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Organic, natural and green: three little words that have made a big impact on the personal care industry. Such types of products are costly to produce and challenging to formulate—not to mention how strictly they must be labeled and regulated. But today’s society is becoming more eco-conscious and as such, consumers want to see natural and organic products now—for a reasonable price and labeled clearly. While it is difficult to create a natural and organic skin care product, it is even more so to formulate an organic or natural hair care product.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows personal care products containing 95% or greater organic food content to carry the organic seal. The new OASIS seal, tailored specifically for organic personal care products, currently requires that products contain 85% organic materials; this will increase to 90% and 95% in 2010, allowing the industry some time to devise organic versions of functional ingredients. Under OASIS, products made with 70% organic ingredients are allowed to be labeled as “made with organic,” with rules further imposed on the remaining 30%. This “made with organic” claim is used mostly for shampoos and body washes since the majority of ingredients in these applications that provide the product’s efficacy do not yet have organic alternatives.
Kayla Fioravanti, chief formulator and vice president of Essential Wholesale and Essential Labs, maker of the von Natur organic and natural brand, is constantly searching for organic surfactants for body washes and shampoos. According to Fioravanti, more than 95% of her company’s products are 80% organic. This 95% does not include body washes or shampoos; the main reason—surfactants.
Searching for a Natural Surfactant
While investigating ingredients for her products, Fioravanti always seeks out organic options. “If there isn’t an organic option, we go for wildcrafted,” added Fioravanti. Wildcrafted ingredients are harvested in their natural or wild habitat. If there is no organic option and the product can do without the ingredient, Fioravanti leaves the ingredient out of the formulation.
The second aspect that Fioravanti examines is the ingredient’s mildness. Being chemically sensitive herself, Fioravanti is aware that many consumers seeking organic and natural products are interested in their mildness. The product must also, of course, be efficacious and this is a challenge with natural, mild surfactants. “When you are formulating with sulfates, it is easy. They are incredibly simple and there are many ingredient combinations that work well with them. They also produce a rich lather. With natural surfactants, it is trickier,” commented Fioravanti.