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In The News: Bioprospecting, Metaverse Commerce, New Leadership, Ingredient ScaleUp, Impact Labeling

Beauty ingredient maker Apoena Biotech explores the Blue Amazon, KAO bolsters global leadership strategy, L'Oréal expands impact labeling program, Laura Mercier bets on retail in the metaverse, $25m in series B funding for Renee Cosmetics, Global Bioenergies scaleup of skincare ingredient isododecane.

thin shrub branches heavy with frost and several dark green leaves all against a foggy white outdoor background
Photo by Rodion Kutsaiev on Unsplash

🌏🌍🌎 International Influence

“I see a lot of opportunities in bringing our strong global cosmetics brands together to further grow our footprint in the market. I am looking forward to working with the Molton Brown, Kanebo and E'quipe leadership teams to shape the future of our amazing cosmetics brands.” ~ Mark Johnson, in-coming President Cosmetics Business AEMEA at KAO.

The Japan-based chemicals and cosmetics maker announced several forthcoming leadership changes this month. Most notably, the changes ensure that KAO business sectors across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa regions have full board representation in the company's Tokyo offices.

Johnson, who assumes his new role at the start of 2023, is now serving as Global President of the luxury bath brand Molton Brown. In the New Year, he will become President Cosmetics Business AEMEA as well as an Executive Officer on the board.

Other leadership changes coming to KAO in 2023 include Yosuke Maezawa taking on the role of President, Cosmetics Business Global, and Yoshihiro Murakami becoming the company’s Senior Vice President, DX Strategy, Global—that’s DX as in digital expansion.

These changes, “acknowledge the important role of the Kao businesses in the Americas and EMEA regions for the future globalization of the Kao Group while at the same time strengthening the international representation and diversity of the management board,” according to this month’s company press release.

🌍💋📦 Environmental Impact Labeling

For 2 years, L’Oréal has been including planetary impact data on product pages in the French market. Now, that ‘labeling’ is being rolled out across the beauty maker’s brands here in the US.

“This comes at a time when sustainability is increasingly becoming a focus for more American consumers,” notes Marissa Pagnani McGowan, Chief Sustainability Officer for North America, in her comments to the press.

“Using principles of environmental science,” she says, “this…will empower consumers, support more informed purchasing decisions and foster a culture of greater brand transparency.”

For each product online, the environmental impact data will follow the ingredients list. What L’Oréal is calling its Product Impact Labeling system will rank or rate concerns (like water scarcity, impact on biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions) in comparison to other L’Oréal products in the same category.

For the beauty maker, it’s an important step toward transparency along the supply chain and through to the consumer. By partnering with independent experts, undergoing auditing from Bureau Veritas, and gathering meaningful impact data behind the scenes L’Oréal is making further progress toward environmental sustainability.

“By 2030, our goal is for 100% of our products to incorporate into their design improvements in formulas, production, packaging and other aspects that help reduce their impact compared to previous generations of products,” says Sanford Browne, President, Research & Innovation for North America.

And L’Oréal has a reputation for making its research available for industry-wide improvements: “The company has committed to sharing the learnings of the impact labeling initiative with the 60 members of the EcoBeautyScore Consortium, aiming to develop an industry-wide environmental impact assessment and scoring system for cosmetics products. L'Oréal has committed to transitioning from its own product impact labeling to the EcoBeautyScore once it becomes available in late 2023,” explains this week’s media release. Click here to learn more about the EcoBeautyScore Consortium.

💋🛒Experiential Online Shopping

“This is an important and innovative milestone for not only Laura Mercier, but the full Orveon brand portfolio as we continue to digitalize, grow revenue, and drive foot traffic to e-commerce, all while reaching existing and new consumers,” Pascal Houdayer, CEO at Orveon, the beauty company owned by US-based investment firm Advent International.

The milestone Houdayer mentioned in this week’s press release, is a partnership between the company’s Laura Mercier cosmetics and skincare brand and the experiential e-commerce platform called Obsess. Together they’re creating a branded shopping destination in the Metaverse.

World of Beauty, now live, is a 3-room e-commerce experience. “We are thrilled to partner with Laura Mercier to launch an immersive virtual beauty experience that gives consumers a delightful new way to discover, learn about and be inspired by the brand's iconic products and aesthetic,” says Neha Singh, Founder and CEO of Obsess.

