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Green Science, Giving the Earth a Rest, Are Beauty Giants’ Priorities

The latest "Science & Sustainability of Beauty Masterclass" took place at The Royal Institution in London and the focus was on working with and learning from nature.

LONDON — Beauty’s biggest brands, including L’Oréal, The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and Symrise, touted their “green science” and environmental preservation strategies this week at The Royal Institution in London during a daylong master class organized by Judy Price, founder of the nonprofit National Beauty Science Institute.

This was Price’s latest Science & Sustainability of Beauty Masterclass” for students and young professionals, and the first edition post-COVID-19. The day usually takes place in Paris, but Price moved it to London this year and to The Royal Institution, an historic science hub in Mayfair founded in 1799.

The Royal Institution embraces all branches of science — the electric motor was invented there, and potassium, sodium and barium were first isolated in its labs — and it also has ties to the beauty world. L’Oréal has a Young Scientists Center on site where it conducts hands-on workshops for students aged seven to 18 and their teachers.

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The neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Glaser, director of science engagement at The Royal Institution, kicked off the program, addressing an audience of around 100 about how the brain perceives beauty.

He talked about how facial expressions, posture and certain poses all impact how a person is perceived by others, and how they can fundamentally “change the beauty” of an individual.

L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, Symrise, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Recherche and the chemicals company Lubrizol later took to the podium to talk about their advances in the fields of green science, sustainability and blockchain.

Price, a former journalist and the founder of Avenue magazine, said she specifically wanted the speakers to address the scientific developments in beauty and to bring their numbers, research and innovations to the fore.

She said it’s important for students and young professionals to know that beauty is not just about pretty faces but also about scientific discovery and innovation.

“Beauty scientists don’t speak to a consumer audience, ever. The beauty industry is in a silo: you have the scientists, and you have the marketing” and they often don’t speak to each other, said Price who saw the daylong master class as an opportunity to get the scientists talking.

“I wanted them to make their work ‘word friendly,’ to explain topics such as bio-mimicry, circadian rhythms and the bad effects of blue light” from digital screens, she added.

The scientists delivered and their focus was on preserving natural resources, developing sustainable ingredients and mimicking Nature’s processes in the lab.

Ana Kljuic, head of the newly created L’Oréal For the Future and Green Sciences Department, talked about how the beauty giant is using biotechnology to create new ingredients and formulas to reach its environmental goals. By 2030, the company wants 95 percent of L’Oréal’s ingredients to be biobased.

She also highlighted some of L’Oréal’s work with natural resources, such as rose wood extract, which was long considered a waste product but is now used in Lancôme’s Absolue Serum for its antioxidant properties.

She referred to the process as “eco-extraction” and said it was a great example of how “technology and biology” can come together in the name of sustainability.

L’Oréal is also mimicking the natural fermentation process and creating molecules in the lab that resemble those in nature, which will help to prevent overworking farmland and taxing natural resources.

Patrick Choisy, head of innovation in natural materials and sustainable development at LVMH, discussed the range of work the company is doing on packaging, merchandising and traceability in an effort to conserve resources.

LVMH is now able to track and measure the environmental impact of its products over the years and is also cooperating with other companies in areas such as recycling and developing alternatives to PET.

The Estée Lauder team discussed the latest science and technology driving innovation at the company, including its approaches to balancing “efficacy with sustainability” as it sources and develops ingredients.

Jaime M. Ferreira, executive director, Fragrance and Product Innovation, highlighted epigenetics, saying 75 percent of skin ageing is down to environment and lifestyle. He said the company is focused on understanding the environmental and lifestyle effects that impact the skin, and developing technology to control those effects.

He added that biofermentation is a “huge” area of exploration and allows the company to harness the power of nature. “Through fermentation, cells become factories, driving the efficient production of a variety of natural molecules,” he said.

Symrise touted its ability to turn food industry waste into raw materials and the success of its Hydrolite7 ingredient, which was released last year. It is made from 100 percent bio-based sources, and derived from sustainably sourced castor bean oil.

According to Symrise, Hydrolite7 is a clear, colorless ingredient that can go into a variety of traditional or green cosmetic formulations and works with all skin types. It acts as a preservative and enhances a product’s antioxidant properties.

A series of company managers talked about Symrise’s aspirations to create “zero-waste” fragrances and highlighted a new ingredient dubbed “Pearadise,” which is upcycled from corn feed and has a “radiant, fresh pear scent.”

They talked about the importance of supply chain digitization and how consumers will soon be able to track the journey of a single product from farm to factory to shop floor by swiping a QR code.

During the lunch break, there were stands set up outside the lecture hall where attendees could sample products, learn more about each company and network with brands.

The geographic shift from Paris, where the 2019 edition of the master class took place, was intended to reach students and young professionals from different countries and learning institutions, said Price, who founded the National Beauty Science Institute in 2016.

The NBSI says its aim is to provide a better understanding of “how the sciences support a growing interest in matters of sustainability, authenticity and green energy in the field of beauty.”

It works with leading doctors and executives of institutions and companies to address how science and technology contribute to the development, production and sustainability of beauty brands.