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Green Chemistry at The Estée Lauder Companies

For over 15 years, The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) has worked to embed the principles of green chemistry throughout our product formulation process to guide innovation in a more thoughtful way. At the heart of our approach is our green chemistry methodology developed by a robust team of ELC’s chemists, toxicologists, and environmental scientists and in partnership with leading external green chemistry pioneers and scientific experts.

This peer-reviewed methodology, which enables us to quantify the environmental, ecosystem health, and human health profiles of our ingredients and formulations, is the cornerstone of our ambition to embed sustainability practices throughout our product formulation process for our in-house portfolio of prestige beauty products.

  • 100%of existing and new in-house raw materials are assessed using peer-reviewed methodology
  • 75 yearsof formulation authority
  • Over 60%of our scientists, engineers and technical professionals are women

Our Credentialed, Scientific Approach

At the heart of ELC’s green chemistry approach is our unique methodology. More than a decade ago, ELC’s talented scientists began working with green chemistry pioneers and other scientific experts to proactively think about how we could embed the principles of green chemistry into our product development process to further enhance the sustainability of our products while maintaining performance.

Royal society of chemistry

Together, we created a unique green chemistry methodology (historically referred to as a “Green Score”) that provides a quantifiable method for our formulators to evaluate their ingredient and formulation choices through the lenses of human health, ecosystem health, and the environment. Existing and new in-house raw materials are assessed on an ongoing basis using this tool so that formulators are enabled to continuously improve the selection of and prioritize innovation for individual ingredients and raw material classes.

As part of our commitment to transparency, our methodology, data sources, and unique framework were published in Green Chemistry, the Royal Society of Chemistry’s peer-reviewed journal. By publicly sharing our methodology, we hope to encourage sustainable innovation across the consumer products industry and beyond.

Water droplet dropping from leave

The methodology has also benefited from validation by our Green Chemistry Scientific Advisory Board. The scientific advisory board helps us benefit from, and contribute to, cutting-edge science from around the world.

The board is composed of external experts from academia representing key global regions, including China, Europe, North America, and Latin America, and with a reputation of excellence in green chemistry. They meet annually to provide feedback on our green chemistry methodology, research, and strategy. The board is part of our overall commitment to rigorous scientific credentialing, which also encompasses publishing in peer-reviewed journals, partnering with universities, and filing for patents where appropriate.

Hear Directly From ELC Scientists About Our Green Chemistry Work

At ELC, we have more than 1,900 scientists, engineers, and technical professionals—more than 60% of whom are women—and chemists, toxicologists, environmental scientists, and ingredient experts collaborate to advance our green chemistry work. Our formulators worldwide are trained in leveraging the principles of green chemistry to help improve the environmental and human health profiles of our formulations while enhancing performance and delivering on consumer expectations.

Hear from a few of the female scientists who are helping to advance our green chemistry practices and bring you the high-performance prestige beauty products you love.

Meet Eva

Hear about how she advances sustainable innovation at ELC through green chemistry.

Meet Sai Yee

Learn about her role in evaluating the human health safety profiles of ELC’s ingredients.

Meet Kat

Explore how she works with ELC’s brands to communicate their sustainability efforts in new formulations.

Meet Chia and Cora

Hear how they use plants to produce proteins and peptides to advance green chemistry across skin care and makeup

Meet Brandie

Learn about how her team’s green chemistry innovations are setting the bar for ELC and the industry

Green Chemistry in Action

Green Chemistry in Action

Our green chemistry methodology allows scientists to assess the sustainability of their formulations in real time, so they can make educated choices about which ingredients and raw materials to include. Some brands like Aveda and La Mer are at the forefront of leveraging green chemistry to enhance the sustainability of their products.

Sustainable innovation is a continuous journey, and today, our scientists in our female-led R&D laboratories worldwide are identifying how to more practically apply this green chemistry methodology to guide day-to-day innovation for greener alternatives and assess new product launches across ELC’s in-house portfolio of prestige beauty products. In the future, we look to implement additional corporate and brand requirements to drive further tangible impact.

Aveda products from botanical range

Spotlight on Aveda Botanical Repair

Through real-time analysis and experimentation that leverage ELC’s green chemistry methodology, Aveda chemists found that if they replaced a traditional, synthetic, free-radical-based conditioning agent with a novel alternative material in its Botanical Repair hair care collection, they could achieve the desired product performance using less material than the traditional conditioning agent. The high efficacy of the novel, alternative conditioning agent not only works extremely well for our consumers, but also translated into a very tangible benefit to the environment, with a projected decrease in material use of 350,000 kg by fiscal year 2023.

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