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Lab Lessons—Wise Words From the Bench With John Carson
By: Katie Anderson (Schaefer), Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine
Posted: August 30, 2011, from the September 2011 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
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C&T: What is one of the best lessons you have learned in formulating?
Pay attention to raw materials and learn as much as you can about raw materials. They are tools that we work with to build the final product and knowing them is critical. The more raw materials you know, the better your product will be. Learn their properties and how they interact. That will give you success, no matter what product you are formulating.
C&T: What was the first commercial product that you had a hand in creating?
The first commercial product I worked on was a hexachlorophene cleanser. It was a clear skin cleanser and was my introduction to surfactants, keeping surfactants stable and all the considerations regarding surfactants.
C&T: What were some of the other product categories you worked on?
After Colgate, I worked for Johnson & Johnson (J&J) on baby shampoo and had to look at a whole new set of criteria including mildness and interaction of surfactants with skin and eyes. After I joined J&J, a patent was issued using high ethoxylates of sorbitan esters and that was what I was formulating with to improve the aesthetics of the product while making thickened gel products that were suitable for tube use.
C&T: What type of products are the most difficult to formulate?
The hardest product to formulate is the one you are working on. The easy ones are always the ones you’ve already finished.
C&T: What are some of the products and raw materials that have revolutionized the cosmetic industry?
Throughout the years there have been lots of changes, some of them driven by creative formulation and some of them driven by advances in raw materials. One of the most revolutionary products was Pert Plusa and the use of silicones in shampoos. Up until that product, silicones were anti-foams and nobody thought about putting them into shampoos. Procter & Gamble figured out how to do it using controlled viscosity silicones and deposition agents.