Clean beauty means that you can have your most beautiful skin but without harming the planet, according to Catherine Gore, President of Biossance.
Biossance is a brand that started somewhat of a clean beauty revolution. After a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gate foundation, biotechnology company Amyris had a goal: to clean up the realm of beauty. So Biossance was born, a brand with a mission to stop waste, protect endangered animals and to end deforestation, all while creating luxury skincare that works.
We spoke to Catherine Gore about clean beauty and how we as consumers can help drive a sustainable future. She told us about about how 30% of ocean waste comes from personal care products and how Biossance squalane is helping to protect the world's shark population.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Biossance story?
Biossance is three years old, and we're located in the [San Francisco] Bay Area. And we are very proud because we're the most sustainable brand in skincare in prestige.
The name itself Biossance is a mash up of biotechnology and Renaissance. We are owned by a traded company, it's a biotechnology company called Amyris that years and years ago, probably 13 years ago, started through a fund from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They hired a group of Berkeley scientists to recreate a cure for malaria. And those Berkeley scientists recreated that cure and then gave it away for free in the sub-Saharan African market. On the heels of creating - through sugar fermentation and yeast fermentation - this malaria cure they really asked themselves, what should we take on next? So Amyris is a parent company is taking on clean beauty and CBD and the baby category, and a number of other initiatives.
Biossance is under clean beauty. And Biossance became such an important initiative, because we recognised that there are a lot of endangered animals and ingredients - and that through science, you can recreate some of those endangered ingredients, animals in the lab and make them actually more efficacious, and less damaging. The best example of that for Biossance was with squalane. So you probably know about squalane already. But historically, squalane was harvested, since the 16th century, from sharks. It's in their livers and deep water sharks have a lot of it. And so, you know, consumers really wanted squalene because it's present in our skin. We're born with it. And it's an incredible hydration molecule. But we lose it over time. And so a lot of people wanted it back. And Biossance came along and recreated it from sugar cane. And now we can make as much as the world needs not harm a single shark, and offer it at a lower cost. And it's much more effective than its shark counterpart.
We just believe in this idea of doing this across the board with key ingredients. And we believe in it so much that we sell our squalane back into the skincare industry. So a lot of the brands that you probably know, use Biossance squalane. We just want to continue to give back and elevate the conversation around sustainability in a nutshell.
It's funny because a lot of brands think we're crazy for doing it. But the truth is, you know, I like to say a rising tide lifts all ships. It is so important. And once consumers know they know and they'll never go back. Once a consumer tries the Biossance squalane, they'll never go back. The story and the squalane to a shark alternative.
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What makes Biossance different from other beauty brands?
I think our magic dust is in the way we formulate products. And we have 250 scientists in the Bay Area. And we're always working to innovate with our ingredients. As well, as I always like to say the magic is in the mix. It's the way in which we formulate. So this idea of clean and clinical effectiveness is at the forefront of Biossance, and really what sets us apart the idea that you can have your most beautiful, most efficacious skin. And, oh, by the way, it's clean, is the, the ultimate. And so I think that really defines our brand, you know, we're the only one that has the stamp of approval from the Environmental Working Group in Sephora. So, that's large as well. And just start around our sustainability efforts have been zero waste by 2025. That is what really sets us apart, that we're the true intersection of cleaning clinical,
And then I would say, our products are quite gentle for how powerful they are. They're powerfully gentle. I think some brands can be really active on the skin. And I think there's a trend away from that. I think a lot of consumers had been over exfoliating for a while. And kind of disrupting that microbiome on the skin. And Biossance will protect all of that while also being efficacious.
Tell us about Biossance squalane? Why is it different?
There's olive-based squalane. We were the first to do sugarcane squalane. Olive squalane can be quite oxidising. And if you look at it in a bottle, it's a little cloudy, whereas the sugarcane squalane is totally, crystal clear, weightless, and non-comedogenic. So there was shark squealing and olive squalane, and now there's sugar cane squalane.
Sugarcane grows very, very quickly. So it's very easy to make a lot of it. We have a small field in Brazil, outside of the Amazon rainforest, there's no deforestation, there's no additional rainwater and we use the gas from the production of sugarcane to fuel the plant. And we can use the stocks for boxes so that all of our boxes are made out of sugarcane. But over all the efficacy of sugarcane squalane is leaps and bounds above both shark and olive.
What does clean beauty mean to you?
Clean beauty means that you can have your most beautiful skin your most efficacious skin but not harming yourself, your family or the planet in the meantime.
Do you think that the beauty industry, as it is now, is sustainable?
No. It's widely known that 30% of waste in the ocean is comes from personal care products. And I really appreciate every organisation that I intersect with absolutely is trying to change that, from the biggest companies to the smaller companies. And it's really rewarding to see that the intentions are in the right place.
But there's a lot of grandfathered situations from the 60s, the 70s and in the 80s that have to be rectified. It just, it just takes time to turn that corner. And the good news is the intentions are there and the and the effort is there.
But it's just going to take time, even more so for the larger companies than the smaller ones. But I would not say the beauty industry is as sustainable as we could be today. But I think we absolutely will be.
How can we as consumers play a role in driving a sustainable future?
The best way is to purchase products where you align with their brand's core values and moving that conversation forward. Because to the extent that the purchase power moves in that direction, so will the organisations.
I think also being vocal about areas you'd like to see change with some of your favourite brands, I think sampling and samples, overall is a good place to start. And just ask a lot of questions do a lot of digging. Consumers are so smart, and they dig into ingredients, and they dig into how some things may- just keep going further and further until you get the answers you're looking for. Whether it's in fashion or beauty or in household products. Just keep digging.
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What do you think the future of beauty looks like?
I think the beauty industry will, at some point become an example and a pioneer for sustainability and that there will be he a tipping point. And our team passionately being at the forefront of that initiative. And having been in the beauty industry for so long, over 20 years. I can't wait for that day.
Tell me about the Biossance commitment to zero waste by 2025?
Yes, we we are well on our way. So over half of our packaging is in glass and all of our formulations are ocean-safe. And then of course, our boxes are made out of sugarcane. So we're, we're one of the lucky ones, because we started in a really good place because it's part of our DNA. But we just want to close that gap over the next five years. So it's looking at different pump components and primary packaging components to sampling overall.
And, just everything, you know, we really try to educate ourselves on the recycling municipalities and the differences between them. It's, it's like a labyrinth to try to navigate all the municipalities and we just try to get do the best we can and make the right choices. But we will be zero waste by 2025.