Seeds of Colour is a beauty biotech company on a mission to celebrate nature, seed change and save the environment. SoC uses innovative technology and science to extract pigments from fruits and vegetables to create natural, vegan makeup good for you, your skin and the planet. All product ingredients are sourced from the British countryside to create nutrient-rich botanical pigments safe to use on the skin, and certified cruelty-free cosmetics, clean and natural beauty, 100% vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, halal and dermatologically tested.
“When we research and develop a new product, sustainability is built into the design process right from the start. This means we try to ensure all by-products are recycled or otherwise used. Take the anthocyanin fruit pigments as an example. The waste fruit pulp left behind after the colour is extracted makes great food for microbes by a process called thermophilic aerobic digestion. This turns the pulp into a powdery material full of plant nutrients that can be returned to the soil as fertiliser – back to where it came from.”
We sat down with Anna for an exclusive interview at Beauty Connect West, to learn more about her nature-based clean beauty line…
What does it mean to be a biotech company in the beauty sector? How did you first become inspired to create Seeds of Colour?
Biotechnology has long been acknowledged as key to the future of sustainable beauty. For beauty specifically, there’s lots for the industry to work on, like the use of enzymes and fermentation to create new ingredients and molecules. Alternatively, biotechnology can be used to make existing ingredients in a much more environmentally friendly way than chemical processes that may use toxic materials and usually generate pollutive waste streams. Another aspect of a biotechnology-led approach is to be able to understand the chemistry of natural molecules like the plant pigments we use- how they may behave in formulations and what beneficial effects they may have particularly on the skin.
It all started from a collaboration with NIAB (National Institute for Agricultural Botany) who hosted a project that sought to find new uses for surplus organic British produce. Bio Scientist and Seeds of Colour co-founder , Dr. Steve Taylor led this research on extraction technology for recovering colour pigments from fruits and vegetables in an eco-friendly way.
For me, being born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a city blessed by nature, it is really important to feel connected with nature. This is why Seeds of Colour’s mission is to Celebrate Nature and connect nature’s beauty with our beauty. By blending innovative circular technology with nature we launched a unique range of 100% Natural Colour Balms that are full of antioxidants, just as good for your skin as they are for your world.
How do you combine natural ingredients and extract pigments in an eco-friendly way?
The pigments are extracted from fruit in a gentle manner that does not damage the pigment molecules; it generates no waste that has to be landfilled or otherwise removed from the site. Combining the pigments with other natural ingredients is done at a low temperature and in an energy efficient way, that brings out the best of the colours that we use. The idea behind our way of producing our balms is an innovative circular process where everything is recycled-reused-repurposed.
How are natural active ingredients better than what’s already on the market?
Both mineral pigments and chemicals are made by chemical methods that generate a lot of chemical and often very toxic waste – this has to be dealt with somehow, for example by incineration or landfill. Also, no-one is really keen on crushing beetles and extracting the red pigment from the dead insect, besides it’s clearly not a vegan pigment. On the other hand plant-based products, after processing to extract say oils, waxes, anti-oxidants or coloured pigments, leave behind just crushed or otherwise spent plant material- this can be returned to the field, used to make biogas or turned into compost – there are multiple ways to deal with spent plants that are beneficial rather than detrimental to the environment. This is such a contrast to chemical processes.
Do you think the future of beauty is vegan? And how are you making waves in this category?
Yes, vegan. But above all the future of beauty is nature. There is a certain symbiosis between humans and nature that seems to have been lost in recent decades, and the widespread use of unnatural ingredients that are chemically made and originating from oil has contributed to this. This is particularly so in cosmetics. Seeds of Colour is daring to go where others haven’t by replacing the noxious chemical and dead mineral colours used by the mainstream with those that come from living plants, transforming waste into active ingredients. We can surely say that the future of beauty is nature, but for Seeds of Colour the future is now!
What exactly is ‘greenwashing’ and why is it an issue in the beauty sector?
It is an issue in all sectors but specifically in beauty, Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or misleading information about how a company’s products are environmentally sound. Greenwashing involves making an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly or have a greater positive environmental impact than is true. Companies with no real sustainability mission have taken to adding labels and phrases to their products that have no proof to back it up. “Green,” “cruelty-free” and “all natural,” for example, have no rules or regulations of what a product must be to earn these names; in short, they’ve become watered down in the name of profiting off concerned consumers. If you’re looking to buy, but haven’t heard of a brand or don’t have time to search up its credentials, there’s a few ways you can know on the spot if a product is trustworthy. The best indicators are seals of approval, but you need to know which ones to look for.
How does a customer verify a beauty brands claims, of being cruely-free and ethical?
Seeds of Colour is certified by the Vegan Society, Made in UK, Cruelty Free International and is B Corp pending. Third-party validation and verification of claims is a powerful tool to demonstrate that a company is making accurate, truthful and credible claims. Cruelty Free International certifies companies with cruelty free standards that are over and above the legal requirements. Their Leaping Bunny stamp of approval lets you know that everything from the ingredients we use to the final products are not tested on animals. Regarding ethical claims, certified B Corporations, or B Corps, are companies verified by B Lab to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. Being a B Corp means that consumers and business partners will know you’re honestly committed to creating real environmental and/or societal benefits.
Do you have any exciting company news to share upcoming for Seeds of Colour?
We are developing the second generation of multi-use balms with lots more colours. These new balms were devised for many more colours and new skin benefits. And after only one year since its launching and already winning important prizes like the Marie Claire Sustainability Awards and the Cosmopolitan Summer Beauty Awards in the makeup category for best Glowy Blush, these new balms will definitely mark the expansion of our brand. We will have more nature inspired colours than any other brand in the market. Also, knowing how important it is to drive trial we invented a single colour pops pill. You can try our colours in a biodegradable capsule.
If you could be on any retailers shelves, which one would you choose and why?
If Seeds of Colour could choose one retailer, it would be The Detox Market for its trailblazing story. The Detox Market began as a pop-up shop on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, in Venice, California. That was back in 2010, when the concept of clean beauty was relatively unknown, and many people weren’t aware of the ingredients or environmental footprint of their personal care products. I think that their role as a catalyst for change in the underregulated beauty industry and compromise with sustainable beauty and wellness products as an inspiration for SoC and aligned with our values.
You can buy Seeds of Colour products online at www.seedsofcolour.com.
I have over 10 years of experience in the retail industry including expertise in marketing, operations, merchandising, buying, shopping and technology. I am a former senior managing director of The School of Retailing, University of Alberta. My education includes a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from The University of Alberta in Marketing, Certificate in Real Estate and a Diploma in Fashion Merchandising and Buying from LasSalle College, a Canadian private school founded in 1959 by fashion designer Jean-Paul Morin.