Can you prioritise both innovation and sustainability at the same time? Learn from a centenarian company

Published: 11-Jun-2024

These days, consumers seem to want – and expect – it all. Beyond a wishlist of “nice-to-haves,” they have serious expectations from personal care brands to deliver on an array of criteria and values that were often overlooked before

Take sustainability, for example, a growing global concern that the personal care industry bears a big responsibility to take on. 63% of beauty product consumers claim that sustainability is either ‘extremely important, or ‘very important’ when making their cosmetics choices. At the same time, 79% of shoppers have doubts about sustainability claims. Hard evidence backing up sustainability claims is now vital, and is something consumers increasingly vet before making their purchasing decisions. In this way, consumers are pushing us all to be better and forcing the industry to adapt for the greater good of society and the planet.

The tricky part for brands and manufacturers, however, is that it’s not enough for a product to simply be just sustainable, just like it’s not enough to just be performance-driven. If a skin care product is sustainable, but doesn’t deliver fast performance results, then that won’t cut it. Additionally, if the production or testing process of a certain ingredient or formulation is not entirely ethical towards humans or animals, that’s not acceptable either. A few of these “must-have” criteria include: ingredient safety and traceability, quality, consistency, performance, and sustainability. Consumer demands are defining the future and changing how we operate – and we must either adapt, or fall behind.

At Covalo, that’s why we’re pushing for sustainability, innovation, and transparency – three pillars that are equally critical to strive towards in the personal care industry. For beauty ingredient manufacturers in particular, this is hard work, and is a balance that’s not always easy to strike. Today, in honor of their 100th birthday, we’re spotlighting Ashland, a specialty ingredients company that strives to embody these values – staying in sync with today’s consumer demands by pushing the boundaries of what it means to be both sustainable and innovative, all at once.

How Ashland takes both sustainability and innovation seriously

For a full century, Ashland has kept a pulse on how things are evolving, constantly adapting to these changes. With the belief that there cannot be a compromise on either sustainability or performance, they have worked to develop a series of breakthrough innovations that are both high-performing and kind to the planet.

Ashland embeds ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) into all aspects of their operations, as it plays a critical role in their long-term business strategy. They see it as both an impetus and a growth opportunity, turning this potential for change into action and a key for unlocking business growth. ESG is deeply integrated into their core values, with initiatives that address environmental, social, and governance issues transparently and systematically. To them, a responsible future includes a lower environmental footprint, an empowered, diverse workforce, ethical operations and community engagement, and transparent communication – both internally and externally.

Here are a few initiatives by Ashland that highlight their commitment:

  • Over 90% of their new personal care product portfolio is natural, nature-derived, biodegradable, or sustainable in-use.
  • They have made commitments to science-based targets, holding themselves accountable to emissions reduction targets across the value chain.
  • Ashland manages the footprint of their facilities and employee populations around the world to mitigate climate impact


On the innovation side of things, Ashland has been at the forefront of designing, synthesising and producing specialty additives and ingredients that are essential to everyday life. Ashland has launched new cutting-edge technology platforms that empower customers to reshape global metagrands and respond to various regulatory landscapes. Some of these technology platforms include: super wetters, pH neutralisers, bioresorbable polymers, novel cellulosics, transformed vegetable oils, among others. These platforms all extend to secondary markets with new and differentiated capabilities to unlock organic growth for both Ashland and for their customers, worldwide. Their platform solutions bring never-before-seen, sustainable innovations, offering new choices to customers in personal care, pharma, coatings, and more. Bioresorbable polymers, for example, is a scalable platform with multiple applications, namely a long-acting injectable for chronic disease and animal health.

Ashland’s adaptable approach has also allowed them to consistently reinvent themselves, helping them accelerate the speed and impact of their products, maintain high performance, and even expand into new applications. Ashland develops and executes strategies to expand their leading technologies, globalise high-value products in key geographics, and innovate off the back of existing technologies – enabling them to sustainably grow their business for future generations.

