What makes a good beauty ingredient philosophy?

Sun, 30 Oct 2022


In today’s beauty space, more and more of us care deeply about skincare ingredients. We increasingly want to know what we are putting on our skin. In turn, this is leading brands to think more carefully about the content of their formulations. 
A good ingredient philosophy is the basis for all ingredient sourcing and selection, enabling brands to ensure their ingredient choices reflect their sustainability and conscious beauty commitments.

What is an ingredient philosophy?

An ingredient philosophy is a set of guidelines for beauty brands to use when choosing which ingredients to include in their products. These guidelines are based on scientific facts about the safety of beauty ingredients and what consumers expect from beauty brands. 
In addition to safety and regulatory guidelines, beauty brands should also consider the compatibility of an ingredient with others in their skincare product and how easy it is to source ingredients.
A well-thought-out, clear and comprehensive ingredient philosophy is vital for brands. An ingredient philosophy provides a foundation that underpins every ingredient consideration and choice they make. Communicating your ingredient philosophy with people is also valuable as it provides transparency about your ingredient process, which helps to build confidence and trust.
Here, at Skinfood, we developed our ingredient philosophy before we launched our skin care products. For us, it was important to ensure our products and the individual ingredients that make up our natural formulations reflect our values and what our customers care about. 

Ingredients matter in beauty

In our recent blog on Uncovering the Beauty of Natural Skincare, we explored the rise and evolution of the natural beauty movement. Growing in popularity in recent years, natural skin care products appeal to beauty enthusiasts who want to look after their skin and the wider planet. 
As sustainable beauty evolves into conscious beauty, consumers are increasingly aware of, and interested in, the sustainability of their chosen skincare products. And ingredients play a vital role in creating sustainable and conscious skincare. 
From information on local ingredient sourcing and green packaging to the ethical treatment of people throughout the supply chain—we want to make sure that we are creating skincare products that prioritise looking after people and the planet.
Understanding the provenance of ingredients is also influential. Communicating ingredients’ authentic heritage and their journey from selection to shelf matters as it tells a story that is important to natural skincare consumers. We also want to be able to access information on the effectiveness of ingredients and their suitability for specific skin concerns.  

Choosing natural ingredients

Ingredients are an essential part of any beauty product, and beauty brands should consider a range of factors when selecting which ingredients to include in their products. 
Selecting skincare ingredients is not as simple as just picking any ingredient off the shelf. Instead, beauty companies need to consider a range of factors when choosing which ingredients to use in their products. 
These factors include:
  • Whether an ingredient is safe and legal to use in cosmetics products
  • The compatibility of an ingredient with the other ingredients in a product
  • The stability of an ingredient in the formulation
  • The cost of an ingredient
  • How easy it is to source an ingredient
One important factor that beauty companies need to consider when selecting beauty ingredients is whether those ingredients are safe to use. There are a number of regulatory authorities around the world that have established safety guidelines for cosmetic ingredients, and beauty companies need to ensure that their ingredients comply with these guidelines. The two main organisations that carry out independent safety assessments are the Scientific Committee of Consumer Safety (SCCS) in the European Union (EU) which publishes ingredient reports, and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) in the US.
Along with these considerations and requirements, when selecting ingredients for our Skinfood products, we also ask a number of essential questions to ensure the ingredient we are considering aligns with our philosophy and values of what makes a good ingredient and contributes to a safe and effective skincare formulation. 
Our questions are: 
  • What are each ingredient’s short-term and long-term benefits for the skin and overall health? Understanding this enables us to determine the product types that an ingredient can be used in and at what levels. 
  • Are there any allergens or potential sensitisers within the chemical compounds of each ingredient? This is very important as if these are present, they need to be calculated and stated on our labelling. 
  • What are the sustainability and ethics of gathering and processing individual ingredients?
  • What is the availability of the individual ingredient? 

Natural ingredients and their properties 

We chose Frankincense in our Skinfood serum and cream for its well-documented collagen and elastin boosting properties; its antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties; its ability to support skin healing; as well as its mood-balancing attributes for improving wellbeing. Myrrh shares these too. 
Witch Hazel is a star ingredient in our Skinfood toner because of its well-known mildly astringent and oil-balancing abilities. It is also effective for soothing acne, reducing skin irritation and sensitivity, and also has antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral properties. 

Effectiveness and performance of natural ingredients 

At Skinfood, we carefully select each ingredient for their particular benefits to skin health and overall health. We research the chemical compounds, antioxidants, nutrients and minerals that an ingredient contains and that it can provide within a skincare product. 
The fruit and botanical extracts that we use all contain antioxidants, which are proven to fight free-radical damage (which can cause premature ageing) and offer further protection from environmental factors such as UV radiation. These extracts contain many other compounds, including vitamins A, B, C, D and E, which help to retain skin barrier function and regular cell renewal as well as providing exfoliating properties to protect and encourage healthy skin.

Complementary ingredients 

Ingredients need to work synergistically within the formulation process and as a finished product to optimise the skin benefits they provide. There are hundreds of wonderful ingredients that we can use, but not all of them combine well together in a formulation. 
For example, some require a pH at opposite ends of the scale to sit within their effective range. If an ingredient is introduced into a formulation at a pH outside the effective range, then it becomes inactive and doesn’t impart the benefits for which it was included. It is misleading for companies to promote the inclusion of such ingredients and their benefits if the product being purchased is not formulated to allow the ingredient to be effective. 
The solubility of ingredients is critical. You cannot include a water-soluble ingredient such as aloe vera in an oil-based balm and claim that it is effective.

The process of sourcing, extracting and formulating with natural ingredients 

For us at Skinfood, we only consider using ingredients from trusted suppliers who can provide relevant safety data and provenance certification. All of our ingredients must be certified Natural under the COSMOS standards and are Leaping Bunny certified. Having these certifications ensures there is no aspect of extraction or production that requires animal testing and that our ingredients are vegan trademarked to ensure no part of ingredient processes are considered detrimental to animal welfare. 
We source ingredients and packaging as sustainably as possible, with as low a carbon, environmental and ecological footprint as we can. As a young skin care brand, we are not yet established enough to provide fair trade and fair wild certified products, but we use as many organic and fair ingredients as possible with the hope of expanding this as our business grows.