The Future of GMOs and Personal Care Formulations
GMOs: An Introduction
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, and are “foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally, e.g. through the introduction of a gene from a different organism,” according to the World Health Organization.
Many consumers are aware of the GMOs present in their food, as a wide variety of vegetables and fruits have been genetically engineered to become resistant to herbicides, to improve crop yield, or to naturally repel insects, resist disease or drought, or to contain more nutrients.
Currently, the United States and Canada do not require GMO food products to be labeled, while Europe, Japan, Malaysia, and Australia mandate such labeling.
The Use of Botanically Derived GMOs in Cosmetics
Thanks to the naturally beneficial properties plants and fruits can lend to personal care and skin care formulations, botanically-derived GMOs are frequently used in cosmetic products. Additionally, some GMOs have been created or modified specifically for the use in cosmetics.
The GMO ingredients most frequently found in cosmetics include:
- Coconut oil – for moisturization and in antimicrobial formulations
- Corn and corn oil – thanks to the fatty acids and high vitamins E and C content, these ingredients are great for anti-aging and hydrating products
- Soybean oil – for conditioning and moisturizing
- Canola and canola oil – nourishing, hydrating, repairing, restorative formulations
- Papaya – for revitalizing and brightening skin
- Maltodextrin – a common binding agent
- Various proteins from yeast – binding agents
- Citric Acid – preservative and emulsifier
While there are many useful and important reasons to include GMO ingredients in personal care formulations, non-GMO-leaning consumers are a fact of life that formulators and marketers increasingly have to contend with. These consumers are now on the lookout to purchase skincare, haircare, and personal care formulations free of GMOs.
Drivers Behind Non-GMO Personal Care
The non-GMO personal care movement is consumer driven first and foremost, followed by an ever-present desire for greener or more natural-claiming personal care products.
Just like the clean beauty movement is largely demarcated by products formulated without certain ingredients, the non-GMO personal care movement is also delineated by it’s no list of ingredients. And for consumers who are already seeking out personal care formulations with claims like organic, natural, green, eco-friendly, sustainable, or clean, “non-GMO” might just become one more green-tinted label they’d like to see on their next deep conditioning treatment or facial mask.
Additionally, a greater desire for transparency in formulations is another driver behind the burgeoning non-GMO movement in personal care. According to Fashion Institute of Technology’s Capstone Research Presentations, transparency is now more important to cosmetic and beauty purchasers than ever before.
The research found that:
- 72% of consumers want a brand to explain what the ingredients do
- 42% of respondents felt they don’t get enough information from brands on ingredient safety
- More than 60% of consumers want brands to identify sources for ingredients
- 90% of respondents believe natural ingredients are better for them; however, only 10% of respondents use products made only with natural ingredients
As more and more consumers seek to understand exactly what’s in their latest personal care purchase, the clamor for greener, natural formulations and increased transparency on cosmetic product labels – whether that’s a non-GMO label or not – will only continue to spike.