Sensification: The Science Behind Sensory Innovation

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Consumer demand for a pleasurable sensory experience extends to everything they touch, including cosmetic emulsions. In personal care, the feel of a product provides important clues to consumers about the product’s function and purpose. The product’s feel helps the consumer understand how the product is expected to perform as part of a beauty routine and the key messages the product’s sellers wish to convey about its benefits. In addition, as consumers are continually searching for products with unique aesthetics for an enjoyable experience in use, delivering these attributes is becoming increasingly complicated.

The appeal of certain sensory attributes can be personal—with preferences changing from consumer to consumer based on his/her likes and dislikes. For example, one person may profess to like a light, silky feel for a face moisturizer where another may prefer a richer, more cushiony feel. A further complication to this is that language allows for a wide range of nuance in how certain things can be described. So one person's definition of “silky” may not feel exactly like another person's “silky.” It really comes down to the appeal of a product’s feel. If a product delivers on performance and benefits, but just does not feel “right,” the consumer will not be able to continue using it. If feel is everything, how can a formulator quickly and easily achieve their desired aesthetics?

An Emulsifier's Role

Sensification™, the Science behind Sensory Innovation™, is an easy-to-use system developed by Croda that allows formulators and marketers to navigate the complex landscape of sensory descriptions in a clear, defined way, while allowing users to describe their sensations in a personal way. Sensification starts with using the Spectrum Descriptive Analysis methodology, developed by Sensory Spectrum (New Providence, N.J., USA). This system provides quantitative analysis on 33 parameters of the sensorial attributes of a product, such as appearance or after feel, on a scale ranging from 0-100 for any given parameter. Expert evaluators, with years of training and experience, judge the sensory aspect of a product using technical language, and several commonly understood benchmarks, to quantify aspects like the oiliness or waxiness of a product.

Using this methodology, Croda generated a large set of data for many standardized simple emulsions, which enabled a statistical investigation of the relative contributions of emollients and emulsifiers to the sensory profiles of these emulsions. From this data set, Croda discovered that the fundamental sensory signature of an emulsion is defined, and to a previously unexpected level, by the choice of the emulsifier (or emulsion stabilizer system). This discovery, as illustrated in Figure 1, is an industry paradigm shift, as emollients are commonly accepted as the ingredients that drive a product’s feel. This data analysis refines the personal care industry's understanding of what controls feel in an emulsion system. It is now understand that emulsifiers are primarily responsible for initial feel, and that the emollient contribution is felt once the emulsion has broken, after rub out, as part of the product’s after feel.

The role of the emulsifier then becomes incredibly important in formulation development. It is not only responsible for ensuring the finished product is stable and ingredients are well incorporated, but it is also the primary contributor to the consumer’s initial feel experience with a product. The emulsifier makes that important first impression. This is important information, but how does a formulator take this discovery and incorporate it easily into formulation development?

Mapping Sensorial Properties

Croda has evaluated many of its multifunctional, patented emulsifiers in a simple system (water, same emollient, emulsifier, preservative) and mapped out the sensory properties for each. All were found to be statistically different from one another to allow for the development of different feel properties depending on the choice of emulsifier. Croda then developed finished formulation prototypes with the different emulsifiers to demonstrate the feel in a more consumer relevant context. These samples are part of Croda’s Sensification kit, for use by formulators and marketers in the development of new products.

The Sensification kit contains simple and finished formulation prototypes to allow users to experience the sensorial properties that Croda’s different emulsifiers provide. The method Croda recommends for the best experience is to choose several samples (typically 4 to start) from the kit and then “map” these samples using the provided Sensification Selector Grid (see Figure 2) to understand how the samples relate or compare to one another. This Sensory mapping board allows users to rank samples on parameters such as a light to heavy or fluid to viscous for comparative purposes. But to allow customers to choose their own comparative terms, Croda offers customizable stickers where words can be chosen from a suggested list or users can write in their own descriptors to personalize the grid based on their needs.

This method provides a linkage between both the quantitative data from trained panelist evaluations, as well as a user-defined, qualitative experience, to assist in choosing initial feel properties.

Initial feel of a product is that important first impression that everyone needs to make with the consumer to achieve product success. To help formulators meet consumer needs, Croda provides the Sensification kit to facilitate your decision process on any new product brief. A kit can be requested by contacting your local Croda sales representative or by visiting www.sensification.com. For an interactive, virtual training experience, Croda will offer a webinar on Feb. 27, 2013. Visit www.sensification.com to register today!


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