Contributed by Michel Philippe, PhD Senior Research Associate Sustainable Transformations Manager L’ORÉAL Research & Innovation



L’Oréal was the first corporation in the cosmetics industry to integrate Green Chemistry principles into its innovation model over 10 years ago. This concept refers to clean, eco-friendly chemistry that helps minimize environmental impact. These guidelines proposed by Paul Anastas and John Warner include using renewable raw materials, designing resource-efficient synthesis methods with minimal environmental impact, and developing substances with favorable environmental profiles designed with their subsequent degradation in mind. The challenge for our chemists is to invent high-performance molecules that are nevertheless environmentally friendly.




LOreal3.jpgL’Oréal’s approach is built upon three pillars which encompass all these Green Chemistry Principles principles. The first entails using primarily plant, and therefore renewable, raw materials. The second is developing eco-friendly processes. To this end, L’Oréal researchers are committed to reducing the number of synthesis steps as well as solvent and energy consumption. The third pillar is developing ingredients with favorable environmental profiles. Eco-design helps improve the formulas’ environmental profiles in many ways, including increasing their biodegradability and improving the water footprint of the final marketed products. To track progress in its application of Green chemistry, L’Oréal has developed a set of indicators that the Group uses to calculate the atom economy, the amount of waste per kilogram of manufactured product, the created ingredient’s renewable carbon content and the environmental risk generated by the final compound.





By using Green chemistry, L’Oréal has developed new active ingredients that would not have been possible with traditional chemistry. Having developed Pro-Xylane, an anti-aging ingredient obtained from a sawdust-derived sugar in 2006, the chemists at L’Oréal continued to explore the realm of sugar chemistry and subsequently developed Rhamnose, carrageenans and the family of C-glycosides. Such successes mean that L’Oréal now relies more than ever on Green Chemistry to honor its sustainable innovation commitments by 2020. By the end of 2014, 32% of new raw materials listed in the past year were of plant origin and 22% respected the principles of Green chemistry.






L’Oréal communicates  in the world-famous conferences such as Green Chemistry Gordon Conference, Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, International Symposium on Green Chemistry, IUPAC Green Chemistry Conference.

L’Oréal also publishes its scientific results in famous journals such as Green Chemistry journal, for instance:

  • Green Chem., 2012, 14, 952-956
  • Green Chem., 2013, 15, 963-969
  • Green Chem., 2015, DOI: 10.1039/c5gc00759c




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.