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.
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.