Muller crops from a field in France.
ó So you received some beauty products this holiday
season, how lovely. But you might want to look at the
ingredients before putting them on your skin.
as consumers are becoming more health conscious about
what they eat, they are also demanding a more natural
way of doing cosmetics, said Alban Muller, president of
Paris-based Alban Muller, which has U.S. offices in
Muller, founded in 1978, develops and manufactures a
range of plant-based ingredients and products for the
skin-care and cosmetics industry. For 17 years Alban
Muller has based offices in South Florida that oversee
the U.S. and Latin America markets.
public today is checking the composition of each
cosmetic product, and consumers are telling the cosmetic
producers, ĎThis is not what I want, I want something
more in line with my way of life.í We have seen with
Michelle Obama that she has been promoting better food,
and now everybodyís organic. Now it is the same with
cosmetics. You are putting something on your skin ó itís
very personal," said Muller, in an interview during
a recent visit to the Miami office.
some ways, the company is riding that health-conscious
wave that is sweeping the U.S. market, where about 20
percent of Albanís business is. The perfume and
cosmetic industry in France is about a $50 billion
industry and exports 70 to 80 percent of its products.
"We produce more in cosmetics than cars ó only
planes are ahead," Muller said. Yet, since its
birth, Alban Muller has always manufactured plant-based
interest is growing, particularly in Europe. Muller
estimates that in Franceís Cosmetic Valley alone,
about 450 companies, including the makers of boxes and
bottles, formulators and labs ó have pledged to use
ecologically friendly processes and organic ingredients.
said all of Alban Mullerís products and processes are
based on science. "Once we demonstrated that these
plants were doing something backed by hard science, we
got involved in formulation. What we have done is
convert standard things into natural alternatives. We
can give a choice to the people."
microbeads, for instance. Thatís the more commonly
used term for polythylene, a plastic material once
typically used in beauty products to give them texture
ó think skin scrubs and the like. They also looked
pretty in the shampoo bottle. But since they were not
biodegradable, they clogged up sewer systems and
ultimately ended up in the oceans (8 trillion daily from
the U.S. alone, according to one study), killing fish
that think they are food. It took many years, but
countries around the world have begun banning the use of
them, including the United States. The U.S. ban will be
phased in beginning in July.
were used because they were cheap and added texture. It
was stupid to use that because of the long-term
impact," said Muller. "A more green approach
is to think, ĎThis may be an easy way to do it, but it
might have long-term damages and will it cost me more to
mop it up?í Microbeads are 1 percent of the product.
To try to get a better price of a 1 percent ingredient
without looking at all the consequences, itís
company has never used microbeads in its products or
formulations but it does have all-natural plant-based
alternatives that do the same thing. Itís been using
and selling them for 30 years.
said his company is always discovering and developing
new products. For example, one of the companyís
ingredients comes from an oak tree that secretes a
substance that protects itself from insect bites.
"When we saw that, we said maybe there is something
Muller takes this all-natural mission a big step further
ó ecological processes are built into every step of
the business, from industrial procedures such as an
extraction system that consumes less energy to how it
have systems for recycling our water from the factory
[in Chartres, France], which goes into our gardens,
which have reintroduced vegetation and now we have
animals coming back. We have kind of a shelter at the
factory for pheasants and herons and bees. For people
working in the factory, it explains to them what they
should be doing in their own backyard," said
Muller, whose company has won numerous awards for its
we are trying to teach people is think twice because
there might be a better way to do things that will not
impact the environment. Letís not just talk about the
cost, but the global cost."