Green chemistry – the natural alternative

A S Harrison & Co has had the pleasure of partnering with INOLEX for over three years. INOLEX is an independent, global speciality ingredients company focused on providing safe and effective beauty care options for brands around the world. At the forefront of design and development of novel technologies, they actively meet the changing demands of the cosmetic industry. Combining a deep understanding of lifestyle trends with expertise in green chemistry and formulation, INOLEX balances lab and nature to create sustainable, life ingredients.

INOLEX – forefront of applying new technologies

Throughout their 125-year history, INOLEX has been at the forefront of applying new technologies to anticipate and develop unique solutions. An independently-owned business dedicated to transforming the possibilities of beauty care materials for the future, they work closely with leading beauty care brands around the world.

In 1998 a book was published by PT Anastas and JC Warner, called ‘Green Chemistry: Theories and practice’ which is the handbook for effective application of green chemistry in chemical and related industries. These guidelines make a great deal of sense for reducing the negative impact of cosmetic raw material production, but it has only been in the past few years that they have become better known and popular. When raw material suppliers apply these guidelines, they do not offer producers of cosmetic products another unnecessary label, but a strong and meaningful concept that their marketing department can also use for promotion.

The thinking behind green chemistry (environmentally benign chemistry) rests heavily on a quote from Albert Einstein (1879–1955):

“We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

What is green chemistry?

Green chemistry involves the utilisation of this set of principles that reduces or eliminates the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture, and application of chemical products. But in practice, green chemistry covers a much broader range of issues than the definition suggests. In addition to using and producing better chemicals with less waste, green chemistry also involves reducing other associated environmental impacts, including a reduction in the amount of energy used in chemical processes. Green chemistry is no different to traditional chemistry as it embraces the same creativity and innovation that has always been central to classical chemistry.

Sales of ‘natural’ products within the personal care industry continue to show significant growth. Popular culture has driven this growth by popularising the idea that there may be potential adverse effects to the body (toxicity) and to the environment (pollution, hastening of climate change, and environmental toxicity) associated with the use of ingredients derived from fossil fuels. The personal care industry has rapidly advanced its attempts to identify ingredients described as ‘renewable’ and ‘sustainable’, that is, ingredients of non-fossil fuel origin for use in the formulation of virtually all cosmetic product types and forms. In many instances, the industry has successfully identified replacements for many ingredients that are historically of fossil fuel origin. Examples of this are the replacement of mineral oils, silicones, and petrochemically-derived synthetic esters with vegetable oils and natural esters, synthetic fragrances with essential oils, and petrochemical preservatives with certain extracts.

INOLEX committed to responsible sourcing

INOLEX recognises that the production of palm oil has contributed to negative environmental and ecological impacts surrounding the industry specifically deforestation, biodiversity destruction, animal cruelty and socio-economic violations. They also recognise the need for transformation and are committed to sustainable palm production and trade without causing harm to the environment or society.

INOLEX solidified their commitment to responsible sourcing with the launch of the SustOleo® line of palm-free sensory and functional ingredients. This range of emulsifiers, texturisers, conditioning agents, and sensory fluids are plant-derived from non-palm sources. The ingredients provide formulators with a range of functional ingredient options for development of palm-free products that meet the growing consumer demand.

Alternative products based on the green chemistry

In addition to this move, and over the past decades, INOLEX has been a pioneer and made the conscious choice to be able to offer to their customers a growing portfolio of alternative product based on the green chemistry. They have been able to develop a range of sustainable personal care ingredients according to the guidelines of green chemistry and are produced based on these principles to guarantee beyond the sources that these ingredients have minimum impact on the environment.

Manufactured using green chemistry principles, no solvents or petrochemicals are employed, and no waste generated. Water is the only by-product.

INOLEX has based the development and production of its alternatives to silicones on the above principles. The LexFeel N® series has the sensory feel of cyclomethicone and dimethicone. The products are suitable as alternatives to silicone fluids for improving skin feel, as well as enhancing shine and texture in hair care products. In natural formulations, they can be used to reduce the greasiness of natural oils. Several tests have been performed to show the similar physical properties, spreadability, impact on shine and gloss, and the ability to wet pigments. LexFeel N® fluids feel like silicones, yet unlike silicones, they are 100% natural, renewable, sustainable, biodegradable and Ecocert certified.

At in-cosmetics Amsterdam, INOLEX launched two new emollients, Lexfeel WOW® DT and Lexfeel WOW® completing their range for silicone replacement. They are 100% renewable and provide a light skin feel and volatility that is remarkably similar to cyclomethicone fluids.

The effectiveness of Lexfeel WOW® DT and Lexfeel WOW® was evaluated in market segments that include skin and sun care, hair care, colour cosmetics, and antiperspirants.  Both plant-based, partially volatile silicone alternative fluids were evaluated both neat and in finished formulations and compared to both cyclotetrasiloxane and cyclopentasiloxane for sensorial and other functional properties.

The following ingredient is made from only non-GMO fermentation chemistry and the oil from brassica plants. It is produced using minimal, gentle processing and yields almost no waste – the only by-product is water. By being free of petrochemicals and palm-derivatives, it is perhaps the most sustainable and earth-friendly cosmetic ingredient on the market today.

Emulsense® is the first sustainable cationic material that has been produced according to green chemistry; entirely non-petrochemical, made from 100% renewable resources, and compliant with the latest standards for natural cosmetics. It has an excellent toxicological profile and scored readily biodegradable and non-toxic to fish, daphnia and algae in extensive eco-toxicity testing.

There are plenty of different certificates and labels for natural beauty products available, but most of them do not take sustainability of the used raw materials into account or only touch upon this topic slightly. But in fact, the subject of renewable and sustainable raw materials is much more important for maintaining the integrity of our planet.

INOLEX has several functional ingredients in the product range that are produced according to green chemistry and will continue with this engagement for new product development. There are plans already to rebuild the whole plant to produce in a more environmentally friendly manner.

A S Harrison & Co offers a comprehensive range of INOLEX products – alternative preservation systems, silicone-replacements, natural ingredients, palm-free products, and other green chemistry-based ingredients balancing lab and nature to create quality, sustainable ingredients.

For more information please contact A S Harrison & Co Performance Ingredients Team at or +61 (0)2 8978 1016


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