Cosmetic formulators are constantly challenged to develop products for daily use, and mascaras in particular are one of the most researched (and scrutinized) products a woman can purchase. Scientists must go to great lengths to ensure this miracle product delivers on the eyelash benefits it advertises. Further, formulating mascara is a niche expertise. On a scale of difficulty, it ranks high: it is messy, time-consuming and has the most dependent relationship with its package, compared with other cosmetics.
Formulators of other color products, such as hot pour or foundations, know all too well that mascara formulas fall into a category of their own, and have their own set of concerns. Achieving proper viscosity, appropriate drying time, pigment dispersion and wear capabilities are just a few. Maintaining stability and uniformity over time are especially important, too, since they affect the product’s dispensing properties. Mascaras also must be made to resist flaking or clumping upon drydown.
Therefore, thorough knowledge of each raw material will help the scientist balance the formula to obtain the desired results. Additionally, processing and filling experience will assist in making decisions in the lab—and all must be built around the brush and package. Taking one mascara formula and filling it in another’s package gives rise to an entirely different product. This article discusses these unique concerns in mascara formulation.
Mascara benefits include making the eye lashes thicker, longer and darker, along with adding curve to lash tips. It is one of the oldest- known forms of color cosmetics; a simplified form of lead sulfite, malachite and charcoal soot was used in both ancient Egypt and Greece. In the mid 1900s, mascara evolved as a pressed product that was applied via a brush.
Mascara really broke into the mainstream with the revolution of applicators, such as the wired rod and brush. Applicators are still being modified to provide the most luxurious, long-wearing mascara to the consumer. As noted, formulators must therefore be certain that the product performs to its potential in conjunction with its brush and package.
Mascara products generally fall into one of two categories: anhydrous or emulsion. Both contain the same basic components of pigments, oils, waxes and preservatives. Anhydrous formulations are used in waterproof systems, and have good long-wearing capabilities. Due to their hydrophobic components, however, such products are more difficult for the consumer to remove, and solvent-based cleansers are often necessary. This also is true for cleaning laboratory and production equipment.