Trends in industrial minerals tend to follow the
fluctuations in GDP and, broadly speaking, the global
A lull in a country’s growth for
example will mean that it may not commit to building new
infrastructure, which in turns affects the demand for
industrial minerals used in these markets.
There are markets however, which are not affected
by fluctuations in economy. One is cat litter - an enormous end
market for bentonite. Another is the personal care and
This phenomena has been called the 'lipstick
effect’. It is an economic theory which suggests
that even in dire times of crisis people will find the money to
pay for smaller luxury items over big ticket items (for
example, a Chanel lipstick over a pair of designer
There are debates which suggest that there is
little correlation between financial hardship and sales of
personal care products such as lipstick, however. In 2009
The Economist tested the theory with
statistical analysis and found holes in the 'lipstick
effect’ - but others are willing to accept it at
For industrial minerals markets, personal care is
unlikely to contribute significantly to demand; it is a small
industry when compared to demand for refractories, glass or
ceramics and few minerals are mined solely for this
Forecast to grow
The way large companies view the space is
changing and it is no surprise when the growth in the cosmetics
industry over the last few year is taken into account.
The European Union (EU) cosmetics market was
worth €72bn ($83.7bn*) in 2013 at retail price,
representing a third of the global cosmetics market, according
to The Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association
A report by Lucintel, released in 2012, pegged
the global personal care market — defined as shampoos,
conditioners deodorants and cream — to reach $630bn by
2017, led by demand in Europe and Asia Pacific. The global
beauty market — defined as cosmetics such as make up
— is expected to reach $265bn by 2017, the market
Skincare products revenue alone meanwhile is
expected to reach $102bn in 2018, driven by rising living
standards and increased spending power, Lucintel outlines in
its report 'Global Skin Care Products Industry 2013-2018:
Trend, Profit, and Forecast Analysis’.
"New product innovations in the skin care
products industry such as a new range of anti-aging,
anti-wrinkling and sun care products, resulted in a consistent
demand for newer products," the report reads.
Companies are certainly looking at how they
develop their industrial minerals products for use in personal
care. Imerys, Solvay, Huntsman and BASF have all invested in
research and development (R&D) efforts to see how minerals
(for example, titanium dioxide (TiO2)) can be
produced at the higher specification required for the cosmetics
R&D into polymers and how talc is used in
them has also led to discoveries that benefit the personal care
industry. Talc has always been used in cosmetics, but it is now
being reformulated to behave differently — more
intelligently — as part of the polymer.
"Increased awareness in emerging countries has
resulted in higher demand for international luxury products.
Innovations in skin care products by companies helped to
maintain and gain market share. Providing good quality products
at low cost is a challenge for manufacturers,"
Lucintel’s report into the skin care industry
It has been more than six years since
IM looked in depth at the use of minerals in
personal care, but this does not mean that this is an area
which has been overlooked by industrial minerals companies.
Minerals in personal care
Nail varnish, fragrance, deodorant, colour
NaturalNano, a US halloysite developer (which
sources its raw material from outside of the
US,) supplies halloysite nanotubes mixed with
other proprietry products to global leading
nail varnish chain Sally Hansen. Applied
Minerals meanwhile signed a letter of intent
with HCT Group to use Dragonite-PureWhite
product in its products. It can also be used as
an effective ance treatment (see
Shampoo, facemasks, conditioner, toothpaste
Bentonite or montmorillonite is used in a
number of cosmetics and toiletry products as a
suspending agent for otherwise insoluble active
ingredients. It is also used as a mask to rid
the skin of toxins.
Foundations, facepowders , lipstick, eye
Used in colour cosmetics. Popular because iron
oxides are resistant to moisture,
don’t easily bleed or smear and
have "staying power". There are three basic
grades of iron oxide - black, yellow and
Cosmetic powders, toothpaste, cleansers, face
Kaolin imparts a matte appearance to skin. Has
the advantage of being oil-absorbant, limiting
the amount of shine. The amount of kaolin in a
face powder can vary from only 3% in a face
powder, to 10% in a cake, pressed, or heavy
Cosmetic powders, eyeshadow,
The has been some controversy surrounding the
use of talc in personal care products (see
box, opposite page). Talc is used in
eyeshadows, face powders, and body powders as
well as in creams and deodorant. It is also
used in polymers.
Titanium dioxide (TiO2)
soap, cream, suncreams
Used in anything which is coloured white. In
suscreen it is used as it is very efficent at
Used to relax muscles.
