Supercritical CO2 extract

If you are familiar with the natural cosmetics sector, extracts obtained by supercritical CO2 are probably not completely unfamiliar to you.

It can be said that these extracts occupy a very important place among the natural active ingredients as they are more concentrated in active substances and more compatible with the skin.

In addition, they make it possible to produce natural cosmetics in a sustainable way. Supercritical CO2 is a revolutionary technique that makes it possible to obtain highly concentrated active ingredients without altering their components. This results in greater stability and efficacy than with other types of extracts, such as aqueous extracts (which require preservatives).

It is possible that, even if you work in the cosmetics industry, you still don’t know how the use of this supercritical CO2 extract can benefit your business.

Well, don’t miss this article, because here we explain everything you always wanted to know about this extract and never dared to ask (or nobody knew how to explain it to you).


For this type of extract, CO2 is used as a solvent. This type of solvent, besides being chemically stable, does not leave traces and can be recovered at the end of the process.

However, in order to really act as a solvent, it is necessary to apply pressure and temperature conditions to the CO2 above its critical point (hence it is known as supercritical CO2).

Only when CO2 is at these supercritical conditions does the gas become a fluid, lipophilic solvent, which gives it a very high extraction capacity.

The yield of this extraction method is far superior to other methods such as distillation, hydro-alcoholic extraction, etc. In addition, it is ideal to replace extraction by petroleum solvents (e.g. hexane) used in cases where the performance of cold-pressure extraction is low or not suitable for the raw material.

Moreover, this type of technique is very versatile, since by simply adjusting the parameters it is possible to obtain:

  • Selective extracts: containing mainly the aromatic fractions of the raw material.
  • Active extracts: containing the “active” fractions of the raw material.
  • Total extracts: which can contain all lipid components, including waxes or unsaponifiable fractions, or if desired, only the native vegetable oils of the raw material.


Contrary to what many people think, CO2 is not a dangerous gas for people as it is present in the atmosphere and in small quantities is completely harmless to humans. In fact, humans exhale CO2 every time we breathe in a new breath of air.

The problem arises when CO2 is present in very high concentrations. It is then that an excessive amount of CO2 – far above normal – irreversibly affects people’s health and causes the greenhouse effect, which is behind global warming.

This makes it clear that the release of CO2 into the atmosphere will not have a direct effect on human health. What’s more: plants also consume carbon dioxide to carry out photosynthesis and produce oxygen, which makes it clear that it is an essential gas for the ecosystem.

That is why it is important to know that the use of supercritical CO2 extract is the most sustainable and least polluting process for industry, as the gas is reused.

But not only that: in addition, its extraction capacity avoids using other less environmentally friendly processes; and no emissions are released during extraction. 


The advantages of using this type of extracts are indisputable for the following reasons:

  • These extracts don’t require preservatives: Fat-soluble extracts are stable.
  • They are highly concentrated: this allows savings in application, as only a small dose is needed to obtain maximum effectiveness in the cosmetic formulation.
  • They are very eco-friendly: as no emissions are generated during the extraction process, these extracts are sustainable. In addition, there are no traces of solvents, additives, metal catalysts or heavy metals. 
  • The aromas these extracts produce are more natural: this type of extraction allows high yields to be obtained, achieving the maximum concentration of “aromatic” substances. The odour obtained is therefore very close to that of the original plant or raw material used for the extraction.
  • They have a longer useful life: there is no degradation over time, as extraction at low temperature and free of oxygen prevents degradation and/or oxidation of the oils.


You are probably wondering what makes our extracts obtained through extraction with supercritical CO2 more interesting than others on the market.

At Grup Barcelonesa we are a partner of the Tunisian manufacturer Actif Precieux, whose know-how in the development of this type of extracts is simply spectacular.

Thanks to this partnership, we are able to offer our clients in the natural cosmetics sector a supercritical CO2 extract that is purer than all the others on the market. While other distributors use additives to speed up the extraction process, our solution is the purest for two reasons:

  • Refined extraction technology: the addition of additives – such as alcohol or solvents – is not necessary in order to make the extraction process profitable. Our supercritical CO2 extract is capable of performing this process based solely on CO2 and can even obtain superior results without having to turn to said additives.
  • In-depth knowledge of raw materials: botanical information on all kinds of flowers and plants is essential to being able to offer our clients the best results from each extraction, thereby obtaining much greater product proportions. This can be achieved because at Barcelonesa we offer our clients co-extracts (the active substances of a raw material act as solvents for the other such that the purest extracts possible are obtained).


If you think that supercritical CO2 extracts can be useful for the manufacture of natural cosmetics, we will be happy to provide you with all the information you need.

You can contact our sales department through the ”visit page” button below.

Beatriz Cánovas

Beatriz Cánovas


Responsable Sector de Actividad

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