Cosmetic Innovation

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The discussion about tests on animals in the cosmetics industry was still moving slow when Natura decided to eliminate this practice. In 2016, the company reaches the mark of ten years without performing tests on animals.

10 years without performing tests on animals

10 years without performing tests on animals
Natura reaches the mark of 10 years without performing tests on animals
The discussion about tests on animals in the cosmetics industry was still moving slow when Natura decided to eliminate this practice. In 2016, the company reaches the mark of ten years without performing tests on animals. In order to make this pioneer initiative possible, a long path of research and technology investment has been made and you will have the opportunity to know the details of this story here on our blog.
Today, Natura as well as its entire network of suppliers of raw materials follow international protocols to ensure the safety and efficacy of the cosmetics they manufacture, without resorting to any animal species during the process. To reach this type of manufacture back in the middle of the 2000s was not easy, since the laboratories were still trying to improve the existing alternatives to animal testing and it was necessary to wait for the advancement of technologies or create them on your own to adopt them. A scientist from the Department of Consumer Safety, Vanessa Rocha says that the opening of the office of Natura in France helped in speeding up the process. "When we arrived to France, we had a closer contact with the discussion, which was already more evolved in Europe, around animal testing in cosmetics and its ingredients. Natura took the corporate decision, fully aligned with its values and beliefs, to ban the practice of its routine and began the work of transition to a new model. We had to start from scratch and bring equipment and researchers prepared to carry out this work in Brazil," he pointed out.
In addition to investing in equipment to the lab in Brazil, Natura also created a laboratory in France, which allowed the company to be closer to the alternative technologies as they emerged. With the structures installed, the alternative tests to the use of animals began with the use of simpler models, in cell culture, and progressed to the use of models of skin equivalent, also known as 3D skin. "At first, we treated the models in cell culture with ingredients and analyzed if that component was causing any toxic effect or alteration in the cell. This work began even before 2006, within the transition period," says Vanessa. Later, along with the cell culture, the company began to work with models of artificial skin developed in the laboratory. "The 3D skin model was a technology quite revolutionary in Europe and we were the first Brazilian company to use this novelty to develop our products, back in 2006," adds the scientist.
To evolve over the last ten years in the use of alternative testing methodologies, Natura has worked in partnership with many researchers. In a project developed with the Unifesp and support from FAPESP, the company was a pioneer in the development of alternative methods to the use of animals for testing of allergy. In all, there were more than 20 partnerships with universities and national and international research institutes, which contributed to the development of 67 methodologies, with studies in cell biology, 3D skin and cornea models, stem cells, molecular biology and in silico, among many others. "We evolved along with the evolution of science, the more biological models and methodologies we had available, the more we advanced in the adaptation of these models to the reality of Natura. We do not replace a model for others, we aggregate and use the best model for each need," says Juliana Lake researcher in the area of Advanced Research.
Application of computational biology
In the complex job of testing in cosmetics, as important as the model used - if cell model or artificial skin - is the reliability and  process optimisation. Currently, one of the major advances in Natura in the improvement of its tests is in the employment of evaluation techniques on a large scale and in computational biology. With the use of these tools, it is possible to carry out molecular analyzes on a large scale, which allow the generation of a fuller answer regarding the security profiles and biological functionality at the same time. Thus, the information obtained allows the construction of databases that can be reused and correlated according to the needs of the company. "With these tools, it is possible to predict the reactions of each ingredient and what it can cause in a particular model, optimizing and/or reducing the need to conduct tests in the laboratory," explains Debbie Zimbardi, researcher in the area of Advanced Research of Natura.
With the intersection of knowledge generated it is possible to know, with much more agility, what kind of ingredient is more indicated for each purpose. "Instead of performing isolated tests to evaluate the antioxidant action, others to evaluate the inflammatory profile, or other to check mechanisms involved in skin hydration.  We perform various analyzes at the same time, which makes the process of discovery of functionality and safety more agile and also reliable. This allows us to identify ingredients with undesired toxicological profiles and yet, to direct them to the best functional benefits that they are capable of providing for the skin," adds Daniela.
After so many years of investment in alternative methods to the use of animals, the goal of Natura is followed as an example in this model of manufacturing in Brazil. "We took the best knowledge available in scientific literature and adapted it to reality and to the needs of Natura. We are going to keep on using what is more advanced in terms of new technologies and knowledge to create products that are safe and effective for consumers," concludes Juliana.