Foundations, eyeshadows, nail varnish,
Mica is used as an opacifier, in any cosmetics
which have a 'sparkle’ sheen.
Elementis and hectorite
Hectorite’s use in oilfield
applications, as a drilling mud, has been well covered by
IM over the past few years. What is less well
known however, is that there is one company also using
hectorite for its personal care product range.
Elementis Specialities is the only company mining
hectorite in the US, at its Newberry Springs Hector mine in
California — until Western Lithium’s
Kings Valley deposit in Utah is up and running — and
its hectorite gels form a large part of the
company’s personal care offering.
Its hectorite mine is located near Mt Pisgah, an
extinct volcano, where volcanic ash and dust from the active
volcano formed layers within a lake. Subsequent epithermal
activity helped to form the hectorite.
Hectorite mined from Elementis’
Hector mine is used in the company’s Bentone
range, which encompasses deodorant, suncream, skin cream,
shampoo and conditioner, lipstick, mascara and nail
In January 2015 the company’s
Benetone range completed European Federation for Cosmetic
Ingredients (EFfCI) certification for Good Manufacturing
Practice (2012) for Bentone Gel products (see
"The hectorite mine is a big part of what we do;
people are looking for naturally sourced minerals and we can
control the supply," Miihaja Randriamahazomanana, area sales
manager for Elementis, told IM.
In the personal care section of
Elementis’ business, six-monthly sales were 21% up
in 2014 year-on-year, compared to a 15% fall in sales in the
company’s oilfield sales over the same
The speciality products business, which houses
the company’s personal care segment, as well as
its coatings and oilfield drilling business, registered an
operating profit of $99m in 2013, up from $90m the previous
year. Revenue of $502m contributed 65% to the
company’s top line.
David Dutro, group CEO, said in the
company’s 2013 results that he believed that the
three speciality products segments - coatings, oilfield
drilling and personal care - were "strategically positioned to
capitalise on one or more of the powerful global trends of a
rapidly growing middle class in developing economies".
Imerys boosts portfolio
In its 2013 annual report, industrial minerals
giant Imerys highlighted that it broadened its ImerCare range,
which comprised many of the company’s
Included in the suite of minerals earmarked for
this range are products Imercare 04K and Imercare 07K, which
are intended to replace synthetic materials, such as
polyethelenes, in cosmetics with minerals produced by Imerys
(perlite, kaolin, mica and diatomaceous earth).
Imerys has said that it intends to expand its
personal care offering and has highlighted in past reports that
it would seek exploit talc and perlite’s unique
properties in personal care markets.
The company is working on several ranges which
take advantage of the quality of its minerals. Its Imercare
perlite scrub range, for example, replaces polyethelene beads
used in scrub applications.
Perlite is used effectively in scrubs as it is
spherical, rather than perfectly round. This means it is not as
abrasive. It is also naturally hard and has good particle
"Available from 100-300 microns to 100-500
microns, the selections of the grade would depend on a final
exfoliation performance requirement such as a body scrub or
face scrub," a marketing brochure from Imerys explains.
"The personal care market presents different
dynamics with an average growth slightly above other industries
served by minerals," an Imerys spokesperson told
"It is a well-established segment within Imerys
and we are focusing additional communication support to further
development," the spokesperson added.
Part of this was increasing Imerys’
presence at the Society of Cosmetic Scientists (SCS) Formulate
tradeshow, where the mineral giant had a stand alongside the
likes of Solvay, BASF, Elementis and Huntsman - all companies
which have targeted the personal care market recently, albeit
on the chemical side of their respective companies.
Steve Dawson, commercial assistant at Blagden
Speciality Chemicals, Imerys’ talc distributor in
the UK, agreed the market was growing and said that Imerys were
becoming more active in the sector.
Unsurprisingly, the production of cosmetics and
personal care products is tightly regulated in the EU and the
In the EU, regulations are set out across
different bodies, but there are trade industry groups to help
users navigate these. The EFfCI - European Federation for
Cosmetic Ingredients - is a European trade association that
brings together manufacturers of synthetic and natural
ingredients for the cosmetics and personal care industry.
It has over 100 members, but not one of these is
an industrial minerals producer, president John Hibbs confirmed
"Cosmetics is a fruitful market for minerals but
it is a very regulated market for very good reasons. If
[producers] want to come in they need to understand the market
and the environment they are falling into," Hibbs said.
