Adding Organic Bioactives to base Products

As a contract manufacturer I get exposed to lots of new ingredients to try. Some of these are truly amazing and really add a lot to the products. However the majority of these ingreidnets are produced overseas and after initial testing the cost to purchase is out of reach of most of my commerical customers. Some antiageing ingredients can only be pucahsed for example in 5 kg amounts at the cost of seeral thousand dollars. The impact of Covid both on physical supply and international shipping adds a further burden. For example one overseas supplier I use has put their minimum postage charge up to $50 US regardless of the volume of product purchased.

I had been keeping an eye on a niche NZ company producing a range of extracts from NZ grown plants and ocean plants. Again initially they were only available in large volumes. Now they are available in smaller volumes I have been testing them over the last few months to see if that work with with my bases. The products are produced by a company called Organic Bioactives (

On their website they state the products in the OceanDerMXTM range have been developed from bioactives to add "anti aging, moisturer binding, antioxidant and pollution protecting elements to cosmetics"

Most of the products are certified vegan*, Natrue, Biogro, Halal (pending) and meets requirements for Ecocert, Cosmos and China compliant. The ingredients have been developed with assistance of some research laboratories in NZ as well as traditional Māori knowedge so has a good pedigree. On their wesbite they say the full clinical evidence is available on request. A number of statements are made about the benefits of each of the products. Red algae is the base for all of the products and ech is preserved with an ecocert natural preservative. Each of the extracts are viscous and slightly brown in colour and pour slowly from the bottle. None have a strong aroma which would influence a blend.

There are four products in the range:

1. Lift and Firm- mamaku (NZ black fern).

2. Restore and Protect - with mamaku (NZ black fern), NZ rown green tea and NZ grown balck currant

3. Balance and Brighten- with mamaku, gotu kola and liqurice root

4.  Calm and soothe- with mamaku, kawakawa and honey* Note this product is not vegan-it is certifed vegetarian.

I purchased each of these from the NZ distrubutor to trial in each of my bases to see how they behave and also if they have functional effects.

My results

1. Adding to pure oil bases not recommended as the extract creates a sticky end feel

2. Adding to a oil in gel serum base- each of the extracts works well adding at time of manufacturer (replacing some of the water content). Not so successful adding it post production. Can be done but only at 1% otherwise afffects stability of finished serum (splits out)

3. Adding to gels and toners- all extracts worked well with my base formulations giving active products for toning and firming effects. 

4. Balm bases- not successful as needs an emulsifier to blend (so no sutiable for lip balms without manipulation of base)

5. Basics base cream/avocado range- not reccomended at all- split out from cream after a couple of days. Seems to interact with the emulsifier.

6. Adding to elementals and premium creams both at time of manufacture and post production was fine. Could be added to up to 5% post production (maximum recommended amount). Became homogenous with each cream.

One observation I made though was as soon as I started adding other active ingredients to the bases (water soluble or glycerine based) as soon as I added one of the oceanderMXTM products stability was compromised. My recommendation would be that the orgnanic bioactives are the 'hero' ingredients with only the addition of aromatics. There is not much advantage crowding the formulation with other actives such as HLA, vitamin C or glycerine based addtives. Powders such as aloe vera, niacinamine and betain (sugar beet) seem to be fine as long as they diluted as part of the water phase.

I carried out my testing over a number of months to see how the small test batches would behave- i would certainly encourage my commerical customers to explore using them and also feel comfortable recommending them for use with the bases I sell in small quantitites. 

Posted: Tuesday 3 August 2021