Lab-Grown Raw Materials – Biotechnology in Personal Care Lab-Grown Raw Materials – Biotechnology in Personal Care
Written by Dr. Leslie Schlüter

Lab-Grown Raw Materials – Biotechnology in Personal Care

Contact person

Lab-Grown Raw Materials – Biotechnology in Personal Care

Dr. Alexander Stubenvoll

Senior Sales & Product Manager Personal Care

IMPAG Import GmbH

+49 69 85 000 8-0E-mail LinkedIn

Biotechnology offers the opportunity to develop science-based ingredients, while sourcing them without harming the environment.

What does Lab-Grown" mean?

“Lab-grown” has become the popular expression when generally referring to all kinds of final products created in the laboratory using chemical, physical, or biomolecular processes. Lab-grown diamonds and lab-grown meat are well-known examples.

When we narrow the term down to just the biomolecular processes, which are efficient methods for producing chemical compounds, that’s when we’re talking about biotechnology (biology + technology).

Familiar applications are fermentation in the food industry, such as sauerkraut, cheese, beer, wine, etc., or relatively newer applications in medicine, such as penicillin production.

Sustainable Cosmetics 2.0

Biotechnology is also increasingly being used to make ingredients for cosmetics. Ingredients obtained this way can be called “clean” in the truest sense of the word. There are no toxic substances required for either cultivation or extraction, the consumption of raw materials is lower, and they require a much smaller amount of land, which can then be used for growing food instead. This leads to savings in CO2 and water, and thus to a smaller overall impact on the environment.  Last but not least, they can be relatively easily traced.

Products containing such ingredients could be referred to as sustainable cosmetics 2.0. This fits in with the trends in the cosmetics industry and the growing consciousness amongst consumers that “natural is not always sustainable”. “Clean” is gradually replacing the claim “natural”.

Fields of biotech used in cosmetics

Given the huge diversity of applications of biotechnology in our industry, a colour code (rainbow code) has established itself for differentiating between the different fields. These fields are many and varied in cosmetics, but the main ones are:

Green biotech

  • Plant-based biotechnology
  • Uses enzymes or plants to produce cosmetic raw materials
  • Example: plant stem cells

White biotech

  • Industrial biotechnology
  • Uses microorganisms (bacteria, yeast) to produce cosmetic raw materials
  • Example: fermentation

Blue biotech

  • Marine biotechnology
  • Based on algae or marine bacteria, which grow in bioreactors
  • Example: algae extracts

Fermentation: THE opportunity!

In addition to the aspect of sustainability, white biotech methods have further advantages to offer for the production of cosmetic raw materials:

  • Targeted production of an active ingredient
  • Easier standardization
  • Obtaining of rarer molecules
  • Approved use of protected species
  • Climate independence (harvest independence)

According to a MINTEL study1, fermentation is considered as a cutting edge technology and THE opportunity for the industry, and new products are being launched with this claim in increasing numbers worldwide each year. Mintel’s trend report for 20302 also predicts strong growth for Biotech Beauty in the future. In a Europe-wide survey3 about lab-grown ingredients, the majority of respondents agreed to the following:

  • “I would feel encouraged to buy body care products made exclusively from lab-grown ingredients if they...”
  • ...were better for our planet than conventional products
  • ...were more effective than conventional products

More information



  1. Mintel GNPD (ferment claim; all facial care), March 2017-February 2022
  2. Mintel’s Trendreport 2030 “The Panorama of Humanity”
  3. Base: internet users aged 16+ who would not be willing/are unsure to buy beauty and personal care products made exclusively with lab-created ingredients rather than their natural equivalents (France: 729; Germany: 1,539; Italy: 670; Spain: 638), Source: Kantar Profiles/Mintel, January 2020

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