Will Molecular Skincare be the post-natural skincare category?

Molecular skincare: moving towards a new category of skincare that promotes a more sustainable and innovative future.

We have reached a turning point where climate change and the effect on the environment have created tremendous challenges and are leading motivators for changes in how we create new products. To meet the challenges of creating more sustainable (and effective) products requires a change in how society perceives what constitutes environmentally friendly skincare. Currently, “clean” and “natural” skincare composed of organic, plant-derived ingredients has been equated with environmentally friendly and sustainable, but this is not necessarily the case.[1] As it turns out, skincare composed of organic, plant-derived ingredients has a huge environmental impact and carbon footprint.[2] This negative impact has been greatly magnified by the demand for these products. At the same time, the marketing of natural skincare as being “natural” and “clean” and therefore better for us, has created demand from consumers that cannot be met without damaging the environment, as it has forced beauty brands to source more and more natural, plant derived ingredients. What if we were to free ourselves of the constraints of natural beauty and search for sustainable solutions that come from advances in science and biotechnology?

Compared with natural skincare, we are more likely to find innovative improvements that caters to the skin and the planet within the realm of what we call Molecular Skincare.

Natural skincare is just a marketing term and one that has unfortunately limited the innovative potential of skincare formulators. Natural skincare is based on plant-derived ingredients. However, the resources for growing all the plants needed is not unlimited. Pushing beyond these limits has created an untenable situation, in some cases threatening certain species with over-harvesting.[3]

In contrast, Molecular Skincare allows for a new definition of natural skincare. All matter around us – our bodies, the food we consume, the air we breath - is composed of molecules. By understanding the active molecules found in plants that can provide benefits to skin health, scientists can recreate these molecules in the laboratory, using the tools of chemistry and biotechnology, thus bypassing the need to source these ingredients from plants. What’s more, it can create new opportunities for innovation: scientists can identify new molecules that may exist in vanishingly small quantities in plants. If it turns out these molecules have beneficial activity, they can be created in large enough quantities in the lab so that they may be formulated into effective skincare products – all without having to harvest unsustainably large quantities of plant material.

As an example, the molecular structure of vitamin C is chemically identical whether it comes from a plant or made synthetically in a lab. Synthetically derived vitamin C has a smaller environmental impact and it can be obtained in its pure form, without the impurities that are typically found in plant-derived vitamin C.

We need to change the narrative around clean and natural skincare, and instead make way for a new category of skincare. […] Molecular skincare opens up opportunities for innovation, as scientists look to discover new ways to recreate molecules naturally occurring in the nature.

Understanding the molecular makeup of plants and using the tools of chemistry and biotechnology will allow us to meet the growing demand for more effective and sustainable skincare. For that to succeed, we need to change the narrative around clean and natural skincare, and instead make way for a new category of skincare. We believe Molecular Skincare will lead us to a new, post-natural frontier of skincare that is more sustainable and environmentally friendly.


1. Rubin CB, Brod B. Natural Does Not Mean Safe—The Dirt on Clean Beauty Products. JAMA Dermatology. 2019;155(12):1344.

2. Cubas ALV, De Aguiar Dutra AR, Bork JA, et al.. The Beauty Industry and Solid Waste. In: Climate Change Management. Climate Change Management; 2020:225-237.

3. Verma P, Mathur AK, Jain SP, Mathur A. In Vitro Conservation of Twenty-Three Overexploited Medicinal Plants Belonging to the Indian Sub Continent. The Scientific World Journal. 2012;2012:1-10.

This article is the point of view of Tiny Associates Skincare – a new skincare venture launched in Q1 22. Tiny Associates is what the future of skincare could be.

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