Biotechnology

We make face creams from coffee beans, when cosmetics become more ecological

Researchers are investigating the commercial production of innovative cosmetic ingredients from plants. Credit: Kabachki.photo, Shutterstock

Cosmetics often use unsustainable ingredients, but new research is in line with the growing demand for eco-friendly products.


“The plant ingredients have always been used in cosmetic products“, – said Heiko Rischer, head of plant biotechnology at the Finnish research center VTT. “But in recent years there has been a renewed interest in plant compounds. Consumers are interested in greener and more sustainable ingredients.”

Today, most of the main ingredients used in Europe’s €80 billion cosmetics industry are synthetic or of animal origin or derived from wild plants. The production of these ingredients sometimes involves solvents or processes that are unsustainable and becoming less popular with consumers. Harvesting of wild plants also puts natural ecosystems under pressure.

Richer and other European scientists are researching how to get more natural and sustainable plant ingredients cosmetic products.

Ecosystem pressure

The InnCoCells a project coordinated by VTT creates alternative options for ingredients growing plants or plant cells for use in cosmetics in a sustainable way.

“We grow plant cells and organs in bioreactors,” Rischer said. “But other partners grow plants entirely in aeroponics and greenhouses or in the field.”

InnCoCells is investigating the commercial production of innovative products cosmetic ingredients from plants such as basil or fragrant ginger.

“Our work is currently in the bioprospecting phase,” Rischer said. “We’re evaluating different plant species for compounds. We’re starting from a wide range of potential plants and whittling them down over time.”

The team aims to develop up to 10 ingredients to bring them to market within the next three years, though it’s early days for the project, which launched in May 2021.

“Finding your way through this jungle of plant options is a challenge,” Richer said.

The main focus is on bioactive compounds in cosmetics, i.e. ingredients that produce a desired effect, such as anti-aging, rather than ingredients such as stabilizers or fragrances. An essential part of working at InnCoCells is making sure that cosmetics deliver on what they promise transparently.

“Cosmetics must disclose evidence that products actually do what they claim,” Richer said. “It will really help the consumer make a choice. When we buy food, there is a lot of information on the packaging that helps the consumer. We need to do the same with cosmetics.”

Coffee creams

In a separate, just-completed, initiative to green the cosmetics industry A fruitful project turned plant residues into ingredients for cosmetics. The team extracted polyphenols from coffee silver skins, a type of compound useful in cosmetics because of its antiaging effects on the skin. The polyphenol extract was standardized and used in a prototype facial cream.

Usually, polyphenols are already obtained from plants. But the compound is extracted through a chemical process, resulting in waste that must be carefully disposed of. The project used an environmentally friendly method called subcritical water extraction, which uses water under very high pressure to extract polyphenols from coffee silver skins.

Overall, the Prolific study used a number of novel processes to extract beneficial compounds from agricultural waste from a variety of plant sources, such as coffee beans, mushrooms and legumes.

“We are using a cascade approach,” said Analisa Tassoni, the project’s scientific coordinator and associate professor at the University of Bologna in Italy. “We do the first extraction, then we look at what’s left and try to extract another compound.”

Ultimately, the residual fibers were used in various stages of production. Three cosmetics prototypes were made by the Greek partner company COSMETIC, including a face cream, toothpaste and even a jar made of plant fibers.

“We evaluate all parts of the remains,” said Georgios Tsatsas, CEO of COSMETIC. “It goes to the fibers that are left after the extraction process.”

Plant-based compounds

Several steps need to be taken before these green compounds can enter the cosmetics market. The methods used by Prolific to process coffee are close to being implemented in the production of cosmetics, but the methods need to be expanded so that plant compounds can compete with synthetic ones.

“There’s a lot of evidence in favor of this coffee-making process,” Tassoni said, “we’ve opened up new perspectives and confirmed that some methods actually work.”

Although it will be difficult to overcome all the synthetic methods used in the cosmetics industry, Richer is optimistic about the prospects for more environmentally friendly approaches.

“The cosmetics market is very large and diverse,” he said. “Consumers are demanding more sustainable and eco-friendly cosmetics, and in our own niche we can make an impact.”

Citation: Making coffee bean face creams as cosmetics go greener (2022, November 30) Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-creams-coffee-beans-cosmetics -greener.html

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https://phys.org/news/2022-11-creams-coffee-beans-cosmetics-greener.html We make face creams from coffee beans, when cosmetics become more ecological

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