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Formulating More Natural Products: A Discussion
By: Bill Marthaler, Garden Art Innovations
Posted: January 4, 2013, from the January 2013 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
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The real challenge of formulating more naturally is with cleansers, where the ideal formula is generally an all-natural liquid system that foams and causes no soap scum buildup. Achievable? This author has not seen it yet. However, high organic syndet-type systems are a step in the right direction.
Reaction: Would you not require water from the sink to wash this off? And would more water then be needed since there is no emulsion or water in the product?
Counter-reaction: You would require water to rinse. This is for water and/or waterless products.
Waterless hand cleansers for automotive mechanics are based on the principle that “like dissolves like,” to remove grease and oils from workers’ hands. This is why they are structured with high oil/solvent content. The non-foaming shampoo brand Wena, for example, uses this principle by cleansing the hair with a conditioner-type formula. These formula types use enough surfactant to clean; however, due the amount of oil ingredients present, they prohibit foaming. Generally though, any oils left behind could be perceived as conditioning to the hair and skin, depending on the elegance of the formula.
As an example, one organic system uses shea butter as the primary ingredient. Key to its formulation is neutralizer reduction to saponify most of the butter to soap, leaving the remainder as the “super fat” emollient. Of the many neutralizers available, potassium hydroxide is generally used to produce a “soft” soap. However, natural soap content brings a huge issue of soap scum. More than 85% of American households have hard water, which, with true soap, produces soap scum. To mitigate this, admittedly distasteful to the “granola” chemist, synthetic surfactants are an aid. It is important to select a syndet that is not highly diluted in water, as this allows a non-preservative end product.
To achieve such a cleansing system, the formulation starting point involves producing the final soft soap system; i.e., saponified shea butter; olive, castor, sunflower, jojoba and rice bran oils; stearic acid; essential oils; Aloe vera; and oatmeal. The selected syndet should then be titrated until no soap scum is detected when washed with hard water. This titration also can be carried out until a lotion-like system is achieved. Finally, as the job of the “granola” chemist, continued improvements to the system should be made to keep the system as natural as possible without adding unnecessary ingredients. For instance, alternatives to the syndet should be substituted as soon as they become available.
Reaction: The reality is, preservatives are still needed in most products, even makeup.
In this author’s opinion, water is mostly introduced to cosmetic formulas for cost reduction, and it must be controlled by purification, emulsifiers and preservatives. Many of these ingredients are undesired and considered unhealthy by some consumers, including this chemist. It is therefore the job of the “granola” chemist to go beyond green and produce non-water systems. The remaining challenge is the development of cleansing/foaming systems, a starting formulation for which is suggested here.
Reaction: While makeup may not require the inclusion of water, the jump to water as being “bad” because it needs preservatives and other ingredients is a tough point to take. Such products made without water cannot even come close to the aesthetics or performance without an emulsion; if there was a way to do it, the author would have a breakthrough.
Join the debate in our LinkedIn group.
Send e-mail to CT_author@allured.com.
a. Wen Hair Care is a product of Guthy-Renker.
1. R Arditti, Cosmetics, parabens and breast cancer, Women’s Community Cancer Project Newsletter, Women’s Center, Cambridge, MA USA (2004)
2. www.vapourbeauty.com (Accessed Nov 12, 2012)
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