Cosmetic chemists are constantly being bombarded by “new” raw materials from suppliers. We welcome this “bombardment” as it gives us the opportunity to be more creative in our formulation efforts. I think it is worthwhile to step back and look at how a formulator should evaluate a new material before deciding whether or not to use it. Let’s focus our attention on emulsifiers (one of my favorite topics).
When a new material comes to me from a supplier who wants to introduce it into the cosmetic industry, I ask the following question: “What is the compelling reason a chemist should use this material?” If there is no such reason, then suppliers should seriously question whether or not they should spend the money to launch the material. Cosmetic chemists have literally thousands of materials from which to choose. Why should they look at an unproven, new material? Why take the risk?
When we look at a new chemical, which the supplier claims is an emulsifier, a myriad of questions immediately comes to mind (Figure 1). The first one I like to ask is why the supplier has brought this material to us in the first place. Is this a new compound or have they been selling it into another industry? If it is being used in another industry what is its application (see sidebar)?