Introducing their latest sustainable innovation: Transformed vegetable oils (TVO)

Ashland has recently launched unique additives created from transformed vegetable oils, and boast a wide array of sustainable claims: renewable, natural, biodegradable, non-microplastic, non-GMO, and vegan. They offer a 4-in-1 functionality with tunable water solubility – a dispersant, film former, binder, and delivery system, all in one, this platform is revolutionary in that it can be applied to various aspects of personal care: oral care for mouthwashes and toothpaste (gantrez ™ soja delivery system), skin care for hand and body washes (softhance ™ mr conditioning agent), skin/sun care and color cosmetics (antaron ™ soja glyceride). This flexible and multifaceted characteristic adds value across four separate industries (personal care, pharma, coatings, and crop care).

Curious to learn more about TVO ingredients? We’ve rounded them up below, and have included other noteworthy ingredients that tick the boxes of being both sustainable and innovative. Check them out below.


  • perfectyl™ biofunctional is a high-tech chamomile extract that’s inspired by new aesthetic techniques. It helps clarify and smoothen skin flaws (such as pores and hyperpigmentation) for all ethnicities. Ashland uses fresh chamomile, Zeta Fraction™ technology and artificial intelligence to reveal the science of clear skin with a pure, patented extract naturally rich in GABA and flower acids.
  • sclareance™ biofunctional is a natural purified sclareolide developed through the fermentation of clary sage flowers. Sclareance boosts the 4D defenses of skin and helps the skin transform vitamin D into its active form. It also offers a dual benefit on scalp irritation and compromised skin.
  • saffragyl™ biofunctional is an innovative breakthrough in oral care using 100% natural and biodegradable upcycled crocus flower extract for daily gum care. The extraction process is sustainable, putting our conscious-yet-cutting-edge approach on full display.

Hair care

  • styleze™ es-forza ingredient is Ashland’s most recent addition to its plant based eco-styling product line, intended for gels and cream formulations. It boasts a customisable stiffness, allowing formulators to tailor their products to a desired hold while maintaining any hair style, even in the most extreme humidity.
  • n-durhance™ es-repair ingredient, a durable split end repair polymer that protects hair from damage and breakage during wet combing and heat styling. It also provides excellent sensorial properties, making the hair feel smooth and lubricated, and not tacky when wet, and perfectly conditioned when dry.

Skin care

  • antaron™ soja glyceride is a nature-derived, biodegradable film former that delivers water resistance and SPF boosting benefits to sun care and color cosmetic formulations. Antaron soja glyceride enables the creation of more natural sun care creams, lotions, gels, and color cosmetics.
  • natrathix™ bio cellulose is a breakthrough thickener with suspension capabilities that maintains emulsion stability of skin and sun care creams, lotions and gels with a pleasant skin feel, offering an alternative to carbomer.
  • softhance™ mr conditioning agent, a nature-derived, biodegradable conditioning agent that delivers perceivable skin softness from rinse-off cleansing formulations. Depositing on the skin during washing, softhance mr helps skin retain moisture, leaving skin feeling conditioned and soft after rinsing. Non-microplastic, non-GMO, and vegan suitable, softhance mr offers a sustainable option to deliver conditioning benefits from body washes, hand soaps, facial cleansers, and more.

Microbial protection

  • phyteq™ raspberry multifunctional, an impressive milestone on the path to effective and sustainable active ingredients that enrich cosmetic formulations beyond the antimicrobial aspect.

Oral care

  • gantrez™ soja delivery system is a nature-derived, biodegradable ingredient that is substantive to oral mucosa and enamel to retain oral care actives in the mouth for long-lasting benefits. It enables the creation of novel oral care products with long-lasting freshness and antimicrobial benefits.

At Covalo, we work with companies like Ashland to supply high-quality ingredients to cosmetic companies that push boundaries when it comes to both innovation and sustainability – enabling brands to meet the various consumer demands for cutting-edge, effective, and conscious products.

Request samples from Ashland on Covalo today! Also, if you’ll be at in-cosmetics Global in Paris, visit them at booth 2C60.

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