The Fascinating World Of Eco-Cosmetics - New Developments

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"Eco-cosmetics" are cosmetic products whose composition and production process are environmentally friendly.
Poland Intellectual Property
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"Eco-cosmetics" are cosmetic products whose composition and production process are environmentally friendly. Products of this type are made from natural ingredients, without the use of chemicals that are harmful to health and the environment. They cover a wide range of products, including cosmetics for skin care, hair care, make-up or personal hygiene. As a result, they come in various forms, from creams and soaps to shampoos and body care products. Their popularity has grown along with the increasing consumer interest in ecology and a healthy lifestyle, thanks to which more and more cosmetic companies are making a considerable effort to develop eco-friendly products.

Eco-cosmetics are made from raw materials sourced from organic cultivation, where sustainable farming practices are used that exclude the use of synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilisers. A common ingredient of eco-cosmetics is, for example, argan oil, which is rich in vitamins, fatty acids and antioxidants, and is therefore excellent for moisturising the skin and hair. Another frequently used natural ingredient is aloe vera, more specifically a gel extracted from aloe vera leaves, with soothing, moisturising and anti-inflammatory properties, which is good for after-sun skin care and irritated children's skin. Shea butter, jojoba oil, green tea extract or rose oil are also used for their moisturising, skin-nourishing and skin-regenerating properties. Ingredients such as vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin B5 are often added to organic cosmetics for their antioxidant and regenerative properties along with coconut oil, which is rich in fatty acids and vitamins.

Other particularly beneficial, skin- and environmentally-friendly ingredients are essential oils. They are highly popular in the cosmetics industry due to their numerous skin benefits and natural origin. Essential oils are indispensable ingredients in eco-cosmetics, and are perfect for skin, hair and nail care. The versatility of organic oils provides the possibility of creating unique cosmetic compositions tailored to the individual needs of the "eco-user". These natural plant substances, with their intense aroma, have many invaluable health-promoting properties, the most important of which are:

  • Antibacterial and antiviral activity – the oils are helpful in fighting bacteria and viruses, making them an effective agent in the fight against pathogens,
  • Antioxidant action - they contain antioxidant substances that help protect cells from free radical damage,
  • Anti-inflammatory effects - relieve inflammation such as acne and arthritis,
  • Protective effects - support the immune system to help the body fight infections,
  • Pain-relieving effects - help to relieve pain, such as headaches and muscle aches,
  • Refreshing effects - help purify the air and give it a pleasant fragrance.

Essential oils are also used in eco-cosmetics as natural preservatives, offering increased shelf life. Despite the widespread use of a range of synthetic fragrances in the cosmetics industry, there is a growing demand for alternative and primarily natural substances due to their safety and numerous health-promoting benefits.

Despite their broad spectrum of properties and uses, organic essential oils also present challenges including low bioavailability to organisms. Their lack of solubility in water causes great difficulty in their absorption by the body, a problem that most often affects therapies in which essential oils are used internally. Furthermore, oils have low absorption through the skin; although they can be applied transdermally, some do not have the expected ability to penetrate the skin barrier. Another common problem is low concentrations of the oils in the blood, as after oral administration the essential oils are metabolised by the liver and can be removed from the body too quickly. It is also necessary to indicate potential interactions with the drugs used, as there is a risk of such interactions when essential oils are used orally or by inhalation, which may affect the bioavailability and effectiveness of the various substances. It should also be borne in mind that, due to the high concentration of eco-oils, side effects in the form of allergic reactions, skin irritation or irritation of mucous membranes may occur during their use, which consequently also limits their bioavailability.

Challenges to eco-oils and potential solutions to existing problems

Ensuring the prolonged and controlled release of eco-essential oils is often a challenge in the cosmetics industry, with not only optimised therapeutic effects expected at this stage, but also increasing demands on the safety of novel eco-products.

A solution to the common problem of bioavailability of essential oils may be the use of novel nanoscopic carriers such as nanocrystals, nanoemulsions, nanogels, micellar nanocomplexes or other nanostructures, which can improve the solubility and enhance the bioavailability of these substances. Nanostructured carriers are part of the growing trend for sustainable and environmentally friendly eco-cosmetic compositions. Their ability to bind and deliver essential oils in a controlled manner solves volatility and solubility issues, providing an excellent base for effective eco-cosmetic delivery systems.

Recently, many new developments have been published in patent databases, which means that the trend for eco-cosmetics is constantly growing.

Among the recently published inventions, the patent application CN117562834A belonging to YINGU FANGXIANG TECH CO LTD stands out, which discloses a highly water-soluble essential oil emulsion and a method of producing the same, that addresses existing essential oil emulsions with poor emulsifying activity. The emulsion according to the invention contains six individual essential oils and thus has a regenerative effect on the skin through a compatible combination of their synergistic action. The use of a dispersing agent and cationic emulsifier improves the water solubility of the etheric oil composition, creating a nanocoating that improves water solubility and its absorption capacity and efficacy.

Another patent FR3098713 B1 owned by the French company TORSKAL, reveals the use of gold nanoparticles and a plant extract to produce a cosmetic composition used to prevent UV-induced skin damage. The gold nanoparticles containing the plant extract according to the invention have inhibitory properties, as by using the plant extract, the nanoparticles are not only more stable, but more importantly enable UV-A-induced oxidation to be inhibited by capturing free radicals, while not being toxic or genotoxic, and not irritating or sensitising.

On the other hand, the patent application CN116925366A belonging to GUANGZHOU ZHONGZHUANG MEIYE COSMETICS CO LTD and UNIV GUANGDONG TECHNOLOGY discloses a method of manufacturing a nanomicellar hydrogel containing green tea essential oil and a method of manufacturing the same. The composite hydrogel according to the invention contains a hydrogel matrix and an amphiphilic copolymer micelle, where the hydrophobic essential oil is encapsulated in a specific core-shell structure and thus has good anti-ageing and antibacterial properties. Encapsulation of the essential oil improves its stability and controlled release in the hydrogel.

Additionally, in order to promote eco-friendly practices in the beauty industry, instead of using disposable make-up applicators such as sponges or brushes, reusable applicators made of easily washable and reusable materials are becoming increasingly popular. In addition, antimicrobial agents are applied to the applicators to prevent the growth of germs. An interesting solution is the international application WO2023171641 A1 belonging to the company TAIKI CORP LTD, which describes an antibacterial cosmetic sponge containing a plant essential oil contained in a sponge-forming polymer, which has excellent antimicrobial properties and is resistant to being washed off, so that it can be used, for example, when applying cosmetics such as liquid foundation or powdered cosmetics to the skin.

Comprehensive experiments confirm the effectiveness of essential oil and nanoparticle preparations in specific cosmetic applications targeting organic products. The use of nanoparticles in cosmetics improves their properties, such as better penetration of active substances into the skin or the stability of the composition in increasing the effectiveness of active substances, such as vitamins or plant extracts, by facilitating their penetration through the skin's protective layer. Furthermore, the steadily strengthening position of eco-cosmetics reflects the integration of natural active substances and nanostructural carriers. Experimental research by scientists is heading in the direction of refining the synergistic effects of eco-oils and nanoparticles, which may in the near future usher in a new era among organic cosmetics, in which meticulously developed cosmetic compositions will offer the highest standard of eco-products.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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