“Visitors,” she explains, “can do everything from virtually trying on products to find the shades that are their own personal 'perfect match' to discovering great gift ideas for everyone on their list in the interactive holiday gifting room.”

Advent International is no stranger to beauty. The investment firm owned a majority stake in Douglas (Europe’s leading premium beauty and health retailer) from 2013 to 2015. And acquired the renowned hair care brand Olaplex at the start of 2020. That brand has, of course, since gone public.

The firm created Orveon after acquiring bareMinerals, Laura Mercier, and Buxom from Shiseido at the end of 2021. Tricia Glynn, a Managing Director at Advent International, sits on the board Orveon Global and told Forbes Senior Contributor Sharon Edelson late last year that the beauty company intends to acquire further brands and is “quite serious about this opportunity to be the future of the face and to own face care. Color cosmetics is a component of that, but it’s not all of that.”

In this week’s press release, Orveon CEO Pascal Houdayer made similarly lofty messaging, emphasizing that, “Orveon does not ‘sell products,’ but rather ‘offers experiences’ to serve our consumers. They crave digital experiences that also provides them with resources to learn more about our heritage.” 💋 click here to visit Laura Mercier's World of Beauty.

🌊🪸Bioprospecting for Better Personal Care

photo courtesy of Apoena Biotech

The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, a national marine park 300+ kilometers off Brazil’s northeast coast, has been called the ‘Blue Amazon’ for the magnitude of biodiversity living in its waters.

Apoena Biotech, a research company and ingredient maker, specializing in technologies for microbiology, bioprocesses, agro-industry, and cosmetics has received authorization from agencies of Brazil’s Ministry of the Environment to collect samples from the Blue Amazon in an effort to identify biotech opportunities with applications specifically in cosmetics, personal care, and fragrance.

photo courtesy of Apoena Biotech

“We value and boost the development of Brazilian biotechnology from one of the richest

ecosystems in the world, enabling the creation of unique sustainable products that help preservation, opening new opportunities for the development of innovative solutions,” explains Bruno Carillo, Chief Operating Officer at Apoena Biotech. The company was established in 2018 and is based in Diadema, São Paulo, Brazil.

📸The photos here shows team members at Apoena respectfully exploring the Blue Amazon in search of organisms that can advance the possibilities of beauty biotech and expand the company’s portfolio of solutions.

💋💰Funding for the Future

This week, Renee Cosmetics picked up $25million US in funding to further expand the makeup brand’s global presence. Launched in in India in 2020, Renee Cosmetics already reaches consumers in that country as well as in the US, the UK, and Australia.

The newly announced Series B funding comes from Evolvence India (who led the round) and Edelweiss Group, as well as from existing investors Equanimity and 9Unicorns. Besides geographical expansion, the brand plans to hire further talent and spend on marketing initiatives.

“We want to extend and strengthen our presence and steer Renee towards becoming a globally recognized Indian makeup brand that is relatable and accessible to all, irrespective of the geographical location,” Priyank Shah, Co-Founder and Director of the brand told Jaspreet Kaur of inc42. Aashka Goradia Goble and Ashutosh Valani founded the Renee brand alongside Shah.

🏭💋Isobutene Scale Up

On Tuesday, cosmetics ingredient maker Global Bioenergies announced having achieved full-scale production of the butylene isomer at its facility in Pomacle, France.

For beauty makers, the news here is that Global Bioenergies (which also serves the energy and material sectors) will work with its partners to convert some of this isobuetene into isododecane to be sold as Isonaturane 12, the company’s trademarked beauty ingredient.

“An industrial project is invariably an adventure. This is especially so in these troubled times,” says Frédéric Ollivier, Global Bioenergies’ Chief Technical Officer, in his remarks to the press.

“Nevertheless,” he adds, “we were able to successfully build and commission the unit in very good conditions. We are now producing about 1 tonne of isobutene per week. I would like to congratulate the entire Global Bioenergies team, who made this success possible.”

According to Tuesday’s press release, the first batch of Isonaturane 12 has been sold and will be delivered in early 2023. “Commercial discussions” are underway for later batches. And Global Bioenergies is looking ahead to 2025 when commercial, technical, and regulatory gains from this facility will enable a new facility to go online, producing some 2,000 tonnes of isobutene and derivatives each year.


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