Time to shine a spotlight on an other one of our new ChemBox Suppliers. Meet Alternative Plants a raw material producer from Latvia that specializes in botanical extracts and plant stem cells.
1. Tell us about your company? What inspired you to get into the cosmetic ingredient
Prior to founding Alternative Plants for more than 10 years, co-founders worked with cosmetic
companies providing testing and consultancy services. Collaboration with cosmetic companies revealed several challenges that the industry is facing. Most important were identified to be ingredient availability, sustainable sourcing as well consistent quality and high efficacy of natural botanical compounds. On the other hand, much inspiration to start the work on plant cell cultures came from nature itself. Plants are rich sources of high chemical diversity of beneficial compounds. Unfortunately, growing numbers of medicinal plants that are rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing and anti-microbial compounds are inaccessible to the industry. Today up to 20% of medicinal plants have been used in traditional medicine and cosmetics are threatened. This is due to the overexploitation of natural resources, destruction of habitats. As biologists we saw an opportunity to tackle all these challenges with the help of biotechnology. We see plant biotechnology as a tool to make inaccessible and turn traditional botanical ingredient manufacturing into a much more sustainable production technology. We take tiny samples from wild plants without killing them and using our knowledge find the best conditions to isolate and grow them. By finding the best growth conditions we are capable of boosting production of desired compounds. As a result, today we can grow bulk quantities of plant cells and extract mixtures of precious biologically active substances without exploitation of the land and lower water and energy consumption.
About our company:
Alternative Plants Ltd was founded in 2017 and has operated since then in Riga, Latvia. Company
launched the first product, cosmetic active ingredient DragonCell in early 2018; currently there are
four cosmetic active ingredients in the company's portfolio with additional three new ingredients being developed. Alternative Plants core competencies include plant cell line establishment, development of biotechnological manufacturing processes as well as efficacy testing of cosmetic ingredients. For our products we are executing all steps of product development, starting from idea to delivery to our customers. Plant biotechnologists of the team work on selection of plants, cell culture establishment and cultivation at large scale in bioreactors. Our cell biologists perform laboratory tests to characterize
ingredient safety and efficacy to help our customers with the application of them in their best
2. What makes your ingredients unique?
Our ingredients are biotechnologically produced using sustainable manufacturing processes.
Specifically tailored cell cultivation conditions allow us to produce botanical compounds that are very
difficult to source in nature using traditional techniques. The sources of plant cells are unique Nordic
plants that are known for their capability to produce biologically active compounds. On top of that we
make combinations of various extracts to combine synergistic activities of different natural products
for better performance.
Cultivation of plant cells in standardized conditions in bioreactors excludes any risks that cosmetic
manufacturers could face working with traditional plant extracts – standardization reduces variability
of chemical compositions, there is no effect of seasonality and risks related to soil and air pollution are
In vitro and dermatological testing of ingredients provides strong efficacy claims.
3. Is your ingredient sustainable?
Our production process is sustainable, as there is no land exploitation, no burden on natural habitats.
Moreover, compared to traditional botanical extract manufacturing, cell cultivation technology uses
less water and energy resources. As cultivation conditions are adjusted for efficient production of
compounds of interest, less waste and side products are generated. Additionally, a biorefinery
approach is implemented in the company to further reduce any waste generation.
4. What types of formulas benefit from adding the ingredient from the ChemBox? Which
ingredient can it replace?
In the ChemBox we included our ingredient JuniCell Combi. JuniCell Combi is a product that contains a mix of extract from juniper (Juniperus communis) cell culture and lichens. Juniper cells are rich in
antioxidants, with procyanidines and flavonoids being among the dominating ones. These are compounds that are strong antioxidants, they have skin regenerating and anti-inflammatory activity.
In several laboratory tests where we added juniper cell culture extracts to skin cells, we observed
increased protection against UV and pollution induced stress. This extract has anti-inflammatory
activity – it has been shown to significantly reduce production of inflammatory signaling molecules in
skin inflammation models. On the other hand, lichen extracts (from Cetraria islandica and Usnea
barbata) contain valuable antimicrobial compounds. These combined with juniperus cell extracts act
synergistically – strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidative activity is combined with skin microbiome regulation. Dermatological study proved that such combination can be effectively used to alleviate inflammation and proliferation of harmful bacteria in acne prone skin – reduction of acne lesions and 20% decrease in sebum production was observed in volunteers of the study. JuniCell Combi can be effectively used as a safe and natural alternative of harsh antimicrobials included in skin care products for acne prone skin. Anti-microbial activity combined with antimicrobial and skin protecting effects makes this ingredient ideal for anti-acne products, including those targeted for sensitive and inflamed skin.
5. What is one thing that you could change in the cosmetics industry?
We see that our production technology, its scalability will make biotechnological products much more affordable for wide use in the cosmetic industry. With more widespread use of these technologies we clearly see our contribution to more sustainable cosmetics without compromising the efficiency.
Canadian Cosmetic Cluster Team
Uniting Canadian Cosmetics and Bringing it to the World