The first Asian edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit brought together 120 delegates from across the Asia-Pacific region in Hong Kong on 7-8 November. The focal themes of the summit were the marketing and technical issues related to sustainable cosmetics. Major discussions centered on green washing and consumer confusion, the lucrative Chinese market, certification and green formulations. The high incidence of false marketing claims, mis-labelling and fraud were shown as key challenges for natural and organic cosmetics in Asia.

The conference opened with a personal keynote on ‘Building a Sustainable Future’ by Leigh Kite, general manager of Personal Care at Comvita, which has been marketing a range of honey-based cosmetics since 2007. Amarjit Sahota, president of Organic Monitor, urged beauty companies go beyond reducing negatives and create positive impacts on the environment and social communities. Rene T. Co explained how Procter & Gamble takes a holistic view to sustainability by the use of product life cycle assessments.

Dr. Alain Khaiat from Seers Consulting highlighted the options available to formulators looking at using natural ingredients for skin whitening in Asia. He explained how ingredients, such as Kojic acid, Ascorbic acid and Retinol, can have skin whitening applications in cosmetics.

Gordon Chalmers, co-founder of Jasmin Skincare, highlighted how the Australian company has been successful in introducing organic skincare to Chinese consumers. Dr. Prahallad Maddi Archana from Himalaya Healthcare gave an introduction to ayurveda and its use in cosmetic products. Lorievelle Valeriano from Panpuri said Thailand was a hotbed of product development since it was the spa capital of the world. Just Life, the leading chain of organic food shops in Malaysia, shared its experiences in marketing natural and organic beauty products.

Two interactive workshops were hosted by Organic Monitor. Judi Beerling, head of Technical Research, emphasized the major technical and formulation issues associated with sustainable cosmetics. Some of the alternatives to surfactants, emulsifiers and parabens were discussed, as well as the certification options. The second workshop highlighted the major market developments and competitive trends.

The European edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit will take place in Paris November 28-30. The North American edition is scheduled for May 17-19 and the next Asia-Pacific edition will take place Nov 12-13, 2012 in Hong Kong.