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Why multi-functional products are the hottest ticket in town!

Consumers consistently demand more from their skincare and beauty products, and it is up to new product developers to acknowledge these requirements and drive innovation in the sector. One of the biggest trends is for multi-functional products and this pared down method of beautifying is doing wonders for our skin, our pockets, and the environment too!


This simpler approach to beauty echoes Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer Beauty Survey1 which found that consumers now perceive beauty as looking healthy, being comfortable in your own skin and embracing a more authentic approach to beauty and personal care regimes.


Increasingly, consumers no longer want to engage in extensive beauty systems, with lots of products and complicated processes and routines. They are instead focusing on products that offer multi-functional benefits – minimizing the time and effort it takes for them to look their best.


From a product manufacturing point of view, this requires a systematic approach where ingredient suppliers and research and development teams can either rethink existing formulations or invest in new products that effectively meet these requirements.


Where did it all start?


It was during the 1980s that the launch of the first two-in-one shampoo and conditioner products caught the attention of consumers, primarily women, and were an instant hit! The development of these multi-functional personal care products can be put down to the coacervation phenomenon2, which allowed a combination of cationic polymers and anionic surfactants or silicone emulsions to achieve the requisite level of multifunctionality in haircare products.


This was effectively the start of a revolution in the development of new combinations and functionalities in beauty and personal care solutions. And now, as products, ingredients and functions become more sophisticated, ingredient technology and formulation innovation are necessary for all brand owners who want to remain competitive in this market.


In the four decades since, the industry has made great strides in the development of other beauty and personal care solutions. A quick search reveals a host of products that offer multi-functionality, but according to cosmeticsdesign.com3 there are three main products that continue to dominate:


  1. Finished cosmetic and personal care products with more than one consumer benefit
  2. Raw materials and ingredients with more than one function in any given beauty product formulation
  3. Cosmetics and personal care ingredients that impart different benefits in different formulations.


A further search4 reveals some of these innovative products including Garnier’s Fructis Triple Nutrition Miracle Dry Oil, which can be used for hair, body, and face; Dr Pawpaw’s Original balm - a multi-purpose soothing balm for use on lips, skin cuticles and nails, and Anastasia Beverly Hills Loose pigment that has a wealth of different applications – when mixed with a base ingredient such as lip gloss, moisturisers for an instant glow or even hyper-pigmented eye shadows.


L’Occitane and The Body Shop have long been part of the multi-functional revolution with products and have now taken a step further with refillable packaging and refilling stations to cut down on excessive plastic packaging.  

Positives all around

Ingredient manufacturers such as Oleon can help brands formulate multi-functional products that will help consumers to save time, space, and have a positive impact on the environment.5


“Our Jolee® range of products offer ingredients with proven multi-functionality thus cutting down on not only raw materials, but energy and water use during manufacturing. We can help with formulation advice for a range of multi-functional products and when considering the future, this will remain a key focus area for our business,” Rune Daneels, product manager at Oleon says.

For Rune though multi-functional products have other benefits too and tackling plastic packaging is a key factor when looking at slimmer and trimmer personal care and beauty routines.

“The use of fewer but better-quality products with natural, targeted skin barrier saving ingredients can potentially deliver better results across the board. While smarter formats and a less is more approach to skincare is important, it has other benefits such as less plastic waste and this is increasingly on the radar of responsible chemical manufacturing companies’ corporate agenda,” Rune explains.

Multi-functional products for a greener future

Sustainability, with its environmental and its social aspects, is one of the biggest forces in the beauty industry. Today, 76% of consumers plan to buy cosmetics that are made sustainably, and it is even more prevalent with Millennials (80%) and Gen-Z shoppers (86%). It is estimated that 64% of Americans are willing to pay more for sustainable products, and products marketed with sustainable claims grew seven times faster than those without such claims.6

When you investigate the benefits of developing a multi-functional product versus traditional products, there are other advantages than the obvious of a trimmed down beauty routine. It can have a massive environmental benefit.

“Not only do you have one product to replace all the unnecessary products cluttering your shelf, but the knock-on effect in terms of water and energy conservation and packaging is immense. As with fast fashion, quick-fix skincare sees us invest in lots of products with a potentially shorter shelf life or that are not as effective – resulting in lots of waste,” Rune notes.


“We know that the beauty and personal care manufacturing industry is one of the biggest users of water and energy, but what of its packaging? It is estimated that the personal care and beauty industry produces more than 120bn units of packaging every year globally – most of which is not truly recyclable. In 2018, in the US alone, almost 7.9 billion units of rigid plastic were created just for the beauty and personal care products and the problem will continue to get worse,” she points out.


Packaging – a global problem


The global cosmetics market generated approximately $241.1bn in 2020 and is expected to grow to $560.50bn by 2030 – making addressing the issue of plastic use in the industry an important one.7


“The move towards multi-functional products can impact massively on plastic pollution as it reduces the number of products that any consumer will have on their shelf. At Oleon, we focus on plastic as one of our sustainability goals and we believe that consumers should demand more from companies whose products they are buying.


“We take the circularity of a product into sincere consideration, and it is part of our corporate accountability strategy to reduce plastic waste. With our partners we are working towards a zero-waste policy. This means that we are investing in new system processes such as enzymatic esterification – seen in our current partnership with the INCITE project. This will successfully tackle the move towards a greener future by implementing processing systems that impact our footprint in the chemicals industry,” she points out.


When brand owners take the decision to produce multi-functional beauty and personal care formulations you are mindfully developing effective, targeted products, minimizing packaging waste, and tackling the problem of surplus products that cause widespread environmental damage.8


So why not contact the Oleon team for more information on how you can grow your beauty and personal care formulation for a simpler, cost-effective, and greener future!



1 Euromonitor International | Strategic Market Research, Data & Analysis - Euromonitor.com

2 Multitasking Beauty: Multifunctional Cosmetics Trends and Challenges | in-cosmetics Connect

3  The multiple approaches to multifunctional beauty (cosmeticsdesign.com)

4 The 14 Best Multi-Use Makeup, Skin, Hair, and Body Products — Hacks | Allure

The multiple approaches to multifunctional beauty (cosmeticsdesign.com)

6  Consumer Expectations Of Natural Beauty Brands | HAPPI

7 The Ugly Side of Beauty: The Cosmetics Industry’s Plastic Packaging Problem | Plastic Pollution Coalition

8  https://www.organicapoteke.com/blog/multifunctional-skincare-choices/

Green Chemistry is the heart of our company. We use bio-based materials to supply our customers with the most environment-friendly and safe products.

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