F is for Formulating Green: Digging into the Secrets of Chemists Who Make Natural Skincare and Makeup

Your demand for natural skincare and makeup is changing the way some cosmetic formulators approach their work.
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Your demand for natural skincare and makeup is changing the way some cosmetic formulators approach their work.
In the Burt's Bees lab

While I appreciate the nourishing aspects of certain natural ingredients (and am a sucker for natural oils and balms), I think synthetics have their uses. Yet not long ago, I found myself intrigued by the idea that some cosmetic formulators accustomed to working with cutting-edge synthetics have now wholeheartedly embraced a more eco-ingredient philosophy, even ditched manufactured ingredients for good. I interviewed three chemists at the forefront of natural beauty, and discovered that formulating green definitely isn't easy, but it's hella rewarding.

(Above: observing cosmetic chemist Cheryl, at the Burt's Bees head office in Raleigh, North Carolina.) 

formulating green: chemists who make natural skincare and makeup

My curiosity in scientists whose trade is formulating green was sparked by a Canadian chemist who makes high-end skincare for a variety of clients he can't reveal (the custom-formulation industry is very cloak-and-dagger, highly competetive and secretive). Encouraged by the success of an award-winning all-natural line he works on, he's replaced a number of his lab's go-to synthetic raw materials with naturals instead, and persuades new clients to use them in their products even if they're not creating an eco line.

Next I was inspired by a team of accomplished cosmetic chemists who found themselves at a standstill when their initial all-natural formulas kept failing. They made me think about microwaves and how we used to re-heat leftovers before they existed.

And then I spoke with a professional artist -- a painter -- who has been formulating natural and organic cosmetics for years. The co-founder of an excellent line of natural makeup, she's never made traditional, synthetics-based formulas. And she relies on her fine arts background to create flattering shades of foundation and coloured cosmetics, such as cheek colour and lipstick.

To read more of what I found out about formulating green via Leslie Cosmetics, Burt's Bees and Vapour Organic Beauty, pick up the April issue of Fashion Magazine, or pop over to Lab Test: 3 cosmetic chemists who are changing the beauty landscape with eco-friendly ingredients at fashionmagazine.com.