Vegan silk is being used to make cruelty-free skincare products.
Biotech company Bolt Threads, that produces silk and plant-based mushroom leather in a lab, recently launched a beauty brand called Eighteen B. The company just debuted a moisturizer and a cream which are made using Bolt Threads’ vegan silk proteins.
Bolt Threads discovered the ingredient during the production of its yeast-based Microsilk, a plant-based textile that is set to replace animal-derived silk in clothing produced by designer Stella McCartney.
Most brands that use silk in their beauty products use hydrolyzed silk protein, whereby the chemical structure of the silk has been divided into smaller components, which minimizes its effect, writes business magazine Fast Company.
According to Lindsay Wray, biomedical engineer and Chief Scientific Officer at Eighteen B, the beauty brand sets itself apart from these companies by manufacturing its silk protein without degrading it, and therefore allowing it to keep more of its benefits.
“If you think of the silk protein as a pearl necklace, hydrolyzing breaks apart each of the pearls,” Wray said to Fast Company. “You can’t put them back together again. But our silk protein exists in its unbroken form, which allows it to be a more protective barrier for your skin.”
Eighteen B’s protein, called b-silk, works with the skin’s structural proteins to form a “breathable, protective barrier,” Fast Company explains. This barrier helps the skin to stay moist and become more firm and smooth.
Clinical trials of the b-silk protein showed that the ingredient delivers immediate results as well as long-term, continuous benefits. After eight weeks, 97 percent of testers had experienced enhanced skin texture and smoothness.
The non-toxic beauty brand doesn’t use sulfates, silicone, parabens, or petrochemicals in its products, instead relying on clean ingredients like shea butter and bark extracts.
Most biotechnology companies sell their designs to other businesses to use, Fast Company highlights. However, in launching its own direct-to-consumer beauty brand, Bolt Threads distinguishes itself from other companies.
The biotech business is “thinking very broadly” about its next move, Fast Company explains, revealing that it is considering making footwear, accessories, apparel, and other beauty products with its lab-grown materials. Wray believes the vegan silk could go a lot further than its current application.
She said, “I really believe that the sky is the limit, in terms of what we can do with silk.”