Biossance and the clean beauty movement

Can you share with us a little about your background?

“I joined Amyris, Biossance’s parent company in July 2018 (Biossance was founded in 2017 by Amyris, a biotechnology company funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). Prior to joining Biossance, I was global general manager for the Kendo portfolio of beauty brands within LVMH, including Marc Jacobs Beauty, Kat Von D, Disney and Ole Henriksen Skincare. Before that, I was the vice president of Sephora Collection, responsible for the brand re-design and product strategy that lifted Sephora Collection to the #1 brand at Sephora.”

Tell us about the ethos of Biossance?

“In 2003, our parent company, Arymis, and their scientists developed a patented technology that created an accessible cure for malaria. Inspired to continue using innovative biotechnology to make a positive impact on the world, we turned to skincare and the ingredients people put on their faces and bodies every day. Drawing on a rich history of science and sustainability, Biossance was built on creating the most effective products using the highest clean standards and sustainable practices. With advances in science and technology our clients no longer have to compromise. It’s about helping them make better, cleaner choices for their best skin so it suits their lifestyle. They can be confident in their choice and that it’s the healthiest one for their skin and also for the planet.”

Can you share with us the hero ingredients in the brand and why they are so effective?

“Our key ingredient, Squalane, is derived from sustainable sugarcane, and it is at the heart of every Biossance formula The human body produces its own version of Squalane (Squalene), which is the skin’s own natural moisture. The amount present in your skin decreases as you age, leaving your skin dry and vulnerable. Biossance’s parent company, Amryis, Inc., was the first to develop a sustainable sugarcane-derived Squalane as an alternative. We can make as much as the world needs without negatively impacting the planet. And because Squalane is recognised by your skin, it weightlessly absorbs and boosts the active ingredients in your Biossance products so they perform even better. We also sell our Squalane back to the beauty industry, so we can move the entire beauty industry forward, encouraging other brands to use sustainable alternatives. For generations, beauty products were fortified with Squalene — but at the cost of millions of sharks, harvested for their Squalene-rich livers. Through our synthetically derived Squalane, we save approximately 2 million sharks per year, a number that continues to grow.”

What has the reaction been like in the market?

“I’m really proud that we are leading in the area of clean beauty. We want to ensure we are constantly raising our standards so companies around us also follow. Consumers have become more aware of what they are putting in their bodies and on their skin and therefore looking for and supporting companies that are transparent about their ingredients, packaging, sourcing and creation process. They are actively arming themselves with the knowledge to make better decisions, reading labels and being mindful about their purchases. We get great feedback from our customers on how transparent we are about our sustainability efforts. We hold ourselves to a high standard and expect our customers to also.”

Where are the ingredients sourced?

“All our ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced; leading consciously with the highest standards for skin, planet and ingredient safety, while using science to deliver superior performance and sustainable practices across our business. We create new ingredients through science that are historically taken from nature — like squalane or sandalwood — and share back to the industry. Our sugarcane crops, a naturally renewable resource, grow in abundance in Brazil and are irrigated only by natural rainfall.”

You have advisors on board as part of Clean Beauty who offer live chats — is this open to everyone?

“Yes, we currently have six advisors working for us full time. All our customers can access this via our website and receive a live, personalised and private consultation in the comfort of your own home.”

How important is it to offer a service like this?

“Increasingly more important at a time where we are unable to travel or visit stores as freely as before, and consumers are spending more time shopping online. We want to ensure our customers feel like they are armed with all the information they need to find the right products that are best for them and get the performance and use them with confidence.”

What are some of the most common questions you get around clean beauty?

“People often associate “synthetic” with “bad”, but it’s not that simple. Long-chain parabens, for example, are synthetic ingredients that are proven to be harmful for human health. However, with new technology we’ve created an amazing category of “Clean Synthetic” ingredients — innovative lab-created ingredients often proven to be safer, more sustainable and more effective. A few of our favorites are hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and our sugarcane-derived Squalane.”

What are your plans for the brand going forward?

“Our goals and brand strategy is very mission-based. For us, it’s about evolving the beauty industry one step at a time. First by making clinical results and clean formulations synonymous and second by empowering the consumer for change. We are aiming to be zero waste by 2025, which is a lofty but achievable goal. We will do this through reimagining our packaging. All packaging will be recyclable, made from recycled materials or reusable/refillable and exploring innovative solutions and materials to lead the way forward and tackle some of the biggest culprits of waste in the beauty industry: for example, sampling!”

How can salons integrate clean beauty into their space?

“Don’t feel bad about starting small and being selective, the key is to just start somewhere. Sustainability isn’t a competition, it’s a common goal.”

Originally published in May-June 2021 Sustainable Beauty issue.

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