Podcast 79: The challenge of sourcing natural ingredients

Sourcing natural ingredients

Sourcing natural ingredients is one of the first challenges every indie formulator faces. After all, we want our ingredients to be sustainable, efficacious and, ideally, available in small minimum order quantities (MOQs).

However, the big wide world of cosmetic ingredient suppliers has, for the most part, not set itself up to cater to the indie players in our community. They don’t realise that today’s indie formulators may become tomorrow’s industry giants. We’ve a good many of our graduate brands that have grown fast and are now entering overseas markets. The BYBI brand story is one example.

So, how do indie beauty brands find and source the innovative, plant-based ingredients that will set them apart and help them formulate effective products and grow remarkable brands?

In this episode, podcast host and Formula Botanica CEO Lorraine Dallmeier talks to Timo von Bargen who is Co-founder and CEO of Covalo, a comprehensive search platform that connects beauty brands with over 40,000 suppliers. We encourage you to listen to this episode so you don’t miss some very useful advice and tips to help you with sourcing natural ingredients.

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Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Spotify Subscribe on YouTube Having trouble sourcing natural ingredients? Listen to the @FormulaBotanica podcast with Covalo @join_covalo, a portal of 40k suppliers helping indie beauty brands out. #indiebeauty #naturalcosmetics #naturalformulation Click To Tweet

Covalo offers access to a huge ecosystem of cosmetic ingredients as well as listings of suppliers of packaging and services such as contract manufacturing, formulation, and regulatory and compliance services. These are all areas of the beauty supply chain and business that small indie brands have to grapple with. But, how can indie beauty founders find their way through the thousands of possible solutions and ingredients?

While Covalo is not the only such supplier portal, it is shaping its search portal specifically to help indie brands and new formulators working in the naturals’ sector.

Covalo offers a unique set of filters that help users search for specific, ingredient attributes. These include terms such as natural, biodegradable, sustainable, cruelty-free, palm oil-free, gentle, upcycled and preservative-free. As you can imagine, this kind of granular filtering of a database of thousands of ingredients is just what natural formulators dream of when sourcing and verifying claims made about natural ingredients.

Joining Lorraine from Covalo’s base in Switzerland, Timo explains not just the mechanics of how to use their portal, but also offers indie beauty formulators and businesses invaluable advice on just how to make the most of cosmetic supplier portals and obtain those all-important, product samples.

In this podcast on sourcing natural ingredients, you will hear:

  • how some supplier platforms are huge databases of chemicals and industrial materials and are not designed with the personal care industry in mind nor are they user friendly for smaller indie cosmetics’ brands.
  • that Covalo goes out of its way to enlist suppliers that offer indie brands specific advantages such as lower minimum order quantities and access to innovative ingredients. After all, “indie brands could be their next big customers”.
  • that Covalo resolves the difficulties of getting hold of documentation by providing them directly on their website, updated MSDS, COA, IFRA statements and a host of other technical paperwork for the ingredients it lists.
  • just how Covalo’s 40K-plus ingredient index works and how it vets claims such as upcycled and plant-based and verifies certification such as Cosmos and NaTrue to ensure its filters are invaluable to its site users.

Key take-outs and tips include:

  • With tens of thousands of ingredients and services’ listings on its database, Covalo has its finger on the pulse of cosmetics’ trends. Recent trending search terms include bakuchiol – up 300 percent in a year – and retinol. Covalo says its users are also seeking natural, plant-based ingredients more and looking for greater transparency from suppliers on issues such as carbon footprints and local sourcing.
  • Indie beauty formulators often have difficulties requesting samples as many suppliers require a business email or website. Covalo urges start-ups to be honest and explain their development stage and be specific about why they require certain ingredients.
  • Don’t request vast volumes of a sample ingredient as suppliers will be suspicious about anyone who asks for a large amounts that would be enough to produce a first full-batch run.
  • Research ingredients thoroughly and be clear about what value any innovative, active ingredient adds to your formulation. In this way, suppliers can help advise you and are more likely to provide ingredient samples.

Meet our guest: Timo von Bargen

Timo von Bargen, CEO CovaloTimo von Bargen is the Co-founder and CEO of Covalo, a B2B marketplace that makes beauty product development fast and easy from idea to market. It provides a one-stop shop for formulation-driven product development including the sourcing of sustainable ingredients, packaging, contract manufacturing and other services. Useful additional services such as formulation collaboration and project management are to be introduced on its portal soon. It offers over 40,000 indexed beauty ingredients and unique sustainability, certification and performance claim filters. Timo studied and worked in Germany, Switzerland, Vietnam and the United States and runs Covalo out of Zurich, Switzerland.

Twitter: @join_covalo
Email: [email protected]

If you are a Formula Botanica student or graduate and wish to gain access to Covalo but do not yet have a business email, contact the Covalo team at: [email protected].

Green Beauty Opinion – Podcast 80: Let’s remind the ingredients’ sector of its roots

Lorraine follows up our guest episodes with 5-minute Green Beauty Opinions. In this opinion short, Lorraine reminds us that indie beauty has faced an enormous uphill struggle to be recognised by ingredients’ manufacturers and points out that the indie businesses of today can be the giants of tomorrow. She challenges us to connect and communicate as a collective voice to change the dominant culture in some quarters of beauty industry that downplays the value of indie business. Green Beauty Opinions prompt us all to be the voice of change and integrity, making the beauty industry better and more sustainable.

Listen to Lorraine’s Green Beauty Opinion:

Thank you for joining us for this episode of the Formula Botanica Green Beauty Conversations podcast. If you enjoyed listening, please share, subscribe and review this episode on iTunes, Spotify or Youtube so that more people can enjoy the show. Don’t forget to follow and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Lorraine Dallmeier

Lorraine Dallmeier is a Biologist, Chartered Environmentalist and the CEO of Formula Botanica, the award-winning online organic cosmetic science school. Read more about Lorraine and the Formula Botanica Team.


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