessing the power of science to develop high-performing active ingredients is what Sytheon does best. This New Jersey (US) – based ingredient maker got its start in 2006 when Dr. Ratan K. Chaudhuri, retired Technical Director of Merck Personal Care USA, decided to go into business making skincare ingredients that are “inspired by nature” and “scientifically and clinically validated to improve skin’s health and beauty”.  

Sytheon will be showing Bakuchiol (Sytenol® A, INCI: Bakuchiol) and Chebula (Synastol® TC, INCI: Terminalia chebula fruit extract) in the Ingredients Zone this coming March. 

This company is about much more than buzz-worthy skincare; there are several other ingredients in their portfolio; and in 2024, Sytheon will launch a “next breakthrough product, called Epi-G-Synol® Z DBL….This innovative well-defined single ingredient is designed by harnessing epigenetics, employing postbiotic end product, and preserving skin microbiome diversity.”

Chaudhuri, who serves the company he founded as President and CEO, explains that “innovation at Sytheon is not limited to developing new synthetic chemical structures or finding new applications for existing molecules. The innovations that enable progress also include exploring new methods to enhance understanding and gain new insights into mechanisms of how ingredients work. Sometimes,” he tells me, “the biggest impact comes from understanding those mechanisms and producing an improved system, which allows us to reach our targets faster. True innovation requires commitment and years of development.” 

“Bakuchiol’s first commerce use in topical applications didn’t happen until 2007. That’s when Sytenol® A was introduced to the market as a 99%+ pure alternative to Babchi seeds extract,” explains Chaudhuri. And he continues to outline the advantages of the ingredient saying, “Bakuchiol is a pure meroterpene molecule and now a very well-known true alternative to Retinol. Sytenol® A is the gold standard for bakuchiol. Sytenol® A is the only bakuchiol fully registered (REACH and NMPA) and the only fully clinically tested with a complete toxicology and scientific patented dossier. The purity level of Bakuchiol determines its effectiveness and safety,” he says. “Sytenol® A with 99%+ purity has practically no side effects at the recommended dosage.”

As for Chebula, “Synastol® TC is a highly standardized extract from the hyperfruit Terminalia chebula, …[and] is clinically proven to improve skin texture and appearance.” Testing has shown “lasting and more efficient neutralization of reactive oxygen species (ROS) compared to tocopherol. Synastol® TC also offered significant improvements in skin texture, hydration, tone, firmness, and radiance, which validated its ability to restore and prevent skin damage caused by environmental pollution,” says Chaudhuri.

In addition to this new hero ingredient, Chebula has garnered recent interest, given the impressive rise of skincare supplements and all things beauty-from-within in recent years: “Oral supplementation with Synastol® TC could help regulate the skin’s sebum production and reduce wrinkles. Researchers and dermatologists discovered that subjects who received the Synastol® TC capsules had significant reductions in forehead sebum excretion rates, cheek erythema and facial wrinkles over the course of eight weeks compared to subjects who received the placebo capsules,” recounts Chaudhuri.

“In another eight-week clinical study, oral consumption of 250 mg capsules of Synastol® TC twice daily resulted in increased microbiome diversity, increased relative abundancy of beneficial gut bacteria and phages, increased SCFA production (acetate, propionate, and butyrate), and increased plasma concentrations of bile acids. These results suggest that TC supplementation may shift the gut microbiome and shift secondary metabolites such as SCFAs and bile acids. Interestingly, Synastol® TC supplementation increased Akkermansia muciniphila, a rising probiotic that has been documented in strengthening the gut lining, improving digestive health, helping support a healthy weight and producing SCFAs. Supplementation may inhibit or even reverse disease progression.”

Chaudhuri also shared with me that both Bakuchiol and Chebula have a long history of use in Ayurveda and Traditional Indian Medicine. India is an increasingly important market to sell into and to source from. And these ingredient innovations from Sytheon are a part of that movement.

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 Allow me to repeat that India is an increasingly important market to sell into and to source from. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Before I move on to discuss how a company called TriBeaute is developing tomorrow’s cosmetic ingredients today, here is a small selection of recent industry news concerning India.

Beauty retailer Sephora entered India in 2012. And now it’s become commonplace to see leading multinationals launching brands and boutiques, and expanding operations in that country: Coty is targeting the prestige and consumer beauty segments, with new local offices, a new distribution partnership, and the appointment of Rizwan Mulla as Business Development Director. Revlon is adding some 300 retail locations, doubling that brand’s presence in India. In November, L’Oréal launched its CeraVe brand into India. And not long before that, Shiseido brought both the Shiseido brand and the NARS brand into India. 

The Estée Lauder Companies NIV (or New Incubation Venture) has awarded “the next generation of Indian-focused beauty founders, innovators, and creatives” significant cash prizes and mentorship for two years running now (2022 and 2023). Award winners span skincare, bath and body care, fragrance, supplements, ingredients (namely biotech palm-oil-alternatives maker C16 Biosciences), and even media (such as Filmmaker and Director Priya Minhas). 

The London, England – based global data, insights, and consulting company Kantar recently saw fit to launch a ‘cosmetics panel’ in India. The market research panel comprises over 3,000 women age 18 – 44; and data gathered will be used to “continuously track and report purchases made by shoppers across a total of four broad categories – face, eyes, lips, and nails – with a deep-dive into the segments within each category,” according to a media release posted on the company’s site. 

