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A-Beauty Goes Beyond the Ingredients - Connecting Cosmetics to Growers with Native Extracts

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Kakadu Plum. Finger Lime. Emu Apple. Lemon Myrtle. Mountain Pepper Berry. 

Recognise these botanicals? These species are some of the popular Australian native ingredients popping up on cosmetic labels around the world. Following a similar trajectory as the local food movement, cosmetics are now taking a turn toward plant-based, pronounceable ingredients. Australia’s superfoods are centre stage for skin care as brands search for new botanical sources that deliver natural plant nutrients over synthetic options - that set their products apart, connecting to local sustainable/traceable stories. The rise of Indigenous brands wanting culturally significant ingredients is also driving demand for native ingredients within their own communities.

Consumers are increasingly aware that what they put on our bodies is just as important as what they put in them. In response, skin care has followed suite, promoting “natural” “organic” “vegan” ”clean” and  “green" ingredients. Resources like Mukti’s Organics’ book, Truth in Beauty, have helped identify the harmful ingredients in personal care products, paving the way for more informed consumer decisions. 

For over six years, NATIVE EXTRACTS Pty Ltd has collaborated with some of Australia’s largest skincare brands, emerging innovative startups, mentored young entrepreneurs and educated global brands on how to access “True to Nature” phyto-compounds and water-soluble plant profiles for their natural skin care ingredients, many of which are derived from their unprecedented work on Australian native species. 

Through groundbreaking research and innovative, eco-conscious extraction processes, NATIVE EXTRACTS has been able to share new knowledge in what species have to offer in their water-soluble composition, or as some refer to it, “the water-soluble blueprint or entourage.” In many cases this information on Australian natives had not been available until NATIVE EXTRACTS embarked on this journey. Indie brands through to large multinationals are turning to NATIVE EXTRACTS to collaborate on new natural ranges or refresh existing products, replacing outdated macerated/percolated processes and/or synthetic standardized extracts with natural Cellular Extracts. NATIVE EXTRACTS has evolved the botanical extract.

BUT, WHY AUSTRALIAN NATIVE INGREDIENTS?

Much like foraged fare, wild-harvested ingredients are packed with phyto-nutrients, and NATIVE EXTRACTS’ Cellular Extraction can harness them. As brands and formulators search for more custom and exclusive ingredients for new product differentiation, native Australian botanicals have increasingly gained attention for their interesting range of phyto-compounds, including the worlds highest source of natural vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is captured in the NE Kakadu Plum Cellular Extract. This breakthrough was first publicly launched in 2013. 

Australias pioneer species have sustained the oldest culture on the planet. Alongside ancient Indigenous historical use and knowledge of their attributes, it is only very recently that this unique mega-diversity has been scientifically researched to understand more. Now, new markets beyond bush food sectors are emerging, with natural skincare championing them in recent times, and nutraceuticals and beverages following.

Sourcing botanicals from their native environment or similar terrains and climates ensures the integrity of a species nutrients. Australian native extracts reveal the brilliance of Australia’s unique geography on a molecular level. These species have evolved in some of the harshest, pristine environments on the planet, with efficient mechanisms to create and store phyto-compounds to sustain their survival against extreme environmental stressors. It is no surprise that the worlds highest source of vitamin C (and some of the most interesting phyto-compound sources) come from this untapped reservoir of mega-diveristy. 

NATIVE EXTRACTS showed the world what a natural multi-functional extract looked like, a liquid ingredient with multiple natural plant compounds and their derivatives, suspended in a water/glycerin matrix, from the cell of these species.

Recently the term Native Extracts” has become synonymous with the A-Beauty (Australian Beauty) trend showcasing ingredients from the unique biodiversity of Australia. In addition to the innovative technology of harnessing the natural molecules through Cellular Extraction, NATIVE EXTRACTS first created an unprecedented library of Australian speciesplant profiles and shared them with the cosmetic industry – starting back in 2013. They also created new understanding of non-native, traditional botanical profiles, with over 400 plant extracts, and counting. There is growing interest from those looking for naturally multi-functional ingredients that have unique historical and science-based uses connecting a species back to source.

NEW SOUTH WALES NORTHERN RIVERS REGION

Commonly referred to as the “food bowl,” this area is abundant in Australian native species endemic to the region, including Davidson Plum, Finger Lime, Lemon Aspen, Macadamia, Tea Tree, Lemon Myrtle, Kangaroo Apple and more due to the fertile sub-tropical rainforest climate and volcanic soils.

TRACEABILITY. TRANSPARENCY. TRUTH.

