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Formulas Deciphered: Facial Wash
By: Eric S. Abrutyn, TPC2 Advisors Ltd., Inc.
Posted: October 29, 2010, from the November 2010 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
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Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Wash Redness Soothing Facial Cleanser: This cleanser, shown in Figure 3, is formulated with salicylic acid to prevent and treat acne. It also employs the company’s MicroClear brand technology, which appears to be based on a combination of menthol lactate and botanical extracts. The product claims to not over-dry skin, as it contains naturally derived moisturizing botanical extracts such as aloe and chamomile to help calm and soothe the feel of sensitive, red, acne-prone skin. The menthol lactate delivers a refreshing coolness to the skin, eliciting a “clean skin” signal. A breakdown of the ingredients featured on this product label, along with their accompanying functions and approximate concentration ranges, is shown in Table 1 on Page 18.
Reckitt Benckiser Clearasil Ultra Overnight Gel Face Wash: This cleanser, shown in Figure 4, is a recent launch to the Clearasil brand range of anti-acne products. It is a cleanser designed to be used before bedtime, when the skin is reportedly regenerating. This face wash is said to work visibly to help reduce the size and redness of acne spots. A more traditional anionic-nonionic surfactant system, this product is based on sodium laureth sulfate, coco-glucoside and a betaine to provide good skin cleansing and consumer-pleasing foam structure to signal mild cleansing. Salicylic acid is used as an anti-acne agent. A breakdown of the ingredients featured on this product label, along with accompanying functions and approximate concentration ranges, is shown in Table 2.
It is important for formulators to note that facial cleansing products are a mainstay category in skin care, and that the development of these formulations requires knowledge of the surfactant types needed to effectively cleanse the facial skin. The product should not leave a residue, which could denote inadequate cleansing; however, squeaky clean typically is not a target signal of clean, as it may signal the skin is too dry. Skin moisturization for this category typically is signaled by a natural softening/smoothness of the skin. The surfactant most frequently used in this category is sodium laureth sulfate, although its use appears to be decreasing, and is being replaced with naturally derived surfactants such as fatty acid glucosides and betaines. Emollients formulated into facial skin cleansers for skin softness are those with low surface tensions and high spreading coefficients, such as lactate ester, low molecular weight dimethicones (< 20 cst) and dibasic fatty acid esters. Finally, while the present column does not address processing conditions, is important for the formulator to understand: the pH of the system, the order of addition for surfactants, effective preservative systems to minimize incompatibilities, solubilization of the surfactants, proper balance of cleansing and foam, and robustness of the preservatives. Further, UV absorbers are required for clear formulations in clear containers, and it is always helpful to include an antioxidant and chelating agent to maintain clarity of the formula and integrity of the fragrance. Reproduction of the article without expressed consent is strictly prohibited.
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1. US Patent Application 20100098776, Soap-Based Liquid Wash Formulations with Enhanced Deposition of Antimicrobial Agents, JO Carnali, P Shah, Quang Qiu and A Lips, assigned to Conopco Inc., D/B/A Unilever (Apr 22, 2010)
2. US Patent Application 20090181873, Water Compatible Emollient For Cleansing Products, Irma Ryklin (Jul 16, 2009)
3. US Patent Application 20080014289, Vehicle and Method for Treating And Preventing Acne Vulgaris and Exfoliating The Skin Hypohalous Acid, Jianping (Jan 17, 2008)