top of page

July 2020

Moisture in Balance

Frequent hand washing and sanitizing in recent months have caused dry skin for some of us. The skin is an amazing organ, constantly shedding its outer layer of dirty and damaged cells, along with microorganisms and contaminants that it picks up. Skin works well as a barrier when it is healthy and in balance – flexible enough to withstand stress, yet dry enough to renew itself. Sebum, the oily substance produced in our pores, is the body’s technology for maintaining this dynamic balance.

The surfactants in soaps and the alcohols in sanitizers carry away some of the skin’s natural moisturizer, leaving it dry. There are three main ways to replenish the skin’s moisture: block its loss, add oils to replenish, or add chemicals to products that bind with water in the skin. The ingredients that deliver these functions are called occlusives, emollients, and humectants.

Occlusive ingredients block water loss by filling the cracks in dry skin and making a film that prevents water loss. Occlusive ingredients are waxes or heavy oils that usually don’t penetrate the skin. Petrolatum, mineral oil, paraffin wax, and liquid paraffin are all petroleum distillation byproducts that can be used as occlusive agents. The petroleum-based occlusive ingredients are not renewable and some may contain residual polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s), which are carcinogenic. Naturally sourced occlusive ingredients include beeswax, plant waxes and heavier oils like avocado and castor oil.

Emollient ingredients are oils that are absorbed into the skin, making it more supple. A low molecular weight helps emollients be absorbed readily. Liquid silicones including both dimethicone and cyclomethicone (also known as D4, D5, D6) are some of the most common emollients in moisturizers. These liquid silicones provide excellent spreading and the desirable light skin feel. Unfortunately the cyclomethicones are also linked to endocrine disruption and are effectively banned from both food packaging and cosmetics in the EU. Natural fatty acid-based moisturizing agents like jojoba oil, coconut oil, and shea butter have both emollient and occlusive properties, and are common ingredients in natural skincare formulations. P2 Science makes CitropolTM, a naturally sourced and biodegradable emollient with excellent properties that can replace liquid silicones in skincare products as well as haircare, sunscreen, and other products where film forming, lubrication, and spreading are key performance criteria.

Humectant ingredients actively draw water into the skin. Common humectants include hyaluronic acid, sorbitol, glycerin, and other glycols. The majority of the humectant ingredients used are relatively safe on their own, but it is common to find them formulated with non-ionic polyethylene glycol surfactants that may be contaminated with residual 1,4-dioxane.

Finding the best balance of occlusive, emollient and humectant ingredients for different skin types is as much an art as a science for dermatologists and skin care professionals. A few places look for products with safer ingredients are: EWG’s Skin Deep, Made Safe, CREDO Beauty, and Grove. Skin care is the largest segment of the cosmetics market accounting for about 135 billion dollars in 2018. The clean beauty sector is the segment of the market focused on natural cosmetics, health, wellness, social and environmental responsibility. The clean beauty segment grew 42% from 2017 to 2018 with projected global sales of $22 billion by 2024. Skin care is the top selling clean beauty category.

We Welcome Mia Davis as our Clean Beauty Advisor

Mia Davis is a leader in the clean beauty movement. She created the chemical policy at Beautycounter, where she was the first hire, and more recently developed policies for Credo, the largest clean beauty retailer, including the Credo Clean Standard and the new Sustainable Packaging Guidelines. We are excited to work more closely with Mia to support safer products and clean beauty

Progress on PFAS

Arlene Blum and her colleagues continue to make headway with scientists, lawmakers, and businesses to treat all per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS aka “forever chemicals”) as a class and avoid their use. Her team worked with the NIH and other leading scientists to outline the approach in a recent paper, and also to influence Senator Richard Blumenthal (D, Conn.) and others to introduce legislation that would reduce PFAS exposure among military families by stopping the government purchases of products containing PFAS.


Apeel Sciences, a developer of a plant-based solutions that extend the shelf-life of produce raised $250 million.

Bast Fibre Technologies Inc., a natural fiber engineering company who makes compostable wipes, raised C$ 4.5 million.

BIOMILQ, an infant nutrition company that's trying to produce cultured human breastmilk, raised $3.5 million.

Boost Biomes, developer of probiotic crop and produce treatments, raised $5 million.

Beyond Leather Materials, a startup that produces plant-based and alternatives to animal leather, raised €1.1 million.

Clean Crop Technologies, a startup using high voltage atmospheric cold plasma (HVACP) instead of pesticides to reduce molds, toxins, and pests across the global grain and nut sectors, has raised $2.75 million.

Ecoinno, maker of compostable food packaging, raised $6 million.

Enko's, a company using AI to find safer new active ingredients for crop protection, raised $45 million.

EnginZyme, a cell-free synthetic biology company, has raised €6.4 million.

Impossible Foods, maker of the impossible burger, has raised $500 million.

Indigo Ag, a developer of crop sustainability and selling solutions, raised around $300 million.

Knowde, an online chemical marketplace, raised $14 million.

LanzaTech, a biotech company that converts greenhouse gas emissions from steel mills and other industrial facilities into ethanol, a renewable fuel and chemical feedstock, has raised $50 million.

Lactips, a company that produces a water-soluble, biodegradable plastic substitute made of casein that is edible, raised €13 million.

MicroGen Biotech, an ag-tech startup focused on reducing heavy metals in soil and food, has raised $3.8 million.

Mothers Choice, a company developing botanical based preservatives for personal care and cleaning has raised $8 million. Safer Made participated in this round.

Motherly, a media platform and lifestyle brand focused on healthier products, has raised $5.4 million.

Mori, (aka Cambridge Crops) a company using silkworm cocoons as food preservatives, raised $12 million.

MycoTechnology, which make food ingredients from mycelia, raised $39 million.

Novi, a company helping clean beauty brands source better ingredients, raised $1.5 million.

Polymateria, maker of biodegradation catalysts for common forms of plastic, has raised £15 million.

SimpleLab, a software platform for environmental testing raised an undisclosed amount of funding.

Solugen, a biobased chemical company that produces hydrogen peroxide and a biodegradable chelating agent, raised $30 million.

Strella Biotechnology, a company that uses biosensors to maximize freshness of fresh produce throughout the supply chain, raised $3.3 million.

Varden, a company using sugarcane bagasse to make a packaging products raised $2.2 million.

Yardbird, maker of lawn furniture from recycled ocean plastic, raised $4.4 million.


Architect Equity has acquired Faultless Brands, owners of a line of cleaning products including Bon Ami, for undisclosed terms.

DSM acquired Austria’s Erber Group, a producer of natural feed additives and related products, for €980 million.

L’Oreal has acquired Thayers Natural Remedies, maker of natural skincare products, for a reported $400 million.

Lululemon announced plans to acquire home exercise startup Mirror for $500 million.

Also Noted


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page