Sustainability and Personal Care: A Resilient Trend
If you look closely at personal care products, you will be amazed by the huge impact they have on our day to day life. They keep us healthy by keeping us clean – the importance of personal hygiene has never been more evident than in the last few months. Personal care products allow for distinctive expression of our personality, subtly enhancing our natural features and instilling self-assurance. Last but not least, personal care products help us replenish our reservoirs of wellbeing thus relieving stress, providing a means of pampering ourselves.
The balance between hygiene, beauty and pampering, pushed up and down by trends and socio-economical influences was dramatically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to some authors with the impact of the Second World War, the rapid spread of COVID-19 brought on major changes in consumer needs and expectations, forcing the entire industry to quickly adjust and respond. But where there is a challenge, there is also opportunity.
The focus of the first few months during the pandemic was hygiene. In a sustained effort to overcome supply chain disruption, manufacturing lines were repurposed to produce huge volumes of hand sanitizer and hand soap. Chemical suppliers, like BASF, prioritized production of the critically needed ingredients to help fight the outbreak. It was everyone’s desire to go out of their way to support and safely combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and within weeks BASF Canada had re-tooled its Windsor automotive coating site to start manufacturing hand sanitizer, which was then donated to health care facilities, communities – including First Nations communities, and essential services across Canada.
As months went by, hand soap is still the superstar and hand sanitizer is still the hero, but consumer demand has started to diversify. Trends like self-care and pampering for creating “me” time and reducing stress, touchless applicators triggered by the hygiene obsession, online-to-offline selling strategies; try-before-you-buy is not reserved for VIP clientele anymore. Digitalization impacting the way you match products with your individual needs are creating opportunities for new formulations, new approaches, and new brands.
The COVID-19 pandemic has persisted longer than many of us anticipated. The personal care and beauty industry have been consistently resilient during major disruptions and economic crisis and will redefine itself again. The meaning of “beauty” will be intertwined with individuals’ sense of well-being and artificial intelligence will accelerate the pace of innovation.
Trends, by definition, come and go but sustainability became a mandate for the personal care industry. None of the sustainability trend setters in the industry postponed their goals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers are still looking at the industry to be a leader and provide safe, sustainable and responsible products. Using lifecycle analysis as a tool to measure environmental and social impacts of products continues.
At BASF, we are still heavily focused on responsibly producing products that make a positive impact on the environment and society. Through our externally verified Sustainable Steering Solutions Portfolio methodology, we have evaluated over 60,000 products in our portfolio, and categorized them based on their contribution to sustainability. For products in our personal care portfolio, BASF provides solutions that support biodiversity, protect health and safety, ensure resource efficiency and support the fight against climate change, among other contributions.
In addition, we are always exploring natural solutions to the products we create. An example of a project at BASF is focused on sustainable sourcing is the ambitious Rambutan Project. Well known in South Asia for its health benefits, the rambutan fruit is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins that captured the imagination and innovation of BASF’s scientists. This project, launched in 2015, focuses on using the by-product of the rambutan fruit that is sourced from an organic farm in Vietnam, and offers safe working conditions and higher incomes for the workers. Three actives were launched in 2019: a peel extract for skin hydration – Nephydrat, a leaf extract for antiwrinkle and skin elasticity properties – Nephoria, and a seed extract addressing hydration and anti-pollution effects on the scalp as well as hair vitality – Rambuvital. All three products are COSMOS-approved ingredients of 100% natural origin.
Beyond the chemical impact on the environment, sustainability touches human lives, through sustainable sourcing and social responsibility. As chemists, we have a unique, relationship with the matter, an understanding that goes down to the molecular and atomic level. It is highly rewarding to hold the key to developing products that eliminate negative environmental impacts and create social value fueled by the power of natural ingredients. That is why, through our sustainable products and solutions, we will continue this path to position ourselves as leaders in providing solutions and products for our customers that address these key issues.
Authored by: Lili Cretu, Account Manager, Personal Care, BASF Canada