Biotech-based skin care brand, Biossance, is experiencing tremendous success due to consumers’ growing interest in natural and sustainable products.

“We are seeing a trend in the marketplace of consumers demanding better, cleaner and more effective skin care,” said Teresa Lo, Senior Director of Marketing, Biossance. “We launched last year in Sephora and they actually said we are one of the most unprecedented brand launches they have ever seen.”

Earlier this year, the brand reported that sales in Sephora contributed to a 650 percent-plus increase in total 2017 sales over 2016.

“When we launched our Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel at Sephora it sold out four times, and we had to stop production on our other products, just to focus on getting that one back in stock,” said Teresa. “The other hero product we have is our Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil, and we’re selling three times more of that than we were around the same time last year.”

The birth of the brand centers around its plant-based powerhouse ingredient, squalane, a derivative of squalene, a molecule naturally found in the skin responsible for moisture, which decreases with age. Scientists at industrial bioscience company, Amyris Inc., were able to produce squalane through a plant-based fermentation process using sugarcane, resulting in the development of its consumer beauty brand, Biossance. Sugarcane is also used to create the brand’s secondary packaging, reducing its environmental impact. “Personal care makes up 35 percent of household waste. Things such as toothpaste tubes and hair spray cans contribute to waste in the environment. Our packaging is tree-free, and the value of using sugarcane is that it’s a renewable resource that grows quickly, like grass, and doesn’t require a lot of irrigation,” said Teresa. Additionally, the products are housed in green bottles with pure petal labels and copper detailing, designed to evoke a luxurious, earth-friendly vibe.

Outside of packaging sustainability, the company also follows a “no compromise” approach when it comes to ingredients and sourcing, blacklisting more than 2,000 ingredients that are potentially harmful to people or the planet. “We really care about formulating everything with this approach and setting a higher standard for the skin care and beauty industry,” said Teresa. “We started off using EU standards, which bans almost 1,400 ingredients, but then took that up a notch and decided to hold ourselves to an even higher standard. In the U.S., the standard is shockingly low with just 11 ingredients banned. We actually are working with 20 other brands [including Beautycounter, Seventh Generation and Josie Maran] lobbying on Capitol Hill to fight for more personal care legislation, because we really believe that what you put on your body matters just as much as what you put in your body.”

Last month the brand added two more products to the five skus, currently available at Sephora. Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum ($78), meant to offer anti-aging, retinol-like results, and Squalane + Mineral SPF 45 ($39), a lightweight mineral sunscreen designed to protect skin from UVA/ UVB and infrared rays, while also offering protection from environmental stressors.

“We showcased the Mineral SPF at SXSW, and we sold out of every unit that we had brought with us,” said Teresa. “A lot of women with darker skin tones have concerns, especially for mineral sunscreens, that formulas will have a white cast, so our formulators and members of our team who have darker skin tones tested the product to make sure that wasn’t the case. To ease consumer fears, we also uploaded a post on social media showing the seamless application of the product across multiple skin tones.”

On March 27, the company will launch its next product, Squalane + Micronutrient Fine Mist ($32), a multi-tasking facial mist designed to hydrate, calm and refresh skin. “Even though we are clinically based, we do understand that people want to enjoy using their products, so the mist has an ultra-fine sprayer to deliver an airy veil of moisture, so it’s fun to apply,” said Nancy Leung, Head of New Product Development & Innovation. “You’ll find that a lot of mists use alcohol or water-based ingredients, but by adding squalane combined with hyaluronic acid and green algae, it helps to keep that moisture in and deliver skin benefits.”

In February, Biossance expanded to more than 60 Sephora locations across Canada, marking the beginning of its international expansion, with additional market growth opportunities being pursued for later this year.