Cosmetic pigments & their role in addressing sustainability concerns among the European beauty consumer population

eight different coloured lips
eight different coloured lips

Source: Delphotostock –

Global cosmetic pigments market size is anticipated to cross USD 1 billion by 2026, driven by a massive shift of consumer interest toward high-quality cosmetic products, according to  Saloni Walimbe, Global Market Insights.

Cosmetics have been in use across civilizations for centuries, in myriad applications spanning religious rituals, beauty enhancement, and health management. Throughout history, the use of cosmetics has been geared towards fulfilling various practical concerns among the global population, including for protection from elements such as the sun, as social class indicators, and for upholding beauty conventions. From the Ancient Egyptian civilization in 10,000 BCE to modern advancements across Europe, U.S, and other emerging beauty markets, the cosmetics sector has had a long and eventual evolutionary journey.

Role of pigments

Cosmetics are complex products comprising myriad ingredients. Various chemical formulations are involved in the development of cosmetics and personal care products, which play key roles in the performance and safety of each individual product. One of the most integral chemical ingredients in cosmetic formulations is cosmetic pigments. Cosmetic pigments are coloring agents used to impact hues in various cosmetic formulations, from makeup products such as nail polishes and lipsticks to personal care items like soap. The cosmetic pigments market is bifurcated broadly into two types, organic and inorganic. The main distinguishing factor between these types is their base; organic cosmetic colorants contain carbon atoms, whereas inorganic colorants possess a mineral base.

Different classes of pigmentes

Organic color additives for cosmetics are further classified into organic pigments and organic lakes. These types of pigments including synthetic dyes as well as lake colors such as aluminum lakes. Organic dyes possess properties such as solubility in water or oil. Organic pigments comprise botanically derived colors and lakes. On the other hand, inorganic cosmetic pigment formulations comprise of pigments like titanium dioxide, zinc oxides, iron oxides, and ultramarines, among others. Inorganic pigments are also often given additional treatments in order to enhance color characteristics, such as UV protection, sheen, water-resistance, and others.

Cosmetic pigments and cosmetic lakes have come a long way over the years, backed by innovations and dedicated research efforts, aimed at addressing the rising demand for attractive shades in make-up and personal care products. Furthermore, the emergence of safety concerns regarding the composition of cosmetic pigment formulations has also given rise to many stringent regulatory standards and guidelines. For instance manufacturers of color additives for cosmetics in the United States have to adhere to FD&C color guidelines, while EEC Lake colors are created in compliance with EEC (European Economic Community) for cosmetic colorants in the European market.

The role of cosmetics as a lifestyle standard among the European population

Europe has long established itself as the largest market for cosmetics across the globe. A vast majority of the expansive European population considers cosmetics and personal care products to be an integral part of their daily lifestyle, in order to enhance health, wellbeing, and self-esteem boosters. From fragrances to soaps, to makeup, to skincare, and more, cosmetics play a key role in all aspects of life for the European population.

This situation is a major reason for persistent R&D efforts occurring in the EU, initiated by prominent players in the region’s beauty market. In fact, studies suggest that annual R&D expenditures in the EU for cosmetics amount to over €1.27 billion. European cosmetic companies are heavily invested in developing innovative and novel formulations to accommodate evolving beauty standards. In the course of a year, large companies are capable of introducing over 80 new ingredients to their portfolios, as well as conducting reformulations of over half their existing offerings. The cosmetic market in the European Union is home to over 33 scientific innovation facilities, dedicated to the research and development of cosmetics formulations, employing over 26,000 scientists from myriad disciplines ranging from physics to toxicology. L’Oréal, for instance, in 2016 invested more than €850 million in Research and Innovation, employing more than 3,000 experts from varying scientific fields.

The stronghold of the cosmetics domain in Europe is such that the European Trade Association also made strong efforts to represent the interests of the cosmetics industry in the region, by striking up a partnership with BBC Story Works, and some other member associations and companies, in order to create a video series aimed at examining the contribution of the industry to health and wellbeing among the European populace.

Placing emphasis on sustainability, wellbeing and product safety, the video series, dubbed the ‘Essentials for Daily Life’ series, was designed to shed light on the often-overlooked contributions of the cosmetics and personal care industry on enhancing daily consumer lives, via a behind-the-scenes glance at the industry and its inner workings.

Large variety of ingredients

Cosmetics and personal products comprise of a plethora of ingredients and compounds. European cosmetics manufacturers make use of various solvents, emollients, chemical exfoliants, pigments, preservatives, and a host of other such ingredients in their product portfolio.Given the reputation of Europe as a major cosmetics contributor, the large scale and variety of the products and ingredients used in the industry have offered cosmetic pigments market players the region to invest in boundless avenues of scientific R&D for novel and innovative formulations. For instance, in 2019, French skincare producer Strand Cosmetics Europe unveiled its new pigment treatment technology, dubbed Maestracolors+, to enhance the power of applications and formulations, and deliver benefits such as coverage, homogeneity, and hydrophobicity of the color during.

Shifting socio-demographic trends towards sustainability in the European cosmetics domain

Europe is witnessing a significant socio-demographic shift in recent years, with demand for natural ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products rising at a rapid pace. This shift is triggered mainly by the aging population in the region, which is gravitating towards naturally sourced ingredients due to their active properties such as anti-aging, while the younger generation is seeking products that are more sustainable and environmentally sound.

The millennial and Generation-Z population especially, growing more attuned to the benefits of organic and natural products, due to the rising environmental concerns. These generations mainly opt for cosmetics that claim to have ingredients that are organic, vegan, natural, and sustainable. According to some reports, over 76% of consumers prefer brands with safe ingredients, and 54% showing concern regarding the environmental impact of the products. These socio-demographic trends are indicative of the fact that the demand for natural ingredients in cosmetics is likely to exhibit strong growth even in the future. An increasingly vast consumer base is likely to show a preference for sustainable options in ingredients such as color additives for cosmetics, prompting prominent manufacturing businesses to invest in the creation of more sustainable color pigments. To illustrate, European beauty brand Givaudan Active Beauty unveiled a new vegan, high performance red cosmetic pigment formulation, called New Red 1805, as a sustainable alternative to synthetic red cosmetic colorants, thereby catering to the emerging clean beauty trend. The formulation has been developed specifically for natural makeup designers and lipstick manufacturers on the lookout for naturally sourced ingredients, whilst maintaining optimum shade, stability, and intensity performance.




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