Beauty innovations with resource protection bonus

With ther PhytoCellTec™ plant cell culture technology and thanks to state-of-the-art biotechnology, Mibelle Biochemistry facilitates a particularly sustainable production of cosmetic active ingredients.

  • The stem cells for the first Mibelle Biochemistry product, called PhytoCellTec™ Malus Domestica®, came from the rare Swiss apple variety “Uttwil Spätlaub”.

  • The foreground shows red-dyed snow algae in its natural habitat, the snow and ice of the Swiss high Alps. To protect itself from the extreme environmental conditions, the snow algae produces substances that are also highly valuable for human skin. The product Snow Algae Powder® contains these substances.

  • Alpine cushion plant (shown left in its natural habitat) possesses special, protective molecules and effective repair mechanisms against cold and UV radiation. The picture on the right shows cultivation of this plant in bioreactors in order to obtain PhytoCellTec™ nunatak® from it.

  • A laboratory assistant from the Mibelle Biochemistry team tests Alpine cushion plant growth and active ingredient content in the laboratory.

  • As proof of its sustainable credentials, PhytoCellTec™ nunatak®, with active ingredients from the Alpine cushion plant, received the Sustainable Beauty Award.

The cosmetics industry is dependent on innovations because the market is constantly demanding new ideas and active ingredients. In the process, there is increasing demand for natural resources, and often it involves rare or even protected plants with special active ingredients.

Can this also be sustainable?

The researchers at Mibelle Biochemistry are taking up this challenge. They have developed a procedure which is unique in the world, the PhytoCellTec™ technology. Stem cells from plants interesting for skin care are cultivated in bio reactors so that they are available as the basis for active ingredients for cosmetics.

PhytoCellTec™ became known with an old, almost extinct species of Swiss apple, the Uttwiler Spätlauber. Although this apple is very sour, its peel remains wrinkle-free for months. The researchers required only a few apples in order to grow stem cells from it. A cosmetic active ingredient is now being produced from these that keeps human skin young for longer.

Mibelle Biochemistry’s latest PhytoCellTec™ innovation is called nunatak, an Inuit word. Nunatak describes isolated areas of rock above a large, ice-age glacier, like those which covered Switzerland during the last Ice Age. The Ticino, Bergamasco and Julian Alps are all examples of these Ice Age rock outcrops, as are Mounts Napf, Pilatus and Rigi. Specialised plants such as the Alpine cushion plant (Saponaria pumila) survived the Ice Age in these regions and then gradually colonised the rest of the Alpine region.

Alpine cushion plant is adapted to environmental extremes: it defends itself against very cold temperatures and very high UV radiation with highly effective repair mechanisms and special protective molecules. This is precisely the reason why Dr Zülli’s research team selected this unprepossessing little plant. Beata Hurst, Head of Marketing Mibelle Biochemistry, explains its effect: “Alpine cushion plant is a true survival expert and Nature’s gift to innovative skin care. We have proved in clinical trials that the stem cell active ingredient in PhytoCellTec™ nunatak® energises human skin stem cells and protects the skin against sunlight-induced aging.”

As proof of its sustainable credentials, immediately after product launch PhytoCellTec™ nunatak® received the Sustainable Beauty Award 2014 - recognition for the many years of development work and simultaneously an incentive for the researchers to discover other sustainable products in the future.

Sustainability facts on the PhytoCellTec technology:

  • Protection of the biodiversity and preservation of rare and protected plants: An extremely small amount of plant material (e.g. a fruit or a leaf) is needed to establish a plant stem cell line.
  • No competition for space: Agricultural land remains available for the cultivation of food as no valuable cultivated land is required for the production of bio mass.
  • Significantly reduced water consumption compared to the conventional cultivation of plants.
  • 100% naturally pure: No use of fertilisers, pesticides or other chemicals.
  • Free of genetic engineering / GMO.


Water & soil

Capacity for innovation

Resource efficiency