Hibbs confirmed that "there is a lot of work
going into TiO2", adding that "purer rutile is the
one which will go far" in the cosmetics industry.
Europe is seen as the global leader when it comes
to regulating the cosmetics and personal care industry, Hibbs
said. Other countries with developing personal care industries,
like India, are looking to the EU to see how the market is
regulated here and are seeking to use this as a benchmark.
"If you want to be in the European market you
have to provide a lot of information," Hibbs told
"The regulations and the safety environment are
very unique to cosmetics," he added.
"European cosmetics regulation regulates products
sold to the consumer and lays down the principles on how to
demonstrate a product is safe. The EU must sign off at every
The US cosmetics industry is also regulated
heavily and inspected by the US Food and Drug Administration
The EFfCI is working with trade organisations in
the US to bring together the different regulations and provide
clarity in the market, Hibbs told IM.
"The US is very regulated and this is being
strengthened all the time. More enforcements are coming in and
the specifications are being looked at," Georgia Boehm, vice
president, regulatory affairs at International Cosmetics
Regulatory Specialists (ICRS) — a trade body which
provides information on regulation in the US and UK —
Like the EFfCI, the ICRS has many clients in the
cosmetics and personal care field - but no industrial minerals
producers hoping to sell into these markets.
"If you’re looking at something like
TiO2, it needs to be accepted for use into
cosmetics. I think there is an opportunity for producers to
learn more about this industry," Boehm added.
Indeed, in order to be accepted for use in the
personal care market, colours must be approved and regulated by
the FDA. Use of an unapproved colour renders the product
adulterated, according to consultancy EAS Consulting
That said, TiO2 is listed with no
restriction on particle size - something lobbyists are arguing
should be changed.
From a distribution point of view, traders
selling products into the industry told IM
that they are very aware of the different regulations.
Blagdon’s Dawson told
IM that talc, for example, typically had a
five year shelf life, but underlined that the use of minerals,
including talc, was strictly governed in the EU.
Talc used in personal care products would
typically be marked with the information on the mine it came
from, the country, specification and a certificate of analysis,
A growing market?
While the personal care market cannot be
described as a 'booming’ market for industrial
minerals producers - uptake will never compete with demand in
refractories products or usage for minerals used in renewable
energy for example — it is a growing opportunity.
The cosmetics and beauty sectors are positioned
for growth and the luxury market is vying for ingredients that
are organic and intelligent at the same time — the
industrial minerals industry fits perfectly within this
*Conversion made January 2015
Controversy in industrial minerals and
Although the personal care industry is strictly
regulated in Europe and the US, other countries do not impose
such tight restrictions, which has led to accusations of human
rights abuses and poor practices.
The amount of bad press cosmetics companies
receive on the back of accusations around using carcinogenic
minerals or poor practices has prompted some to make public
statements vowing to disclose the list of ingredients used in
Revlon published a list of chemicals it promised
to never use in its products in January 2015, after significant
pressure from lobby groups. It also went on the record to say
it would only use talc in its products which was certifiably
asbestos free. It said it would continue to use TiO2
in its products.
In 2014 UK newspaper The Guardian ran a
report which uncovered that many of India’s mica
mines were guilty of using child labour, adding that 86% of the
country’s mica exports in 2010-11 were
As India accounts for around 60% of global mica
supply used in cosmetics to create a sparkly appearance to
personal care products, this was very worrying for cosmetics
However, many cosmetics and personal care
companies said that they require a certificate with each
shipment of mica sourced for their products, stating that the
cargo is free of forced labour. Others have gone one step
further - L’Oreal’s mica supplier
Merck has employed human resource consultants to carry out
monthly assessments of its mines.
It is not only social responsibility which has
caused controversy. Links between the use of talcum powder
(which contains talc - although not all brands do) and ovarian
cancer have also been made and court cases are currently
running in the US around this subject.
In a new study, scientists from three different
laboratories worked for more than a year to track
asbestos-contaminated talc from mines to a popular body-powder
product, then into the lung tissue of a woman who died of
asbestos-caused mesothelioma after years of using
"Of course we knew that there was asbestos
contaminating the talc in many cosmetic powders, but who would
have ever thought that that’s the way these women
were being exposed?" said pathologist Ronald Gordon, one of
three authors of the extensive study on mesothelioma and talc
products published online in the International Journal of
Occupational and Environmental Health in September