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Our Healthy Lives Mission
Committing to Compostable:
Neutrogena’s Journey to Create a 100% Plant-Based Cleansing Cloth

Transitioning the market-leading Neutrogena make-up wipes to 100% plant-based fabric will massively increase the reach of the innovation, and illustrates the potential for transforming products across numerous brands and sectors. The company plans to share information about the new fabric with the industry.

It took three years of research and development, testing nearly 50 different fabrics and over 50 formula blends, before Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health identified a viable fabric for its new Neutrogena Skin Balancing™ Micellar Cleansing Cloths — a compostable, plant-based wipe with micellar water.

The first cleansing cloth to be made of 100 percent plant-based, home-compostable fibers can disintegrate and biodegrade aerobically in approximately 35 days in a home compost. Consumers can compost the cloths at home if they have a compost, or dispose of them into the usual waste system.

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health was committed to identifying a compostable fabric for the new product, in line with the environmental goals of the company’s Healthy Lives Mission, announced in September. The goals include using 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable plastic packaging; and certified/post-consumer recycled paper- and pulp-based packaging by 2025 — with the Neutrogena®, Aveeno®, Johnson's® Baby, Listerine® and OGX® brands striving to use 100 percent recycled plastic in bottles by 2030.

However, the company says finding a suitable compostable fabric wasn’t easy.

“There’s no industry standard for measuring compostability,” explains Caroline Tillett, Global Head of R&D at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health. “To get it right, the team worked with environmental experts in Europe to develop standards for evaluating fabrics. We ran material candidates through the wringer — analyzing their heavy-metal content, evaluating their potential stress on our ecosystems, and testing their ability to disintegrate and biodegrade aerobically.”

The Research and Development team was tasked to find new options that did not compromise efficacy for sustainability. The final product had to be one that consumers would embrace and use. The team worked with suppliers to screen and assess nearly 50 different fabrics and test over 50 different ingredients and blends, as different formulas can affect compostability.

“The final selection is a new fabric that will be used across our brands and available to the industry,” Tillett says. “Starting in 2021, we plan to transition all makeup-remover wipes across the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health portfolio to this new, plant-based material; while simultaneously introducing new, recyclable packaging (the team is working hard to perfect that now). We’re also looking to determine how we can adapt these learnings to other parts of our portfolio, such as our baby wipes, in the future.”

Transitioning the market-leading Neutrogena make-up wipes to the 100 percent plant-based fabric will massively increase the reach of this innovation and illustrates the company’s potential for transforming products across numerous brands and sectors.

The new cleansing cloths are proving popular with consumers, with online customer reviews praising the addition of micellar water in the cloths for enhanced make-up removal, cleansing and moisturizing; and describing the material as soft and soothing on sensitive skin.

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health plans to share information about the new cleansing cloth fabric with the wider industry.

“We knew from the start that we wanted to choose a material that competitors could also use,” said Marcee Martinez, R&D Manager of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health. “Sustainability is a global issue that we all need to tackle. We want to share our learnings with everyone, so that we can push the industry to be more sustainable.”

Image credit: Neutrogena

The cleansing cloths form part of the new Neutrogena Skin Balancing™ range — which has three cleansers, each designed for different skin types, including dermatologist-grade ingredient 2 percent Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA). This is a technology from the Neostrata parent family, with over 10 years of research conducted to understand this ingredient across multiple skin types and conditions. PHA is a unique 2-in-1 ingredient — both an exfoliator and humectant — which helps cleanse the skin while retaining moisture.

The new bottles for the cleansers were also designed with sustainability in mind, using at least 30 percent post-consumer recycled plastic.

How Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health is accelerating action to protect our environment and address important human health challenges.

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