SCC Suppliers Day Summary : Raw Material Trends

This past week, I had the opportunity to attend the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC) Suppliers Day at the Long Beach Convention Center. The SCC is a great organization for beauty industry professionals to network and stay informed about new technologies and trends. I'm a member of the California chapter. Today, I'd like to share with you a few trends I observed during the show.

Supply Chain Transparency

The first trend that stuck out to me was a focus on transparency in the raw material supply chain. Multiple vendors explained the specifics of their source material including the geographical source region, who was farming the material for naturals, and the environmental impact. I also found the supplier representatives to be knowledgeable about the sustainability of their manufacturing processes.


I am personally very interested in this information because my first role in the beauty industry was as a supplier sustainability intern. At the time, it seemed like the questions I was asking suppliers were unique and not part of their sales and marketing materials. It was great to see that in the past 10 years this topic has moved into the mainstream and is a typical part of the sales pitch for new ingredients.


To give a few specific examples, I heard from a supplier using the waste stream of an existing manufacturing process to create a new raw material, a supplier utilizing extracts of common flowers for their new product development, and a supplier focused on reducing deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.


Focus on Ingredient Stories

As a consumer, you've likely noticed that brands love to highlight one or two ingredients in a formula. The ingredient story may be highlighted on the company website, social media channels, or on the product packaging. It can be related to the ingredient function, the unique source, or the purity or quality. The focus is often on the active ingredient, but may also be on a unique extract or oil that makes their product stand out from the competition.


In the past, I often found that suppliers would lead with the clinical data around their ingredient or how it is part of a larger trend in the industry. At this show, that was still true, but I also noticed that suppliers were leading their conversations with interesting information about the ingredient that could become part of the brand's marketing message for the final formula. They focused on the sourcing, unique manufacturing process, or sustainability mission of their company.


I found this focus on ingredient stories to be interesting. It highlighted to me that the consumer desire for detailed information about raw materials is truly penetrating the supply chain. Raw material suppliers are speaking the same language as the brands because they want to position themselves to be strategic partners in new product development. As savvy consumers demand more transparency from brands, I think this trend will continue to grow.


Cannabidiol (CBD)

I would be remiss if I didn't mention one of the top trends in the industry which was also visible at the show - cannabidiol or CBD. There were several booths with CBD oil or hemp-derived raw materials and also a speaker discussing the regulatory landscape. CBD is a hot topic in the industry because of recent legislation legalizing the farming of hemp and also because of the lack of clinical data that would typically be used to develop cosmetic claims.


To give some background, CBD is derived from cannabis plants - both marijuana and hemp. Marijuana and hemp are the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa, but are different in that marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which can get you "high." In the Farm Bill of 2014, the United States government defined hemp as any Cannabis sativa plant that contains 0.3% or less THC. Most recently, in the 2018 Farm Bill, the farming of hemp was legalized. This has led to the influx of CBD products into the market; however, marijuana is still federally illegal and designated as a Schedule 1 drug.


Cannabidiol can be consumed in a variety of ways including smoking or as a pill, but for the skincare industry, the focus is on CBD oil. Currently, there is limited clinical research and data about the impact of CBD on the body. There is one epilepsy drug that is FDA approved, but there is not much information available that is relevant to skincare beyond anecdotal evidence. Many companies are looking to get into this growing market. It will be interesting to see if clinical data comes out supporting the many claims currently circulating around CBD, whether it becomes an active ingredient with an FDA monograph, if the laws and stigma around marijuana change as CBD becomes mainstream, or if the hype dies down.


I hope you enjoyed my summary of the trends I saw! If you have a chance to attend Suppliers Day in the future, I definitely recommend checking it out. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below.



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