For more than 15 years, Formulae has been assisting clients in the creation of unique, natural personal care formulations in all major categories of personal care products, from bath essentials to skin care, sunscreens, and cosmetics. We are often asked which type formulation we most enjoy working on; The answer is rich, natural night creams that strike the right balance of body, emollience, and after-feel. Creating effective creams in the natural product space can present its own challenges, such as more pronounced soaping and tackiness as compared to creams formulated with traditional ingredients. These challenges are magniﬁed when dealing with heavier creams that contain more emulsiﬁers and emollients. Traditional PEG-based emulsiﬁers and silicone emollients provide simple solutions to these issues, however they often do not meet the requirements for modern green formulations. We have been challenged to ﬁnd clean, naturally-derived replacements. As already highlighted, natural emulsiﬁers (especially glycerol-based) often impart tack and soapiness to formulations; And natural emollients are not nearly as eﬀective at eliminating soaping as silicones. To address these concerns, we utilize research and experimentation to ﬁnd the right blend of ingredients for each project. This heightened level of diﬃculty imparts a similarly heightened sense of satisfaction upon completion of the particular formula.
Another application that piques our interest is natural cleansers. A viscous, clear cleanser is diﬃcult to formulate without utilizing sulfated surfactants and PEG-based thickeners, both of which are increasingly negatively perceived by consumers. In aqueous solution, surfactants form micelles – spherical aggregates of the surfactant compound. Traditional sulfated surfactants are most often thickened by introducing amphoteric surfactants and salts, which increase viscosity of the system by modifying the size and shape of the micelles. While some non-sulfate surfactants can also be thickened using these techniques, they are often disfavored due to harshness on skin. Amino acid-derived surfactants are preferred for their gentleness; However, they are generally unaﬀected by traditional thickening methods. This prompts us to explore alternatives, such as combinations of diﬀerent natural surfactants, fatty acids, and water-phase thickeners.
Further complexity can be found in the fragility of the viscosity of these formulations; Even just adding preservation or fragrance can disrupt the system and “crash” the viscosity of an otherwise successful formulation. The challenges presented by natural cleansers promote a greatly elevated sense of accomplishment when overcome.
As an R&D team, our journey in formulation has been a fascinating exploration of balancing creativity and science. Whether it involves tackling the intricacies of moisturizers or the subtleties of natural cleansers, the satisfaction and motivation comes from overcoming the challenges and creating products that our customers love.