It’s not every day that someone looks at industrial waste and says, “I want to put this on my face.” Believe it or not, a couple of years ago, owners at AIZOME started developing just that, a skin care product called WASTECARE™, made from their textile dyeing wastewater. The company’s day job is creating organic cotton bedding using plant-based dyes, so the wastewater already was devoid of chemicals. The dyes it uses come from plants with antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, such as sumac, indigo, Rubia, saffron, mangosteen and turmeric.
“The initial spark for our concept [of WASTECARE] came about during a casual conversation with a friend over a beer,” says company co-founder Michel May. “The idea emerged as a joke: ‘Our waste material was so clean that it could potentially be used as a skin care product!’”
It was an idea so crazy that it just might work. The company consulted with clinical pharmacists and experts in the field of cosmetics regulations to assist with the product’s development. The serum is currently available in limited quantities on the company’s website, but AIZOME is in conversations with cosmetic firms for broader distribution.
AIZOME was founded to fulfill a need to provide bedding for people with sensitive skin. When May’s mother was undergoing cancer treatment about 10 years ago, a doctor explained that a cause of her skin irritation “was likely the dark, synthetic dye in her bed sheets [due to] her weakened immune system,” the company website says. Switching to undyed sheets helped her skin.
Fast-forward a few years, and May and his wife, company co-founder Misa May, discovered that using ultrasonic dyeing could enable the mass production of sheets with plant-based dyes. The process physically transfers the color into the fibers, so the color won’t quickly fade. Because of the plants used for the dyes, the resulting sheets are hypoallergenic and antimicrobial and are used in hospitals, care facilities and spas.
AIZOME was founded in Japan but has moved its headquarters to Chicago, Ill., with an office in Germany.