An environmentally friendly solution to microbeads?

July 12, 2016
4 min read

Microbeads have made headlines recently after ministers in the UK backed a ban on their usage in personal care products due to their environmental impact. However, German-based formulation provider Worlée has developed an environmentally friendly solution.

Worlée Soft Beads have a special composition that enables them to retain a solid particle form in water-based formulations and emulsions allowing them to carry active ingredients in varying sizes and colours. The range offered by the company currently includes Aloe Vera, Vitamin E, Cranberry and Sunflower Oil, as well as non-filled red and blue varieties.

Mintel consumer research shows high interest in ingredient claims when it comes to soap, bath and shower products, but low awareness of what different ingredients do. For example, whilst two in five Brits look for vitamin enriched products, a higher proportion have heard of but do not know much about vitamins. In addition, Mintel research also indicates that consumers are showing a greater interest in the ingredients featured within a formulation rather than what it excludes. For example, over half of female facial skincare users have used products with natural ingredients compared to a quarter who have used products free-from certain ingredients. Worlée’s technology could be used to not only visually represent ingredients, but also act as a talking point to educate consumers on ingredients.

Activation upon use

Since ingredients encapsulated in beads are released on usage, the technology could allow for products to claim the activation of ingredients happens only upon usage, signaling to consumers that active ingredients are not ‘wasted’ or degraded by sitting on a shelf in-store. Future iterations of the technology could see beads that change colour when a product is reaching its expiry date.

Alternatively, the technology could be used to allow consumers to buy active ingredients by weight. They could then vary the amount of beads they use to create a unique customised product.

Environmentally friendly option

The use of microplastic particles in some skincare exfoliation products can have environmental consequences due to the residue travelling through sewage systems. As a result, microbeads have been banned in the US, and the UK government has faced pressure for similar a ban. Worlée Soft Beads could provide an environmentally friendly alternative to microbeads as they are made from 95% sustainable raw materials, contain no preservatives and are free-from animal derived components as well as GM basic raw materials.

In addition, Mintel research reveals that environmentally friendliness is amongst the top reasons that users of natural and organic products prefer to use them, indicating that Worlée Soft Beads innovation is likely to appeal to natural/organic consumers. The free-from credentials also make them ideal for natural and organic formulations.

What we think

The fact that Worlée Soft Beads enable encapsulation and visualisation of key ingredients, presents opportunities across beauty and personal care markets. As the inclusion of natural ingredients is become increasingly popular, such innovations can be used to highlight and explain the inclusion of active ingredients.

The positive environment credentials of the innovation make them ideal for inclusion in natural and organic products. As the technology can be used in both leave-on and rinse-off formulations, it could have applications in a range of categories and format types.

Roshida Khanom, Senior Personal Care Analyst at Mintel, joined in 2012 and writes about the OTC, Beauty & Personal Care industries. Prior to joining Mintel, she was a Senior Researcher at Procter & Gamble’s R&D department in the beauty division, where she launched products globally, identified trends and analysed consumer responses to new innovations with a particular focus in qualitative methods

Roshida Khanom
Roshida Khanom

Roshida Khanom is Director of Beauty & Personal Care Insights, EMEA.

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