Sustainable ingredient design company Inolex opened a new commercial center in Mumbai this past August. According to a press announcement, “India emerged as a key market for Inolex several years ago as the company resourced further expansion in Asia. The country’s rich heritage of prioritizing wellness goes hand in hand with Inolex’s focus on green chemistry and eco-friendly technology.” 

“Making India a priority in our supply chain network strengthens our operations, contributes to our sustainability goals, and fosters deeper connections with local material suppliers and our distribution network,” said Puja Agarwal, Regional Business Director, South Asia, SEA, Oceania, and Japan at Inolex. “We are focused on building enduring partnerships within the region.”

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Tribeaute specializes in actives for skincare, hair care, and nutrition. In the Ingredients Zone at Cosmopack 2024, the Tokyo, Japan – based company will be showing primarily ingredients that are new to the EU marketplace. One is the award-winning RedoxySenseTM W (INCI: Rice Ferment Filtrate). This skincare ingredient, which is rich in Thioredoxin, provides benefits including hydration, anti-inflammation, reduction of fine lines, and brightening.  

The other new-to-the-EU line of ingredients that TriBeaute will be showing is the company’s latest launch called . And these ingredients have not only applications in multiple categories (scalp care, hair care, skincare, and beauty-from-within supplements) but also a compelling sourcing story. 

Over 30 years ago, two teams of scientists began collaborating on ‘the blue rose project’. They were from Suntory, a Japan-based brewing and distilling company, and from an Australian company known at the time as Calgene Pacific Pty Ltd., which is now today Florigene Ltd. Their objective was to develop a variety of rose that has blue pigment molecules and enough of them to appear blue. After nearly 15 years, they succeeded and made headlines around the world. This blue rose, however, was genetically modified. So the horticultural challenge of developing or discovering a natural blue rose remained. 

TriBeaute sought to resolve that challenge. “We have spent more than 10 years [using] repeat breeding [techniques] with better potential species to get natural blue roses; and then finally we have succeeded in developing this new species,” Yuki Kinoshita, Deputy Manager at TriBeaute tells me. One of the pivotal moments in the process was the identification of a hereditarily recessive blue pigment called rosacyanine. 

“However,” Kinoshita says, “this was not [enough] to develop this ingredient. Even after we got a successful [blue rose] species, it was too weak to cultivate to grow.” The team persevered and borrowed learnings from another TriBeaute ingredient development project: “As same as our iconic material Wasabi Flavone (which is from Japanese Wasabi and very difficult to cultivate), this raw material is also very sensitive to outer environmental stress. So we have hybridized this cultivation method of Wasabi japonica on this blue rose, and succeeded to commercialize it,” Kinoshita tells me. 

The rose variety is called Aurum BlueTM and is now grown in the Okhotsk region of Hokkaido (the northern most of Japan’s five main islands). And these flowers are the source of TriBeaute’s Aurum Blue Rose ingredients. Aurum BlueTM Water M is “natural blue rose distilled water,” says Kinoshita; and he notes that there are no preservatives in the ingredient. Benefits of the blue rose water include balancing of skin microflora. 

Aurum BlueTM Extract M is “the residue of the above distillation” and is a powdered ingredient. This extract has been shown in clinical testing to increase hair tensile strengthincrease hair diameter, decrease scalp sebum production, decrease scalp odor, improve scalp microbiome diversity (which has implications in the treatment of hair loss and atopic dermatitis). The blue rose extract also has antioxidant and anti-glycation effects, has been shown to induce autophagy activity, and has deodorant properties.  

A couple of other intriguing beauty ingredients in the TriBeaute portfolio deserve some attention here too, namely Wature Bamboo C and Wature Apple C. Both of these natural waters are, according to Kinoshita, “recommended for use in anti-aging skincare lines which focus on pure and/or natural [ingredients].” They are both also “suitable,” he says “as a water replacement.” 

The skincare benefits of Wature Apple C (INCI: Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Water) include anti-wrinkle, hydration, and improvement of the skin elasticity. And Kinoshita tells me that “because originally we has no expectations for this product about efficacy,” initial clinical testing was done at 100%. The TriBeaute team is now proceeding with a “lower dosage” and anticipates that efficacy will be seen at levels ranging from 1-10% in formulation. Wature Bamboo C (INCI: Sasa Kurilensis Water) is Japanese Bamboo distillated water and has primarily anti-bacterial and antioxidant effects.

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TribeauteSytheonSparxell, and  ExoLab Italia ; exemplify the sort of companies that you’ll find exhibiting in the Ingredients Zone at Cosmopack in 2024. Discover Ingredients Zone with other suppliers, similarly invested in developing tomorrow’s cosmetic, personal care, and fragrance ingredients that will be there showcasing the most relevant and newest innovations from this critical sector of the beauty industry supply chain.   

Cosmetic ingredient science has been one of my favorite topics to learn about and to write about throughout my career in beauty, which is why I am very much looking forward to this second edition of the Ingredients Zone at Cosmopack. If you’ve read this far, I imagine that you share my enthusiasm for ingredients. 

Author: Deanna Utroske
In collaboration with: 

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Are you looking for more updates on the most current news for cosmetic ingredients? Don’t miss the CosmoFactory Podcast – From Ideas to Innovation, the brand-new podcast by Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna, and discover the most disruptive experiences and the devlopment of the cosmetics of the future!



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