What is fermentation
In the 19th century, Pasteur introduced the term fermentation to the scientific world, designating the chemical process by which certain microorganisms obtain vital energy for their functions from glucose, a simple sugar with 6 carbon atoms. Fermentation is actually a process unwittingly used by humans in the food industry for centuries, for the production of food and beverages, such as beer, bread and yogurt.
Among the microorganisms involved in fermentation, bacteria, in particular, are capable of producing nutrients such as lactic acid through the fermentation process, on the base of glucose (the famous lactobacilli). However, the various products of the bacterial fermentation process differ depending on the species involved. It is therefore possible to obtain ethyl alcohol, acetic acid or succinic acid depending on the type of fermentation in progress and often not only from glucose, but also from simple amino acids.
In modern terms, this biological process has aroused considerable interest in cosmetics, as an alternative production metod of particular ingredients from plant extracts, attracting the attention of a public of consumers keen on the world of nature and the selection of ingredients of natural origin.
Fermented creams: characteristics and ingredients used
In fact, special bacterial species have been exploited that can hydrolyze the triglycerides of plant extracts and obtain phytoactive substances by fermentation. The advantages of this process are the selection of the desired plant species, the naturalness of the process, which is not forced but takes place in a completely physiological manner, with a final step that makes it possible to obtain the phytoextract obtained by fermentation with a higher concentration of antioxidants, vitamins and proteins than the unfermented ingredient. An illustrious example is fermented olive oil for cosmetic use: it can contain up to 50 times a higher concentration of omega-3 and omega-6 than its unfermented version.
An advantage found in cosmetics with fermented ingredients is the high skin tolerance, an action that is greatly exploited in creams, which are suitable for all skin types as the fermentation process also tends to convert most of the allergens that may be present in the botanical extract into non-allergenic substances.
Since this is a natural process, safety is another strong point, and indeed this often leads to the avoidance of pesticide and herbicide residues that could be present in the ingredient which is not fermented.
Market and future: the evolution of fermented cosmetics
Key point of the fermentation process is therefore the selection of the starting material and the micro-organism involved, but the numerous application advantages, such as the high concentration of active ingredient, the high skin tolerability, the improved bioavailability of the active and compliance with the organic world make this production technique increasingly important in the cosmetic industry, and suitable for the needs of selective consumers who are sensitive to the choice and origin of cosmetic ingredients.