Comparatively Speaking: Green vs. Greening Cosmetic Formulations

Driven by consumer demand, personal care product formulators are always looking to provide products that are based on sustainable, renewable resources. This is one of the many, often irreconcilable, requirements imposed on today’s formulations: they must meet all the consumer’s requirements while being cost effective and complying with all safety, regulatory, environmental, marketing and social requirements dictated by the product's manufacturer.

Green or eco-friendly cosmetic formulations use only products that are renewable, sustainable and certified by one or more certifying agencies. This approach is all or nothing; either the formulation is green or it is not, and while appealing in its simplicity, is difficult to attain when one considers the other requirements discussed above.

Greening cosmetic formulations refers to the process of making formulas more green or eco-friendly via a series of steps. This approach provides the formulator with the ability to make strides toward products that are more renewable and sustainable, yet function well enough to meet consumer expectations while remaining cost effective and complying with the safety, regulatory, environmental, marketing and social requirements.

A key part of the greening of cosmetic formulations involves minimizing the concentration of materials that are not sustainable or renewable and replacing them with much lower concentrations of products that are not entirely green but that result in greener formulations.

The process for evaluating the eco-friendliness or greenness of personal care formulations and raw materials is presented in US Patent Application 20090259409, which was filed by this author on June 13, 2008. This application states that the Green Star Rating provides a process whereby a formulator can easily ascertain the greenness of a raw material and a consumer can determine and compare the greenness of a formulation to similar types of products. This system provides the formulation chemist with a way to break a molecule down into its eco-friendly or green portions and non-renewable portions. The evaluation of this data allows for the generation of a Green Star Value.

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