Episode 16: Organic Cosmetic Standards - Gay Timmons Interview

In this episode of the podcast we speak with Gay Timmons, president of Oh Oh Organics and Chair of OASIS inc. Our topic is Organic cosmetic standards.

Interview begins at 15:00

Cosmetic News

Is the cosmetic industry becoming plant based?

Cosmetics Business had an interesting editorial on the movement in the cosmetic business. I also noticed a lot of this at the InCosmetic event in Milan. Companies are more and more turning to plant based ingredients and renewable resources.

Not only are these green ingredients renewable, they also presumably have a lower environmental footprint than petroleum-based products.

However, diverting farm land to grow cosmetic ingredients raises both ethical and ecological questions. Is it ethical to supplant food production for cosmetics when the population is estimated to grow to over 9 billion people by 2050 and the amount of available farm land will decrease?

This has been a concern for some of the bigger companies getting moving to the “natural” sourced ingredients. Big organizations like L’Oreal, P&G and Unliever have made commitments to sustainable sourcing. Walmart is also putting pressure on companies to become more sustainable. Sustainable sourcing just means sources that can be continually renewed.

Right now farmland is not necessarily a problem but as the population grows, in the future it will be. It will certainly be interesting to see how the industry changes. There were 2 technologies that I saw as viable for sustainable and ethical raw material development. There is the concept of urban farming in which you use greenhouses and hydroponics to create vertical farmland. Then there is also bioreactors in which you reprogram bacteria to produce the raw materials you want from basic feedstocks.

I don’t think much will change as long as oil prices remain low and supply is plentiful. But more and more consumers are looking to “green” cosmetics so if you are just starting out in the industry, be sure to learn all you can about creating completely plant-based cosmetics.

Story 2

State of the Natural Movement in Cosmetics

GCI had an interesting article about the natural/organic market in their April issue. According to the story, Euromontior International collected data to show that smaller brands have a greater credibility when it comes to being perceived as natural/organic. Considering that large companies are trying to cash in on this trend, it just means it will be a bit harder for them.

But that hasn’t stopped the big guys from trying. P&G recently announced that it’s Pantene bottles will now be created from environmentally friendly plant based resins. J&J has a new naturals line for children claimed to be made from 98% plant ingredients. And of course, the big guys have also bought up some of the smaller natural companies like Clorox buying Burt’s Bees and Estee Lauder buying Aveda.

It seems that the market still remains the domain of the smaller companies however. Companies like Yes To (as in Yes to Carrots) and Lush are experiencing the biggest growth rates. Consumers are thought to be more skeptical of mass market natural/organic products.

This is good news for all you would-be cosmetic entrepreneurs. If you want to break in to this market segment, you’ll have a leg up on the polished big brands. Unpolished seems to work better.

Cosmetic Science

Principles of Minimalist formulating.
1. Less is more
2. Use ingredients with a purpose
3. Blind test
4. Use a good standard
5. Start high, go low
6. Make lots of batches


Gay Timmons is President of Oh Oh Organics a company that specializes in reliable supply chain for organic ingredients and credible compliance with U.S. and international standards for “organic” claims of all sorts.

Read Gay’s blog - Oh Oh Bloggo
Follow on Twitter - ohohorganic


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Chemists Corner is a podcast about cosmetic science and is broadcast to help educate, entertain, and inspire current and future cosmetic scientists. The information and opinions discussed on Chemists Corner are those of the hosts and the guests alone. They do not necessarily reflect those of any past, present or future employers.

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