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Until an Organic Surfactant Exists
By: Katie Schaefer, Cosmetics & Toiletries
Posted: June 3, 2008, from the June 2008 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
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For the von Natur line, however, Fioravanti needed a natural surfactant and decided upon decyl glucose, a naturally derived surfactant. “We chose decyl glucose, a sugar-based surfactant. It has a great feel, leaves skin conditioned and produces a decent foam. We use it with cocoamidopropyl betaine,” added Fioravanti.
Playing the Natural Surfactant Game
Because Fioravanti’s surfactants are naturally derived, she and many other formulators of natural and organic body care have noted a price increase. “All naturally derived surfactants come from coconut or palm oil. The prices are now going up because nearly a quarter of palm oil is being purchased for biofuel,” explained Fioravanti.
In addition to the higher cost of formulas with natural surfactants, the resulting product differs physically in that it often is thinner. “Naturally derived surfactants, in our case decyl glucose, are a little runnier,” said Fioravanti. Although thickeners can be added to such formulations, they must be added in moderation due to their effect on the hair. “Natural/organic surfactants also do not produce the rich foam that consumers are accustomed to from sulfates, but we cannot help that. A natural/organic product is not going to feel or look exactly the same as a chemical-containing formula,” added Fioravanti.
In addition to the consistency, natural/organic products also carry a different feel. According to Fioravanti, this is due to the absence of dimethicone, which produces a nice after feel in personal care products. Fioravanti explained, “While consumer perception at first will be thrown off, they will notice the positive long-term effects of a natural/organic product.”
Currently, Fioravanti cannot label her shampoos and body washes as organic, but she is not alone. “There is no shampoo that is totally organic because there are no surfactants available,” said Fioravanti. Rather than playing what she calls the “smoke and mirrors game” of labeling products as certified organic, she is waiting for suppliers to create an actual organic surfactant. “I do not see an organic surfactant being launched in the near future but I am looking for a supplier that will create one and take it through the steps necessary to get it certified.”