The panelists.

Sustainability was the main theme at the National Beauty Science Institute’s panel Wednesday held at the New York Academy of Medicine.

The daylong event, which brought together 400 students from 10 universities, including New York University, Columbia and Parsons, focused on educating students on ways to make the beauty industry more sustainable.

Panelists, consisting of some of the industry’s top experts,  discussed how their companies are striving for more sustainable practices and how they’d like to further their initiatives.

“Seventy percent of perfumery ingredients used are petrochemical based,” said Achim Daub, global president of scent and care at Symrise AG, during his panel discussing ways that innovation drives sustainable beauty. “That’s not necessarily bad, but the issue obviously is that it’s not sustainable because the world’s oil resources will not last forever, so as an industry we have a responsibility to minimize the use of petro-based ingredients.”

Daub went on to discuss three key ways to increase sustainability in the beauty industry, specifically in perfumery: green chemistry, converting bio-waste into value and equitable sourcing of natural materials. He stressed that these three ways will drive efficiency, minimize the use of water and minimize waste, which all in turn will increase sustainability.

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Dr. Bruno Bavouzet, executive vice president of research and development at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, proposed nature as a source of innovation for beauty during his talk.

“Nature provides ingredients that are renewable. When you look at nature, you have all of these functionalities to build a cosmetic company or fragrance,” he said, stating that natural resources have properties that can make them work as effectively as synthetic ingredients.

Other panelists spoke about the scientific aspect of the industry, like Dr. Josh Ghaim, chief technology officer at Johnson & Johnson, who gave an overview of the skin’s biology and barrier function, and Dr. Kurt Schilling, senior vice president of basic science research and advanced technology at The Estée Lauder Cos., who discussed biomimicry and next-generation natural products.

The panel also brought together Dr. Michele Verschoore, medical director at L’Oréal, and Tanguy Pellen, vice president of packaging, and Olivier Doucet, vice president of skin and sun care, at Coty Inc. The National Beauty Science Institute, which was founded last year by Judy Price, recruits research and development personnel from large beauty companies to create a curriculum on beauty sustainability.