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Biomimetic emulsifier with cashmere touch

Most personal care products are emulsions which can be defined as stabilised fluid systems of liquids that do not normally like to mix, like oil and water. The peacekeeper in such systems is called an emulsifier. Emulsifiers combine a water-loving head holding to the water phase and a fat-loving tail that clings to the oil phase.

Oil-in-water (o/w) emulsifiers keep oil drops packed in water, while water-in-oil (w/o) emulsifiers rather retain water drops in oils. Classic emulsifiers are typically synthetic petroleum and hydrocarbon derivatives such as PEG compounds, alkoxylated amides, silicone derivatives, and ethoxylated fatty alcohol. They present the advantages of being performant, rather inexpensive, easy to work with and readily available. On the downside, some can cause skin irritation and allergies. This happens because they keep their emulsifying properties while penetrating the skin. Lipids can thus be washed away from the stratum corneum altering the multilamellar structure of the latter and compromising the barrier function of the skin.

The current trend in skin care is for natural, gentle and safe products, obtained in a sustainable manner. With the help of the Internet, end users (especially Millennials) are now better informed and take the time to read product labels in order to identify potential harmful ingredients. Formulators should keep this in mind when choosing an emulsifier. What is the point of formulating with the most natural actives, if the ingredient list ends with chemical names of bad reputation? But, are there alternatives to classic petrochemical emulsifiers and how do their performances compare? 

Phospholipid-based emulsifiers offer great natural alternatives. Phospholipids generally consist of a hydrophilic phosphate head and two hydrophobic fatty acid tails joined together by a glycerol molecule. In an aqueous environment, phospholipids spontaneously arrange in bilayers in which hydrophobic tails line up against each other, while hydrophilic heads face water molecules on both sides. All living cells are surrounded by such a phospholipid bi-layer that protects them and regulates what goes in and out.

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Upcoming Events

9th Anti-Ageing Skin Care Conference

Royal College of Physicians, London
25th - 26th June 2024

in-cosmetics Korea 2024

Hall C, Coex, Seoul, South Korea
24th - 26th July 2024

in-cosmetics Latin America 2024

São Paulo, Brazil
25th - 26th September 2024

IFSCC 2024

Recanto das Cataratas Thermas Resort, Iguazu Falls, Brazil
14th - 17th October 2024

SEPAWA

Estrel Congress Center, Berlin
16th - 18th October 2024

Cosmetorium

Palau de Congressos de Barcelona
23rd - 24th October 2024

Access the latest issue of Personal Care Magazine on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Personal Care Magazine app from your device's App store

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