Research and Innovation

Drawing on nature’s finest

The use of renewable raw materials, responsibly sourced and processed using the principles of green chemistry, is central to L’Oréal’s commitments in terms of innovation. This approach inspired the project to produce an active exfoliant ingredient from quinoa seeds. Responsibility is the watchword from start to finish.

A 100% natural and renewable active exfoliant

A farmer in Bolivia harvesting quinoa real.
In their quest for renewable raw materials, L’Oréal researchers spotted the exfoliant properties of quinoa bran extract, a seed by-product whose added-value had not previously been exploited. The aim was to produce a 100% natural active ingredient for use in skincare products. Several varieties of quinoa from different geographical areas were evaluated before Bolivian quinoa real was selected. Its bran is rich in saponins and antioxidant polyphenols, molecules which boast significant cosmetic properties.
8 years of development
Producing this natural and renewable active ingredient was a twofold challenge: to develop a process that delivers a plant extract whose composition varies as little as possible, while complying with the principles of green chemistry.

An environmentally friendly extraction process

The Phytoreveal2™ process, developed by L’Oréal and optimised by Chimex, involves an extraction technique that is both efficient and sustainable, with the smallest possible environmental impact. The chemists opted to use gentle, natural solvents, such as water and alcohol, in the smallest possible quantities, and to recycle them to minimise waste. The process is optimised on a continuous basis.

The steps used to obtain bran extract

  • Assessment of different varieties of quinoa in small dishes.
  • Farmers in Bolivia harvesting quinoa real.
  • L’Oréal researchers developing the extraction technique.
  • Spray drying of extract.
  • Two L’Oréal researchers in a laboratory.
  • Assessment of quinoa varieties
  • Harvesting of quinoa real bran
  • Development of extraction process
  • Spray drying of extract
  • Once citric acid has been added, the quinoa bran extract takes on a lighter appearance and can be easily incorporated into formulas.
This is the first plant-based active ingredient we have extracted from start to finish, by controlling all aspects and all stages of the process
Jinzhu Xu
Sourcing and Process Research Manager

Sustainable, fair-trade sourcing in Bolivia

L’Oréal has set up a partnership for the sustainable sourcing of quinoa bran in Bolivia. An agreement has been signed with two suppliers: Ecoterra imports the quinoa into Europe while Andean Valley sources quinoa from producers and trains them with the support of the Proinpa Foundation, Bolivian Institute of Agronomic Research.
250 farmers informed and trained on organic farming practices
This partnership provides lasting benefits for some 250 quinoa producers in the Uyuni and Potosí areas of Bolivia. The programme has three parts: supporting local farmer training focused on agricultural best practices, combating soil erosion by planting legumes, shrubs and herbaceous plants that are native to the region, and transferring scientific knowledge and know-how between L’Oréal and its local partners.
Back to Research and Innovation