 Every choice along the manufacturing process is an opportunity to improve the environment and the lives of those NATIVE EXTRACTS works with, both directly and indirectly leading the industry toward more sustainable, ethical and conscious solutions. NATIVE EXTRACTS’ supply of raw plant-based ingredients is rooted in having a positive impact for people and planet and a vision of a brand that embodies the care for consumers and producers.

Natural stories are circular, like nature, with the end result directly linked to the source, continuing the evolution of a speciesstory. As brands seek to provide natural solutions for human problems, they also create new markets for growers, drive science to create new knowledge and possibilities, and in turn, inspire growers to consider new species for natural ingredients. Just as NATIVE EXTRACTS honours the three T’s in their own business, they seek to support and work with other companies who share these same values.

BEAUTY GOES “VALUES DEEP” WITH NATIVE EXTRACTS

Neurocosmetics, beauty products that aim to enhance one’s emotional wellbeing are gaining legitimate recognition, and Gen Z is demonstrating buying behaviour in favour of ethical products with a cause that is kind to the planet. Although some synthetic ingredients may be attributed to bettering one’s emotional state, consumers are also choosing locally-sourced beauty products because of the boost “values-aligned” choices give them when they support a cause.

In the case of native and local ingredients, working closely with producers, NATIVE EXTRACTS aims to help expand their opportunities by diversifying and revaluing their produce for new markets. The Cellular Extraction process helps growers better understand the detailed molecular value of their crops. Increasing the knowledge beyond produce markets or essential oil profiles, extending opportunities, offering new ingredients, which they can promote to both new and existing channels, or incorporate into their own value-added retails products. Now, even local farmers are emerging as retail skincare brand owners!

GROWING INDIGENOUS ENTERPRISE THROUGH NATIVE EXTRACTS

With only 1% of Indigenous involvement in the bush food industry, NATIVE EXTRACTS is passionate about helping Aboriginal enterprises participate in new markets along the supply chain by sharing analytical results of their species, connecting them to contract manufacturers, brands, distribution channels, etc. NATIVE EXTRACTS is currently exploring a number of indigenous partnerships, suppliers and new technologies to see how they can assist in improving the inclusion and Indigenous engagement along the supply chain from suppliers, innovators, ingredient manufacturers and brand owners.

NATIVE EXTRACTS collaborates on Indigenous-owned retail brands with value-added products based on native species that are both culturally and functionally significant to their story. They also introduce commercial growers to new market sectors to expand their crops value beyond food & beverage - to cosmetics, nutraceuticals and potentially their own finished product. They also take B2B engagement to another level with a Mentorship Program, supporting budding entrepreneurs on their journey to design natural brands and connecting them directly to the source. 

PEOPLE. PLANTS. PLANET.

In addition to the social and economic effects of locally-sourced, native ingredients, the positive environmental impacts serve as another incentive for values-driven buyers. The innovation in Cellular Extraction uses significantly less plant matter/biomass to create superior plant extracts to traditional macerated/percolated biomass volumes, minimising over-harvesting. Sourcing sustainably, wild harvested or commercially grown botanicals, in addition to upcycling surplus crop produce reduces growerswaste streams and extends their crop values. The NATIVE EXTRACTS factory recycles and composts, operating at household standard waste collection. The extract by-products are clean, biodegradable, and composted or sorted for collection. Extraction manufacturing uses filtered, deionized and purified rain-harvested water, saving 170,000 litres in one year -the equivalent to an Olympic size swimming pool!

NATIVE INGREDIENTS IN FUTURE FORMULATIONS

It has always been NATIVE EXTRACTS’ vision to play a part in supporting the growth, research and development of a primary industry based on a countrys native species and the collaboration of native growers and indigenous communities. Back in 2012, very little was known about Australian native species’ plant profiles. Approximately only 2-7% of the species had any real” depth of data. It has been extremely hard to find Indigenous growers until recently, says Lisa Carroll, NATIVE EXTRACTS’ Director.

Lisa says she is “excited to see more Indigenous enterprises emerging in the supply chain, but there is a great deal more to be done. Until this last decade Australia was known in the cosmetic industry for a range of native essential oils (volatile compound profiles) and a very small range of vegetable oil ingredients (fatty acid profiles). The information on our natives was predominately focused on direct analysis of the whole fruit or leaf of a species for the food industry. This pioneering research gave us insight into what was possible, but there was very little data on the water-soluble plant profile or a process that could harness it … thus, NATIVE EXTRACTS’ journey began, sharing our findings publicly to encourage new direction of innovation and discoveries, and build markets for supply - for the growth and inclusion of many industry sectors. We continue to look forward to advancing our range of native extracts from unique regions all over the world, beyond topical ingredients into ingestible ingredient solutions in 2021.”

WRITTEN BY HEATHER GROVE, Native Extracts